Gears At The Otter

Sea Otter Classic expo

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 Allroad Carbon SL with 35c Yksion Elite Allroad UST
Mavic Allroad Carbon SL with 35c Yksion Elite Allroad UST

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.

Mavic Allroad Carbon SL+ 650b with WTB Venture 47
Mavic Allroad Carbon SL+ 650b with WTB Venture 47

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.

Vielo R+1

Vielo R+1 Sea Otter Classic

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.

Vielo R+1 Sea Otter Classic

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.

Vielo R+1 Sea Otter Classic
Engineered flex zone on the R+1 seat stays


Assos Spring/Fall Gloves Sea Otter Classic

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.

Assos Spring/Fall Gloves Sea Otter Classic

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.

Assos Mille Uma GT Airblock Vest

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.

Intense Tazer

Sea Otter Classic Intense Tazer eBike Shimano Steps e-8000

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

Redshift Shockdrop seatpost Sea Otter Classic

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

Prevelo Zulu Two kids bike

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 Velocity IT 1.5 insulated hydration reservoir Sea Otter Classic

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 Bandicoot

Knog Bandicoot headlamp Sea Otter Classic

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 Race Belt Sea Otter Classic

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

Niner MCR9 RDO full suspension gravel bike Sea Otter Classic

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.

Kask Caipi

 Kask Caipi Helmet Sea Otter Classic

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.

 Kask Caipi Helmet Sea Otter Classic back view

Chapter 2 AO

Sea Otter Classic Chapter 2 AO gravel bike

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.

Sea Otter Classic Chapter 2 AO gravel bike

I love its variable geometry adjusted by manipulating the axles chips which also concurrently moves the rear brake mount.

Sea Otter Classic Chapter 2 AO gravel bike

Its easily-accessible internal cable routing with clearly marked ports are definitely a plus, along with the traditional threaded bottom bracket.

Sea Otter Classic Chapter 2 AO gravel bike
Sea Otter Classic Chapter 2 AO gravel bike ornot
Ready to party, ornot

Emery One

Sea Otter Classic Emery One 3D-printed eBike Arevo

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.

Sea Otter Classic Emery One 3D-printed eBike Arevo

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.

Sea Otter Classic Emery One 3D-printed eBike Arevo

Ritchey Swiss Cross

Sea Otter Classic 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.

Sea Otter Classic Ritchey Swiss Cross

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

Sea Otter Classic 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 Griffus 

Sea Otter Classic Hutchinson Griffus MTB tires

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. 

We Didn’t Forget The Accessories.


We’ve covered bikes and components that we really like and now it’s time for the final piece (cue the original Iron Chef suspense): Accessories.

I didn’t forget them. How could that even be possible? It’s not that there wasn’t enough accessories to look at, but it was the sheer amount of crap stuff that needed to be filtered out. It could get a bit daunting at times, especially after basking in all things bicycle for a week before parachuting into a tech conference on Cloud immediately after (yay day job). Alas, it’s time to put ’em together.

Feedback Sports

The media preview pregame night has always been fascinating to attend because it’s like a mini Interbike within Interbike. It is where I usually get to catch up and talk shop with buddies while looking at some cool and also some really shitty parts that would leave many people thinking why on earth would you even put that on your bike. Feedback Sports was there and their new Range torque ratchet combo was one of the very few accessories that I truly enjoyed seeing. While traditional torque wrenches are mostly made specifically to torque a bolt to a given value and not to be used as a wrench to loosen bolts, the Range is both a torque wrench and a ratchet wrench. Hold the anodized red handle to loosen/tighten bolts with one of the 14 most commonly used drive bits made with durable S2 steel bits which are included. Grab the Torque Knob at the end of the wrench to activate its torque-measuring function from 2-10Nm. The $79.99 wrench combo also comes with a molded foam protective case for traveling convenience.


LEM MotiveAir helmet

After launching a full line of helmets in the States earlier this summer, LEM came to Interbike with a few more tricks up its sleeves. Besides the slippery MotiveAero TT helmet with a removable tail attached by magnets, MotiveAir, the soon-to-be flagship road model, looked really good too. The helmet is said to weigh about 215 grams with an extensive carbon fiber shell, plenty of vents for ventilation and their own micro-adjustable FS3 retention system to dial in the fit. Price has yet to be determined but it will be available spring 2019.

