2019 Sea Otter Finds (Part 2)
Presenting part two of our findings among the brand booths and displays at the 2019 Sea Otter Classic. Here are more than 20 new and interesting products from Rotor, Redshift, EVOC, Topeak, and more…
We’re still not done! Here’s more coverage of products and brands we found interesting at the 2019 Sea Otter Classic bike festival and expo. Find all 12 articles from our 2019 Sea Otter Classic coverage here, including part one of this big roundup. And stay tuned for a couple more posts, too.
Rotor 1×13 Hydraulic Drivetrain
Why did Madrid, Spain-based Rotor go with 13 speeds? Superstition, or lucky number, or oneupmanship maybe? Or the company’s engineers were hellbent on getting closer to the effective 14-speed gear range offered by a 2×11 groupset (or a Rohloff). Either way, with hydraulic-actuation, a $2,800* price tag, and the proprietary, wider-than-normal HG-style freehub required for its 13-speed cassette, this groupset is borderline ridiculous for bikepackers. However, Rotor brought up some interesting points about this technological marvel that made it worth having a look at, if only for the sake of engineering curiosity.
While most bikepackers—particularly those undertaking long excursions—stray away from anything hydraulic-actuated, there are a few interesting features unique to a hydraulic drivetrain. For one, hydraulic actuation allowed Rotor to build the indexing into the derailleur (instead of having it in the shifter, like on mechanical drivetrains). According to Rotor, this allows for much more accurate shifting and requires far less maintenance. Being hydraulic inherently eliminates cable tension, which not only prevents cable stretching and environmental effects, it also allows a couple other neat tricks. One such feature is the Return to Origin button, a small silver button on the side of the derailleur that you can see in a couple of the photos. This allows it to shift all the way to the smallest cog when pushed—a nice perk for wheel removal. In addition, there’s also a small disengagement lever built into the cage for the same purpose.
*For the record, that $2,800 for the Adventure Groupset includes brakes, levers, cables, drivetrain, and a full alloy wheelset. All in all, I wouldn’t really consider the Rotor 1×13 drivetrain/groupset a great fit for our brand of bikepacking, but it does offer a nice stepped gear range and some interesting engineering advances over other drivetrains. Find out more at RotorBike.com.
POST Transfer Case
The POST Transfer Case is one of the more compact and well-built bike travel cases I’ve seen in person. The exterior is made of 600D polyester and ballistic nylon, while internal rigid polycarbonate side panels give it a sturdy feel with crush protection for the bike. The Transfer Case comes in two sizes (135 and 150) and is designed to carry a full-sized road or gravel bike up to 62cm in size. It can also take some mountain bikes, according to POST. And they say it’s compact enough to avoid airline fees in many circumstances, but that’s not guaranteed.
In addition, it has a few interesting features that make it easy to move around, such as wheels and backpack straps. The POST Transfer Case retails for $399. Find more info over at PostCarry.co (make sure to scroll down for an FAQ and details).
Bontrager unveiled WaveCel, their new helmet safety technology that’s available exclusively in Bontrager helmets. If your wallet permits, it looks pretty interesting if you place a high priority on your brain. WaveCel is a collapsible cellular structure that lines the inside of specific helmets and works like a crumple zone that absorbs the force of an impact before it reaches your head. According to Bontrager, it approaches impact similarly to MIPS. And unlike traditional foam helmets, which theoretically only save your skull against direct impacts, WaveCel accounts for less-than-graceful accidents with twists, turns, and angled impacts, absorbing impact in any direction.
WaveCel helmets are available in road, mountain, and commuter designs, and Bontrager claims they’re “remarkably effective at preventing concussions caused by common cycling accidents.” Giving new meaning to the phrase, put a price on your head, the Blaze WaveCel LTD mountain bike helmet shown here retails for a whopping $299. Learn more over at TrekBikes.com.
Bontrager XR3 Team Issue Tires and more
Bontrager and Trek also had a few new tires on display, such as the GR2 Team Issue Gravel Tire (700c x 40mm) and the new XR3 Team Issue TLR MTB Tire—available in 29 x 2.4″ or 27.5 x 2.8″. And, although not 100% relevant to bikepacking, the new Aeolus Pro 3V TLR gravel wheels with a 25mm internal width carbon rim.
