Sea Otter 2017
Sea Otter, the most enduring harbinger of spring in southern California for the past 25 or so years, was a compendium of more than 400 exhibitors vying for the favors of an audience which has been somewhat blase about their offerings recently, much like the tapering of motorcycle interest during the early 1980's and automotive sales currently. There were many extremely innovative products which are delineated below and should reverse the trend of the past few years. One discipline that appears robust is e-bikes and related products as about 30 exhibitors had new models, some, like Haro blasting forward with 10 new e-bikes.
Bosch, the most prevalent purveyor of motors for the electrified contingent, reigned supreme as mid-drives dominated the scene; similar versions of their motor were promulgated by Brose, Yamaha, TransX and Shimano, all promising that their system was superior. One of the more interesting mid-drives was a coaxial motor produced by eProdigy, available on a variety of their bikes. Many manufacturers distinguished their e-bikes from the others with options for very large capacity or piggy-back batteries promising ranges which were unavailable previously. The interest which has been precipitated for e-bikes should provide an opportunity for do-it-yourself (DIY) suppliers to reap the benefits of their years of dedication to sourcing
increasingly more proficient systems. Most of the OEM products are very similar and relatively high priced in the range from $2,500 to $15,000 which has kept buyers away in droves. Also, since almost all of the models were mid-drives, there was little to distinguish them. Proper education will inform potential customers that front or rear hub systems are adequate for many purposes and can be secured for a much lower cost. If they need a mid-drive for a hilly commute or off road adventures, they're available too.
Other new products in no particular order are:
Locks - Kryptonite, Abus and Rocky Mounts had a plethora of new models, all with more security than has ever been available, although none able to defeat the dreaded angle grinder.
Dropper Posts - There were at least five new models of this product seemingly a favorite of serious riders everywhere. They were from Crankbrothers, Fox, Race Face, X-Fusion and 9Point8, with the latter model weighing less than 340 grams which should have the XC crowd salivating.
Canyon - The consumer direct bike seller showed the entire extent of their impressive product line. However, if their models didn't excite an individual, Airborne and YT, also direct to consumer, had very interesting competitive models.
Focus - The German brand, known for their cyclocross offerings in the US market, is attempting to penetrate the trail bike market.
Bontrager - Going large with redesigned carbon wheels for all-mountain ($1200) and XC ($700). These lower prices for a known entity should promise rapid acceptance.
Giant - Provided a sneak peek of their new Anthem which they call the ultimate racing machine and signifies their return to 29 inch XC bikes after eschewing them for several years. This upper echelon hardtail may be on your dealer's floor soon and weigh less than 20 pounds.
Lauf Grit Fork - The Iceland-based company introduced their 890 gram, 30 mm travel gravel bike fork which has glass fiber leaf springs. An odd duck with no damping, but the owners of Lauf forks that I've surveyed love them.
Manitou Mastadon - This behemoth with three different travel options provides the fat bike crowd with another option.
BOS Supension - The Deville 35 all-mountain fork with a monotube damper cartridge promising more linear rate throughout the travel weighs only 4.2 pounds.
Cane Creek HELM - The first front suspension product from the North Carolina-based company is targeted toward the gravity contingent. The price ($1100) suggests that only an individual who can take advantage of all the tunability need apply.
Fox AX - This new fork was launched for the gravel crowd and is derived from their ultra-light StepCast fork.
Last, but not least, was a surge in the number of bikes for kids. Apparently marketers think this is the year that youngsters will try to surpass their parents in the amount of bling on their bikes as models ranged as high as the $3499 Woom unit with XTR Di2 drivetrain and 20 inch wheels. The bike is reported to weigh 16 pounds.
That's it for bike and component manufacturers. There were many new clothing products and consumables which were tried on and tasted. Perhaps, SCB will report on these separately in future issues.