Park Tool

Park Tools SPK-1 Stainless Steel Spork

If you’ve been around bikes for a while, chances are you probably already know about the Park Tool Pizza Cutter that seems to make its way into at least one cycling holiday gift guide every year. But did you know Park Tool makes a spork too? I didn’t either, but there it was hidden in plain sight at the massive Park Tool booth. The Minnesota firm didn’t just bum some stainless steel off their production line, but this dishwasher-safe SPK-1 spork is made out of 316 food-grade stainless steel for its high resistance to acids, alkalis, and chlorides (i.e. salt, remember chemistry?) one might encounter in everyday food items. Its handle is also predictably, vinyl-dipped in Park Tool blue. And it’s only $7.49.

Phil Wood

Phil Wood Tree Ornament

As if the Park Tool spork didn’t surprise me already, the petite Phil Wood hub did also. It’s got 16 holes, 61.5mm spacing, 32.5mm flange height, and weighs 26 grams… I am not sure what rim size this is for, but I know for a fact that this is a $30 machined, made in US aluminum tree ornament that could live a double life as one heck of a conversation-starting keychain. My holiday gift guide just got a lot more interesting.


MAAP Suplest Edge3 pro cycling shoes

Premium Australian apparel brand MAAP teamed up with Swiss shoemaker Suplest and the shoes from the collaboration are just so damn gorgeous. Based on Suplest’s flagship Edge3 pro featuring dual Boa dials, a stiff carbon sole, microfiber uppers, a custom insole by Solestar, a wrap tongue construction to accommodate a larger range of foot shapes, plus a thin carbon shield that sits between the upper and laces to distribute pressure more evenly, these shoes are high tech and they look great in both white and red.


stompump foot pump

This is not your grandparents’ old foot pump. Stompump is a miniaturized, high volume aluminum foot pump capable of inflating a tire three times faster than a hand pump. This $99.95 pump is just a tad smaller than my Snow Peak coffee mug and is designed to be mounted on the bike frame with its dedicated bracket. The fully rebuildable pump comes with a removable hose compatible with both presta and schrader valves, an integrated air filter to filter out contaminates that would otherwise roughen up the pump action or fail a pump altogether. And believe it or not, it even has a small storage compartment for parts like patches or tire plugs.

Effetto Mariposa

Effetto Mariposa Giustaforza 1-8 torque wrench

I know, I am including a second torque wrench in a roundup. But Effetto Mariposa’s Giustaforza 1-8 torque wrench deserves a shoutout for its +/- 4% measurement accuracy down to as low as 1Nm. The Italian-made, calibratable click-type 1/4″ drive torque wrench is available either as a tool only for $115 or with its tool roll plus with S2 steel bits in 14 common sizes for $160.

Patch Book

Patch Book glueless tire patch

First time Interbike exhibitor Patch Book occupied a booth that consisted of pretty much a table and these flexible eco-friendly glueless tire patches packaged like a matchbook. Each package includes four patches plus a piece of sandpaper. The San Diego-based husband and wife team was also eager to point out the graphics on the package which can be easily customizable for a bike shop, or if you just want to give a very unique gift to your riding friends.

Option Lock

Option Lock packable bike lock

It’s like a u-lock, but it’s not, so I am going to call it an u-lock inspired rectangular lock. It consists of four parts: two cylinders each with a locking mechanism connected to two steel cross bars to complete the lock. With its modular design, the entire 3.5lb lock can be disassembled into smaller pieces for travel in the included case while the dual locks will sure provide more options of locking and unlocking. Option Lock will be available for $69.99 in November.


Smith Ignite aero road helmet

Smith had a number of new products at the show and the Ignite is the firm’s newest aero road helmet for 2019. The competitively-priced $250 helmet incorporates sections of Koroyd crumple-zone cylinders in high impact areas to absorb harmful kinetic energy and a MIPS layer to reduce rotation energy in the event of a crash. On the aerodynamics side, the helmet employs eight strategically-placed vents for ventilation while the overall design is made to support changes in speed. It is also sunglasses friendly too in such that there’s a place to secure your precious shades. The Ignite will be available in five colors this coming February.


