What's Cool In Road Cycling

Sea Otter 2016: More Gear!

With the Giro making their way from Holland to the southern tip of Italy, it’s perfect timing to start the week with more of the coolest gear from the 2016 Sea Otter Classic and bits from Masi Bicycles, Ortlieb Packs, Topeak, Rolf Prima, and Schwinn.

Masi open this round with what might have been the largest line of Road, Gravel and Touring bikes at this year’s Sea Otter… There were several bikes that caught the eye, but one of the crowd favorites was the Speciale Randonneur. The build detail seemed to grab most folk’s attention and that led to a second glance at a pair of gigantic tires.


They’ve paired what will be a Tiagra build with the WTB 47 section tires on 650b wheels. The Horizon Road Plus tire gives the same functional rolling size as a 700×28 (though it’s a bit wider and that set up will not fit in many road bikes that might take 700×28).


The tire/wheel choice will team with the geometry to make for what should be very smooth hours in the saddle. The bike will be a 2016/17 year model (they’re still working out the colorway and a couple of other details).


The other smooth and easy feeling here is handling what seems like a hell of a nice price point at @$1,200.

The current Touring rig for Masi is their Giramondo Disc.


Set with multiple rack and fender mounts (though the guys at Ortlieb have a few bag solutions that seems to have eliminated the need), this is built in double butted Chromo Steel. The build kit is Deore with Brev M flared bars, stem and post.


And the clearance here is more than “ample” as it swallows 40 section tires with ease (and will also handle 2.1 and 2.3 knobs)…


The current bike retails under $1100 and they’ll have a 27.5 Dirt Drop / Bike packing model.

Of course Masi have the Gran Criterium in the lineup.


And they’ve come to their senses and taken their Reynolds 525 steel frame set and Chromed lugs and wrapped it in Campagnolo versus, well, anything else not Campagnolo…


This is a solid, race geo steel bike, fully built and you’ll find it in shops for a bit better than the SRP of $2700…

And if what you’re hunting is a more performance / race oriented steel, made here in the USA, Masi have a limited edition USA Gran Criterium


These are a no nonsense race geo (the same geometry as their top line carbon) frame, with modern touches like BB86 and 44mm Head tube. These are constructed from a custom specified Columbus Life tube set, welded about 5 miles from the US HQ in California and painted by a guy who has been painting on Masi frames since the 70’s…


$2,299 is a pretty great price point for a limited project like this and US Gran Criterium will be offered as an individually Numbered Frame (100), Enve Carbon fork, King headset as well as a custom Castelli bib and jersey for the purchaser and they will be sold consumer direct through www.MasiLegacy.com.

It’s not all about old steel though… Masi bring modern heat with an all new end to end redesign of the Evoluzione…


My favorite part about this bike is that the redesign went against the “German Bike Test” trend of building bikes that tend to weigh little, flex little and… ride like absolute SHIT.

Masi actually bred some compliance back into the tube set, with the exception of the bottom end.  The BB area has blown out to BB86 which moves bearings out further than PF30. And the chain stays…

The volume here is hard to properly capture but, to me, the chain stays look like the arms of a chubby toddler reaching out to hold the back wheel…


The stays should still clear Stages/Pioneer (and presumably 4iii) Power cranks, but these are some fat sticks.

There will be two levels of frames from different carbon comps (MC9 and MCX). The MC9 will come in 105 and Ultegra and run @925 grams. The MCX uses the TeXtreme Carbon and will be loaded with either Ultegra Di2 or Dura Ace.

They all feature loads of other performance updates like direct mount brakes.


… and slick cable routing for mechanical and electronic groups, probably made easier at the back by those chain stays. Not only can you easily route cables through these stays, you could probably route most other chain stays through them.


The Evoluzione will start around the $2000 mark for a 105 equipped MC9 Carbon set up and top out at around $6000 which, given the build kit and what you’re getting here, is another fairly attractive price.

