Cycling Gallery: The best tech from the 2023 Sea Otter Classic, part one
Fresh goodies from FSA, Bridge Bike Works, Hope Technology, Vitus, and more.
The Sea Otter Classic is off to the races for 2023, bigger and busier than ever, and firmly cementing its status as the biggest bicycle trade show in the United States. Among the goodies I found on day one are slick, molded-in bottom bracket threads from Bridge Bike Works, the latest 12-speed update to FSA’s beleaguered WE wireless electronic road groupset, a slick new dropper seatpost remote lever from Hope Technology, new tools from Park Tool, an ultralight (yet supposedly super comfortable) saddle from Wove, and more.
Here’s a smattering of what caught my eye for now, and I’ll have more tech galleries in the coming days – once I’ve managed to find some food – and in the meantime, you can catch up on all of our coverage from the 2023 Sea Otter Classic
here. Want more on-the-ground coverage like this from our seasoned tech staff, presented in beautiful full-page resolution without the visual clutter of banners, home page takeovers, Google ads, and affiliate links? Then please consider becoming a member of the Escape Collective so we can continue to fund worthwhile excursions like trade shows, race tech, and other events without us having to resort to selling cat NFTs. Plus, James’s Euro-only Haribo habit is surprisingly expensive. The FSA WE brake lever has a noticeable kink in the shape. The basic lever design is unchanged, with two rocker-type buttons mounted to the back of the carbon fiber brake lever blades. The rocker-style buttons require a surprising amount of effort to actuate, but that’s apparently by design. Considering the WE groupset is supposedly done, the fit of the hoods is disappointingly imprecise. The rear derailleur admittedly looks very clean, and FSA says it’s also more reliable and responsive. It now communicates directly with the levers instead of having its signal relayed through the front derailleur. FSA says the rear derailleur is compatible with cassette sprockets up to 32T. Cassette options will include 11-25T, 11-28T, and 11-32T sizes. The front derailleur body is quite tall, but it doesn’t seem like it would impact rear tire clearance much. Unlike with Shimano Di2, the FSA WE battery does nothing more than provide power. Does this crank look familiar? It’s the same one that Alison Jackson used to win the women’s Paris-Roubaix a few weeks back. It’s wonderfully light at 551 g (claimed), and offered with standard, semi-compact, or compact one-piece machined double chainrings. That fanciness comes at a cost, though, as retail price is a hefty US$839. The Bridge Bike Works Surveyor is an intriguing all-road bike designed and manufactured in Toronto, Canada. The frame shapes prioritize more traditional performance metrics like stiffness, weight, and ride quality instead of aerodynamics. Minimal graphics FTW. The broad top tube suggests good front triangle torsional stiffness. We’ll find out soon, as Bridge has promised a test bike in the near future. One super intriguing development with Bridge Bike Works is bottom bracket threads that are molded straight into the shell. Bridge says this test sample isn’t quite as good as they want it to be just yet, but the company is just about there. Vitus offers its Substance carbon gravel bike with or without a RockShox Rudy suspension fork. Many of the Substance models are also equipped with high-voulme 650b wheel-and-tire setups instead of the far-more-popular 700c ones. Rack mounts? Check. Fender mounts? Double check. The Vitus Venon is a fast gravel/all-road setup meant for tamer terrain and built with the same carbon mix as the brand’s top-end road racers. This model comes with a SRAM Force AXS wireless groupset and costs US$4,900. Clean and tidy, but still with hidden fender mounts. The down tube is notably flattened. There’s some seriously interesting shaping going on up here. FSA’s headset and stem system is used to hide the hydraulic hoses. The ZX-1 Evo is Vitus’s go-fast aero road racer. The frame shape may be pretty derivative, but the pricing is solid. Vision/FSA front ends are popular for their turnkey solution for hidden hose routing. Udog’s new Distanza gravel shoes feature a novel tread design. Aluminum wheels are receiving a lot of attention from the mountain bike world lately, and these Race Face Turbines look particularly promising. The rim features a wider bead shape to prevent pinch flats. The Race Face Vault hubs use a particularly large-diameter hub shell. Race Face goes with a flipped layout for the freehub body, with the pawls anchored in the hub shell instead of the freehub body. Hope’s new dropper post remote doesn’t look too different from other high-end options at first glance. However, looking at the back reveals a lot of adjustability, such as the sliding thumb pad and tunable lever rotation. CNC-machining, color anodizing, laser-etching: three key elements of Hope Technology products. The lever rotates on a big cartridge bearing. And yep, colors! Hope’s recently revamped Pro 5 hub promises the same (if not better) levels of impressive weatherproofing as the Pro 4, but with lower freehub friction and faster engagement. Hope is sticking with a conventional pawl arrangement for the Pro 5. Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to stick with a tried-and-true design. Hope’s color-anodized rotor lockrings are a (comparatively) economical way to add some high-quality bling to your bike. Why go with boring when you can go with these, right? CeramicSpeed released a couple of new colors for its Cerakote ceramic-coated Oversized Pulley Wheel System for mountain bikes. This one’s called “Icy Blue”. Looking for a brighter option for the CeramicSpeed OSPW X? Then go for “Fiery Orange”. Either way, expect to pay a hefty fee for the claimed single-digit wattage savings. Retail price is US$839, and it’s available for Shimano SLX, XT, and XTR, and SRAM pre-Transmission Eagle rear derailleurs. Park Tool’s new bike-washing brushes are made with natural tampico fibers, which are said to hold more soap and retain less grease than synthetic ones. The one exception is the drivetrain brush on the left, which still uses synthetic fibers for use with various solvents. Park Tool is careful to mention that since tampico is a natural material, colors will vary from brush to brush. Park Tool has updated its universal brake bleed kit with new piston spacer sizes and a second syringe holder. The new EP-1 cable crimper works for cable ends and housing caps, and can also be used in tighter confines than usual crimpers. The internal routing kit has also been updated with expanded compatibility with the latest groupsets. Wove’s new road/gravel saddle is said to weigh just 126 g, yet features a generous amount of padding for all-day comfort. We hope to have one on-hand soon for review. Yep, it’s a Daysaver copy. This one comes from the folks at high-end saddle brand Wove, and is outfitted with three reversible bits: 2.5 and 3 mm, 2 mm and Torx T25, and a 4 and 5 mm. One of the ends is also threaded for use with a tubeless plug fork (not pictured). Retail price is US$60, and it’ll be available starting in May. Cannondale’s new 18-in-1 multi-tool includes a built-in Dynaplug double-ended plug tool for tubeless tires. One of these is absolutely going into my road repair kit ASAP.
2023 Sea Otter Classic Bridge Bike Works Ceramicspeed FSA Hope Technology Race Face Vitus Wove