Sea Otter Classic 2017, Part III

Sea Otter Classic 2017, Part III

That lead image is a bit odd, no? It requires a bit of explaining, and whatever you’re thinking it is, you are probably wrong. It is, in fact, the new waterproof sock from Showers Pass. That’s the sock blown up, balloon style, to show how well sealed it is.

This is what the sock looks like in normal use. I was impressed by how soft and flexible the sock was. Can’t wait to get a chance to try  a pair.

Adidas has introduce a new line of eyewear for active people and some of them are really good looking. At least, I think this pair is good looking.

Thousand is a new helmet company based in downtown Los Angeles. If they sound familiar, it’s because they raised $250,000 on Kickstarter for this helmet. People decided to quit jobs and do this full time. The helmet passes all CPSC tests and is selling now. As someone who is always on the lookout for a helmet that doesn’t make me look like a character from a sci-fi film for when I’m running errands, I was really intrigued by this design. It’s totes spiffs.

German security company Abus has a reputation for making locks and commuter helmets. At least, that’s how we know them here in the U.S. In Germany, they are known for doing a good bit more. This season they are sponsoring the Movistar team and they wore this aero helmet at Paris-Roubaix. It will become available in the U.S. at some point, but no word on just when.

I’ve been hearing about the bike carriers from the new company Douchebags and was interested to see them in person. Over the years I’ve used a great many different cases and have been amazed to see nearly all of them damaged or destroyed at some point. One of the distinctions that the folks at Douchebags can claim is that they interviewed baggage handlers to get their opinion on where to place handles to make the bags easier to pick up and move, the goal being if the bag is easier to deal with, it will be less likely to be damaged. A company rep told me that the Sky mechanics can pack a bike in five minutes.

I’m a tool junkie and love the tools produced by the people at Abbey Tools. Even though I don’t service shocks, I was fascinated to receive a walk through on this new set of tools produced in conjunction with Rock Shox for servicing their forks. From pulling each bolt and nut to pressing new seals in, this set of tools will allow a knowledgeable mechanic to service a variety of Rock Shox products.

I was intrigued by this little reusable zip tie from Hiplok that I encountered. It’s intended as a low-level security device, just something to keep honest people honest. It’s long enough that you can put it around the top tube or down tube of a bike and a parking meter or railing, or to secure your helmet to your bike.

To release it, just push the key in and it slips open. In it I see a wildly useful item for packing a bike for travel, rounding up wheels and more.

Bont brought a full selection of their new production Riot shoe. You could try on any size in either the road or the mountain version. I was impressed at how wide the last was. The Riot may have one of the widest standard width lasts on the market.

New to me is Project 321, a hub maker out of Fresno, but soon to move to Bend, Oregon. They have adopted a number of newer features people are starting to consider must-haves.

This downhill hub exemplifies the sort of work they are doing. It has a magnetically engaged freehub, 216 points of engagement for a 1.67-degree action, the shortest I’ve seen. They come in every axle standard known to man as well as a variety of drillings.

We’ve mentioned previously that Osmo Nutrition is back. They are shipping product and helped keep me hydrated at what was a drier-than-usual edition of the Otter.

Jagwire had this nifty comparison of their Pro Polished Slick Stainless Steel Cable versus another slick cable and a regular replacement cable. The housing was long enough that you got a realistic sense of cable drag and I was impressed by the Pro Polished. Of course, the real test is how it fairs after several months of riding, but I’m ready to give it a try.

I got to do a ride on the new SRAM Red eTap Hydro. Say that three times fast. I had no idea that there were so many dirt roads in and around Laguna Seca, but Fort Ord was no strip mall. We went off into the hinterlands and rode hard enough to forget just what we were riding and were busy chasing each other over gravel and singletrack. I can say for sure that I shift more often thanks to electronic shifting and I love how intuitive eTap is. I also heard from one of my contacts that I’m literally the only rider they’ve ever heard of draining a front derailleur battery faster than a rear derailleur battery. That may or may not be related to why I’m not much of a 1x guy. Regardless, the new Hydro system is dynamite, and the new lever shape is much more comfortable, not to mention better looking. Watch for a review in the future.

Sea Otter continues to offer some alternative attractions, such as its used bike market. This isn’t exactly sanctioned, but people sell bikes here every year. I’ve seen some amazing deals.

Sea Otter has about as much in common with Burning Man as I do with Keith Moon. Still as a celebration of bikes, it’s nice to see that people who have alternative views of what a bike is or can be will find it interesting enough to stop by. I’d have loved to take any of these bikes for a ride, just as soon as donned some pads.

Until next year….


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  1. Andrew

    Thousand helmet- looks like you ought to be riding dressage.

    Douchbag- nice looking bike bag. Stupid name. The Dakine bag is similar, although it lacks the metal piece for the dropouts. Tons of handles, and yes I think baggage handlers appreciate this. I had one tell me this at the airport.

  2. TomInAlbany

    Showers Pass waterproof socks. I presume these are for rainy days only as they’re going to fill with your sweat?
    Do they help keep the warmth in? I can see my feet becoming very cold on a cool, rainy day when they’re wet with my sweat.

    1. Author

      My experience with the Seal Skinz socks is that while my feet were damp from my perspiration, they were warm. I’ll be reviewing these during the next round of rain. Which I hope is none too soon.

  3. Chris

    The Hiplock is nothing new. They basically took a police flexcuff and multiplied the price several times over. A cop friend years ago clued me into reusable flexcuffs which cost a whopping $1.99.

    1. Author

      So far as I’ve seen, police flexcuffs aren’t single zip ties like this, and while the reusable ones may not be as expensive as the Hiplok, they are more than $1.99.

  4. RM2Ride

    Wow, a bag that allows you to leave seat and BARS on the frame?? I like that idea a lot – my experience is that, especially removing bars – unless you’re going to unthread your cables – is a recipe for disaster and scratches, not matter the padding and zip ties. I don’t travel enough to make it worth 1000 bean, but conceptually: I agree.

    1. Author

      I’m told that the Sky mechanics usually leave the pedals on as well, though the folks at Douchebags wish they didn’t.

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