What's Cool In Road Cycling

Sea Otter ’15: Gear Round 2

SRAM 1X11 road gruppo, Xentis Wheels, Nuun Plus, Scott Bicycles Cross and Pro Tec, Recon Jet, TRP’s Di2 Lever conversion and disc fork, Zipp 30 wheels, Scapin Anouk, Bellwether Clothing, Giro Helmet, Selle Italia’s Novus. We have another round of coverage from the 2015 Sea Otter Classic.

SRAM have a fairly large presence at what I think is easily cycling’s best combination racing and gear event. It makes sense as this is the “Sea Otter Classic Powered by SRAM”…

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SRAM’s NRS service crew are MASSIVELY good at what they do, both for the top racers and, more importantly, the rest of us mortals

As presenters, they generally have something new, as was that case this year with new Force and Rival 1, and 1×11 road groups.

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I’ve been running CX1 (1×11 for cross) on a cross bike with slick tires and a 46 tooth front ring and that range made for a simple, quiet, easy to maintain ratio that carried me comfortably through most conditions. All I lacked really was a big enough front gear for genuine higher speeds and thought, with a little larger rear ratio, I’m not sure I would need 2 rings for real road competition.

For road & gravel, SRAM have added ratios. The front ring sizes on offer will be (110bcd) 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, 50 (130bcd) 52 and 54. The latter on offer made for a very slick presentation in TT form.

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SRAM will offer rear cassettes from standard sizes all the way up to a 10-42 (which uses a special free hub setup) that rivals the size of the disc rotor and with a reasonable front ratio should allow you to damn near climb a tree…

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The range of bikes that this gearing suited went from TT to road to gravel and touring.

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And as I’ve been using this basic group set, I can say that its function has been flawless. The 1:1 ratio of cable pull (SRAM’s “Exact Actuation”) simplifies things in what’s become a tight gearing package for 11 speed.

Chain retention has been no issue at all (thanks to both the fat/skinny chain ring teeth and the rear derailleur’s clutch) and the simplicity and larger gaps between gears has actually been a plus as the terrain transitions rapidly from flat to steep where I’ve been using the bike.

It won’t suit everyone, but it seems like an idea set up for rougher roads, commuting and gravel grinding. You should see parts showing up shortly.

More info at: SRAM.com

One of the bikes sporting 1X was Scott Bicycles’ new Addict CX 10 disc.

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Here’s a closer look at the Fat/Skinny teeth that hold the chain in place very well for SRAM’s CX1 and road groups.

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Scott go one better for security with a new chain retention device in place of the front mech cage…

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Enough about the kit… This is a CX frame that tips the scales (size54) at 890g and a fork that will go 360g. That’s an exceptional weight spec for Cross.

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This weight comes with a BB86 setup that allows for a larger down tube than their last version as well as a chubby 1 1/8 -1 ½ headset / head tube. The new CX has a stiffer bottom end than the last version. Scott have also blown out the seat stays and gone for a smaller seat tube to allow for 27.2 seat post. Flex / comfort at the saddle is claimed to be 60% better than the prior version (which was damn stiff top and bottom).

The tube shapes are said to be mud shedding friendly as well (fork and stays).

Performance aside, the frame details are also nice here. This is a very clean build with slick internal routing for the frame and the light-for-cross fork.

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It would suite a double front ring just as easily with internal port…

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The complete build looks like a sleek road set up that just happens to have clearance for chubby tires and that’s the point here. There’s typically an awful lot going on when you look at Cross frames.

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The disc set up is built for thru-axle front and rear.

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Scott will build a few versions of the new rig. The CX10 Disc shown, at $5899, a Speedster CX 10 at $1699 and Speedster 20 at just $1199 (both Speedsters are also disc bikes).

These should be ready to go around August of this year.

Scott’s exceptional ITD Pro Tec Kit was also on display.

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While it looks like fairly standard bib and jersey, there’s quite a bit more to the pattern than just looks.

The little dots on the shoulders are a key area…

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…as are the slightly more hidden pattern of dots on the hip/thigh.

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You’ll note that these areas are the spots that tend to take the biggest beating in most crashes. Therein lies the benefit of the base material as well as the teeny dots, as these are ceramic imprinted carbon yarns developed with Schoeller. Most moto riders will spot the name straight away as Schoeller provide materials for a big portion of the best safety gear manufacturers in the world.

