Tech Gallery: The best tech from the 2023 Sea Otter Classic, part four
Bikes, bikes, and more bikes – and a bunch of components and other fun stuff, too.
I did say earlier that I managed to cover a lot of ground at the Sea Otter Classic, didn’t I? While I didn’t get to every booth, I did get to most of them, and this gallery is a wrap-up of the rest of the bikes, components, and other hard goods that caught my eye at the show.
There’s one more gallery to go (and you can catch up on the rest of them
here), and then that’ll be a wrap until we head back to Monterey, California for next year’s event. BMC’s Fourstroke 01 full-suspension cross-country race bike is definitely one of the more progressive options out there with its more trail bike-inspired frame geometry. The Fourstroke 01’s defining feature is arguably its fully integrated 80 mm-travel dropper seatpost. The fact it’s integrated into the frame is wild enough, but even better is the pressurized chamber hidden down near the bottom bracket that automatically lowers the seat when you hit the lever, even without putting weight on it. The pressurized chamber will actuate the RAD seatpost up to 100 times before it needs to be pumped up again. But even when this chamber is empty, BMC says the RAD will then operate like a regular dropper where you’ll only need to apply body weight to lower the saddle. BMC doesn’t incorporate the forward shock mount into the carbon structure, instead using a bolt-on aluminum bit. Yep, e-bikes are everywhere, like them or not. But at least they’re getting a lot less visually offensive, as demonstrated by this BMC Fourstroke AMP. The TQ motor system is fast gaining favor for its compact size and quiet operation. If you were to cover up this display, people riding near you might not even realize you’re on an e-bike. BMC is like most European brands in that it’s electrifying pretty much everything, like this Roadmachine AMP. BMC collaborated with Redshift Sports for a specially shaped suspension stem included stock on some URS gravel bike models. Interestingly, BMC includes it on the Roadmachine AMP e-road bike, too. BMC at some point decided its brand was too firmly associated with cross-country racing (and more “serious” riding in general) to successfully compete in the trail and enduro bike categories, so the Scor brand was born. This particular 4060 LT model perhaps sits outside the scope of the typical Escape Collective reader, but between the intriguing short-dual-link suspension design and the very up-to-date frame geometry, I sure wouldn’t mind taking this thing for a spin. And holy crap, did this translucent paint job look amazing in the California sun. Pinarello isn’t tiptoeing around with the e-road bike market. The company clearly sees this segment as a big part of its future. The latest iteration of the Pinarello Nytro uses the new TQ motor platform, complete with this discreet LCD panel integrated into the top tube. TQ motors blend almost imperceptibly into the frame for a clean aesthetic that’s increasingly common on e-bikes. The Pinarello X is the company’s interpretation of the endurance road bike. It uses many of the stylistic cues of the more racing-oriented F, but with clearance for 32 mm-wide tires and more relaxed handling and rider positioning. The curves in the seatstays are said to boost rear-end comfort, but my guess is that prospective buyers will be more drawn to the look. #aeroiseverything The flattened area here is intended to help the bottle form a cleaner aero profile with the down tube. Can’t afford the full-blown Dogma F? Never fear, the standard F is only somewhat outrageously priced while offering a similar look and features. Revel has updated its Ranger marathon machine with an all-new rear end that’s supposedly “20% stiffer” without being any heavier. There’s also new titanium collet-style pivot hardware, larger bearings, and a SRAM Universal Derailleur Hanger to make it compatible with the company’s latest drivetrain offerings. Revel says the Ranger’s updated rear end also improves tire and drivetrain clearance, but what mostly comes to my head is how fantastic this looks. Look no further than the big bike brands for signs that the e-cargo bike is seriously heating up. Specialized recently debuted the Haul ST, a dual 20″-wheeled workhorse that seemingly draws inspiration from the groundbreaking Tern GSD. Benno has been in the cargo bike game longer than most, and seems to do it better than it often gets credit for. I’m digging the