Ortlieb Atrack 35L waterproof backpack

There are many backpacks out there, and this backpack is by no means cycling-specific, but Ortlieb’s new Atrack series backpacks are different. Besides the fact that it’s made of lightweight and waterproof material, I particularly liked the robust, adjustable harness and how the main compartment opens like a duffle bag with one central waterproof zipper between the harness which creates a very minimal appearance and prevents any unintended openings while traveling.

Ortlieb Atrack 35L waterproof backpack

A trio of colors (mustard yellow, black or red) will come along in three sizes: 25L, 35L and 45L. Despite its capacities, the packs also don’t take up a lot of space when not in use. There are also plenty of internal pockets, compression straps and mounting points for additional accessories such as a hydration pack.


100% SpeedCraft Air

We were told Peter Sagan approached 100% a few years ago looking for some unique sunglasses that would stand out from the rest of the Peloton. 100% went to work and one of the more radical designs from the Italian firm is the Speedcraft Air. The Speedcraft Air shares a similar lens shape as the regular Speedcraft sunglasses, with the biggest difference being the fixed rubber nosepiece being replaced with an adjustable one called the AC Systems that controls nasal dilation for better breathing. It’s a similar concept to the breathe right strip.  Adhesive tape is placed on both sides of the nose. Embedded within each tape is a small piece of metal designed to connect to corresponding magnets on both sides of the Air’s temple. Once connected, users will be able to pull their nostrils open by turning a small dial on top on the sunglasses. Each of the $325 Speedcraft airs will come with a kit of nose pads and pre-application cleaning towelettes. Replacement pads are available for $15 for a pack of 20.


Assos Trail long sleeve jersey

Assos introduced a cross-country specific XC collection during Sea Otter and they are expanding the efforts further with the new Trail collection. More than just branded jerseys and baggie shorts, the Trail collection incorporates what Assos calls trailFit, a relaxed fit designed to fit the more upright body position better without the excess bulk and heavy fabric that inhibits breathability. While the collection features a circular-knitted short and long sleeve jersey, we were particularly interested in the $149 long sleeve version for its proprietary reinforced dyneRope fabric on the forearms for abrasion protection against the elements, or that crash you would never admit to with your friends.

Assos Introduces New S9 Shorts Family

Assos Equipe S9 RS bib short
Photo: Assos

It took six long years of development, but Assos of Switzerland is ready to release their next generation of shorts.

As the successor for their hugely popular S7 family, the S9 comes loaded with features one would expect from the Swiss high end apparel maker. Besides the usage of new technical fabrics, the S9 uses just two panels – a very different way of shaping a bib where we used to count the number of panels one could incorporate. The layered chamois has been redesigned with shaped memory foam to increase comfort and airflow. But that’s not all. Perhaps the most obvious is its bib strap.

Assos Equipe S9 RSR bib short
Assos Equipe S9 RSR bib short

Assos calls it A-Lock Engineering. It’s a bracing system made of a few different textiles to get the right amount of stretch in a controlled manner. Instead of having the straps joint to a mesh panel in the rear. Assos replaced it with two crossed straps that extend far down the rear of the bib. The result, according to Assos, is better stability in which the chamois will stay in its place.

Two versions of the S9 bibs will be available to choose from: the Equipe S9 RS will focus on further stability with the addition of the rollBar, a strap that extends from the A-Lock to the chamois to counter horizontal movement as riders shift their weight from left to right. The second bib, called the Equipe S9 RSR, will forgo the rollBar in favor of shaving a bit of weight off and will instead rely solely on a higher compression fabric for stabilization.

Assos Equipe S9 RSR bib short
Assos Equipe S9 RSR bib short

Price has yet to be announced but the S9 bibs will be available nationwide in January 2019 along with the full collection of Assos’ race-oriented Equipe RS collection.

Assos Equipe RS Collection
Assos Equipe RS Collection

Sea Otter Gear You Should Not Miss

The expo at Sea Otter has always been an integral part of the festival where enthusiasts can see, touch, purchase the latest gear, rub elbows with the pros, and score free swag. If you like any of the aforementioned things, then the 2018 edition which happened exactly a week ago with a sold out exhibit space featuring 500 exhibitors, would be right up your alley. It was even better than InterBike to be honest, and here’s a condensed version of what I saw.


