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By Zack Vestal
The Sea Otter Classic, which runs this Thursday through Sunday, is now in its 19th year. From humble origins in 1991, when just 450 attendees populated the event, to 2008, when almost 10,000 participants and 50,000 spectators packed the venue for the four-day festival, Sea Otter has become a fixture on the spring calendar.
While the event began as a bicycle race, and continues to feature road and mountain bike races, the consumer expo has become a primary draw. These days, the Sea Otter Classic has become a de-facto spring trade show and consumer fair, where industry insiders launch new products, tease future releases, and use the opportunity to interact directly with a captive spectator audience.
Already the press releases have begun to roll in, announcing new product introductions. Here’s a quick look, in no particular order, at what we might see in the coming weekend. We’ll have tech reporters on the ground sending updates and photos daily.
Look for new carbon mountain bike wheelsets to add to the line up, as well as a completely new group of high-end carbon road wheels. In suspension, an even lighter cross-country race fork should be on offer, as well as a new rear shock.
From North Carolina, Cane Creek will make the trip with news about a headset that claims to be a full 50 percent lighter than others in its class. The new AER is reported to weigh 45 grams, achieved by using a composite bearing and a new design machined of 7075 T-6 aluminum.
Moving heavily into new carbon fiber models, Santa Cruz announces the Blur LT carbon (LTc). The new frame uses VPP2 suspension geometry to achieve 140mm travel, and at 5.6 pounds for the frame and shock, it loses a full pound from the existing Blur LT.
Only a cryptic invite to a new Web site, www.theloopisclosed.com offers any hint at what might be on offer from FSA. Stay tuned!
FOX Racing Shox:
Members of the media have already seen FOX 2010 mountain bike suspension product. The rest of the world gets a peek at Sea Otter. Look for revised dampers in both front and rear suspension, as well as a wide range of fork platforms.
Rocky Mountain Bicycles:
The big news from Rocky Mountain is big wheels: the Altitude and Vertex frames are now available with 29” wheels. The new frames borrow from existing 26” platforms to bring B.C. style with big wheels.
Hayes Bicycle Group:
Home to the Manitou, Hayes, Answer, and Sun Ringle brands, the Hayes group has new products under every brand. In Manitou forks, look for “Absolute +” damping to appear in all model year 2010 forks, as well as the release of a new lockout lever called MILO. The big news for Hayes is that the name is officially back on the brakes (after a trademark dispute left them using the Stroker brand name for 2009). Answer Products is back with grips, ProTaper handlebars, gloves and a direct-mount DH stem.
After three years of development, Tomac announces the Carbide SL, a super light full suspension cross-country bike. The brand claims that a size large weighs 4.4 pounds, including a DT Swiss rear shock.