scrambler vibes of this particular setup. The Digit Datum is an intriguing trail bike, built with a 140/160 mm front/rear travel configuration and mullet wheels (27.5″ rear, 29″ front). Despite being made of aluminum, the 2.9 kg (6.4 lb) claimed weight for a large frame is entirely competitive with carbon fiber. By far the most interesting thing about the Digit Datum, however, is the suspension design, which uses a concentric link down below that rotates around the bottom bracket spindle, and a custom rear shock built into the top tube. The rear shock has a massive oil volume (which theoretically keeps operating temperatures low and durability high). Basic service is very simple, but more comprehensive work requires a bit more surgery that includes dropping the fork as the rear shock slides out of the frame through a hatch in the head tube. The angle on the lower link is intended to help divert mud and debris off to the side. Even so, I’d prefer to see some sort of cover to keep stuff from getting jammed into that tight space on the bottom bracket shell. It was just a couple of weeks ago that I railed against the idea of headset-based cable routing for mountain bikes. I still hold that opinion, but when bikes look like this on the showroom floor, it’s easy to see why people are drawn in. Even I’ll admit that this Scott Genius looks pretty sweet as it’s set up here. Uh, where’s the rear shock, you’re wondering? Scott bought controlling interest in tiny Swiss brand Bold back in 2019, and with it came that company’s designs for fully concealed rear shocks. This sort of setup obviously makes it trickier to make shock adjustments, but it sure does look neat. Legendary builder Dave Turner showed off this neat cruiser-style titanium rig at this year’s Sea Otter Classic. Classic lines, modern materials. The machined chainstay yoke setup provides lots of tire and chainring clearance while still maintaining a short rear end. Slick. This is an impressively compact dropout design. Sea Otter was my first opportunity to see and touch Shimano’s new CUES components in person. It’s aimed at a budget-minded audience, but in typical Shimano fashion at this price point, it looks and feels far more premium and refined than the cost would suggest. It may not be super light, but this certainly doesn’t scream “budget” to me. I’m very much looking forward to being able to try this stuff on a trail. A key feature of CUES is its new LinkGlide shift technology, which supposedly dramatically improves shift performance under load as well as overall drivetrain durability. Visual gear indicators may seem silly to more seasoned riders, but they can be very helpful for riders who are still getting going in the sport. Inexpensive four-piston hydraulic disc brakes FTW. Selle Italia is expanding its range of 3D-printed saddles with a short-nosed model based on its popular Novus range. The new Novus Boost Evo 3D Kit Carbon Superflow (that’s quite a mouthful!) bundles seemingly all of Selle Italia’s tricks into one saddle, including a short-nosed format, a long central cutout, an abundance of 3D-printed padding, and lightweight carbon fiber rails. Expect the retail price to be somewhere around US$400. Just like the Model X that came before it, the new Selle Italia Model Y is manufactured “without the use of any adhesives, solvents or other pollutants,” and supposedly generates half the carbon emissions of conventional methods. It’s also built in Italy using components entirely sourced within a 15 km radius. The flat shape is designed for mountain biking, and there’s a cutout in the shell to relieve pressure (but not a full cutout that can send mud and water into your crotch). There’s no word on if Selle Italia will follow up on the Model X and Y with a Model S and 3. Selle Italia’s new Smart Tape is one of the most innovative ideas I’ve seen in handlebar in some time. The end cap is molded together with the tape, thus eliminating the need for a separate cap while also speeding up the process and eliminating a common source of mistakes. The molded cap is quite soft and thin, though, so I’d recommend you install a more substantial plug first. Selle Italia makes the Smart Tape without an adhesive backing so it – at least in theory – can be removed and reused without too much hassle. Retail price is just US$20. The big news from Selle San Marco from Sea Otter? Colors! Prefer a somewhat more traditional shape for your all-road bike, but with a central cutout and some extra padding? That’s