Hutchinson is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year and what better way to commemorate that milestone than by releasing more tires. It was first the cross-country Kraken, and now it’s the Touareg for the gravel crowd looking for a tire to match the gnar.
With design cues drawn from the brands’ road and off-road categories, the Touareg is slated to be knobbier than the company’s last gravel tire, the road leaning Override, which we love for its surprising amount of grip even with its inherently road-centric design.
Hutchinson intended for the Touareg to be versatile and robust enough to be ridden on rocks. The Touareg employs a small block design to facilitate multiple contact points on this bi-compound tire, patterned after the Kraken and Skeleton tires on a smaller scale for better on-road performance.
The rubber sits atop a supple 127tpi casing with its grid-like HardSkin textile reinforcement incorporated bead-to-bead for protection against hostile objects ie: sharp objects, your shitty bunny hop over the curb, etc. It is also tubeless ready, of course.
The French-made Touareg will be available for $64.99 in three sizes: 700 x 40, 700 x 45, and 650 x 47. The 700 x 40 and 650 x 47 will also come with your choice of black or tan sidewall. Stay tuned for an in-depth review once we get our hands on a pair.
Picking the right tire is mission critical stuff. Bigger knobs for better dirt traction at the cost of speed on the road, or Diamond treads for road at the cost of grip on dirt.
With gravel now gaining a solid foothold in the market, there are correspondingly many gravel tires to choose from for various uses. Gone are the days where one will need to resort to cyclocross tires. The Hutchinson Overides may not have the big knobs to tame the serious gnar, yet with its fast rolling character and surprisingly ample grip, it could very well be the tire for city dwellers who like to venture on an occasional jaunt in the dirt.
Weighing at 427 and 440 grams, our pair of 38mm Overides were easily hand-mounted onto our reliable Stan Avion’s 28mm-wide external and 21.6mm internal carbon rims with a fairly round profile measuring out to 38.2 mm on our caliper. The Overide doesn’t have a lot of rubber to weigh itself down. It’s got short, diamond tread in the center and parallelogram-shaped cornering knobs that get progressively larger from the center to the tire’s edge. This tire screams speed.
And speedy it was. On the road, the Overide rolls quickly and quietly much like a road tire. I questioned the typically short life expectancy of tires with diamond-center patterns, but these lasted longer than I had expected. It didn’t behave any differently when it began to show signs of wear either. Transitioning from the center to the side knobs during cornering was smooth. Its subtle brown, kevlar-reinforced 66tpi casing also looked pretty darn sweet on our mostly black ’19 Ibis Hakka MX. I started my initial rides at 30psi, but would put more air if my ride consisted of more pavement than dirt.
But this Overide is capable of doing a lot more than spending its life on “boring” pavement. The dual-compound Overide loves to party in dry hard packed and slightly loose terrains. Cornering in dirt requires some attention with its tightly-spaced knobs but it’s a controlled, confident affair. I lowered both tires to around 25 psi at some point for more bite and it responded well to the minuscule change in air pressure. I got the additional grip I wanted, minus the unwanted burping and flats.
The Overide is by no means an all-terrain tire, nor does it pretend to be. To bring it to a full-on dirt ride would be akin to bringing a knife to a gun fight. Doable yes, but there are better options. Hutchinson marketed the Overide for “classic roads, degraded, paths or tracks,” and I couldn’t agree more. I often think of the Overide as a beefier, higher volume version of the Vittoria Pavè with teeth on the corners. It’s a tire I’ve grown to leave on my bike for all but the roughest outings, an everyday tire that I would recommend if it fits your uses.
Sea Otter has always been known for its combination of its excellent racing and expo across all disciplines, and the 2019 edition sure didn’t disappoint. Scroll on for our highlights from the show.
Mavic Allroad Carbon SL & SL+
Mavic teased these hoops during NAHBS and now it’s finally official: Allroad Pro Carbon SL & SL+. As its name suggests, the new tubeless disc wheels are purposed to be ridden on a variety of surfaces. The key differences between the two are the tire sizes and corresponding rim widths. The SL (1,445 gram) uses a 23mm-wide 700c rim for tires between 28 and 62c while the SL+ (1,550g) accepts 650b tires on a wider, 26mm-wide rim for tires between 44 and 60mm.