Bikepacking is all the rage now and I spotted this sweet saddlebag from German bag specialist Ortlieb. Besides the use of obligatory waterproof fabrics, the $145, 11-liter, medium sized Seat Pack M features a stiffened bottom for stability while its small footprint is full-suspension and dropper post friendly. It’s got a roll top and bright orange compression straps to keep your content from bouncing around, but Ortlieb upped the game further with the inclusion of a purge valve on the side to enable users to compact it down even more.


Instead of showing a complete lineup of their rigs, GT had this little booth highlighting their history in full-suspension. There was a RTS, LTS, i-Drive, iT1… You know it. This 1998 STS-DH Lobo still looked amazing and oh the memories.


Shimano didn’t have a whole lot of new stuff to show, but they did show us their newest Ultegra RX rear derailleur which is basically a road derailleur with a Shadow Plus clutch to combat against chain slap and retention over rough terrains. The target audience? All you cyclocross gravel riders. The $109.99 RD-RX800 mechanical derailleur is compatible with both 1x and 2x 11-speed drivetrains and up to a 11-34 cassette. Available this summer.

Besides the RX derailleur, Shimano also has this purpose-built trail work rig for the organizers of the Trans-Casadia race. Built around a Shimano Steps e-bike system, the custom Sycip bike comes with a rack to carry a chainsaw, extra fuel and battery for the bike, full internal cable routes, and is adorned with more bling bits from ENVE. I just want to take this bike when I go camping.


Goodyear is diving head first into bicycle tires. We’ve covered the road-going Eagle All-Season in detail in another post. And here’s an up close look at their Newton tire intended for aggressive trail, enduro and downhill. The level of detail Goodyear has put in to it from its textured, reinforced casing to the precision-molded knobs is simply amazing. The Newton comes in both 27.5 and 29 from $70-$90 depending on the compound and casing selected.


Fi’Zi:K is an official sponsor of Team Movistar and it’s nice to see the Italian company offering their top of the line Infinito R1 shoe with Movistar blue trim equally for both men and women. It’s nice to see companies stepping up their efforts in treating women’s pro cycling equally, plus this special edition shoe looked GREAT in person.


Since we’re talking about shoes, Speedplay’s founder Richard Bryne showed me his latest project: An ultra thin carbon outsole. It doesn’t look like much but Bryne told us his latest creation with Shimano SPD-SL cleat is about one centimeter lower than a pair of Shimano shoes with the same cleat. The outsole has just been granted its own patent and while there wasn’t any word on when it would ever hit production, the original Speedplay pedal started out as a personal project too…


Vision has had the Metron 4D aero handlebar for a while now but the latest version, the Metron 4D Flat M.A.S, is aimed at those who might want to mount a time trial extension from time to time for that one time trial or triathlon. Besides the obvious cable routing for electronic wires and a comfortable aero flat top, Vision engineers added a mounting slot on both ends near the center clamp where one can quickly install the extensions and be done with it. It’s perfect for those who can only have one bike. 


Kask introduced the $249 Valegro helmet with Team Sky at Tour De France last year and these lightweight lids are finally available in the States. Weighing in at a claimed 180-grams for a size small, it’s generous 37 air vents means your noggin’ will stay cool in the heat of the battle. It also includes antibacterial, fast-drying padding and Kask’s signature eco-leather strap to make every ride a comfortable outing.


Swiss apparel maker Assos not only showed up in their trademark Mobile Showroom, but they also brought their newest XC collection to show. The XC jersey comes with an earthier color palette and is tailored for riding in a more upright position which mountain and gravel riders are more likely to be in. Say goodbye to road jerseys pulling all over the place.

Assos also showed a pair of their new off-road Rally bib with a more activity-specific cut and an outer panel now interwoven with Dyneema polyethylene fiber to protect against abrasion and be more durable because mishaps on dirt happen way more than we’d like to admit and it sucks to ruin a pair of bibs worth a few Benjamins.


Longtime grip maker ODI got the usual collection of its Lock-On clamps in all kinds of colors but they also have these grip-inspired drink coozies for your cold one. These $8 sleeves come in 8 colors and grabs just as well as its line of grips. Also works as a joke to tell the unsuspecting that it is a new grip diameter standard.


