Dirt Rag Magazine

Sea Otter 2012 tech roundup: Spotted at the show

By the Dirt Rag staff

Easton Havoc 35

Wider is better! That’s the trend in gravity-oriented handlebars. That’s all well and good, but wider bars put even more stress on bars and stems. Easton found that the stresses produced by 800mm-wide bars were pushing the durability limits of the existing bars and stems. Easton’s all-new Havoc 35 addresses the issue by upping the handlebar/stem diameter from 31.8 to 35mm.

According to Easton brand manager Dain Zafke, “This handlebar’s predecessor (the 31.8mm Havoc Carbon) was the lightest and strongest bar on the market, but the market has been pushing us to go wider. Simply making the existing carbon bar wider would have compromised strength or weight, so our engineers completely redesigned the bar around a 35-millimeter bar/stem clamp diameter.”

The Havoc 35 Carbon handlebar is 15-percent stronger in impact testing, 10-percent stronger in fatigue testing, 21-percent stiffer and, the new bar is 10-percent lighter (compared to its 31.8 predecessor). At 220g, Easton says that the Havoc 35 is not only the lightest downhill handlebar on the market, it is also the strongest."

Stats for the new lineup are as follows. Havoc 35 carbon bar – 220g/ $160; Havoc 35 aluminum bar 300g/$90; Havoc 35 direct mount stem 110g/ $100; Havoc 35 1-1/8” stem 190g/ $100.

Also spotted in several booths was a new Easton EC90XD disc-brake cyclocross fork.

Answer

Answer had a few new bars, including their first foray into alt bars, the 20/20 Marathon. Designed for long distance riders, the 20º backsweep/20mm rise bar designed to reduce strain on the upper body during long days in the saddle. Made from carbon fiber, the Marathon’s have 20mm of rise, 780mm of width and a $180 price tag.

The new carbon 780 Pro Taper bars will have the tried and true Answer standard bend (8º back, 4º up) and choice of rises (1/2” and 1”) in a 780 width because mo’wider is mo’betterer. Answer doesn’t call these DH bars, but there is no riding or weight restriction, so get yer full face out and shred.

Answer glove get a new feature, the Answer-IT. The pointer finger on both hands have some type of imbedded material to allow touch screen use while gloved up. Now you can Strava and Twitter to your hearts content while out riding.

Hayes

The Hayes Bicycle Group’s claim to fame is the first widely accepted hydraulic disc brakes for mountain bikes. I saw quite a few sets of Hayes brakes out on the trails here that have been in service for over a decade. For Sea Otter they introduced a very simple, yet very welcome adjustment for aligning the calipers to the rotors called Crosshairs.

To set up your discs with the new system: tighten mounting bolts enough to allow the calipers to slide, push the caliper in towards the center of the bike, tighten the two 2mm set screws center the caliper, tighten the mounting bolts. Simple, effective, and a bit of a “why didn’t I think of that” moment for me.

This is a running change to both the Prime and Dyno series of brakes. I also picked up a set of the price conscious Dyno brakes for test, expect to see them in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rag.

TRP

One of the biggest trends at this year’s show is disc brake equipped cyclocross bikes. Nearly every major manufacturer had one in its booth. Capitalizing on this trend is TRP, the racing division of Tektro (Tektro Racing Products).

It’s HyWire prototype pictured here, mates to a Shimano Dura Ace Di2 system and features a self-contained hydraulic line to the brakes. The ultimate shape and button layout is still be finalized, as is an Ultegra Di2 version, but with an expected release of mid to late summer it should be here in time for cyclocross season. The system uses mineral oil and an all new caliper design. TRP hopes to bring the entire system to market for $600.

If you still want to use mechanical shifting, TRP also offers the Parabox, a cable-to-hydraulic converter for disc brakes.

On One / Titus

Titus brought its new El Guapo and Rockstar 29er to the show, as well as this prototype El Guapo 29er. It sports 140mm of travel and a 142mm rear axle and should be available this fall.

