What's Cool In Road Cycling

Otterly Cool Gear: Best Bits From Monterey

It’s only an hour flight, direct from Phoenix to what turned out to be another “sunny Otter”.  Laguna Seca Raceway is basically a big bowl of mud that also happens to be home to 2.238 miles of curved pavement.

“Laguna Seca” actually means “Dry Lagoon” as the whole place used to be a lake.   And while “sunny otter” means for a fantastic few days for both the cycling industry people and the racers, fans and consumers, “foul Otter” can be the nastiest combination of damp, bone chilling coastal wind and rain that will cause the ground to suck the shoes off your feet.

Praise be for Sunny Otter and some of the best kit under that sun…

The first booth I popped in to was Stage Race Distribution.  This is a new distribution home for a select few products that gear geeks like me have been aching for in North America, one of them being custom Italian carbon from Scapin…


For better than 50 years, Scapin have been an instantly recognizable brand in Europe and they’re making a few very nice products, from the Ivor shown above, to the Etika below…


Scapin are making these in custom configuration using a combination of construction methods to suite the rider.  They’re also offering a selection of stock sizes and a couple of other models that are made in the same painstaking fashion as a one off, but with a bit more friendly price point given they can cut and finish the tubing in a bit higher volume which saves a bit of time.

The models are nice to look at from a distance but as you get up close, the detail starts to pop a little…  The Ivor has a detailed head tube that integrates cables (either electronic or mechanical groups) as a part of the design, rather than an afterthought.


A more solid take on standard drop outs is another feature for Scapin.


They sandwich the solid carbon dropout in a metal that is better suited to the serration on both QR’s and Hubs.

The Ivor uses an ISP system with its own mast topper.


This will come with spacers that should allow a properly cut mast to be fine-tuned to suite a substantial enough height range to allow for saddle changes, cleat changes etc. (removing some of the pucker factor of ISP).

The Etika goes with very slick seat post design that a few folks mistook for another clean ISP set up, but is actually a very clean twist allowing for the standard adjustability of a traditional seat post.


These bikes are shipping right now and the cost for the two models shown is between $4k and $5k, depending on the details you’ll choose.  And as bespoke Italian is really all about the choices, these prices are a bargain relative to several off the rack frames available.

Stage Race Distribution are also home to a brand that’s had some popularity in North America but frankly needed a better home.

Lake Shoes are back
We reviewed the CX401 and 236 a while back and the 401 is still their top of the heap for road, but Lake have a new CX331…


The 331 gets the easy closure of BOA on a Kangaroo last as well as a new moldable carbon heel.


And they’ll come in standard men’s, men’s wide and women’s specific size runs.

The CX401 gets some customization options for a pretty economical price point.  You’ll be able to choose your upper color and they’re adding the ability to print graphics (though that is more of a team issue / larger run option due to set up cost.


Lake have also have a slick winter shoe (black) and cross version of the 331 shoe with an option driven from the customized requests of their pro athletes…


The cross shoe’s grip points are interchangeable based on course conditions and rider prefs.  You can choose from metal teeth, rubber cleats and or nothing at all…


And keep an eye out here at Pez, as Lake had a hidden couple of samples of the next range topping road shoe (that we’re already trying to get our hands, er, feet on).


The new kicks have a tentative name of the 402, but I would bet they’ll have a better twist on this by the time the shoes see retail space, likely sometime in the fall.

And we’ll finish the Stage Race expo with Austrian Wheel builders Xentis

This is a brand that’s had both weight weenies and aero weenies tongues wagging for quite a while but have mostly been the property of European riders (and publications).  Now we get a crack at em here in North America…

They had several wheel sets on display, but the hoops that stuck out were a set of mid depth SQUAD 5.8 Tubulars…


We’ll get in to more details later, but these stood out for their fairly neat take on an aerodynamic tripwire that is a raised scalloped edge that starts immediately under the brake track.


And the brake track it’s self was a pretty interesting texture and a very even surface…  Xentis have a process for post machining that they’re claiming will work extremely well.


And because of the resin and material choice, the net product is more durable long term than previous editions at Xentis as well as several other wheel brands that put a coating on a surface that is no place near as flat and consistent as this machined surface.

Xentis also have their own hubs designed to handle straight pull spoke patterns with very little bending stress on the spokes.  And they take the extra step of offset spoke paths at the rim as well.


A nice touch that alleviates some of the typical stress on the spoke and rim bed / attachment point.

Stage Race has availability on Xentis products now and will be growing that line in the months ahead…

Just across the Austrian border sits the company whose name came from their desire to the focal point of bicycle development…

Focus Bicycles
This German brand is firmly planted in racing as the founder Mike Kluge is a multiple World Champion in Cyclocross and is also logically plugged in to the racing that happens at both ends of that sport, fully on road and off.

They had loads of rigs on display at Otter but the one that I gravitated to was of course the top of the road-race range.  The AG2R Izalco Team SL.


A lot of the frame’s German design seems pretty similar to last year, but the company put a “focus” on weight for the 2013 model year and knocked the better part of half a pound from the Izalco frame.

The new model tips in at 960 grams through a more closely scrutinized layup schedule for the carbon and a change to the molds that now integrates the headset and BB as solid carbon, getting rid of the metal sleeves and bonding material for the past model.

This year sees internal routing for Campy’s EPS shifting…


Focus are in-molding the cable channels and say that the added material not only eases set up, but adds tube stiffness, though I wasn’t able to ask where the tubes run and in what direction the stiffness is added. These are rolling now and you can find a bit more (or less, as Focus don’t go in for a whole lot of hype) at Focus-bikes.com

We’ll be back with a bit more from Monterey in a couple of days…

Thanks very much for reading,
Charles Manantan

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.