Scott did a video that I thought was pretty neat…

But it stopped short of the guy actually putting his own skin in the ringer and I wanted to know if Pro Tec could actually keep you pro-tected.

The question was answered at Sea Otter right under my nose… (as in, I could smell it working).

This stuff is incredible… Scott have the rights to this material for cycling for a while, so you need not look to see who else has it. While you might be a fan of other brands, it may be a good idea to fly the “S” flag in your next Crit.

You can see it all at: Scott-Sports.com

Xentis Wheels were on display and they’ve finally revised their rim shapes!

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Already fairly well set with features, Xentis’ one need was to get wider and take on the rounded inside edge that virtually all top brands now feature…

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The line will have several depths and be ready for disc or standard braking… (Note the two different brake track surfaces…)

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Still featuring the aero scalloped edges, in molded sensor magnets, RFID, rubber valve sleeve and painted logo and finish options (white or black, matte of gloss) and Austrian manufacturing detail (the brake track machining produces a very good brake surface for instance and the wheels build details are fantastic), Xentis simply checked that last width box.

And their North American Distributors, Stage Race Distribution have started a new up-scaling program that will see you able to purchase the rims built to higher end specs like the set of Tune-Hub equipped hoops on the Scapin Anouk…

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While the new hoops were a draw, I was floored to learn that the Anouk has a new price point.

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$1875 is a ridiculous number for this frameset from the Italian shop known primarily for its custom work.

And there are a couple of color options and more than a dozen builds on offer for the UD Carbon frame set. Both the Anouk (and several other models from Scapin) and Xentis wheels are ready now.

You can find Xentis, Scapin and others at: Stage-Race.Com

Nuun Plus was introduced at Otter as well.

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Nuun have a fleet of hydration products that cover a wide range of needs, from energy boosters to sugar free – minimalist electrolytes to all day hydration triggers.

Plus is a very good addition to most of their other formulas and simply adds fuel to your mix for the times when you’re pushing harder and/or longer.

Two “Plus” tabs added to 1 “Active” tablet will add a blend of 11g of carbs (48 easy burning Calories) to a mix of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin C in a formula that is super easy to digest. Nuun suggest this for durations longer than 1 hour and up to two and as these are simple to carry, it’s easy to add more for multiple hours.

They’re available now at retailers and at: NUUN.COM

Recon Instruments have been refining their Jet and it’s a slick piece of gear.

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This is a mini computer on your glasses with a 3d accelerometer, gyroscope, pressure sensor, IR sensor, magnetometer and GPS, Bluetooth 4, ANT+, WiFi.

It will take info from a slew of your equipment and put it on a 16:9 ratio display that is roughly the same to your eye as having a 30” screen 7 feet away from your face.

You can move the screen around a little by adjusting it via a teeny joy-stick on the bottom of your glasses. There is also basic navigation so that you can source multiple screens as you ride.

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There is also a speaker and dual microphones built in, along with a camera that shoots stills or video.

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The computing and power are actually transferred from both sides of the glasses through internal “wire” on the lenses themselves.

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What all this means is that you effectively can have multiple sensors and GPS routing going on without any real bar clutter.

Navigation is fairly easy after you set up your screens and the display blocks a relatively small portion of your field of view for what you’re getting in information.

About the only question would be how well these stay on your nose during rough rides, but the grippers were very good and adjustable.

It is a hell of a piece of kit and the best way to really look at what’s going on is to hit them at their site.

Visit: ReconInstruments.com

Bellwether were on hand with their latest Forza kit.

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Cooltemp fabric is, well, cool… The Forza jersey gets the temp lowering tech for its main body panels. Flat seam construction and what is actually a very soft fabric despite the cooling effect make it a very comfortable, almost naked feeling fit.

The cut is performance oriented and form fit, but it’s not overly tight fitting like some of the body-stocking jerseys that feature these materials. It is also a longer cut with a hip gripper section at bottom / back.

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Nano-vent sections under the arms allow direct venting as a priority (there is also some wicking but getting the air in is job one).

