What's Cool In Road Cycling

Sea Otter Gear ’15: Round 1

The 2015 Sea Otter Classic was another sunny wonderland of gear surrounded by non-stop racing. While I wish for rain every day that I’m not in Monterey, sun is all I want while I’m there. Here’s Round 1 of our gear coverage from the 2015 Sea Otter Classic: W Cup Nutrition, Parlee Z-Zero Cross disc, Lazer Blade and glasses, Elite Candea bottle, Velo saddles and Panaracer Gravel King tires.

Perhaps the best find for me from a selfish and personal perspective was the introduction of W Cup to the US through Stage Race Distribution.

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While there is no shortage of product specific energy bar specialists or drink powder specialists or drink flask specialists or prerace meal specialists or gel specialists, W Cup are a broad line company with VERY good products through the range of specialties.

They have a great bar…

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Great real fruit gel stuff

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Drink powders in small and large and medium containers…

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Drink squeezy things…

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W Cup also have a host of things that are not typical like energy cakes (with a taste and texture that doesn’t make you feel like you’re eating what will become an unpassable colon blockage).

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As well as small turbo booster gels that have a large dose of caffeine, prerace meal mix (just add water) in a few flavors that are stacked with good stuff in fairly high concentration, protein shakes with variable flavors and content, wake up shots, and recovery mixes.

And here’s the thing…

Most of this stuff is very digestible as a priority.

I’ve used their products for years and you’ve seen pro riders winning every major race in Europe using their products (regardless of what the sponsors have stamped on the cars and bags and jerseys…). And it’s all down to this stuff being as or more easily consumed than whole / regular food while on the bike.

The nutritional value of the “during rides” type products is good, but it’s packaged in a way that makes it fairly light duty to get in your mouth and to digest while rolling.

Here’s hoping they hustle with this stuff for the US / Canadian markets. There isn’t another company with the road credibility or product line on this continent.

Go to: W Cup’s site for more product info.
Contact Stage Race Distribution for availability in North America.

Parlee Cycles brought their new uber-cross custom Z Zero…

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This was the first time seeing Parlee’s new in- house fork for most people

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It was also another chance for Parlee to show off their growing painting capacity as people were crowding around to get a look at the pearl coat design hidden in the deep blue base.

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The in house made tube set seemed to move as your eyes moved… Really well done.

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Of course this was all coating what other folks would call the real beauty in their custom built carbon work…

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Parlee use a process similar to the Original Custom Z series that hand lays carbon fabric in directional support and then puts an even top layer on before a proprietary molding process… The result is a lug-like look.

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But without a lot of the bulk that used to be the norm as Parlee are making their own tube sets with a slight step down near the joint so that the net result is all of the directional support of wrapped layers but with a very smooth transition.

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Parlee are making all of the carbon for the Zero series now, including the slick rear end.

The Zero series comes for road as well (disc and standard rim brakes) with a host of options, all in custom geometry.

You can see these and more (including Parlee’s new production product) at PARLEECYCLES.COM

Lazer have made a big splash with a retention system that has changed the helmet landscape and forced other manufacturers to respond. They’re on most shopping lists for top line, top price units but they’ve thrown a bit of a curve at the market with the new Blade…

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Here’s a lid with their ARS (Advanced Rollsys System) that cradles your head rather than simply smashing it forward into the shell as most helmet systems do.

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It’s adjustable in the rear for coverage as well…

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And has good channeling between the 22 vents for airflow.

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The weight is a respectable 150 grams (Medium) and there are 9 color choices that are all fairly conservative looking…

All of this points to another $300 bike helmet except that Lazer forgot to charge you the other $210 bucks… This will run you $90.

Lazer also brought a few new shades… Their performance line is expanding

The Radon is a new full wrap style with Carbon Temples and a large field of view with lenses shaped to hold the curve in relation to your eyeball (helping maintain clarity and focus as you look around).

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The Radon have photochromic lens options and easy swapping between lenses. The nose piece is minimal and adjustable making these fairly comfortable.