exactly what you get with the Selle San Marco Allroad Supercomfort Racing. Claimed weight is 213 g and retail price is US$200. Got a soft spot for Selle San Marco saddles of yesteryear? The company has resurrected all of your old favorites, including the Regal, Rolls, and Concor. Like stepping back in time 30 years. Redshift Sports recently unveiled its ArcLight Pro flat pedals, which feature a much more aggressive cage design than the original ArcLights (which weren’t bad, but still didn’t provide as much traction as I would prefer). But the real standout feature are the integrated front and rear LEDs, which automatically switch between red and clear, and offer both flashing and constant modes. Run time varies from 3-36 hours depending on mode before the four individual modules need to be recharged, and retail price is US$160. One criticism I had of Redshift Sports’ first-generation ShockStop Pro seatpost was that it was just too firm out of the box, and didn’t include the other springs if you wanted to adjust the feel. The company has since changed course, with a softer tune from the factory, and an assortment of springs included in the box. Prologo’s new Scratch NDR saddle is aimed at the XC and marathon crowd. In Prologo’s words, “The two lateral-posterior sections are designed to provide more stability and comfort when pedaling in a backward position on long climbs. The variable-density EVA foam padding is 3 mm
thicker in the rear section to provide maximum support. The cover of these sections is completely smooth, making it easier to move out of the saddle.
“The innovative center-front section, on the other hand, is specially designed to tackle the steepest and most technical uphill passages, thanks to a large flat surface that provides a comfortable base of support even when it is necessary to pedal on the nose of the saddle. The cover features
a horizontally textured Grip Cover in this section to maximize grip and help maintain a forward
position on the saddle.”
Retail price is €139 with stainless steel rails or €219 with carbon fiber ones, and claimed weight is 166-217 g. Further building on the Scratch family, the new Prologo Scratch AGX targets gravel and “adventure” riders. Prologo says the base is more flexible than other Scratch models, and there’s also 2 mm more padding, too. Claimed weight is as low as 172 g, and retail price is €139-219 depending on rail material. The carbon fiber rails on the Scratch AGX saddle are very long, offering an unusually generous range of adjustment. Also new from Prologo is the women-specific Scratch Eva, complete with a deep central channel, a wide-and-flat nose, variable-density padding, and raised rear sections that are all designed to minimize pressure on soft tissue.
Claimed weights range from 183-232 g, and retail prices range from €139-219 depending on rail material. Prologo prefers not to use full cutouts in its saddles, instead opting on some models (such as this Scratch Eva) for a cutout in the shell. Prologo says this produces a similar reduction in soft tissue pressure, but with a more traditional aesthetic. WTB has a new saddle for gravel riding called – what else? – the Gravelier. It features a flat profile, a triangular shape with a notably tapered nose, and a full central cutout – the first time WTB has ever used one. WTB is offering the Gravelier with four different rail material options and three different kinds of padding. Claimed weight ranges from 160-246 g, and retail prices range from US$96-250. Berd says the ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene material used for its fiber-based spokes has 12 times the strength-to-weight ratio of steel (and better absolute strength) while being less than half the weight and offering better vibration damping. They’re also expensive (US$8 each!) and most definitely not aero, but I’m still curious to try some wheels built with these (or to build a set myself). MRP designed its GCX chain guide with cyclocross in mind, but it’s gotten more popular with the rise of 1x road drivetrains (especially for time trials). Getting rowdy on your XC or trail bike and need a bit more chain security? MRP’s 1x SL is a minimalist lightweight option assuming your frame is equipped with ISCG05 mounts. RockShox and Fox may have garnered most of the attention when it comes to gravel suspension forks, but MRP has one as well. The Baxter offers 40 or 60 mm of travel, and weighs 1.41-1.45 kg, depending on configuration. One distinguishing feature is the