Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Welcome to part 2 of our Sea Otter Classic coverage. If you’re wondering what sea otters have to do with two wheelers and those who ride them, be sure to backpedal to last week for the first story and more sweet products: https://www.roadbikerider.com/2023-sea-otter-classic-photo-gallery/.
Just like in part 1, to give a feel for this extravaganza of all things cycling this is a photo-heavy virtual look of the bikes and products that caught our eye. Please visit the websites of the companies to find out more information about anything that grabs you. And feel free to drop a comment if you can’t find what you’re looking for and we’ll be happy to help.
Kent, Washington-based Diamondback proudly displayed their 2023 line-up of gravel and mountain bikes. Shown here are a couple of Haanjo gravel bikes, the 8C and a tribute-to-the-past 7C with one-off spec and custom paint by TEC-GNAR. It was in recognition of the Axis, a famous DB model from 1991. With Haanjo models in aluminum and carbon from $785 on up to as much as you want to spend, Diamondback has a bike for you. They’re not shown on their website yet, but according to Jill in their booth, the higher end Haanjos will feature dropper posts and ReShift suspension stems, which we have reviewed. Just for fun I took a pic of the decal atop their Yowie MTB. A yowie is Australia’s bigfoot. Did you know that?
The Bimotal electric motor add-on kit was one of the most interesting products I saw and it wasn’t in a booth. It was on Paul from Bimotal’s bike that he was walking around with at the Expo. He told me about the Bimotal before the Sea Otter and I was excited to meet him in the parking lot and try it out. What I think is so great is that this kit, which is still in working prototype form – promises to turn the bike you already have and love into an e-bike. And here’s the best part: once the key parts are attached to your bike (the motor mount, rotor sprocket and battery mount & harness) you can remove or install the motor in… wait for it… less than 10 seconds! (Yes, I tried it and it’s that fast.) Plus it only adds 6 pounds (3 for the motor, 3 for the battery) and provides 750 watts of power delivered on-demand via the throttle. Unlike crank-based pedal-assist e-bikes, the Bimotal does not stress the chain. Cost right now is $1,995 which includes installation (the installer comes to you).
In case you’ve been a customer of Saris products as long as I have, you might still think of them as a bike rack company (Saris) and also an indoor trainer company (Cycleops). Well, I learned that those days are gone and everything is under the Saris name now. I like that, it makes it simpler. As a big fan of their Fluid trainers I was happy to see they’re still in their product line along with smart trainers like the $799 belt-drive H3 shown here on their MPI movement platform ($950). I’ve ridden different trainers and rollers that simulated outside riding but nothing with the smooth and easy fore aft and side to side motion of this Saris deck. The photo gives you an idea how it works. The first rack shown is their Door County, which boasts an electric lift for helping with heavier bikes like electric ones. Just press the button on the side and the rack lowers to easily roll the bikes on and then lifts to full height on its own. The rack folds and even has wheels on the bottom for easy storage when it’s not on your vehicle. Also shown is their MHS rack for Modular Hitch System. A rack-of-all trades, you can purchase multiple accessories which plug and play onto the rack for whatever adventure you’ve got planned.
If you’re looking for something to stop your riding pals in their tracks on the next ride? How about these striking and unique cranksets milled out of solid block by 5DEV’s 5-axis CNC machines and available in lengths from 155-175 and any length in-between! This innovative San Diego-based company is even making titanium cranks (not shown on their site yet) and makes chainrings and pedals too. In case you’re wondering, quoting from their website “5DEV is a division of 5th Axis, a world leader in manufacturing complex components for the aerospace and medical industries.”
Osmo is known for excellent cycling nutrition products such as their Active Hydration and Rapid Recovery mixes. At the Sea Otter they revealed their new Power Fuel, a high carb mix that won’t compromise the benefits of your electrolyte drink and is designed for quick absorption and to be easy on the stomach. It won’t slow down your hydration, is made of only 3 ingredients (carbs, fructose and sodium) and can be customized to provide your optimum carbs per hour. It’s available with and without caffeine for $35 per 23.9 ounce bag (680G). Having been knocked out of plenty of longer rides because of stomach distress I’ll be giving it a try soon.
