Tech Gallery: The best tech from the 2023 Sea Otter Classic, part five
Bits, bobs, and tools that even Dave Rome would love.
Ok, it’s time for me to wrap things up from the 2023 Sea Otter Classic! In this final gallery, I cover all sorts of accessories, from fancy helmets and ultra-compact bike travel cases to chocolate-scented grips and bags made of reject tires. And I dare say, I never thought I’d lust after a bench vise, but here I am, searching the couch cushions for spare change.
Until next time, Sea Otter! And in case you didn’t catch the previous four galleries, you can check them all out
here. The MET Rivale helmet isn’t new this year, but this pearl white finish with the holographic logo looks particularly elegant. There’s nothing new about the Lazer Vento Kineticore aero road helmet, but I nevertheless felt the need to point out how fantastic this color looks in person. The Lazer Coyote Kineticore trail helmet costs just US$100, but still looks reasonably well ventilated and scores a five-star rating from Virginia Tech’s independent test lab. Lazer’s Kineticore concept is built on the idea that these EPS columns can collapse on impact to provide a measure of protection from rotational forces. It also enhances airflow inside the helmet, too. The Lazer Tonic Kineticore offers the company’s latest safety tech at a more affordable price of just US$70. It looks good and appears to be well ventilated, although it only landed a four-star rating from Virginia Tech’s lab. I’ve got a soft spot for well-designed townie helmets, and this Dispatch model from Smith Optics looks like a pretty decent choice. Seems like it could use a bit more ventilation, though. After all, who’s ever early on their way to work? The rear LED on the Smith Optics Dispatch adds some low-light visibility. Inside are a couple of panels of Koroyd energy-absorbing honeycomb and a MIPS liner. Note the generous coverage around the back, too. The Smith Optics Momentum looks like it offers a generously tall field of view, except that the lens extends over the edge of the frame. Still, I’m intrigued, and might bring in a set for review. KAV Sports is still doing the 3D-printed helmet thing, and now offers a range of colors to the list of customization options. The Abbey Bike Tools PreHAG is a simple plastic gauge designed to provide a rough visual indicator if your derailleur is bent. The idea here is to first use the PreHAG as a quick test, and then crack out the HAG if you decide you do actually have some straightening to do. Abbey Bike Tools developed this T-wrench for SRAM’s latest Eagle drivetrains. Abbey will offer it with either fixed or swappable bits, with the latter also available with an assortment of Wera bits in a machined holder. The ten-bit holder (I’m really pushing Abbey to call these “TenBits” in honor of those Tim Horton’s donut holes) has a magnetic base that holds the bits in place, and also allows it to attach to anything magnetic. Abbey Bike Tools is also posting print files for tool holders on its web site. Every single bottom bracket tool that Abbey Bike Tools makes is superb. But the fact there are this many of them at all is absolutely preposterous. Topeak’s new Plug’n Tool Mountain kit is designed to live inside the ends of a mountain bike handlebar, with a bit-based multi-tool on one end, and a tubeless plugger on the other. And yep, it does seem to draw a fair bit of inspiration from the Wolf Tooth Components EnCase. Retail price is US$70. The Topeak Plug’n Tool Roadie includes the same tubeless plug kit as the Mountain version, but here, the bit-based multi-tool is a little smaller to more easily fit into a drop handlebar. Retail price is US$65. Just looking for a chain tool? The Topeak Plug’n Chain Tool tucks into the end of your handlebar, hiding discreetly until it’s needed. Topeak says it’s compatible with essentially all modern chains, although it’s worth noting this tool is intended more as a way to prep a chain for a master link, not to rivet links together. Retail price is US$48. Prefer a multi-tool that sits inside your crankset spindle? Topeak has followed the lead of other brands there, too, with the new BB Hide’n Tool, which includes a chain tool and a seven-function multi-tool. Retail price is US$70. If you’re after a more comprehensive portable kit, Topeak offers the Ratchet’n Roll Pro. This one includes 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6 mm hex bits; T10, T15, and T25 Torx bits; a #2 Phillips screwdriver; a chain tool; a CO2 inflator and tubeless plug kit; and a reversible ratcheting driver. Silicone straps are included should you want to attach it to your bike, but this one seems more suitable for your gear bag or car. Retail price is US$120. This bench vise from the Orange Vise Company retails for an astonishing US$1,500. It’s incredibly detailed in its design and construction. And yep, I want one. Clever Standard isn’t exactly a household name, but the person behind it – Tomo Ichikawa – is pretty well-known in