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Tech Report, with Matt Pacocha – New developments at (a very wet) Sea Otter

It could be an option if California officials ever have to find a solution to a drought. Hold an edition of the Sea Otter Classic and then just wait for rain. This year the rains came on Saturday, just in time for a weekend of serious racing. The rain came quickly and biblically, temporarily shutting down the dual slalom and ending the women’s road circuit race prematurely. The heavy rain also sent the cross-country racers scrambling for the right tire for the short-track event. Thomas Frischknecht (Swisspower) pulled out a special weapon for the race; a pair of 26-inch Dugast Rhino tubular

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By Matt Pacocha

Tech Report, with Matt Pacocha - New developments at (a very wet) Sea Otter

Tech Report, with Matt Pacocha – New developments at (a very wet) Sea Otter

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It could be an option if California officials ever have to find a solution to a drought. Hold an edition of the Sea Otter Classic and then just wait for rain. This year the rains came on Saturday, just in time for a weekend of serious racing.

The rain came quickly and biblically, temporarily shutting down the dual slalom and ending the women’s road circuit race prematurely. The heavy rain also sent the cross-country racers scrambling for the right tire for the short-track event.

Frichi talks tires with Scott’s Adrian Montgomery

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Thomas Frischknecht (Swisspower) pulled out a special weapon for the race; a pair of 26-inch Dugast Rhino tubular tires. The Dugasts were glued to a pair of Ritchey carbon mountain bike wheels.

The tubular casings and newer Rhino tread make up a combination that adhere to slick mud like Velcro. Frischknecht also is a member of SRAM’s Blackbox program and even sports personalized carbon brake levers on his bike. Nice touch.

Over at the Maxxis pit, Geoff Kabush decided to race on a tire only sold in the European market, the Flyweight 490. The day before, we spotted a new tire on Kabush’s bike called the Monorail. This tire is aimed squarely at the lightweight trail segment and was actually commissioned by Cannondale for its OE production.

Tires were the topic of the day, as Kabush chats with Maxxis team manager Gary Wolff

Tires were the topic of the day, as Kabush chats with Maxxis team manager Gary Wolff

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Kabush was testing a 2.1-inch version of the Monorail that weighs 570 grams. However the rainy conditions prompted Maxxis mechanics to prepare the team’s dual slalom racers’ bikes with special rubber, a 2.1 Medusa mud tire on the rear wheel and another European-market-only tire on the front called the Wetscream in a 2.2 size.

Katie Compton (Spike) conjured memories of last fall’s cyclo-cross season and ran away with the women’s short-track race. She also had a rather interesting tire and wheel combination.

Mark Legg her fiancé and mechanic had a set of Cane Creek’s Aros 58 carbon rims built to a pair of Cane Creek’s disc hubs. On the wheels he mounted a pair of Dugast’s Rhino mud tires. Compton selected the 700x32c size, which mirror what she uses during the cyclo-cross season. Compton rode the interesting tire and wheel combination on a custom Primus Mootry aluminum 29er; she won the race by more than half a minute.

“We’re doing this and a couple other mountain bike events this summer,” said Legg. “It’s just for fun though.”

More Expo’ Tech
The Hayes Stroker brake design has been visible in the early season’s opening events, but details of the new product have been spotty. Hayes brake guru, Len Cabaltera, explained the new three brake series. The brakes are replace the ubiquitous 9 brake and economical Sole. They vary in price point but not function. There are a number of changes but the most apparent is the use of a radial master cylinder. The reservoir itself is also larger than the former.

Tech Report, with Matt Pacocha - New developments at (a very wet) Sea Otter

Tech Report, with Matt Pacocha – New developments at (a very wet) Sea Otter

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The first brake is labeled the Stroker. It costs $150 per wheel and is basic in its features. The brake weighs 396 grams and is 25 grams lighter than the 9 — 50 less than the Sole. The brake like the entire series is available with V5 (140mm), V6 (160mm), V7 (180mm) and V8 (203mm) rotors.

The Stroker Trail is the model that we first saw on Geoff Kabush’s Litespeed at the Phoenix NMBS race. The Trail features a dial-reach adjustment; the pads are 20-percent larger than on the 9 brake. The caliper on the Stroker series also features a rotating banjo, for proper cable placement. The Trail costs $179 per wheel and weighs 388 grams. There is also a nine-inch rotor option available for the brakes, but this is only for the most extreme braking needs of which the average rider will never experience.

Stroker Carbon is the flagship of the series it replaces the Stroker Trail’s alloy lever with a carbon lever. The no-hold bar brake weighs 381 grams and costs $209 per wheel.The Stroker and Stroker Trail will be available in the aftermarket by August.

Hayes new partner, Manitou
The big news at Manitou is the resurrection of the Manitou Racing Development (MRD) program. The program, like RockShox’s Blackbox program, brings race-tested development to the top-end of Manitou’s fork platforms from cross-country race to longer travel products. At Sea Otter, Manitou unveiled two new MRD forks, the R7 MRD for cross-country racing and the Minute MRD for longer travel bikes.

The Minute MRD

The Minute MRD

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With MRD, Manitou also introduces a new compression damper called Absolute. The new Absolute damper capitalizes on the advantages of SPV, but relies on a mechanical system that is said to be more robust. It also adds the ability to be adjusted and locked out on the fly. The new Absolute damper marks a slow move from the use of air based SPV systems in Manitou’s forks. SPV will continue to be a prevalent technology in its rear shocks.

The R7 MRD comes with a magnesium lower, but Manitou is also offering a R7 with a carbon wrapped lower casting. It’s roughly 40 grams heavier than the MRD casting but is claimed to be 10-percent stiffer than the all magnesium version. The Merida team has latched onto the carbon version of the R7 and will be racing it all season. All of the R7s’ rely on 30mm stanchions and are available in 80 and 100mm versions.

For the back of the bike, Manitou unveiled an inline version of the Evolver long-travel air shock. The new shock features a dual-can air chamber to maximize the format’s air volume. It will be available in all of the standard lengths as the 2007 Evolver. The inline shock will only feature an externally adjustable air spring and rebound adjuster.

GT’s race bikes
The DHi is already a light 39-pound downhill race rig, but GT engineers have been able to shave more material out of the carbon fiber sub-frame on the team’s race bikes. There are a couple different iterations of the sub-frames and GT hopes to have a finalized version for use in production in 2008.

Tech Report, with Matt Pacocha - New developments at (a very wet) Sea Otter

Tech Report, with Matt Pacocha – New developments at (a very wet) Sea Otter

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Smart Solutions from WTB
Wilderness Trail Bike is offering a package of eight saddles to its dealers to be used as demo products.

Since saddles are such a personal item to select, the program is a huge benefit to the consumer. WTB has made it an easy program for the dealers to embrace. The eight-saddle set costs only $80. The saddles are the brands most popular shapes and allow dealers to easily loan them to customers so that they can try before they buy and get the right saddle. The program is only a year old and 600 kits have already been purchased by dealers; a testament to its success.

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