What you can purchase now is the On One Lurcher 29er, a carbon fiber frame with optional carbon rigid fork that retails for just $800. The dropouts are replaceable too so you can run singlespeed. The frame also takes a tapered steerer and a traditional threaded bottom bracket.

On One also showed us this tire prototype, one of only two in existence. The dual-compound Smorgasbord is designed for loose and wet conditions typical of the company’s Portland home base. It will be available in both 26 and 29-inch versions in 2.25 and 2.4-inch widths.

Luna Chix / Orbea

We stopped by the Luna Chix team party—who wouldn’t?—and got a good look at the team’s carbon fiber Orbea Alma race bikes.

Current UCI Cross Country World Champion Catharine Pendrel has got a couple extra wires on her bike. The battery unit is from Shimano’s Dura Ace Di2 electronic shifting group, while the wire runs to the top of the fork crown. Our guess is it’s an on-the-fly electronically adjustable rebound and damping system. Given the close working relationship between Shimano and Fox, it’s possible this could become a production feature in a few years.

We also saw U.S. National Champion Georgia Gould’s bike, which was the first time she had ever raced a 29er, we were told. She took to it well, winning the Elite Women’s Cross Country race.

Quick hits

Giant Anthem X Advanced 29er: Giant is adding carbon fiber offerings to their 2013 Anthem X 29er lineup. The Anthem X Advanced 29er is due for release in May and includes three standard models starting at $3,300. Available now are 2 WSD models priced at $1,925 and $2,950.

Ellsworth carbon shock stay: Ellsworth just announced a brand new carbon shock stay option for their Epiphany, Moment, Evolve, and Evolution models. The $250 upgrade, which saves 100 grams compared to the aluminum model, is available now on new bike purchases, and will be made available as a retrofit for existing Ellsworth frames in May 2012. The carbon shock stay has 142 mm rear spacing and features internal cable routing.

Patterson Transmission belt drive adapter: How do you increase the gearing range on a belt drive bike? Patterson Transmission has one solution. They gave us a sneak peek at an adapter that allows Patterson Transmission users to run a Gates belt drive ring, in place of the standard chainring. The adapter will be "available soon." The base price of the Patterson Transmission is $299 and the price of the adapter is TBD.

American Classic CX tubeless: American Classic continues to expand their tubeless wheelset offerings. We got the inside line on the company’s plans to launch a tubeless cyclocross wheelset later in 2012 (we’ll keep an eye out at the Interbike trade show). Both rim brake and disc brake CX wheelsets are planned. Like other AC tubeless offerings, the CX wheels will come with AC Tubeless Tape installed and tubeless valves with a fat O-ring that insures an air-tight seal. We’re told they’ll work with both UST tires, or regular CX ties with sealant. Shown is a cross-section of the rim that’s under development.

Industry Nine: By all accounts, 2012 is shaping up to be the breakout year for 650b, or 27.5, if you are so-inclined. Both NoTubes and Industry Nine have quietly been producing rims and wheelsets for “tweener” riders for four years, while waiting for the rest of the industry to catch up. The “Red Eye” is a new option for 2012. A $150 up-charge gets you an Industry Nine wheelset bedecked in retina-searing red anodizing.

WheelWally: Not every product worth noting is in a booth. The WheelWally is a carefully constructed piece of marine-grade plywood that quickly attaches to your pickup truck bed and straps in your front wheel, eliminating the need for fork adapters. Since the wheel size is irrelevant, it can accommodate any bike with a front wheel. Maybe unicycles too… It’s not meant to be left permanently attached, but once set up it can be installed and removed in less than a minute.

Specialized S-Works Epic Ultimate: Not everything at Sea Otter is about the cutting edge of tech. This bike was the state-of-the-art in 1990 when it carried Ned Overend to his first Mountain Bike World Championship. The bike is constructed of carbon tubes bonded to hand-built titanium lugs.

 

 
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