From the Depths of Sea Otter (Part 2): Come on Legs!
In our second report from the cacophony of the 2022 Sea Otter Classic, Evan Christenson uncovers some more unique people and things, including a couple of new seat packs, a 3D printed bike, and stories about a handful of riders and their rigs. See it all here…
With a full schedule this spring, instead of burning jet fuel to make the trek from the East Coast and beyond, we hired Californian contributor Evan Christenson to cover Sea Otter in his signature style. He made it to the event via train and bike and will be posting reports over the next few days. Here’s the second installment (find his report from day one here):
My second day of Sea Otter was marked with even more old friends, cooler temps, chaotic race action serving for background noise, and overall good vibes. I met plenty of new friends today too, mostly pushing around the few loaded bikes at the venue.
My highlight of the day was listening to Erick Cedeño, the Bicycle Nomad, preach bike touring philosophy to the guys at the Blackburn booth. He’s gearing up for a ride this summer that will retrace the route first ridden by the U.S Army 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, a group of African-American infantry riding from Fort Missoula to St. Louis back in 1897. They set out to determine for the Army if the bicycle could be a viable mode of transport for military activity—which they obviously got wrong, judging by the 200,000 humvees acquired by the Army in the last two decades.
Erick is riding this trip on a Niner RLT 9 fitted with a set of Blackburn bags. He aims to do it in the same 41-day span, riding the 1,900 mile stretch in a pursuit of dignity he says. His smile, energy, and passion were contagious. I carried them with me throughout the entire day.
Hudski Doggler (1.2)
I walked over to the Hudski booth just as Tree set out to fly his pair of legs. “Come on legs!” is a thing I’ve yelled many times racing at Sea Otter over the years, but this brought the phrase to a whole new meaning.
The crew at Hudski showed me around the slightly updated Doggler with a lower bottom bracket and slackened head tube angle. I rode the bike around for a bit and loved its playfulness. They invited me back tomorrow for an ink/water painting session. “Maybe you’ll unlock something deep within yourself,” co-founder Brian said with a wink.
The Readers’ Rigs
I met several smiling faces on loaded and/or wacky bikes today.
First was Camacho, working in the booth at KMC. He was riding a Kona Unit X with Moné moto bars. He rode the bike on a six-day trip from his home in the San Francisco Bay earlier this year.
Immediately after, I bumped into Ahmadeo Levi Luna, a bikepacker from Texas who now works for Mikes Bikes, also based out of the Bay. They’re planning a ride home to Texas on their Salsa Marrakesh soon.
Next was Grayson, an industrial designer at Blackburn who had his Wyganowski grocery getter on display in the booth. He pulled the vintage White Industries hubs from a dumpster and built them into the Velocity A23 wheelset.
Afterward, I met Brian Cleveland from Bosch, who followed four riders traveling from LA to Sea Otter on e-bikes on his own, this wicked loaded up Benno e-cargo bike with tri-extensions. He carried six bicycle batteries, a small compressor, clothes, a full tool roll, and more. The full rig weighed around 250 pounds.
Then I met Nick Martin, founder of the Pro’s Closet, riding around the expo on a super retro Yeti with
an aero insert in the rear wheel an interesting rear wheel: the Tioga Disc Drive (aka “Tension Disc”), a 90s era innovation that used kevlar strands and carbon fiber in place of spokes, with built-in suspension.
Later, I wasn’t quite start struck, but something close to it, to find TecGnar, the Instagram glitter influencer, painting cell phones for a group of teenage boys. His disco bling glitter Yeti Sb150 was on display, and he was kind enough to pop a wheelie for me.
Finally, I met AJ and his daughter Summer, locals riding around the expo and handing out stickers detailing the healing properties of good energy. He was riding another e-cargo bike, but this one with surfboard rack mounts and panniers used to hold wetsuits.
New Bike Flights Box
Bike Flights was showcasing their new box. It’s Amazon ISTA 6 certified, and apparently, the only bike box to be certified by Amazon. It comes with everything you need to pack your bike, including bungees, a foam bottom bracket stand, and two neat sliding axle blocks to make sure your fork and rear triangle don’t get crushed.
The Bike Flights Box weighs 22 pounds, is made from virgin cardboard, and costs $129 shipped to your door (in the US, international is another $25).
Giro Ride Clothing Line
Giro launched a new men’s and women’s (pictured) clothing line at Sea Otter. The Ride Series is a more casual fitting activewear line tailored toward bikepacking. The shirt is a merino/poly blend, with pockets on the back, and a soft touch. It retails for $95.
The shorts are non-padded, with a shorter inseam, zipper pockets on the side and rear, and regular hand pockets. The “Havoc Durablend” is a polyester blend that is more than 50% post-consumer recycled. They retail for $130
New Topeak Backloader X and Wishbone
The Topeak Backloader X (and separately available Wishbone) was an interesting take on the saddlebag. The Backloader X ($115 for 10L, $130 for 15L) features a clamshell design that fits a welded dry bag with an air-release valve. The Wishbone ($45, available in June), bolts onto the saddle rails and serves to stabilize the saddlebag, while adding two sets of bottle bosses on both sides.
Ortlieb Seat-Pack and Handlebar-Pack QR
Ortlieb was out here showing their new SeatPack QR and Handlebar Pack QR. The Seat-Pack, (just reviewed by Logan) was a really smart design, and the Handlebar-Pack QR follows suit with classic Ortlieb smart design. It features two cords that loop around the stem and lock in with cams to cinch the bag to the bars. It’s 100% waterproof, holds 11L, and retails for $160.
New Bell 4Forty Helmet
The updated 4Forty features rotational MIPS, a magnetic clip, and a comfy, albeit round, fit. It retails for $140.
For my favorite bike of the show (so far?), Crankbrothers has collaborated with Forbidden and TRP to build up this absolutely stunning enduro bike. Its paint job is inspired by the 1980s Lotus F1 cars and is being raffled off to raise money for the Text Crisis Line. Did I enter the drawing? I certainly did.
3D Printed Bike
Lucas told me to check out the Superstrata Classic, the first-ever 3D-printed carbon bicycle. If nothing else, we figured it’d likely stir up some conversation. This bike, retailing for $2,500, weighing 1.5kg for the frame alone, and using the same frame as their similar e-bike but without the battery and hub-driven motor, rode like an I-beam. When I wheelied it, the handlebars rolled back into my lap. When I asked why a 3D-printed bike, they said it allows custom geometry for every consumer.
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