Being There: Sea Otter Classic, Part Two

April 21, 2012
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Talk about steel is real – Ibis Cycles rolled into the Sea Otter with this massive steel rendition of one of their carbon fiber mountain bikes. Designed and built by sculptor Nick Taylor, the Ibis Maximus rolls on 59″ John Deere tractor wheels and weighs 1000 lbs.

One of the big aspects of the Sea Otter for the bike industry is to show-off as much of their new products to the collection of schwag hungry journos as possible. SRAM introduced the new Red drivetrain and offered test rides in the rolling hillsides that make up the Sea Otter landscape.

Still one of the more unique bikes in the world, Calfee was showing off their sweet Bamboo bike that was made even more trick with an array of Enve carbon parts.

Last year TRP Brakes made news with their ingenious Parabox disc brake that allowed a cable pull disc to transform into a hydraulic disc. One year later they showed up with a prototype of a complete hydraulic unit that also incorporated their own electronic shift levers to run with a Shimano Di2 drivetrain.

Like the Shimano levers they replace, the TRP levers are button actuated. The brake master cylinder was mounted inboard under the tape and bulged out a bit much, but it showed the potential for the clean design options to come.  Ladies and gentlemen, take note…the world of road bike technology is about to take a big leap forward.

As always there was no shortage of cool carbon parts at the Enve booth where American made carbon parts thrive. Besides the new carbon clincher wheel, they also had this sweet disc-specific fork, that like all  is molded as a single piece, and like all Enve Composite parts, are made in America.

Privateer racer Nick Frey is out on the circuit riding his own version of the “ultimate bike”. The bamboo/carbon Boo frame is made in Vietnam and Nick is out to prove to the world that the bike (borne from a college project of his at Princeton) is not only cool to look at, but it’s also capable of holding up to the rigors of the Cat. 1 racing world.

Just when you thought you’d seen all the trickest parts and heard all the coolest stories, along comes the incredible hubs from the Kappius family. Despite being the coolest looking hubs on the planet (with a carbon outer shell rotating around an inner hub axle and beautifully machined aluminum end caps), the hubs are quickly becoming the stuff of legend for their performance features.

The carbon hubs are made at the Colorado based Kappius facility and with their externally mounted drivetrain design provide the quickest engagement of any hub we’ve seen. And instead of me trying to attempt a weak dissertation on how and why they should be the hubs you covet most, why not just visit the Kappius Components website.

Over at the Primal Wear/Map My Ride/BH team camp we bumped into diet/fitness/training/publishing impresario Allen Lim who was busy stirring up a batch of his delicious rice cakes along with his secret drink mix now under the name of Skratch Labs.

Among all the industry luminaries and new products, the Sea Otter Classic is also filled with plenty of racing. Do yourself a favor and mark your calendar to attend in 2013.

Raleigh was showing off an impressive line of cyclocross bikes that included models made from steel, aluminum and carbon fiber. Being bike journos we were of course first drawn to the most expensive model, the RXC Pro built with Cole wheels, dual disc brakes (a traditional canti brake version is also available), an Enve fork and a Shimano Di2 DuraAcve drivetrain. However, besides this $6000 or so version…

the rest of the family has good looking bikes starting at $900. Thankfully, Raleigh made the decision to bring some color to the party and not paint every bike black- hooray!


Look up the word “happy” in the dictionary and you just might find a picture of (Young) Michael White flush with victory after schooling all the other contenders racers to take the win in the Cat. 5 circuit race. Even better, the win came despite his not listening to Neil who tried to dissuade him from having some chocolate espresso bread pudding for dessert the night before.

Following the good time he had at the North American Handmade Bike Show, famous back-in-the-day east coast frame builder Chris Chance (r) decided to up his quotient of bike events and visited us at the Sea Otter. With him is his pal Greg who has a collection of 15 old Fat Chance bikes, including the very, very first one ever made back in 1982.

If ever you wanted to see what pain looks like, study this photo of Keith Bontrager. Oh sure he’s smiling, but just as this photo was being taken he was was cursing me for making him pose like this. Keith said he is as busy as ever designing new go-fast carbon parts…and no, despite his name being plastered all over the shoes, he doesn’t really have much to do with them. It’s the tires and hard parts that he puts his three decades of experience into most.

Okay, sorry, but I just couldn’t resist…sure a handful of my old mountain bike homies were at the Sea Otter; Ned Overend, John Tomac, and Shaun Palmer..love those guys…but when I saw Juli Furtado walking through the pits, well, that’s what I got really excited. The most dominant woman mountain bike racer ever – still a big hero!


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