From the Depths of Sea Otter (Part 3)
In our third report from the maze of products, people, and booths that make up the 2022 Sea Otter Classic, Evan Christenson finds a dozen more noteworthy new products and a few other interesting stories worth sharing. 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 hop on the train and cover Sea Otter in his signature style. Here’s the third installment (find his reports from days one and two linked at the bottom of this post):
Day three was another one of rolling through the dusty bowels of the Sea Otter. Another day of giggles and bike nerdery. It was cooler, finally, and the day was capped off with a hectic slalom finale with some really fast person winning it. Here’s some of the interesting stuff I found throughout my time wandering around the grounds.
I finally made it over to the Surly booth, where they gave me a sneak peek of the soon-to-be-released (in June) Porterhouse and Petite Porterhouse commuter bags. They’re designed around Surly’s classic 8 and 24-Pack Racks. Roll-top, water-resistant, mostly recycled fabric, and daisy chains make them look very utilitarian.
The Salsa booth next door was showcasing a Fargo set up for bikepacking and running daily raffles giving away a set of bikepacking bags. Also on display was the infamous chaise lounge, which I was shocked to see people sit on after the naked photos I’ve also seen of people 150 miles into a gravel ride.
Peter and Karina
Amid the noise, I also bumped into Peter and Karina, a couple from Austria, nine months into a one-year tour from Portland to San Felipe and back. They stopped by the Classic to check it out and darted from booth to booth searching for free inner tubes, brake pads, and water bottles.
New Wolf Tooth Tools
Wolf Tooth announced two new fancy tools. First, the 6-Bit Hex Wrench, a pared-down set of their 8-bit Pack Pliers. It features an interesting locking key ring that locks in to make sure the swinging door doesn’t open. Inside, a set of hexes (2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6mm’s) a T10 and T25 bit, and both Phillips and flat head screw bits. On the outside is a built-in 8mm that the bits slide into. It retails for $48 with the locking key ring and $40 without.
The new, aptly named, Axle Handle Multi-Tool retails for $30 and screws into any Wolf Tooth rear axle with a threaded end (axle sold separately). On the inside is a fixed, 5/6mm stepped hex head, and on the outside is a slot for a bit set. Inside, a small magnet holds two bits, and the wrench comes with 4 bits in total, so you have to choose your favorite two. The bits it comes with are all paired as 4/2mm hex, 2.5/3mm hex, T10/T25, and a Phillips/flathead. Find a full photo gallery and thoughts on that here.
Lezyne Pocket Torque Drive
Also launched at Sea Otter was the new Lezyne Pocket Torque Drive, a pared-down version of their classic Torque Drive. It packs surprisingly small and features a separate wrench to screw in the tensioner for the torque setting. It ranges from 2-6nM and comes with a bit set including 2.5, 3, 4, and 5mm hexes and T20 and T25 bits.
Park tool TPT-1
The final pertinent new tool announced at Sea Otter was the TPT-1 from Park Tool. It’s a tubeless plug kit including 5 bacon strips. It retails for $36.95 and is refillable.
I was losing my mind amid all the $15,000 road bikes and returned to the Hudski booth to explore my inner artist. When I arrived, they were doing budget daycare, and after the crying kids were pulled away by their parents, I had my own try at Japanese paper marbling. Long live Hudski!
5Dev seems to be growing in the mountain bike community for its striking and beautiful CNC-machined aluminum pieces. They’re all machined out of 7075 aluminum in my hometown of San Diego. 5Dev is a personal project of the owners of the much larger machining company 5th Axis Inc, which manufactures machining equipment for military and medical uses. Their shop is apparently one of the biggest machine shops in North America.
New Five Ten Trailcross Clipless Shoes
5Ten Adidas just announced their new Trailcross clipless shoe, now in its fifth edition, and it’s built to be more walkable, breathable, and casual. It features a half shank, a dotted trail pattern, and walkable toe and heal with a raised mid section. It’s designed for a raised platform clipless pedal and retails for $160.
The newly accounted components brand from Bombtrack, SEIDO, had some parts on display. They were apparently announced so recently that they only made it to Sea Otter on day three of the expo! Among the components on display were the new Stage Rack ($134) featuring a simple strut design, the RGT fork ($467), and their cargo cages.
1996 Nukeproof Reactor
I learned that Nukeproof was originally a Michigan company that built a loyal following for their carbon handlebars and carbon-shelled hubs before moving over to the UK. The original Reactor was built around an 80mm linkage fork, and this one had a Shimano M950 3×8 groupset. Oh, how things have changed…
Microshift Advent 20” Drivetrain
Microshift’s newest drivetrain is a 9-speed 1x drivetrain specifically targeted at kid’s bikes. It features a super short derailleur cage so it doesn’t scrape on the ground, plus short throws in the shifter. It retails for $126 for the 9-speed version and $92 for the 8-speed drivetrain (both are 11-38T). It includes a shifter, derailleur, and cassette, but no chain.
MountainFLOW Eco Wax
MountainFLOW, a company based out of Carbondale, Colorado, is tackling the micropollutants that are often overlooked by the cycling industry. They started with an all-natural ski wax after reading studies about petroleum-based ski waxes affecting fragile alpine ecosystems. They’re now making a range of cleaning products, lubes, and brushes with the same ethos. Their bottles are 100% post-consumer recycled with no excess packaging, their brushes have bamboo handles and are also post-consumer recycled, and their lubes are water rather than alcohol-based. Right now, they have a wet, all-weather, dry, and wax lube. Does it work? I took two bottles home to find out!
Corvus Crow Pass
I stopped by the Corvus booth, a newer brand (formerly Fatback) from the minds behind Knight Composites. They’re based out of Bend, Oregon, and they let me ride a new Crow Pass around. This is Scott, the owner of the company’s bike, with a prototype steel fork that’s built to take him from the back of his house to the rivers Bend is famous for. A frame retails for $2,900 with a Cane Creek headset and their own carbon fork. I liked the dedicated portage handle on the drive side for tougher hike-a-bikes, and I’m hoping to get my hands on one for a longer review at some point. Read more about that here.
X-Fusion Emanic Wireless Dropper
I got a sneak peek of the still-being-prototyped Mmanic wireless dropper from X-Fusion. It weighs 669 grams, runs on standard, store-bought coin cell batteries, and might be a worthwhile addition to a bikepacking setup. They hope to launch it by the end of the year.
More from Sea Otter
Dig into parts one of our 2022 Sea Otter coverage below and find a couple other links mentioned:
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