This wouldn’t be Sea Otter if there were not a little dirt friendly kit on hand. For this, Masi want to have their new CXR and CXRc bikes ready to go by the actual “START” of Cross season versus the more typical (and fairly stupid-ass) launch date of mid-late season that seems to be the industry standard.


CXR (bottom two frames above) means an Alloy frame with full internal cable routing, a tapered heat tube, MC7 Carbon disc fork and post mount disc mounts.

The CXRc (top two frames above) ups the game to carbon frame using the same MC9 carbon as the Evoluzione but in a more dirt friendly geometry and layup. The “c” also has full internal routing and adds flat disc mounts and the lighter MC9 disc fork.


The MC9 Fork gets a little twist to the shape to add a slight bit of larger impact flex and you’ll note the removable fender mounts (also found at the back of the bike), which are a slick touch.

The CXRc also has a removable front fender mount and comes with a block off plate for the loads of folks running 1X.


You might also notice that Masi are going with Praxis cranks and rings as a call out for a few models…

The CXR starts out @$1600 for a 105 build. I don’t have a number for the CXRc Expert yet, but that will run a SRAM Force 1 group with HRD flat mount brakes and a host of other solid kit…

Maybe the part that sticks out and most exemplifies how much the Masi line up is changing, and more importantly what’s driving a BIG improvement recently for the brand, are a few of the off-book bikes they had on display…


Up front here is a CXRc that goes with a new Lauf Grit fork and a custom 1X drive… This was just too damn cool… In the back was a Desert Tan / Battle painted Evo (even the Pioneer Power unit got the touch). And there was also a Chameleon sparkle version of their Vivo with matching detail work…

Despite these not being “for sale” versions, they’re critical in understanding what’s pushing Masi in a kick ass direction… These bikes are Masi Staff personal projects, and proof that the brand is being developed by genuine bike geeks, and that’s 100% for the positive.

You can see more at: www.masibikes.com

Masi also had a rig over at arguably the best name in bike packing, Ortlieb


Ortlieb’s latest iteration for bike packing is exactly what you would expect in weather resistance and construction, but the design updates are very modern and well thought out despite the typical designs that go along with “Bike Packing”.

The saddle bag is made to handle everything from stowing a few small things to blowing out to handle a full clothes change + (depending on weather).


It expands from 8 to a full 16.5 liters while remaining waterproofed thanks to the roll up closure design…

And this grips well when mounted to the seat with sticky rubber on the seat post side…


The strap itself is a combination of materials that are actually RF welded together rather than stitched. As this actually blends materials together (rather than bonding or stitching them) it makes for a very durable construction.


The Bar Bag is equally well constructed and is also expandable to 15 liters…


And both of these are relatively light for the volume and security of storage… Both the saddle and bar bags are less than 1 pound each.

The weight alone is good, the durability of the welded sections is also very good and they’re both made possible with some pretty slick material choices.

The main portion of these bags is a nylon fabric that is made in a Rip-Stop fashion for strength and durability. This material is then mated with polyurethane in a conversion process that creates a final material that is not only very tough, but roughly 10 times as leak / water proof as some tent rainfly’s.

All this started 30+ years ago by a guy who wound up soaked through day after day touring around the UK by bike… Helmut Ortlieb created what was the first RF welded, water shedding pannier in his mom’s garage and they now have a couple hundred people working in Germany knocking out some of the best dry packs in cycling.

These should be ready for sale in a month or so and you can find more at: //www.ortlieb.com

Topeak were on hand with a few nifty Ninja’s.


Hidden in place as bar end plugs is the “Ninja C” chain tool. This is kinda neat as you fairly rarely use a chain tool and rather than porting around an overstuffed pocket version, these little guys just camp out in the bar ends. It includes an 11 speed comp tool, pin compartment, chain hook and hex wrench and ticks in at 77 grams ($39.95).


