Sea Otter Gear: Mucho Kit from Monterey
The 2014 Sea Otter Classic was another mix of good food, good riding, great gear and better than predicted weather. We snapped some new bits from companies small & large… Ergon & Velo saddles, Xpedo pedals, Lake shoes, Lezyne tools, Nuun energy drinks, Rolf Prima wheels, and bikes from Divo and Scapin.
Sea Otter isn’t typically a bike launch spot – that’s generally reserved for Inter/Euro-bike shows. But this year I found a couple of new bikes…
Scapin Bicycles are well known for their slick custom frames. And while they had one of their exceptionally nice Ivor’s in house…
…the bike that really grabbed a lot of interest is at the other end of their pricing scale.
The Anouk is Scapin’s stock rig (5 sizes) and ticks off a list of features typical of upper crust production frames.
Made from a mix of Toray T700/T800 fiber the Anouk features a tapered headset/head tube, Press fit 86 BB, all carbon fork…
It’s also ready for both mechanical and electronic shifting (note the battery punch between the front water bottle bosses).
The detail work here is typical Scapin. Clean finish, well detailed drops and hardware mounts, very good carbon work & build quality. The frame should tip the scales around 1000 grams and the more surprising feature will be a retail price for Frame Fork Headset @$2k.
Pietro Caucchioli knows his way around road racing. 28 years on a bike, culminating with the Tour, Giro, Vuelta will give a man some perspective. He’s been working with other Italian manufacturing for the past few years since retiring from the Pro Peloton, but now he’s branching out to produce his own model, constructed in Italy using Italian made tube sets.
This bike was completed just days before the trip to Monterey and the detail, shapes and build quality are all quite a surprise.
In the case of most new custom carbon bikes, there are bumps and wiggles and telltale details that show to the trained (and untrained) eye that someone is learning the trade… Some new (or just plain bad) builders best friend tends to be paint used to hide the imperfections & fillers. There is no filler at all on the ST.
There is also very little paint on the new Divo, and what little paint is here is just for graphics. There’s not a hint of “makeup” cover on the parts of the bike you would expect…
And this despite significantly more tube shapes here than virtually any newcomer to custom carbon in the past few years.
The tube set is leac and well detailed, from the octagonal head tube (made with no metal inserts, just carbon), down the hex shaped down tube, around the jumbo BB box (BB386 by the way), into the giant chain stays and flared/wheel recessed seat tube.
As I said, all of these tubes are custom for this bike and made in Italy. The tubes are joined tube-to-tube and then wrapped in a finish layer of tight weave carbon. The finish quality is that of someone with quite a bit more experience than expected from a first frame and that makes sense as Pietro and his builders are not new to this.
The frames will be rolling very shortly and the price suggested is very competitive when you consider there are a few stock Italian frames that will sell at or above the price… They’ll be available in stock and custom geometry and the custom frame, fork, seat post and hardware (with custom color) will run $5,780.
Pietro can be reached at: [email protected] And for North America, the bikes will be handled through GET Import and Distribution, Tampa Florida.
Also on the books as “unexpected” was a pair of Flyweight saddles from VELO Saddles…
VELO get overlooked a bit because they’re name doesn’t start with “Selle” and lacks a bunch of extra p:u’nct-uation! But that hasn’t kept them from making saddles to suit a broad range of requirements, the latest being very low weight…
95.4 Grams for an version without padding that relies on thin but flexible carbon to cushion your tush.
I’m more a fan of padding and that version is also dang light (though I didn’t get a spec). Both versions feature a slight wave pattern and mid-wide profile.
This next part is almost insane when you consider what the Selle’s of the world would charge for super-lite saddles like this… Both the plain and padded versions will run you $189. That number would likely start with a 3 or 4 from a few other brands… They’ll be ready mid-summer.
Among the “expected surprises” are the latest Ares 4 wheels from Rolf Prima.
The version on hand was a new disc road / cross model that will tip the scales at @1590 grams (this drops to 1375 for rim brakes). That’s a very competitive weight for the Oregon wheel makers who build all wheels in Eugene and source the production of their hub design in the US through White industries.
Rolf run 20 spokes front and rear which is a few less than several competitors are calling out for the minimum disc brake count.
Rolf does this by way of their patented paired spoke pattern…
While most companies have a solid rim shape all the way round inside the rim bed (with some exceptions) Rolf actually increase the material laid in the rim bed so that the area where the spoke nipples sit is reinforced. That material reinforcement area extends beyond where the nipples sit and is quite stout to the point that, even with fairly high spoke tensions, they have virtually no issues at all with spoke pull through or cracking around the nipples.
The nipples are also different but we’ll have to cover that (and more) in the future… For now, you’ll be able to pick up the Ares 4 for $2299 (rim brake) and $2399 (disc brake).
XPEDO have upped their game over the past couple of years, refining their full line.
