Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Last week on April 17 – 21 the Sea Otter Classic bicycle expo and competition took place in Monterey, California. The event’s been happening for 40 years and has become one of the largest cycling festivals in the world and most-important early season competitions with races of almost all bike types and disciplines held. While at the Expo companies showcase their latest and greatest new goodies for the first time in the USA every year.
This year the Otter drew 9,000 athletes from around the globe, hundreds of exhibitors showing their new bikes and gear in the Expo and an estimated 74,000 race fans and bike lovers.
I only live an hour away and I’ve attended the Otter many times over the years. I’ve covered the event and raced in the road and mountain events. This year I rode 1 lap of the 2 lap La Gravilla gravel ride to try something new.
The Expo takes place on the infield of the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. A special treat for bicycle racers is getting to ride on the track. Some events even bomb down Laguna Seca’s infamous corkscrew, which you may have seen on TV if you watch auto and motorcycle racing.
All the longer events like the La Gravilla, Gran Fondo and Road Race leave the track and some head out onto Fort Ord National Monument land, where 1.5 million troops were trained for war between 1917-1994. The area offers spectacular scenery, often wild weather (it was beautiful this year) and epic riding both on and off road – epic as in challenging.
To give you the virtual show experience here’s a selection of photos with a little commentary and what details I could learn. Some of these pics come from a pre-Sea Otter event put on by Chris King and sponsored by Santa Cruz Bicycles which took place the Tuesday before the Sea Otter’s official opening on Thursday. Santa Cruz is a popular stopping place for bikies heading to the Otter because of the many cycling companies here and the fun riding.
Please visit the company websites to learn more about anything shown. Some products may not be online yet but they should be soon. I requested product samples and will hopefully be able to try out some of these new bike toys and review them sometime soon.
Abbey Bike Tools’ new and improved 4-way hex wrench is in the plastic bags. Quoting from their Facebook page “We’re doing a few different versions of this robust bit-based tool we developed for SRAM’s recent transmission launch, two different versions with fixed bits, 4-5-T25 and 5-6-T25, a custom version assembled to your desires and a version with 10 Wera bits you can swap around to your heart’s content. 60-120 real American dollars depending on the version. Available for pre-order now.
SRAM’s Eagle UDH drivetrain without limit screws or B tension screw and the strongest derailleur mount in history promises the slickest shifting ever.
Chris King’s blast-from-the past 3D Ultra Violet components will take you back to the days of anodized BMX parts. Billy Sinkford of Echos Communications who helped put on the Chris King event said they’re going on his Prince Purple Rain tribute bike, how cool is that?
Brand new, the Moots Vamoots CRD (Complete Road Design) is an entirely new addition to the Moots family, which doesn’t happen often. The CRD offers improved tire clearance, gorgeous 3D-printed dropouts, and complete cable and housing integration with electronic groupset-only compatibility for the cleanest silhouette ever seen on a Moots.
An incredible paintjob on a Santa Cruz.
If you’re looking for a completely unique road bike this 30th Anniversary edition Retrotec with a custom head badge will fill the bill.
A titanium beauty from bespoke Santa Cruz builder John Caletti.
A stunning Bixxis by Dario DeRosa with Ingrid mix and match drivetrain components.
I learned at the Robert Axle Project booth that they not only specialize in all things thru axle but they also own Old Man Mountain Racks, which naturally are designed to attach to thru axles for the most sturdy and dependable bag support going.
I’ve been wearing and appreciating my Tifosi cycling eyewear for years yet I didn’t know it was a family operation based out of Georgia, USA and that every pair of glasses they offer sell for less than $100. Shown are the Rail and Rail XCs hot new cycling eyewear and the Swank series lifestyle shades, also popular with runners. These models are superlight, durable and affordable.
Lauren Hudgins and Brooke Carey (left/right) of the Adventure Cycling Association https://www.adventurecycling.org/ were exhibiting at the Sea Otter recruiting new members and showing off their thoroughly updated and improved magazine that’s included with a membership. Since 1973 Adventure Cycling has been helping people discover the world and experience the fullness of life through bicycle adventures. They have 54,000 members and 52,047 miles of cycling routes which are available as maps or digitally on apps – the ultimate resource whether you’re interested in road bike touring or bike packing on trails.
KT tape is kinesiology tape. You apply it to wherever you need support for an injury or weakness and if I understand what they told me correctly it helps by promoting blood flow. I’ve used it for knee pain since it first came out and it’s been easy to apply, comfortable to wear and most importantly it did ease my pain. So I was excited to hear that they debuted a new product at the Sea Otter called Pro Oxygen. It has “celliant technology,” which they said transforms body heat into infrared energy to improve cellular oxygenation. Sounds good to me. I took home a couple of samples. I will let you know how it works when I’ve had a chance to put it to the test.
That’s it for this week. In Part 2 next week, I’ll share a more cool new products I saw at the Sea Otter. If you have any questions about today’s items just let me know in a comment and I’ll answer.
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.
Next Article: Velocio Zero+ Gloves – Quick Review