After a two-and-a-half-year pandemic induced hiatus, the Sea Otter Classic at the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey County, California, returned to its full form with racing across most disciplines of road and mountain biking, and a product expo. Here are some of the coolest things we saw.
Wilier Filante SLR Disc UNICO Limited Edition
Only 200 of these limited edition frames made in collaboration with Japanese graffiti artist Jun Inoue to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Shimano Iron Works were produced, and, sorry, they’re already sold out. It’s another amazing paint job on a Wilier bike, long regarded for their beautiful finishes. Look for a review of the Filante SLR in issue 105 of Peloton!
Specialized S-Works Crux
The recently revamped Specialized S-Works Crux has been reimagined from a pure cyclocross racer to an ultra-lightweight gravel racer. The performance geometry that made it a successful ‘cross bike has stuck around to make this a nimble-as-ever-racer, while getting room for larger tires—47c or 650b x 2.1” to open up even more terrain. By borrowing advancements made on the Aethos road frame, the Crux reaches an impossibly light 725 grams for the S-Works version frame, helping keep the weight well below 17 pounds for a race-ready gravel bike. Like most S-Works frames, this one sill set you back a pretty penny (1.2 million pennies to be precise).
Redshift Arclight Pedals
Putting lights on pedals is a bit of a no-brainer when you think about it. Because pedals are constantly moving, lights in this location better catch drivers’ attention on the road than those mounted on the handlebars or a seatpost. But Redshift Arclight pedals don’t just put lights in this location, they do so with a truly smart design. Rechargeale LED strips slot into both sides of the pedals and automatically detect the direction they’re facing, quickly changing between red and white as needed, The pedals also turn on as soon as motion is detected, and back off after a period of inactivity, so you don’t have to think about anything. Redshift also makes handlebar and seatpost mounts for the LED strips which again can detect direction and automatically switch between red and white light. And the pedal itself is made from aluminum, so it’s built to last. It may not be something for your road or gravel bike, but anyone with a city/commuter bike should take a serious look at these pedals.
Panaracer x BUCK!T Reclaimed Tire Handlebar Bag
Mistakes happen in production for any product. For the longest time, there was nothing Panaracer could do with the factory reject tires that weren’t up to snuff. But through a collaboration with Girona-based bag maker BUCK!T, those rejects are getting saved from the trash bin and being turned into handlebar and saddle bags like the GravelKing GKSK Handlebar Bag. It seems like a perfect use for the reject tires, turning them into an ultra-durable bag. The bags retail for $150 for handlebar and $75 for seabags.
Kuat Piston Pro X
The Piston Pro X is easily Kuat’s most premium rack ever. Hydro-pneumatic arms unfold at the touch of a button, making for true single-handed operation. And integrated taillights provide an extra layer of safety. Everything about the rack is made to last, from the all-metal construction, to the Kashima coating and no-fade powder coat. It fits just about any bike short of a tandem, up to a 53-inch wheelbase, 5-inch tire width and 18-to-29-inch wheels. And with a 67-pound weight limit per bike tray, it can handle most e-bikes too. (the arms can also fold down to the ground to, with an additional accessory, aid rolling heavy bikes onto it). This rack simply does it all with ease—as it should for the $1,389 price tag. Available in early 2022.
Saris Door County Rack
Premium racks were something of a trend at this year’s show. Saris has made something a little bit different for the e-bike market with the Door County. Rather than include a ramp to roll heavy e-bikes onto this rack, it includes electronic controls to physically lower the rack to ground level for easy loading. It also includes taillights. Those electronics and ease of use bring the cost up to $1,200.
Unreleased Hunt Climbing Wheels
British wheel maker Hunt had a set of new hoops at the show, but wouldn’t share many details. However, from what we can tell, these forthcoming wheels appear to be purpose made for climbers. The rims are about 30mm deep, and they feel feathery, joining the growing number of wheelset weighing below 1,300 grams with hookless rims.
In response to the ever tougher roads that gravel riders are taking on, Alchemy has made a new gravel model that’s up for bigger challenges. The Rogue features wider tire clearance up to 700x48c, and a reworked geometry that includes a slack headtube angle. Like all Alchemy carbon fiber bikes, this model is made by hand in Colorado from the brand’s own carbon material. Full builds from $7,999
Aeroe Bikepacking Racks and Bags
Hailing from New Zealand, Aeroe makes bikepacking racks and bags to accommodate just about any bike. The system of racks mount to the rear of the bike, as well as the fork and handlebar, cradling either a dry bag or a hardshell pod. Whether you have a road, gravel or mountain bike, this system seems to be able to work on just about anything, adapting as needed for your adventures.
LizardSkins DSP 4.6 Tape
Chalk this one up to the slow but steady pace of incrementalism. Where LizardSkins DSP 3.2 tape once felt pretty thick, almost a little chunky, now it feels perfectly normal under our palms. With gravel booming, riders are seeking even more comfort, and the even thicker LizardSkins DSP 4.6 tape answers. And though it’s noticeably more padded in the demo bars the brand had in its booth, it doesn’t feel unwieldy or excessive. We’ll have to see how that changes after a real gravel ride, though. A set costs $53 and comes in four colors.
North St. Bags Pioneer 9
Hailing from bike-centric Portland, Oregon, North St. Bags has developed a following for its solidly made, innovative bags like a convertible pannier backpack. The brand has also rolled out a few environmentally minded initiatives, like using recycled material as well as reclaimed/salvaged material from products no longer in use. This Pioneer 9 Hip Pack is made from reclaimed material that once was part of another product which was no longer being used. And though it is advertised as a hip pack, it can also be used as a crossbody bag and converts into a handlebar bag. $80; northstbags.com
Feedback Sports GRVL GRNDR Omnium Trainer
Any coach worth their salt has no doubt ingrained into each of us the importance of taking practice seriously, because how we perform in practice is how we’ll perform in the real game or race. That’s why Feedback Sports has created the GRVL GRNDR Omnium Trainer, which puts gravel onto the rollers to mimic the conditions of the real world gravel roads. It’s Kansas, in your garage.
Ok, this product is definitely a joke “coming no time soon to a dealer near you,” but we bet the good folks at Feedback could sell more than a few of these if they wanted to.
Sage StormKing GP
File this one under iterative change. The Stormking was already Portland, Oregon-based titanium outfit Sage’s burliest gravel bike, made to take on the roughest roads. Designed to take full advantage of the new SRAM XPLR components, including the Rock Shox front suspension fork, the new GP version takes things to another level. Subtle tweaks to make this frame ride at its best with suspension include a shorter headtube, reduction in headtube angle, lengthening the chainstays and slackening the seat tube angle. Like any quality handmade titanium frame, this one will set you back. Check out the full details at sagetitanium.com.