There’s also the “Ninja P” for pump… This snugs away into a 27.2 / 30.9 or 31.6 seat post and is a CNC machined main barrel and handle that will jack up your rubbers to a claimed 160 PSI. This weighs in at 62 grams… (SRP $29.95)

Easily my favorite item from Topeak at Otter are the Nano TorqBox sets… The TorqBoxs come in 4, 5 or 6nm individual torque limit units (along with 3/4/5MM Allen and 20, 25 Torx bits for each) and or you can get all three in a TorqBox DX set.


What you get here are a small head that fits on the end of any 5mm Allen wrench. Then you can put multiple other bits into the open end and when you twist, you have the marked torque applied… This is great as you can now carry around a torque wrench or two in a space roughly the size of half a pinky finger. And these things are metal internals that should last for thousands of clicks. The TorqBox retails for $29.95 and the DX retails for.

In a bit different form factor, there’s also the TorqBar…


Most of the same stats apply to the TorqBar that applied to the TorqBox. The bar also has 3-4-5 NM individual units with 5 drive bits or you can get a DX version that has all three Torque Bits. You can carry three drive bits inside the unit in the case you want to take this on bike, but my choice would be to have this on the work bench as a longer lasting alternative to some other preset torque wrenches that are mostly plastic… A single TorqBar kit retails for 39.95 and the DX runs $99.

Smart stuff from Topeak and you can see more at: TOPEAK.com

Rolf Prima were back at otter with more new hoops and topping the updated list are Eos3.


This new set up is a 32mm deep Carbon Clincher with a delta profile (think more rounded than V shaped) that’s 25mm wide.

This is also a tubeless ready rim bed…


The hub set is the TdF6.0… This is a CNC machined aluminum shell rolling in Enduro Ceramic bearings. The grey is Rolf’s ceramic based “Ballistic Armor” coating that is light and thin and comes in several colors.


There’s also a CNC machined Titanium freehub body.

This hub set is designed and manufactured in the US and is proprietary to Rolf… (14 front spokes, 16 rear)


The set will tip the scales @1295 grams and come ready for SRAM/Shimano or Campy.

Also rolling on the TDf6.0 hubs (with Ceramic bearings/Ti freehub etc.) are the Vigor Stealth.


This is a 31mm Delta rim profile in alloy with the same Ballistic Armor coating on the rim itself. The set is also 14f/16r spoke and tips the scales at 1470 grams.

And Rolf have a set tailored to Gravel road / Disc in their Hyalite.


This is a disc specific set with a 23mm deep / 25mm wide alloy clincher rim that is also made here in the US.

This set runs on the XST+ hub set that uses center-lock disc mounting. It also features a CNC Ti freehub body…


The hubs can take QR AND Thru axle and have a 20/20 spoke count… 1505 grams for the set.

The thing about Rolf that gets by a lot of people is that they’re running differently than a lot of other hoops folks… They’re making a good bit of their kit in the US and the quality is likely better than a lot of people realize.

You can find a lot more info on a host of products at: www.rolfprima.com


It’s been quite a while since you’ve seen that name at Pez, but they have a smooth running new bike with some cushy new features in their new Vantage RX1.


While there are a host of features here like fender and rack mounts, clearance for fat rubber (42mm+ depending on rim and tire combos) and a SRAM Hydro Disc build kit, the thing that stands out is the Smooth Ride Tech…


This is an elastomer damper that cuts the vibes especially from the rear end, but also from the rest of the frame in general as those vibes are all disconnected a bit from the seat post.

Schwinn are using the same type of tech with the TransX stem…


Perhaps the biggest impact damping is to your wallet though… This rig will run @ $1599 built with SRAM Rival HRD.

As of posting, I couldn’t find the RX1 at their site, but you can see other stuff at: https://www.schwinnbikes.com/usa/

Have Fun,
Charles Manantan
[email protected]

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