Roswheel Bikepacking Bags
Roswheel is a relatively new brand from China offering a few new bags with a couple interesting features. All the Roswheel bags are welded and seam-sealed from a PU-coated nylon. They also all use their own coated webbing straps for fastening. Otherwise, the accessory bags and frame bag are similar to other, existing designs, and the seat pack is hauntingly similar to the longstanding Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion. However, I found the handlebar rack and bag to be fairly interesting.
As you can see in the second to fourth photos, the handlebar system features a welded alloy rack with plastic clamps that fasten to the handlebar and allow the rack to slide up or down for height adjustment. In essence, this system—similar to the Salsa Anything Cradle and Hunter’s Stem Rack—is designed to keep the load away from cables and in a nice and low position. I was a bit perplexed by the design at first, but they showed me how it prevents rotation via a plastic-tipped stop screw underneath the stem. It’s a clever design, although I’m unsure about its durability. A test is in order, perhaps. Find out more over at Roswheel.com.
Redshift Kitchen Sink Handlebars and more
Redshift Sports had a full booth at the show displaying their Shockstop Stem and Seatpost, the latter of which we covered here. The company also had a couple new products on hand. One was the Kitchen Sink handlebars. The new drop bar will be available in 44, 46, and 48cm widths (measured at the hoods) with either the integrated aero loop, as shown, or without. The Kitchen Sink bars have a 25° flare with 12° of sweep, a 70mm reach, 110mm of drop, and a 20mm rise. Along with Redshift’s new Endurance Dropbar Grip System—one pair of wing-style grips that fit under the tape on top of the bars and another pair that fit at the ends of the drops—these things offer a boatload of comfortable hand positions that might be of interest to Tour Dividers and other long-distance endurance cyclists. Both the bars and grips are still in prototype mode, so pricing and availability has not yet been determined.
Their new suspension-dropper seatpost was also on display. The ShockDrop uses the same suspension system as the ShockStop seatpost, but doubles as a dropper. Although these are still in prototype stage, expect two versions for mountain and gravel/all-road bikes. Both prototypes on display have 35mm of suspension travel. The 27.2mm version offers 60mm of dropper travel and the larger 30.9 and 31.6mm models feature 100mm of drop. Stay tuned for more info as it arises and check out RedshiftSports.com.
2020 Rockshox Pike Ultimate
Out of a half-dozen or so suspension forks I’ve tried over the last year, I’d have to say the RockShox Pike has been my personal favorite, so far. Over the last few years they’ve been tweaking the Pike’s internals and it keeps getting better. For the 2020 lineup, the company made significant upgrades to the seals, engineered a new type of oil, and introduced the new Charger 2 damper system, all in effort to make the forks smoother than their predecessors. And in hopes of clarifying the product line, the entire lineup gets a new set of naming conventions for 2020.
To spell this out, Rockshox’s high-end fork models are now called the Signature Series. In addition to the dual-crown Boxxer, this series includes three single-crown models: SID (100/120mm cross-country), Pike (120-160mm trail), and Lyrik (150-180mm trail/enduro), which cover the full spectrum of travel lengths and riding styles. This new title helps identify them as the top shelf options over their cheaper companions (Recon, Reba, Revelation, etc).
That said, things still get a little fuzzy within each model line. For example, the Pike now comes in several flavors, the Select ($699), Select+ (OEM only), or top of the line Ultimate (with either a Charger 2.1 RC2 damper option, featuring independent high and low speed compression adjust, or the Charger 2.1 RCT3 damper option featuring 3-position compression adjust (open/pedal/firm) with low speed compression adjust) for $929. There’s a lot to consider and dig into with these, including the gloss silver color way, so find all the tech info for the Pike line here, the Pike Ultimate here, and more about the Charger 2.1 damper here.
OruCase bike padding system
Orucase, makers of the stealthy Airport Ninja Bike Travel Case, had a prototype cut-to-order bike padding kit on display. The kit is designed to work with Orucase’s line of bike travel cases and looks like an excellent long-term replacement for all that tape and foam that most folks use when boxing up a bike. Keep an eye on OruCase.com for details.