Both Allroad carbon wheels are laced with 24 double-butted steel spokes, and are compatible with multiple axles and Centerlock rotor. 35mm Yksion Allroad UST tires will be included with the SL. The SL and SL+ will retail for $2,100.
British bike firm Vielo brought over an aero road bike and a gravel bike. The gravel V+1 was cool but the road-oriented R+1 was more impressive. Strictly a 1x platform, the carbon R+1 features a massive bottom bracket for a claimed 30% increase of lateral stiffness. Aero efficiency was also taken into consideration during the design, with prominent features such as a Kamm tail downtube, an aero seat post, a partially-curved seat tube for the rear wheel to tuck right in there, with tire clearance of up to 30mm. There are also three bottle mounts, a bento box mount, and its own branded chainring.
The biggest eye-catchers about the R+1, however, are the flex zones in the seat- and chain-stays which are said to allow up to 20mm of vertical movement for comfort. Five sizes and two models will be available. A lighter UD frameset with a one-piece internally-routed carbon bar/stem and seatpost is priced at $5,199 and a more affordable, slightly heavier UDG frameset with fork and seatpost for $3,509.
The Swiss apparel maker brought their showroom truck and I especially liked the Spring/Fall gloves. They’re made with a soft, flexible brushed lycra construction with just a touch of insulation for those cool morning rides coupled with lightly-padded microfiber palm. I personally dislike padded gloves, but these felt perfectly al-dente on my hands.
I also love the fabric touchscreen-compatible fingertips that are more likely to last its entire life unlike many that would simply fall off after the first few rides. These premium gloves are $59 but its quality construction suggests it’s built for the long haul.
The second piece was the $169 Mille (men) and Uma (women) Airblock vest. Also made for spring/fall, the Mille/Uma GT Airblock has a slightly more relaxed, less compressive cut than its raceFit cut, and is developed for cooler and occasionally wet rides with its NEOS Mild windproof and water resistant softshell fabric for the front chest area plus a brushed RX fabric on the abdominal and back for light insulation. The back features two slots for easy jersey pocket access. They are available in high-vis colors such as fluo yellow for men and Galaxy Pink for women which I’d be happy to rock in either color.
E-Bikes were literally everywhere at Sea Otter and I was digging the $7,590 Intense Tazer. With a 160mm front and 155mm rear travel, 29″ wheels up front, 27.5″ rear on a carbon frame with a 250w Shimano Steps E-8000 drivetrain and a balanced/practical componentry that walks the fine line between price and performance. The Tazer looks like a great rig to spend a day on up in the big mountains.
Redshift Shockdrop Seatpost
Suspension seatposts and dropper posts are usually two separate animals, but Redshift is combining the two because why not have the benefit of a two in one? The internally-routed prototype I saw had 35mm of tunable suspension travel for comfort along with either 60mm (27.2) or 100mm (30.9/31.6) of infinite height adjustment. No word on price, weight or availability yet.
Prevelo Zulu Two
I was all giggly about the Early Rider Bonsai bike last year, but now that my kid is growing up fast, I am also actively looking for the kid’s next steed. Prevelo‘s Zulu Two might look like just another kids bike on 16in wheels but wait, are those hydraulic disc brakes? Look deeper and you will see it comes with 2.1 knobby tires, 95mm kid-friendly crankarms, plus an additional short seatpost for better height adjustment. There’s also an option of upgrading it to an air suspension fork with 50mm of travel with adjustable rebound, lockout and compression.
HydraPak Velocity IT 1.5
HydraPak showed off their new, $38 Velocity IT 1.5 liter hydration reservoir with double wall, open-cell foam construction that is said to keep the fluid temperature 38% longer. It’s sliding lock refilling port almost makes it super easy to just dump a ton of ice cubes in for those hot rides.