These Italian-made Mint socks not only look sharp, but for every pair purchased a dollar goes towards National Interscholastic Cycling Association. Minted plans to release new, one and done designs in limited quantities on a quarterly basis so don’t wait before they’re gone for good, and for a good cause.


Steel is still real and New Jersey-based Von Hof showcased the ACX painted in eye-popping orange. Handbuilt in the US with the intention to be a dual cyclocross and gravel adventure machine, the Columbus-steeled ACX features a liberal use of custom-shaped tubes with a racing geometry, 40mm tire clearance, front and rear thru-axle, and then surprised us with a T47 bottom bracket. The $2,395 ACX comes in six standard sizes in two-color paint of your choosing with a matching ENVE CX Disk Fork. If stock sizing is not your thing, VonHof is also happy to make a custom one for you starting at $3,250. 


IRC is making a comeback to the tire scene and the Boken is the Japanese tiremaker’s latest gravel tire. Available in 36c and 40c, the $80 tire uses a proven diamond center tread for speed with taller knobs on the side for cornering over rough roads. It’s tubeless ready and IRC have decided to go with a single-ply casing to be lighter and conform to the terrain better than multi-ply tires. We were told the tires were a hit at the recent road-heavy Belgian Waffle Ride and can’t wait to try ours. 


Oregon-based Sage titanium showed off their prototype Flow Motion hardtail. According to owner David Rosen, the Flow Motion will come with a few firsts. It will be Sage’s first mountain frame and first model to be built entirely in-house. Designed to be paired with a 120 to 150mm fork, the long-travel hardtail is what Rosen envisions as a do-it-all dirt bike with room to accommodate up to 27.5x 2.8 or 29x 2.35 tires. The Flow Motion will be available for $3,900 frame only and customers will be able to build their own bikes on Sage’s web configurator. 


Silca had a relatively small booth this year but they did have a few of their prototype Sicuro titanium bottle cages lying around.

They might look understated but a closer inspection reveals the tidy uniform welds make them look so clean. You can thank a laser welding machine for that. Silca is still figuring out their production plan, so no firm price as of yet but King Cage might finally have a competitor.


Syncros almost broke the internet on the first day of Sea Otter with these super lightweight Silverton SL carbon hoops. OK, lightweight carbon hoops, we’ve heard that before, what makes these Syncros so unique, however is that the entire wheel from its 31mm (26mm internal) hookless rim, carbon spoke, and hubshell (with DT Swiss 190 ceramic hub guts) are tensioned and molded as one piece that is said to improve its strength and stiffness. At $3,500 per set, these Centerlock-only puppies sure ain’t cheap but what is $3,500 in the name of marginal gain?

Early Rider

I am a dad now so kids bikes are always on my radar and I couldn’t help myself but to stop and stare at this wooden Early Rider Bonsai balance bike. Besides its one-piece Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified marine ply birch veneer frame, the other visually striking part about the Bonsai is its one-sided rear wheel that makes it almost too gorgeous to be a kids bike. It’s got 12-in Kenda tires rolling on sealed hub bearings, a real 1-1/8 headtube with a real headset, an aluminum cockpit and a classy riveted saddle. It’s also only $159. Here’s a kids bike I actually want to keep around in my house for once.


Continental might seem comparatively slow in terms of tire development but they are by no means slackers. The German tiremaker takes their time in development and opts to perfect the product and safety instead of just throwing it out there. Tires such as the Grand Prix 4000 is a prime example of how they prefer getting it right the first time and thus remains to be a popular choice all these years. For 2018 they have revamped their mountain bike tires, not one, but four of their bestsellers: The Trail King, Race King, Cross King, and Mountain King. Highlights include updated thread patterns, improved casing with Cordura to eliminate sealant leakage, a less pronounced checker pattern on the sidewalls and finally, thread on the Mountain King (second tire from left) co-developed with fellow compatriot and frequent collaborator Adidas based on the trail running specific Continental rubber outsole. The new tires are available in 27.5, 29 and also 26 because they know many of us still love to ride our “outdated” bikes with 26in wheels.