I almost walked past the small Chargel booth but the unique container this energy drink/food comes in stopped me. They’re small foil bags sized right to fit in a pocket and they have screw-top spouts that act like straws. Inside is a part gel, part beverage energy drink. It’s sweet but not too sweet and feels kind of like drinking bubble tea. It gave me an immediate energy lift and I enjoyed the taste and texture. Chargel is caffeine-free, gluten-free, has no artificial sweeteners, no high fructose or corn syrup, no artificial colors and is free of 9 major allergens. It’s also certified plant-based. A product of Japan, Chargel provides 180 calories per drink and comes in White Grape, Green Apple and Strawberry. The parent company Moringa also makes the popular chewy candy Hi-Chew that you might have seen at your local convenience store.
Hand trike outside the Continental Tent
The Sea Otter had lots of unique machines on display and this beautifully complex hand-powered trike graced one of the Continental tents (they had several where you could get out from under the sun).
The big news at the Alchemy Bikes booth was that their popular Lycos gravel model is now available in a model that’s $2,500 less than the original with no change to the quality, weight or specifications. The price reduction is thanks to them finally finding a partner manufacturer who can produce the exact same carbon, geometry, layup and weight as the original for much lower cost than fabricating them in their Golden, Colorado facilities. The resulting build of the Lycos brings the price down to just $4,999. Also shown is their Atlas Au, an ultra-light, ultra-responsive, race-ready road rig built in house. It’s even available in 28c or 38c tire clearances. Alchemy also offers mountain bikes and award-winning e-bikes such as their e-Ronin gravel e-bike.
A short stroll from the Alchemy booth was Enduro Bearings, which are used in countless bottom brackets and hubs today and derailleur pulleys too. One of their newer products is their XD15 Lifetime Bearing, which uses an advanced nitrogen-infused stainless alloy in the races that will never rust or corrode. They say, it’s “a material so tough that should grit find its way inside, it simply polishes the bearing races smoother.” Yes, they’re backed by a lifetime guarantee. To show the lengths to which they go to make the best bearings, they had these two test machines at work in their booth. The fish tank was full of salt water to show how their bearings resist corrosion. And the other apparatus applies massive pressure on their bearings to show with gauges how it barely impacts rolling resistance.
Perhaps the best known apparel in all of cycling, Pearl Izumi showed off their new Attack Air Bib shorts that use their Levitate Plus chamois with new technology for even more protection and comfort. They explained that they have put the more dense foam against the body and less dense against the saddle. The Attack Airs felt incredibly thin, smooth and soft to the touch. Their raw-edge bib uppers, laser cut leg openings with silicone-printed grippers, and perforated venting on the lower back deliver a custom fit and finish. I asked for a sample and hope to be able to review them sometime soon as they’re perfect for the summer riding to come. Also shown is their new Expedition gravel kit and their limited-edition Elevate Pants.
Sometimes the small details make a significant difference and I think Feedback Sports adding a large magnet to their new Pro Mechanic HD Bicycle Repair Stand is one such detail. Placed on the clamp arm it lets you park any tool to allow easy access and free both hands when needed. The stand itself is a complete new design with oversized, anodized aluminum tubes, a wide and stable base, stronger jaws, and faster closure. The HD can support bikes up to 100 pounds (45.5kg) and tube diameters to 2.6 inches (6.6cm). And it’s lightweight and portable at 18 pounds (8kg) and only 8 x 43 inches (21 x 115cm) when folded for travel. Cost is $495. To take along with the stand you’ll appreciate their handy and thorough Team Edition Toolkit which hangs on the stand ($350).
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. A pro mechanic & cycling writer for more than 40 years, he’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Tune in to Jim’s popular YouTube channel for wheel building & bike repair how-to’s. Jim’s also known for his cycling streak that ended in February 2022 with a total of 10,269 consecutive daily rides (28 years, 1 month and 11 days of never missing a ride). Click to read Jim’s full bio.