Gravel Grinder News: Sea Otter Review 2022 – by Grannygear
Recently the Sea Otter festival took place and after a long absence, Grannygear hit the lush green grass of Laguna Seca Raceway’s grounds in search of all the good gravel stuff and bicycle related accessories to share with us. Following is an image packed report from his viewpoint.
Sea Otter Classic, I did miss you! It had been a long time since I had trod the gravel paths and grassy patches, passing all those vendors in pop up tents, each one hoping for good return on their investment. It was, based on what I saw, a good show. I was there only Thursday/Friday, but it looked well attended and there were enough vendors there to make for long days catching up with old contacts and making new ones. So here are some things I saw that were gravel related, (and some maybe not so much) in no particular order.
Escapod teardrop trailers.
Not cycling focused, but a lot of folks are taking to the hills, camping and adventuring, while bringing bikes along. I have to say that one of these teardrops would be a pretty swanky living quarters for that pursuit. At a claimed 2500lbs or so, these are pretty doable for even moderate sized SUVs and trucks.
I dropped by my old friends at Salsa Cycles and chewed the fat a bit. The paint on the Warroad was gorgeous and the Cutthroat with all the bags called to me to find a horizon to chase. Oh yeah, then there is The Couch, a different kind of chase.
I have mad plans for my old Warbird alloy frame that I will be revealing soon. Glad I never got rid of that sweet peach of a frameset! – https://www.salsacycles.com
MRP gravel suspension fork
The Baxter joins the ranks of gravel bike friendly forks for this looking for a more edgy experience off road on drop bars. Will this trend finds legs and wide acceptance? Not sure. I suspect that most riders will find it not worth the cost, weight, and complexity but others will bless them as a game changer.
Innovation. Gotta’ love the small guy that fills a need like Altangle has done. Between the bike stand/clamp that could be attached to the post of an recreational vehicle’s awning, etc, or the Hangar for using a typical doorway as a base for a work stand…That’s clever.
Oh yeah…the attachment to a typical inflation cartridge that turns it into a handle for a tire lever? Clever folks.
Introducing the Detour, the new gravel/road light from the two creative minds at Outbound Lighting. With a strong cut-off beam pattern to prevent blinding oncoming traffic and an all-in-one approach with long run times, I am very excited to try this one and I am expecting a sample soon. By the way, does anyone think the reflector design reminds you of a Pixar character?
The New Rave SLR gravel bike from Wilier is seeking to blend sporty road and gravel racing with a racy, Italian flair.Even though fully hidden cables/hose is getting to be less of a thing, it does lend a clean look to any bike that sports it. This color scheme was lovely. Tire size is limited to a suggested 42mm. You can also buy this frame with a dedicated road group, wheels etc. Interesting. Hmmmm…you mean a gravel frame can be used for a dedicated road bike? Wilier must have been reading my mind.
The new ECO React helmet is a new model aimed at a more casual cyclist, yet full of features like MIPS and a visor (removable). The ECO React (also in a non-MIPS version) uses recycled and sustainable materials in parts of the helmets construction, so you can be protected and feel better about the helmet you are using.
As well, check out these lenses on the Icarus sunglasses…wow! Volt+ Ultraviolet and wow, do the colors POP outdoors with these! I am expecting some samples, so I will be reporting back on both of these.
I have several Ogio products and just love them, none more so than the gear bags I keep my cycling kits in for travel. Not cheap, but durable, practical, and indispensable. The Gravity Duffle bag is a keeper. They also make larger, airport crushing bags too.
Sage makes these in Oregon and each custom color treatment is never duplicated. The pics do not do them justice. This model is the Storm King GP with a front suspension fork and room for 700x50s. They also have a non-suspension version and the Barlow, more of an Endurance Road/Gravel Race approach. A Sea Otter beauty.
This is the new stem from FSA, the VAS (Vibration Absorbing Stem). This is designed to reduce vibrations from coming through the handlebar to the rider. It’s an interesting concept, although I expect it to do more for buzzy road-type vibrations than gravel hits. It’s a bit heavy, but if it does keep tiring vibes at bay, then perhaps!
They also had an alloy version of the K-Wing AGX carbon bar I have used before. It’s shaped and drilled and formed much like the expensive carbon version, yet at a much more moderate price.
Yeah, it’s a belt, but we can’t have our pants falling off, now can we? I bought a set of the innovative belt/buckle system…belt and three buckles (you don’t have to buy three) but what really caught my eye was the Tinker Juarez buckle in purple. I love purple and I respect and admire Tinker, so that one is all mine.
The URS LT is to my mind, perhaps the smartest combo of suspension F/R for a gravel bike I have seen yet. Now I have not ridden it, and I do not know how it would be long term, but it looks so well integrated and so smart. Would love to ride this one.
This is the new 25 Carbon Gravel Race with a hookless internal design of 25mm, a 25mm tall profile,
and a mid 1300g weight for approx $1500.00. Editor’s Note: It has come to our attention that the pricing and weight on these wheels has not been finalized yet. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. I have owned several sets of Hunt Wheels and Mrs. Grannygear runs the very light 30 Carbons on her road bike. As always pricing is very sharp and the wheels innovative and progressive. Support has been excellent as well.
If you have the need to carry more than your can stow and those needs are temporary, check out the lightweight and versatile Pakmule hitch mounted cargo system. At 40lbs (depending on how you build it), and in an all aluminum construction, it looks quite nice and solid.
I never ride a gravel bike without a Redshift stem on it, they are that effective, and my next project, a road/allroad bike will likely run one as well. But here is the Arclight (great name), a pedal designed for casual/commuter/touring/whatever use that has an integrated light system that is clever and innovative. The circle of light these would create at night would be very hard to miss by another road user, car or otherwise.
The lights are smart enough to know which way they are facing so the forward part of the pedal is always white light and the back part red light. The little light modules can also be used as front or rear blinkies.
The E-Vault is a very tidy looking package of free-electron assisted forward motion in a gravel bike. The Fazua Evation motor does the pushing and there is a way to carry a spare battery inside the frame triangle. With a 29mph upper limit, it would not run out of self-imposed ‘breath’ at 18+ mph like many systems do. I am not all that excited about e-gravel bikes, but it’s a thing regardless.
Turner. Man, that name rings true with my grey hairs and MTB roots. The Cyclosys Gravel had to be one of the cleanest, simplest titanium frames I saw at the show. I loved the flared tubes ends at the bottom bracket junction, etc. This one would be my pick if I was writing a check to replace my current bike, the Lynskey GR250.
GORE Cycling wear
I spent some time at Sea Otter listening to the GORE folks lay out the new gear for this year while I ate some very nice eggs and chorizo. The Lupra jacket was a stand-out piece and looks to be a versatile adventure piece. It’s ready for wind, light rain, and is packable and said to still be durable. This is not your father’s windbreaker. A sample is heading our way, so more on that later.
And that’s a wrap on our Sea Otter coverage for this year! Thank you for reading Riding Gravel.com and thanks to Grannygear for getting all the goods for us in Monterrey. Stay tuned for some new reviews which will be coming out of this Sea Otter festival here on Riding Gravel soon.