EVOC Bike Travel Bag Pro
I’ve had my eye on the EVOC Bike Travel Bag Pro for quite some time. It’s pretty well-known in the world of bike travel bags. The case is substantial, touted to be rugged, and designed to fit almost any bike, including a 29+ dirt-tourer and bikes with a wheelbase up to 130cm. The latest incarnation has an integrated aluminum bike stand that allows the bike frame to be bolted to it via its dropouts. The stand comes with a variety of axle size inserts, too. The case itself is based around a one-piece molded bottom panel and wheel chassis. In addition, the Bike Travel Bag Pro has several straps and inserts to encapsulate and secure wheels and the frame. It also sports large skate wheels for towing around the airport.
The EVOC Bike Travel Bag Pro has 310 liters of packing space and weighs about 10kg (including the Clip-On Wheel and bike stand). It measures 147 x 36 x 85cm (136 x 27 x 80cm internal) and is collapsible to 147 x 36 x 22cm for storage. Although I couldn’t find the MSRP directly, it appears the EVOC Bike Travel Bag Pro retails for $730 USD. Learn more over at EvocSports.com.
Teravail had its full range of tires on display, including the new Rutland, a gravel tire in 700c x 42mm, 700c x 38mm and 650B x 47mm in either black or tan sidewalls. They also had the new MTB tires lined up, including the Ehline tires in 27.5 and 29″ sizes, both in 2.3 or 2.5″ widths and black or tan sidewalls. And, the burlier Honcho in 2.4 and 2.6″ widths in 27.5 and 29″ casings, also in black or tan. Read more about all these tires in our post here.
Although we don’t have a ton of details, Topeak had new bottle cages, tools, lights, and pumps on display. The cages featured integrated tire levers and several tool variations. The new line of pumps all had an analog gauge, including the one in the photo gallery, the 60TPI Mountain DA G. Topeak also had their relatively new CubiCubi light system on display, as well as their bikepacking bags with a tweaked interlocking handlebar spacers. More details over at Topeak.com.
Abus Helmet With Tinted Visor
The new mountain bike specific Abus Montrailer helmets looked pretty nice, especially the tinted visor. I’m a big fan of a hefty visor as a sunscreen, but sometimes it’d be nice to have a little more visibility, such as the other night while I was cycling through a gnat hatching in rural Arkansas; I wore sunglasses but was thinking how nice this visor would have been in that situation. Unfortunately, the high-end MIPS model isn’t available here in the US, yet. Find more details over at Abus.com.
Hydro Flask and Hydrapack
Hydro Flask was highlighting their new Journey Series insulated hydration backpacks. The packs use Hydrapak’s new Cold Flow system which the company claims keeps water cold for over four hours. The system integrates an insulated neoprene reservoir sleeve with a reflective lining to maintain water temperature. The Journey packs come in either 10- or 20-liter sizes, each in two sizes for varying torso lengths, both with a 3-liter Hydrapack reservoir and Bite Blast system. The packs aren’t incredibly lightweight, though. The 20L weighs 3.5 pounds and the 10L weighs in at 3 pounds. The packs come in Brick, Jade, or Black and retail for $165 and $200. More over at Hydroflask.com.
Hydrapak also had its insulated hose kit on display. The Hydrafusion tube helps keep water cooler and includes a 36” TPU tube and Blaster Valve for $15. More at Hydrapak.com.
Amidst a sea of carbon, I luckily stumbled upon a couple metal hardtails, keeping my sanity in check. On the left, a size medium Why Cycles Wayward—which I’d shot before, but it looked surprisingly new. Apparently, all it takes to make titanium new again is a scotchbrite pad. Plus, it got a shiny new set of ultralight Revelate bags–the Pronghorn system up front, and the dropper-specific Vole out back.
On the right, the Breezer Lightning Team 29er with a seamless-drawn Japanese steel frame, Fox 34 Rhythm 120mm-travel fork, 1×12 NX/GX Eagle drivetrain, and 29″ WTB TCS Tubeless rims and tires. More over at BreezerBikes.com.
Stay tuned for a couple more posts featuring more bikes from the 2019 Sea Otter Classic. Also, be sure to follow all of our coverage at this tag: seaotterclassic2019.