Being There: Sea Otter Tech, Part 1

By: Zap

Over three decades ago someone had the idea of putting on a mountain bike race at the Laguna Seca Raceway located on the outskirts  of the seaside town of Monterey, CA.  Although the event has lost most of the prestige that it once held as a major mountain bike race, it has continued to explode in popularity, not only for the vast array of competitive events it still hosts, but more-so as America’s largest public bike expo. The infield of the race track is overflowing with hundreds of vendor tents showcasing everything from carbon wheels to floral doo-rags.

Here’s some of what we saw in the aisles that we found particularly intriguing.

The consumer direct Franco brand was showing-off a new Balcolm S frame that was designed specifically, and solely, to run SRAM’s new eTap wireless drivetrain.  Two complete models will be available running for $8299 and $8999 with custom paint options as well.


How dedicated is the new Franco eTap bike to wireless shifting? Not an internal derailleur cable port can be found.


Another “looker” in the Franco booth was this custom painted Grimes steel bike that consumed over 40 hours worth of time to lay down the paint. The frame (with steel fork) sells for $1499 and $1899 with a carbon fork upgrade and it’s compatible for either electronic or mechanical drivetrains.


First rolled-out at the Sea Otter last year, the Grimes is made in America with True Temper tubing. The popular Paragon dropouts are a nice touch. Five sizes are available.


One of the biggest product splashes at the four day event was caused by the lads from Lauf forks who flew in from their home base in Reykjevik, Finland to show-off their new Grit gravel fork. Although there were some critics, having the fork mounted on the front end of a carbon beauty from the Polish boutique brand, Festka certainly helped win over the detractors.


The Grit has a claimed weight of 900 grams and provides half the travel of the mountain bike fork that has 60mm of travel. Retail price is $790 – expect to see the wild looking fork on a handful of bikes at the Dirty Kanza.


NDVR Bikes launched their Kickstarter campaign for their well-thought out titanium travel bike. The frame and fork is available in five sizes for $3500 with complete builds also available.


Since Tom Ritchey owns the patent to what is easily one of the cleanest and most simple frame mods for a “Break-Away” travel bike, NDVR decided to license the design. The American made NDVR is designed specifically for disc brakes, thru-axles and electronic drivetrains.


If you’re the type of person who A. likes to ride bikes, and B. travels a lot, then a travel bike can be tremendous help in keeping you fit while saving a ton of dough in airport baggage fees. The NDVR fits neatly into a travel case that will not get charged extra.


Simply put, we still just can’t get over how beautiful the craftsmanship is on the Italian made Infuse SkyLite saddle.


Easily one of the most popular morning product stops was the Skratch Labs food booth and the Pedaler’s Fork coffee cantina that was serving up their own 10 Speed Coffee.


In the upcoming July issue of Road Bike Action you’ll find a test of the Norco Tactic SL Disc…this is a limited edition version that uses a “jester” paint scheme and rolls on 3T wheels with disc brakes and a single ring Rotor crank. Nice.


Even when the throngs were celebrating the fact that it didn’t rain this year, there remained a handful of whiners who complained about how hot it was…yeah, tell that to the guy who was stuck inside this furry costume for hours on end keeping the crowd’s spirits up.

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