Water-carrying vessels have followed a simple formula since the beginning of civilization: A watertight apparatus plus a cap to secure and provide access to the oft-precious content within.
Well, I am not here to lecture about the history of water bottles, nor am I writing a punchy “OMG this is the must have bottle of 2019” clickbait.
Chances are you already have a few favorites lying around, and let’s be real for a second here: Finding the right bottle isn’t all that difficult these days since everyone seems to be making a few of their own. There are 385 search results under “water bottle” at REI.com.
My current bottle situation consists of a glow in the dark Nalgene, an insulated Camelbak, a screw top Sigg bottle plus a stash of frequently replenished cycling-specific bottles. My latest addition, and the purpose of this rambling, is the $20 HydraPak Stash 750ml flexible water bottle.
Initially, I thought the idea of a flexible bottle was more of a novelty. Rigid bottles have served me and civilization well for years. So I wondered, is it going to be like putting water in a Ziploc bag?
It’s been three months since I started using it and though without it quirks, I am finding myself liking it for what it is.
Upon arrival, the most obvious feature is its compact size. Measured at 2.6” inches tall, 3.6” in diameter and weighing 84-grams in its compressed setting, the Stash 750ml is about the size of two hockey pucks stacked on top of each other yet is some 50% lighter than its rigid compatriot.
To use, simply unscrew the 42mm cap and pull using the soft pull tab at the bottom of the rigid bottom. Instead of using the pull tab, I find it easier to just unscrew and push the bottom out from the inside – just make sure your hands are clean, though. Once the rigid bottom is released from the top cap assembly, the radio frequency-welded, PVC and BPA-free thermoplastic polyurethane body, imprinted with capacity marks, is liberated from its protective casing to hold fluids on demand. The bottle is approved to be frozen and contain hot fluids up to 140F.
Once filled, the bottle becomes semi-rigid within the TPU wall in such that it will stand fully-extended on its rigid bottom. I would advise strongly against holding anything but the hard top while operating. Putting the bottle inside a pouch/holder does take some time to get used to because you can’t just brute force it into submission given it soft sides. I also can’t seem find a cup holder that can fit the bottom cap. So for those few road trips, the bottle basically lived either on the passenger seat (during normal driving), or, for the most part, the front passenger floor during *spirited* driving.
Forget about drinking out of one while driving, too. Yeah sure it’s entirely doable, but it’s also a giant pain in the ass.
The space saving aspect, though, is unbeatable. I wish I had this when I flew to Asia for a work trip earlier this year as more room in my carry-on is always appreciated. I’ve gone on a few more flights, a couple of hikes with a backpack full of camera gear, kayaking in Channel Island and on a dune buggy trip that left my body all banged up, but I am happy to report that there were zero leaks, no unintentionally loose cap (could use a built-in tether) and that TPU body I was unsure about was in fact, durable with proper care (i.e. sharp objects). My Stash is by no means a direct replacement of a hard-sided bottle, but it is a godsend, a valuable tool, in instances where space and weight are at a premium. I am planning to also add the 1 liter version to my troupe of bottles, and you can say that I am infatuated with it.
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.