industry circles for his seemingly boundless ingenuity. These valve adapters are being sold by Maxxis. One end is used to remove a Presta valve core. Then the adapter can be installed back on the valve body for a large-diameter barrel that allows for high-volume airflow to more easily seat tubeless tires when using a typical Schrader-type compressor head. Clever Standard showed off a whole bunch of tools that use a CO2 cartridge for the handle. This one’s a tubeless tire plugger, but also a rotor truing tool and a spoke wrench. That hex-shaped aluminum base is also part of a tool being sold by e13. The pair of tire levers nest together to form a handle for the plugger. Also on tap from Clever Standard’s new CO2ools line is a reversible ratchet. This Clever Standard CO2 inflator has a built-in pressure-release valve that supposedly automatically inflates tires to the desired pressure. I’d love to see how accurate this thing is. You could easily argue that Clever Standard’s calling card is the multi-function tire lever, and the latest Flatout 2 continues the trend. Included in the list this time are a valve core tool, a 5 mm wrench (for valve extenders), a master link holder, a chain hanger, disc brake pad spreader, phone stand … and yes, a tire lever. Also new from Clever Standard is the Bacon Bullet. It’s a bit of machined aluminum that holds a large-sized strip of “bacon” to help plug bigger holes. Similar to Dynaplug, the pointed metal tip is designed to be easier to insert, and it’s intended to stay inside the tire. When you eventually wear the tire out, you can theoretically recover your Bacon Bullet and use it another day. Tires that don’t pass QC are usually ground up, but Clever Standard apparently has an agreement with Maxxis to turn some of those rejects into saddle packs. Is this practical? That’s certainly debatable, but it’s at least a novel example of making use of something that would otherwise be thrown away. Finally from Clever Standard is the Captain Hook. Need to tighten a valve core, but the valve stem is spinning, too? If you have a pair of Captain Hook valve caps, it’s a non-issue. Plus, colors! Clever Standard’s other brand is Bib Creative. These grips are only sold in Japan, and apparently have been a huge hit over the years. They not only look like white and milk chocolate, but smell like it, too. Sadly, this tire lever only looks like chocolate. No lovely aroma included. Jagwire’s hydraulic barb press tool is impressively easy to use. A small window provides a nice visual indicator on if the barb is fully installed. Jagwire’s latest hydraulic hose cutter might seem bulky, but the business end is quite compact, which could prove handy in tight confines. KOM Cycling’s new tubeless plug tool combines your usual fork for standard bacon strips, but also a compact CO2 inflator head. KOM Cycling has a remarkably broad range of accessories, all at reasonable prices. This new combo computer mount attaches to most stems with removable faceplates, includes pucks for Garmin and Wahoo computers, and also a quick-release quarter-turn attachment underneath for cameras and lights. Considering my stock Garmin Varia mount just ejected itself during a ride yesterday, I’m rather keen to try KOM Cycling’s version, which looks (and feels) substantially more secure. There’s Dynaplug, regular bacon strips, and then the unique Dart plug design from Stan’s NoTubes. The company claims the shape holds sealant better than other designs, and is therefore better able to seal punctures both large and small. Prestacycle has a curiously massive catalog of smaller tool kits, such as Prestaratchet 3. The plastic handle doubles as a tire lever, as well as a tire plugger, master link remover, and valve core tool. Retail price is very reasonable at US$29 for the complete kit (including ten bacon strips). The B2 from Orucase is an impressively compact way to travel with full-sized bikes. There’s a bit more disassembly required (including fork removal, for example), but given the potential savings from airline fees, it’s a small price to pay. Orucase claims that XXL-sized 29er enduro bikes will fit (with careful packing, surely), and the whole thing weighs just 6.8 kg (15.0 lb). Retail price is US$650. Cheeky. Prefer a simpler heavy-duty cardboard box for transporting your bike? Orucase’s telescoping design can be made shorter or longer as needed. Retail price is US$50. Orucase is getting into soft goods with the Janus duffel bag. I recently received one for review, and just like everything else Orucase makes, it’s exceptionally well thought-out. Retail price is US$150. Like to do a bit of camping and looking for an all-in kitchen station solution? Yakima’s EXO OpenRange Deluxe is designed as a standalone setup or can attach directly to the company’s EXO range of hitch-mounted racks. The rotomolded construction (think: Yeti cooler) is also weatherproof – and expensive. The full setup shown here is US$1,200. What did you think of this story?
😐Meh 😊️Solid 🤩Excellent