Sea Otter Classic 2017, Part I

Sea Otter Classic 2017, Part I

If the Sea Otter Classic isn’t the biggest celebration of cycling in the world, I’d like to know what is. To the mix of mountain bike races—with everything from cross country to dual slalom—road races and fondos (both road and mountain), the organizers added a gravel event this year. In addition to all the riding events, there were a number of product introductions as well, aided by the fact that many brands that have not shown at Sea Otter previously chose to put tents up this year.

Lightweight showed off the new disc version of their excellent Urgestalt frame. I’m told that a 56cm frame still weighs in around 800 grams.

Lightweight also showed off their disc version of the Meilenstein wheels. At 1105g for a set of wheels, they are very likely the lightest disc wheels on the planet.

The Meilensteins use center lock rotors to keep weight low and all the spokes are tied with carbon wrap.

In keeping with their desire to produce ultra-light products, Lightweight is introducing their own line of clothing. In addition to a kit,t here will also be a trainer with both a jacket and pants.

Litespeed showed off a new gravel model, the aptly named Gravel. Compared to the T5g which we reviewed recently, the Gravel offers a bit more tire clearance and a more forgiving ride. It will accept up to 45mm tires or 650b x 2.1-inch tires.

In addition to new dropouts, the Gravel goes with flatmount discs and this very minimal brake mount in the rear triangle. It comes with rack and fender mounts plus a third set of bottle mounts.

Litespeed’s new T1sl is the first titanium to come close to the kilogram barrier. On average a medium frame comes in at 1000g. The dropouts are reminiscent of some of the more minimal steel designs.

This bottom bracket shell is a key ingredient in how Litespeed continues to shave weight from their frames. This shell is butted both internally and externally.

Litespeed also showed off a new aftermarket product, a 20mm press-fit head tube extension for 44mm head tubes.

What it looks like installed.

While bar extensions for mountain bikes are so 1990s, the popularity of events like Leadville have reminded people of how helpful it can be to find a more aerodynamic riding position if you’re going to compete for more than six hours. Theses extensions from SQ Labs mount inside the levers to give you a narrower position.


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  1. Winky

    Given that MTB handlebars are now approaching 2m long, hand-grips to allow inboard hand positions make perfect sense.

  2. Jay Price

    I just don’t get Lightweight. Or SRM. Lots of other companies have essentially caught up to what they can do, and passed it in every way.
    A standard Cannondale SuperSix EVO frame for example is probably 50 grams lighter and surely better-engineered in every way. And Lightweight wheels simply cannot be very aerodynamic. And they are fabulously expensive….So why would you buy them, especially the deep ones?
    This is beyond the kind of issues that are typical of high-end boutique marketing. They’re just not offering something, even one little aspect, that you can’t get somewhere else not just cheaper … but better in every way. And it’s not some lingering legacy thing, like people who just have to have an Italian frame with Campy parts. I understand that, and it’s completely reasonable.

    1. Author

      It’s not fair, or accurate to say that other companies have passed what they (and SRM) do in every way. There’s still not a more accurate power meter on the market than the SRM. Are there more aerodynamic wheels than the Meilensteins? Yes. But it’s also not accurate to say they aren’t aerodynamic. They are, at least, moreso than a box rim and its many cousins. And Lightweight has begun offering wheels with a rounded spoke bed to reflect the advancements pioneered by Zipp. Also, crash a Lightweight wheel and you’ll find how amazingly strong they are. Rip out a few spokes and still ride home. They aren’t impervious, but you won’t go down due to having a few spokes ripped out. They might not be the unquestionably best wheels on the market, but they are not without merit.

    2. Bryin

      The only reason companies like Lightweight exist is for the “show off” factor. No person in their right mind would spend $5K on wheels other than to impress other people. It is called a “Veblen good”. The company that owns Louis Vuitton just bought Pinarello. The reason is, the marketing is same for “luxury goods” (luxury good means something people buy to hopefully impress other people). Ask yourself this, how is possible that a motorcycle that is designed to go 200mph and would be 100% track ready with track tires sell for LESS than some bicycles?

  3. Jay Price

    Mmmm. I’ll concede on SRM accuracy — I slapped them in at the last second while I was thinking “German.”
    It’s a different argument about whether that tiny bit of additional accuracy is useful in a practical sense, let alone whether it outweighs SRM cost and charging issues.
    As to Lightweight …. You’re a pro word guy, you know what it means when you have write “not without merit” and “more aerodynamic than a box rim” about a product this expensive.

  4. Dustin

    Those grip extension things…where would you put them exactly? The modern MTB has so much crap on the bars already. Brakes, shifter(s), suspension lockout levers, dropper post levers, GoPro mount, Garmin mount, etc.

    That said, long live bar ends!!

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