For all that Sea Otter purports to be, what makes the expo most compelling isn’t the new helmet technology or the energy bar formulated from sand and cat hair. It’s the bikes. A bike ride begins with a bike, amiright? Sea Otter is a terrific place to actually see new ideas in bicycles.
The Litespeed Unicoi is a bike I’ve found really compelling because it takes those early suspension designs that used titanium’s natural elasticity to achieve rear travel, but adds something that those early designs didn’t have enough of: damping. So many of those early bikes bounced.
This is the first time I’ve really had the opportunity to look the bike over and examine how the rear, pivotless triangle moves. Travel is limited to just 45mm, but I can’t help but wonder if that isn’t enough in many circumstances.
One of the handsomest bikes I saw at Sea Otter was this Litespeed Ultimate. With titanium enjoying a resurgence of interest, this bike was one of the more elegant machines I saw out there and the blue finish dazzled in the sunlight (once it showed up).
One big change for Litespeed in the last few years was the company’s decision to drop producing carbon fiber bikes. They weren’t a terribly good fit for the brand’s identity, which was built on titanium. However, because Litespeed’s sister brand, Quintana Roo continues to produce carbon fiber triathlon bikes, it’s not like the company suddenly gave up its carbon fiber brain trust. What to do?
How about start a new brand? Remōt is a new line of carbon fiber bikes from ABG. Of the various new brands I saw at Ocean Weasel, I gotta say this one excited me most. Why? Well the brand brief was predicated on making a good bike more affordable. So the folks at ABG used their existing expertise to create bikes that are more affordable. This is the gravel bike and one of the mountain bikes is behind it. I’ll be very interested to review one of these once they are in circulation.
Vielo is a U.K. company producing road and gravel bikes. The gravel bike has solid tire clearance and goes 1x for the widest possible bottom bracket.
The road bike features aero-profile tubes and low-profile seat stays to make the bike slippery against the wind.
In the increasingly competitive market for kids bikes, what’s on offer is dropping in weight, increasing in performance and functionality. This Zulu 2 has 16-inch wheels with tubeless tires and the air fork has a carbon fiber lower. The craziest part is how many bikes are more expensive with lesser features.
Prevelo has begun sourcing their own line of components, branded Heir.
This was one of the scores of Mosaics at NAHBS. It was a bike I knew would look more impressive in the sunlight.
And I was right.
Look has introduced its first gravel bike, the 765 Gravel RS. It has clearance enough for 40mm tires in 700C and 55mm at 650B. Even so, the chain stays are only 42cm in each size for snappy handling.
Even in muddy circumstances, a rider should be able to run a 38mm tire.
The seat stays have been flatted to give compliance for a more comfortable ride.
Short of carrying full panniers, the 765 has an incredible array of mounts for extra bottle cages or small bags.
Look has also introduced an e-version of the 765. It uses a battery and motor from Fauza.
The entire motor and battery can be removed from the bike together.
The battery (the upper object) slips into the sleeve (lower), which also contains the motor. The bike can be pedaled without drag from the motor, I’m told.
Marin showed off a number of new gravel bikes, including this coupled version of the Four Corners. For anyone who wants to ride gravel in far-flung places, a coupled bike makes terrific sense.
The new version of the Marin Cortina is carbon fiber and comes with a dropper post. It’s got a great build perfect for gravel races.
The new version of Marin’s Mount Vision uses the same suspension system developed in conjunction with Naild, in a shorter travel platform. The
The Methanol FS 29, is a bike I find especially interesting because of Bianchi’s ability to create bikes in any category that handle really well.
Canyon introduced the aluminum version of their Grail, which will bring the Canyon value proposition on gravel bikes to a fresh audience.
The quality of the workmanship is really good. It’s been a while since I’ve seen aluminum welding this good on production bikes.
Loved this chain keeper.
Haley is a Bay Area brand led by an extremely experienced team. I’ll be reporting on them more in a future post.