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Three pocket back is standard but they also add a 5” waterproof zip pocket which is fairly well phone sized (unless you have a gigantic “PLEASE NOTICE MY PHONE” phone).

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There’s a reflective strip around that pocket too, which is a nice touch if riding black is your choice.

The Forza Bib also gets the cooling treatment…

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“ColdFlash” moisture activated material along with Axial 2.0 venting panels and a full mesh back make venting / breathing the priority for the shorts. Compression seems quite good and the panels are cut to move well.

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Perhaps the biggest advance is in the most sensitive area where Bellwether have developed the new Forma chamois.

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This is a fairly pleasant fit that allows just a bit more room for your personal bits. It still keeps the padding firm against your butt / sit bones but allows for a bit of a pocket to form while in a riding position that leaves your “junk” still stable, but doesn’t smash it against you like most bibs.

And here’s the thing with Bellwether…

This is very good quality kit, good materials, good construction and their styling has become pretty damn attractive over the past few years. That should have you thinking Pez are posting another $200 Jersey and $400 Bib shorts…

The jersey though is $89 and the shorts are $129… That is a damn good price.

You can find these and more at: Bellwetherclothing.com

Giro brought their full line to Otter but the helmet that stuck out was the Savant MIPS…

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On the surface it looks like any other $2-$300 Giro lid except that it’s selling for $110… And that’s for solid retention…

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…and good venting / channeling that you would expect from Giro…

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But you’ll notice a little twist in that there is a thin film layer between the padding and the shell…

Basically MIPS is a layer inside the helmet that allows the foam and shell of the helmet to move / shift without moving / rotating your head as much during an impact.

It’s not just the direct impact, but also the twisting force in some impacts that does a lot of damage as your brain and its protective casing inside your head are experiencing shearing forces as well as direct blows.

I would guess that more helmet manufacturers start to use this technology in the future and despite the bit of added weight, the benefits will, well… outweigh the grams.

In any case, this is a pretty solid value at $110 and something that’s definitely worth checking out.

They’re available in Black, Black/red and Black white versions (as well as a non-MIPS model).

See em at: Giro.com

Selle Italia are releasing a new saddle, the Novus.

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This is a new shape that is a bit of a go between. It has a bit of a wave shape, but not overly dramatically so…

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As with Selle Italia’s other models, this will come in a couple of widths and also feature a couple of rail material options.

The Novus will also come in Selle Italia’s new red wire on black Team Edition colors, (as will most other road performance models).

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Pricing will vary by model and availability should be fairly soon.

You can see their full line up at: SelleItalia.com

TRP have a new Disc Specific cross fork on offer.

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This was a nice surprise and seems to be a pretty solid offering.

450 grams (uncut) with a 47mm offset, 15mm thru axle and clearance for 40mm tires.

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The brake mounts are set for 160mm rotors and they’re a co-molded bolt stud for durability.

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This is also internally routed to make for a much cleaner set up.

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Pricing is set at $579.

TRP also showed their Hylex Di2 solution levers, something that I’ve been talking to them about for a couple of years…

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The Hylex are a hydro activated set with more reserved ergonomics / design than SRAM and Shimano. The Di2 remote button adapter kit is pretty easily added…

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I didn’t get a retail price for this set up but I can say it offers a very slick option to stock Di2 and the Hylex levers themselves would be my choice for a single speed front brake set up for a commute bike that I’m building now (I really don’t care about being a purist with no brake as much as I do being alive…).

You can see all of this at: TRPBrakes.com

Wilier’s Cento1 SR has been redesigned in a bit more practical sense.

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Already a slick package, Wilier have upped the practicality without losing much of the flash.

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The Cento will still feature a lot of integration at the fork, barrel adjusters, BB cable routing etc…

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But Wilier decided to offer the latest version with a standard seat post design (though with a Kamm Tail aero twist).

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There is a ton going on with this model and at some point it would be great to fully review something from the brand, but for now, our Otter coverage will have to do. I can say that the details on this and a couple of other models are VERY well thought out from front right out to the back end, and the super slick integrated drop out (and very different size and shaped chain stays).

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These should be available quickly.

You can see more at: Willier.com

That’s it from this year’s Otter!

Have Fun,
Charles Manantan
[email protected]


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