Road Gear

Tech gallery: Otter odds and ends

Tech editor Zack Vestal unearths some road goodies from the recently concluded Sea Otter.

In the new R-Series of road tires from Bontrager, the R3 line will be available in a veritable rainbow of seven colors.
In the new R-Series of road tires from Bontrager, the R3 line will be available in a veritable rainbow of seven colors.

Thoughts of this year’s Sea Otter Classic are already shrinking in most riders’ mental rearview mirrors. Cadel Evans’ Flèche Wallonne wowed us this week, bets are already on the table for Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and here in the USA, the Tour of the Gila is on the horizon. And anyway, since the annual Sea Otter editions have lately been so much more about those dang mountain bikers, it’s easy to jus’ fahgeddaboudit.

But that this year’s Otter was far from forgettable. We’ve got loads of killer coverage over on, including spy photos of prototype bikes and plenty of new fat-tire gear.

There wasn’t as much road gear on display, but I found some. So, before it becomes a distant memory (and before the memory card on my camera gets erased) here’s some noteworthy tech for the 700c set.  Be sure to check the photo gallery for more information lodged in the captions!

Bontrager unveils R-Series road tires

Bontrager leveraged Sea Otter’s captive audience of media types to launch a new line of road tires, the R-Series. Ditching the somewhat convoluted nomenclature of prior tire lineups, the company says that R-Series tires are not only going to be easier to keep track of, they’ll be lighter, faster, and stronger than their predecessors.

Following the direction of their mountain and hybrid tires, the R-Series is Bontrager’s effort to create a cleaner naming structure for road tires. Bontrager road tires will be split into R and T models — “T” refers to Training/Touring and will arrive later in 2010. The “R” in the tires shown at Sea Otter refers to “ride,” or “race,” while the number following refers to the performance level of the tire; a “1” denotes the basic level and a “4” the highest performance level.

By the sound of things, Bontrager has improved the line significantly. Higher thread counts (up to 220 tpi in the R4), improved puncture protection, and the addition of Bontrager’s “aero wings” to certain tires (to smooth airflow from the tire onto the wheel sidewall) all promise performance upgrades. At the R4 level, Bontrager is making a tubeless road tire (using the Hutchinson Fusion 2 mold but their own casing and tread compound). Also at the R4 level, tire weights drop into the 175-gram range, and the 165-gram R4 Aero gets not only the aero wings but a new profile as well, which Bontrager claims is good for significant time savings.

R-Series tires will be available in May with six different models — R1, R2, R3, R4, R4 Aero and R4 Tubeless — and prices ranging from $25 to $80.

Mavic adds another Ksyrium wheel and tire system

Mavic’s limited-edition Ksyrium K10 wheel and tire system gets company for 2010 with the new, $700 Ksyrium Elite wheel and tire system. That’s right, much to our delight it’s exactly half the price of the K10.

It’s made in the same philosophy as the original K10. Certain wheels are likely to be ridden in particular circumstances, and it only makes sense to offer the wheels paired with a tire to fit the intended (or expected) use.

In the case of the Ksyrium Elite, the expected use is training and high mileage, so Mavic’s Yksion Elite tire is built for heavier duty. It’s got a 127-tpi casing (vs. the Ksyrium’s 290 tpi K10 tire) and nylon threads for puncture resistance (vs. the more supple cotton in the Ksyrium K10 tire). The Ksyrium Elite system is available now with a 23c tire, but a 25c is on the way.