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These glasses are either called the Krypton KR1 or Magneto M2…

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Note the short stubby temple piece that goes with Lazer’s helmets and attach via magnet. That’s when you call this style “Magneto”. They’re very slick, especially when wearing anything under your helmet for either warmth or sweat shedding. They also work well with music devices (and most of the smart people are wearing ear buds that sit near your ear canal rather than the less safe in-ear type).

The standard temple pieces = Krypton KR1.

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Both pairs feature easy swap impact resistant lenses, nearly indestructible frames, photochromic options and a host of colors. Availability is late summer and price is TBD.

Lazer also introduces a casual line of eyewear that are both attractive and relatively inexpensive.

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The line up are “Waymaker” and they’re available early summer.

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Standard or Polarized lenses, impact resistant and reasonably light weight, these will run $65 – $86 (for Polarized lenses).

You can catch these and the rest of the product line up at: LazerSport.com.

Elite introduced a new bottle with a pretty great safety feature and a new “green” bottle.

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Turacio is the new insulated bottle is cork lined rather than using any crazy chemical insulators. It’s suggested as a 3 hour cooler, but in Arizona I might be pushing that a bit.

Their Safety bottle is called Candea and it actually features lights in a screw on base…

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The base simply screws on and off for cleaning and there is a small switch at the bottom of the bottle…

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If you have ever seen how light behaves when shined on a water filled bottle, it’s actually a neat little magnifier… It will have less effect as the bottle empties but the effect still works to spread light side to side on the bike. Loads of accidents occurred from the side so this is a slick little safety tool.

You can get these (and tons of other gear) through Pronet Cycling

Velo Saddles are through development of their lighter weight “Angle” model.

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This is a 122 gram saddle with composite shell that is designed to allow for more flex (and lower weight with less added padding). There is a large relief area down the center with a Y cut at the rear of the saddle to facilitate more movement.

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The rails attach to flexible little spring boards that also allow for a small amount of travel (red arrows).

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In the case you need more padding, Velo are making a few other Gel versions than the minimalist Angel.

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The chubby Angels will come with Ti or Ti / Alloy rails and run between 220 and 245 grams, so still light and the padding with the designed flex should make for a damn comfy saddle if the shape is right for you… They’re also price competitive costing $130 (the Lighter 122 gram Glide will run you a still respectable $290, which is a great price considering that saddles with less tech (but similar weight) can cost you 1-2 hundred more.

They’ll also come in a host of finishes and since Velo make saddles for lots of other brands (there is a good chance you’re riding their product now…) they have a few color choices and several other models.

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My favorite might have been their “year of the sheep” celebration (ears and all).

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Velo also make a fairly nice line of bar tape and grips (and also make these for other brands)…

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My favorite feature is the gel-backed construction that has good vibe damping without being overly bulky and WITHOUT GLUE OR TAPE on the back.

They’ve also brought in a silicone tape (black only) that is a little more environmentally friendly and also fairly durable.

The Saddles and Tape will be available through QBP, BTI, KHS and Action. Timing is mid-summer.

More info is available at: Velo Saddles web page

Panaracer Tires brought a new set of treads to Otter in the form of their Gravel King.

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Starting at the road surface, these are a fairly high natural rubber content tread with a stipple surface that’s suited to wet or dry road and what I would call “smooth gravel’’, meaning dirt roads. Panaracer actually have a chunkier 32 section Gravel king with a more aggressive (but still reasonably road ready) tread for rougher stuff.

Under that rubber tread lies a puncture barrier that Panaracer have thankfully made more supple. It’s still effective but the 126 TPI casing is allowed to move more than the old puncture barrier.

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These will come in 3 widths: 23, 26 and 28 (the 32 is the heavier tread). Weight is respectable for the design at 220-240-270 grams… These are ready now and sold through loads of distributors and they’re also in shop.

Taking a cue from Gravelbike.com, the ride quality is quite good and the puncture barrier does what Panaracer want it to by being more flexible.

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Panaracer also sell a LARGE range of bike tires for lots of disciplines. For road, they go from top line tubular all the way through performance clinchers, gravel tires and touring / urban treads.

You can see the road side at: Panaracer.com

That’s it for round one… Stay tuned for SRAM’s 1x Road group, Nuun Tabs’ new product, Scott’s new Cross bike and loads more from Monterey!

Have Fun,
Charles Manantan
[email protected]


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