Gravel Grinder News: Otso Ti Bike, fizik Saddle Tech, and More! – by Guitar Ted
We must be getting close to Sea Otter time, because new product release news is hitting our in-box here at Riding Gravel HQ. Here’s the latest Gravel Grinder News from Otso Cycles, who have a new Titanium Warakin bike, fizik who are introducing a new saddle technology, news from IRC Tire concerning sponsorship, and some grips for you flat bar fans from Planet Bike.
Otso Cycles Introduces the Titanium Warakin: Long time readers may recall the Riding Gravel review of the Otso Cycles Warrakin in stainless steel which we posted back in 2017 here. We liked the bike and thought the geometry worked well for gravel riding. Well, the good news here is that Otso kept that geometry for the new titanium version of this model. Using their innovative “Tuning Chip”, a rider can have a higher bottom bracket, shorter chain stay, and slightly steeper head tube angle for cyclo cross, or flip the chip around for a longer wheelbase, larger tire clearances, lower bottom bracket, and a slightly slacker head tube angle.
The frame is constructed with the classic titanium alloy, 3Al/2.5V B338 grade 9, a staple of the bike industry for titanium frames for some time now. The Ti Warakin also has rack and fender mounts, an ‘anything cage’ type mount on the down tube, inside the main triangle, water bottle bosses on the seat tube and under the down tube, and now sports a flat mount rear brake mount standard. Another notable change from the older Warakin Stainless model is the maximum tire clearance which is now 50mm for the rear tire with the Tuning Chip in its rearward position. This is now similar to the steel Waheela model from Otso Cycles which we also have tested here at Riding Gravel. The Warakin Ti also will accept a 650 X 2.1″ tire as well.
Otso Cycles will initially be offering the Ti Warakin as a frame set and in one complete build featuring the Shimano GRX group. The fork is their Lithic Carbon fork, which has a 15mm through axle. You may want to double check your wheel set for compatibility with that standard if you are considering this as a frame-up build. That fork also has a flat mount brake standard. The suggested retail on the Warakin Titanium frame set is US $2,800.00 and includes some Wolf Tooth “accents”, as the press release put it. A complete build with the aforementioned GRX will ding you at US $3,950.00.
For more on the new Ti Warakin, please go to the Otso Cycles site here: https://otsocycles.com/
fizik Announces Availability Of Its Digitally Printed Saddle Technology: In partnership with Carbon™ (a Silicon Valley based digital manufacturing company), fizik has made available a new digitally printed saddle based on their Antares Versus Evo 00 platform which they have called the “Adaptive saddle”. The technology used to produce this saddle sounds like something out of “Star Wars“.
The partnership with Carbon™ allowed fizik to access their “revolutionary Digital Light Synthesis technology” which fizik says allowed them to bypass traditional stages in the development process, yielding a finished product five times faster than traditional industrial methods. The unusual surface of the Antares Versus Evo saddle is created by using the aforementioned Digital Light Synthesis technology. “DLS is an additive manufacturing process which employs digital ultraviolet light projection, oxygen permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins to produce parts with excellent mechanical properties, resolution and surface finish.“, according to fizik.
Using pressure mapping, fizik was able to dictate, using the revolutionary DLS tech, what sort of damping characteristics the saddle padding should have and exactly where that should be on four different areas of the saddle. So, slightly stiffer at the nose, because that’s where riders slide up to climb, but a more forgiving padding at the position where riders are typically on the brake hoods riding, and which makes a rider sit a bit more upright.
fizik states that some riders from the Pro road teams they sponsor will be riding this new saddle technology for the 2020 season. So, look for that if you follow the Pro road racing scene.
If you, like me, are wondering how this saddle technology would ever stay clean and not get plugged up with mud or dirt, fizik claims it is easy to maintain a good, clean look. A simple water hosing off is all that is required, they suggest. Furthermore; “Adaptive” has undergone the most severe climatic tests from -20 to +70℃ to extreme UV and abrasion resistance testing.
The new Antares Versus Evo 00 Adapative RRP will be available in two widths, 139mm and 146mm, and will retail for £369.99, $399, €390, according to fizik.
IRC Announces Partnership With Peter Stetina: Former UCI World Tour Cyclist, Peter Stetina, has announced that he will be sponsored throughout his 2020 gravel racing campaign by IRC Tire. The Japanese company has a couple gravel related models which Riding Gravel has tested before, and Stetina will be using these, plus he will also be used to help IRC develop new designs for gravel riding. In fact, the press release we received states this is already happening.
“Peter cemented his palmarès in gravel cycling by winning the 2019 Belgian Waffle Ride. He then went on to take second place at the 2019 Dirty Kanza 200,” said Marc Ikeda, General Manager IRC Tire, North America. “IRC is focused on the booming gravel market and providing best in class tires that meet the demands of gravel adventure and racing. Peter is the perfect person to partner with and we are looking forward to a successful season along with his valuable feedback and new design ideas on how to make the product even better.” – from the IRC press release.
Look for Mr. Stetina to be lining up at the Mid-South (formerly Land Run 100), in March and more big gravel events worlwide throughout 2020.
Planet Bike Launches Happy Hands Line Of Grips: Not all gravel/back road riders use drop bars. Many are on flat bar set ups using bikes converted from drop bars, or are using mountain bikes, or other forms of dedicated flat bar set ups. We at Riding Gravel got you, so we are letting you know today about some new Planet Bike grips which feature ergonomic shapes, unique materials, and which Planet Bike claims will enhance control and comfort for your next gravel ride.
The three model range is dubbed “Happy Hands” and consists of the “Grip-E”, “Dura Cork”, and the “Daimond Joe” which are all lock-on type grips. Each package has the appropriate hex key so installing the grips is a snap. The Grip-E is an ergonomically shaped grip which can help distribute pressure on the hand. Planet Bike also applied a micro-texture to the underside of the grip to facilitate a better tactile experience for the rider. The Dura Cork grip is made with a combination of natural cork infused with rubber. If you have hands that run cold, here’s a hot tip: Get some carbon bars and put grips like these Dura Cork ones on them. Aluminum handle bars and traditional grips tend to act like a heat sink, which isn’t what you want if you have troubles with cold hands. Finally, the Diamond Joe grip is a slimmer profile grip featuring a synthetic rubber compound and a waffle pattern on the backside for better control and vibration damping.
Happy Hands grips run around 15 to 20 bucks a pair, and they are available from your local bike shop or online at Planet Bike’s website here; www.planetbike.com
That wraps up Gravel Grinder News for this edition. Stay tuned for more news on Riding Gravel soon.
Note: Images and information used in this report were provided by the respective brands and marketing companies which these brands work with.