Knog‘s got a new silicone headlamp called the Bandicoot that uses a built-in USB to charge its internal lithium polymer battery. Yay for no more fumbling with cables. But there’s more. Instead of an adjustable lamp head, Knog opted for a fixed, angled position with a grippy, adjustable band to keep it secured to your noggin. It’s got a claimed max output of 100 lumens that will last about two hours, plus there are eight pre-programmed light modes to utilize its quad LEDs for whatever task you are working on. The Bandicoot can be also further programmed to your heart’s desire with a dedicated desktop app. The IP-67 rated Bandicoot will be available in four colors starting in May for $35.
EVOC Race Belt
Evoc already has a pretty robust line of hip packs, yet the latest addition, the $45 Race Belt, is a bit different. It borrows the company’s AIRO Flex breathable hip belt, and instead of adding pouches and zippers, you now have tabbed and velcro’d slots with slim side pockets for your race essentials such as CO2, a Dynaplug, gel, or bar. Just don’t mistake it with your gym belt.
Niner MCR 9 RDO
Full-suspension gravel bike? That’s what Niner calls MCR 9 RDO their magic carpet ride. While some gravel frames are engineered with an amount of flex into its rear triangle, Niner modifies its proven CVA suspension design from its mountain bike line into a 50mm of air sprung rear travel, just enough to soak up the buzz and rough stuff on the road. There’s room to fit up to 50C/2.0 tires, 11 mounting points for all your accessories, plus an integrated mud guard to protect its rear suspension. See, it’s a long-distance magic carpet ride for real.
Italian helmet maker Kask debuted their second mtb helmet at the show to add to its otherwise road-focused lineup. Dubbed the Caipi, it features 22 vents on a 290-gram, CPSC-certified trail lid with extended rear coverage for better protection. Kask’s very own Octo Fit retention system and the faux leather chin strap were carried over into the Caipi. There will be two sizes and nine colors to choose from.
Chapter 2 AO
Chapter 2 might be a relatively young brand for many, but a look at its pedigree and you’ll see it’s the real deal with some very clever engineering. The AO is the firm’s first dedicated gravel machine that is a lot more than just the perquisite of multiple bottle mounts, massive tire clearance, and a sick paint job.
I love its variable geometry adjusted by manipulating the axles chips which also concurrently moves the rear brake mount.
Its easily-accessible internal cable routing with clearly marked ports are definitely a plus, along with the traditional threaded bottom bracket.
I first came across the forerunner of the 3D-printed carbon Emery One roughly a year ago while working on an assignment for Reuters, so seeing its redesigned form as an eBike was pleasant, yet not much of a surprise.
Unlike the human-powered version, the Emery One is 3D-printed in USA with Arevo technology and made in partnership with Franco Bike. The one shown at Sea Otter came with a potent Bosch Performance Line drivetrain capable of up to 100 miles with its 500wh battery, integrated storage options all in its unmistakable shape. Reservations for Emery One are now open with prices starting at $5,500 and a limited 100 unit Founder’s edition at $7,500.
Ritchey Swiss Cross
The venerable Ritchey Swiss Cross has now been updated! Flat-mount disc, thru-axles, room for 40c tires, and an updated geometry handmade with a triple-butted Ritchey Logic II CroMo steel tubing.
In celebrating its 25-year anniversary, Ritchey is also producing a limited run of a hundred of them draped in its iconic red/white fade like the ones Thomas Frischknecht once rode. A miniature handlebar cowbell is included, too.
Spurcycle M2 Bell
Spurcycle arguably makes one of the best bells in the biz already, but there ain’t no stopping Nick and Clint from innovating. The M2 features the same metal dome as the original bell, but the striking mechanism has been moved internally within the dome along with a shorter throw lever and a narrower clamp for those cramped mountain bike cockpits. The M2 will be available at end of this summer in two flavors: A raw brass dome for $29, or nickel brass dome with black DLC coating for $39.
Hutchinson produced its first bicycle tire in 1890 and for 2019 the French manufacturer brought us their new MTB tires, the Griffus. Labeled under Hutchinson Racing Lab representing the company’s top-flight tires, Griffus, meaning “clawed” in French, is a gravity-oriented dry-condition optimized for grip and low rolling resistance. The Griffus comes in both 29 and 27.5 in either 2.4 or 2.5 and each width is paired with similar, yet slightly different tread profiles optimized to its width. Bonus point: tan sidewalls.