accessory mounts on the outside of each leg, which you won’t find from those bigger brands. The MRP Ribbon SL is aimed as XC and marathon bikes with 120-130 mm of travel, 35 mm-diameter stanchions, and a 1.76 kg claimed weight. In addition to the usual compression and rebound damping adjustments, there are also independent positive and negative air spring chambers to help fine-tune the initial sensitivity, and air spring volume adjustment to tune the spring rate. Old Man Mountain has nearly doubled the size of its catalog this year with a whole bunch of new racks and bags. New from Old Man Mountain is a broad range of bikepacking bags with fully welded seams, waterproof zippers, and roll-top closures. Load security is a key feature on Old Man Mountain’s new bag range, even more so than ease of installation or removal. This lower strap, for example, intentionally wraps around the bottom of the bag to provide more compression for extra load stability. And see that embroidered logo? It’s actually a Velcro patch, meaning you can remove it and put something else on if you’d like. Roll-top closures are the gold standard when it comes to sealing out water. An optional add-on allows you to easily install a light right on the rack, freeing up precious space on your handlebar. Old Man Mountain and Robert Axle combined forces a few years ago, and it’s a remarkably natural pairing. The special axles provide a reliable robust mounting point for the racks, and they’re available to fit most bikes. Fox has shaved 58 g from the outgoing Float to create the new Float SL, featuring three compression positions, plus an additional compression fine-tuning adjustment for the fully open setting (which reminds me very much of the old Fox Float CTD concept). XC-minded riders keen on remote lockouts have that option as well. The new Fox Float is essentially an inline version of the Float X, using a similar damper design but in a more minimalist configuration that reduces weight by 150 g (claimed) while also improving frame clearance. Logos – the wheel brand of consumer-direct bike brand Thesis – has partnered with Enduro to offer its ultra-durable XD-15 hybrid ceramic bearings stock. Enduro Bearings has been busy not only conducting friction testing of its own bearings, but of just about everyone else’s, too. We’ll hopefully have time for a deep dive on this soon. e13’s revamped Helix R mountain bike cranks are made of solid-forged aluminum, and supposedly offer trail-bike weight, but with enduro-level strength. The rubber crankarm covers are notably thick, and the chainrings are offered in a variety of colors. e13’s 12-speed mountain bike cassettes are made in two sections. The largest two sprockets are made of machined aluminum to reduce weight down to just 392 g (claimed). The aluminum section is also offered separately to help reduce maintenance costs since you don’t have to buy an entire cassette if just one or two of those climbing gears starts to wear out. The widest-range option uses a whopping 9-52T spread. The Detour from Outbound Lighting is modeled after automotive headlight designs, with a very sharp upper cutoff that concentrates light where you need it without blinding oncoming traffic. Claimed output is approximately 1,200 lumens at max setting, with claimed run times ranging from 1.7 to 10 hours. It’s impressively compact and also lightweight at 186 g (including the bar mount), and pass-through USB-C charging allows for much longer run times with an external battery pack. Retail price is US$179. Still not used to the idea of one-piece road bar-and-stem combos? Get ready for the onslaught of integrated carbon fiber cockpits for mountain bikes, too. Crankbrothers is billing the new Mallet Trail pedals for mountain biking, but they look like they’d be pretty good for gravel riding, too, given the pared-down cage design. Tire inserts are rapidly growing in popularity, with Cush Core arguably leading the charge. New for this year is a “Trail” variant. The cutouts on the edge supposedly offer more “progressive support” than the XC version while also being lighter than the the heavier-duty Pro edition. Channels on the inner side supposedly help sealant slosh around a little better, too.
CushCore intends for this to be used with 2.1-2.6″ tires and internal rim widths between 22-35mm. Claimed weight is 199 g for one 27.5″ insert or 212 g for a 29er, and retail price is US$150 for a pair, including valve stems. What did you think of this story?
😐Meh 😊️Solid 🤩Excellent