Of course, road is the focus for Pez…
And in keeping with the HUGE, industry wide emphasis finally being placed on bike fit, Xpedo’s latest addition is dang useful. Compatible with the Thrust 8 and Thrust SL series pedals are a new set of replacement axles that were aided in design / length selection by Kevin Bailey at 3Dbikefit.com
These will be available in a total of 4 lengths (50-56-59-62mm) with the stock size at 53. They also designed the pedal threads to me an extra 2mm longer than normal so that you can use 1mm Pedal washers for further fine tuning. Xpedo’s designs are pretty straight forward and maintaining the Thrust pedals is pretty simple so the axle swap should be no big deal. The cost is also a reasonable $60 per set.
Also on hand (or in belly) were a new set of drink tabs from Nuun.
These are quite a bit like Nuun standard product with the little twist of 40 grams of caffeine per tab (about a half cup of coffee) and some extra B vits…
This is no place near the punch in the face dose you get from things like Redbull but rather just a little bit of extra kick. The B vitamins help you process carbs.
The ingredients look pretty familiar beyond that.
Nuun don’t pump you with sugar (under what-ever name people are calling sugar to make it sound healthy). Their standard is just a little flavor and electrolytes to make your hydration more effective.
There are a few products beyond these at Nuun’s site. Something for active work, a softer version with lower electrolytes and an “all day” formula… all of which have the same type of light taste and ease of use. All are available now… The tubes shown are $6.40 for both standard (12 tabs) and “Energy”(10 tabs) versions.
Lezyne brought a whole lot more product range than most people think they have . Sure, they have the pocket tools that most folks recognize…
But because I have foolishly not paid much attention to the brand beyond pocket tools, I was pretty much licking my lips at some of the shop level kit on hand…
And I may be the only guy rolling around that didn’t have a clue that they made some very nice lighting…
If you’re thinking that all of this kit looks different and much more refined than most of the standard plastic crap proliferating the market, you’re right. Lezyne get finish aesthetics like nobody else. They came along a few years ago when the industry decided to go on a “make it cheaper and market like crazy” streak that saw a lot of these types of products really turn to junk for the sake of price.
Forged tool bits, just the right touch of carbon here or there, loads of metal and all of it seems to work well.
This is pretty high on the list of “I feel stupid for not knowing/learning more about them” places I sometimes find myself… I’m happy they hired someone that grabbed me by the head and said “look!”
Lezyne have tons of kit available now and most of it should be right up any PEZ-Reader’s alley.
Lake Cycling Shoes were also bringing quite a bit more to offer this year.
Of course, most folks gravitated right to their top line 402…
It’s a slick looking pair with loads of upgrades wrapped in Kangaroo leather (inside and out) and sitting on a heel and mid-foot that heat-mold to your foot shape.
But being from Arizona, the shoe on the ladder that grabbed my attention was the CX 300.
It is quickly recognizable as being VERY well vented. Less easy to see is that the lining of this already super breathable shoe is made from carbonized Bamboo to create a fabric that is super quick to grab sweat and, along with all of those vent holes, use that moisture to create an active evaporative cooling system for your feet.
Lake also made a solid case for having the best value in a quality road shoe at Otter with the CX 175.
This is a leather upper and Boa closure system in a well formed shoe with a solid sole and they’re letting it fly for $159. Add Lake’s Skysol tech moldable carbon or glass fiber insert …
And you combine an upper and custom molded lower that will feel better on your feet than many shoes costing double.
Lake’s lineup is available in greater North America through Stage Race Distribution
Ergon were on hand with their new saddles…
The company produces loads of very well design product. They’re a benchmark product for mountain bike ergo grips and they make what might be the best cycling focused backpack on the market. They had their road saddle and new cross saddle on the table this go round and these come with a few interesting features.
The shape is the easiest to spot as they have a narrow nose and a quick transition to the wider sit-bones section. The offering features a few different widths to dial in fit.
The profile shape is a bit interesting. Most saddles fall into a wave or flat surface (front to back). Ergon go with a kinda flat-wave. A wave saddle creates a pocket for your sit bones that spreads the pressure but the nose rises up and can create pressure for some in a sensitive spot.
The Ergon saddle uses multi density foam and a bit of a lip at the back to spread the pressure and offer some of the security of a wave, but the flatter profile keeps your sit bones above the nose a little better. It should offer a nice change for some people.
Ergon are also still rolling out the CF3 Seat post.
They’ve basically been selling out of these quasi suspension posts that offer a bit of bounce at the rear of the saddle while weighing 1/3rd or less what more traditional suspension posts do. These also don’t suffer from saddle bobbing during pedal stroke that can play hell with your knee’s & bike fit.
The road saddles run between $99 and $199 with different widths and rail materials. The CF3 post is $299 and all are available now.
That’s it for this round. Click any of the links to head right to these folks product pages and we’ll see you in California next year…
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