The Sea Otter Classic is one of the first big bike shows of the year, and it's a fantastic place to spot new, redesigned and prototype bikes and kit.
Cowan Bikes full suspension prototype
We caught John Cowan taking a spin on a beat-up prototype full suspension singlespeed frame. It features horizontal dropouts and a pivot around the BB. The 160mm of travel is unaffected by the drivetrain and offers a progressive ride for hitting big jumps. The rear end has a strengthening brace that doubles up as a mudguard for the shock. Details will be avaialbe on www.cowanbikes.com soon.
GT Sanction goes long
Dan Atherton has been working with GT’s design engineer Etienne Warnery to redesign the Sanction frame so it performs more like a downhill bike, with the efficiency of a trail bike. Finding the right balance between pedalling efficiency and shock absorption was the key. GT’s Fury downhill bike has plush suspension designed to maximise rear end compliance and grip while the bike is being pedalled hard, while the more XC frames that use the i-Drive system have a firmer and more efficient pedalling feel – though this sacrifices suspension feel. With a redesign on the Sanction’s suspension platform, GT is able to offer an incredibly plush ride, while retaining some of the i-Drive’s brilliant pedalling characteristics. It also has revised geometry and a long front centre – 1,220mm on a large, 1246mm on an XL – putting it up there with the new breed of longer wheelbase bikes.
It’s designed around a 35 to 45mm stem, and gives a stable ride feel with more direct steering control. We’re pleased to see that other manufacturers are tuning into the potential offered by longer, lower, slacker geometry. The new GT Sanction is expected to ship August.
Felt Compulsion 27.5
The guys at Felt have been working hard getting their range in shape, and heading it up is this tidy looking all-mountain bike. The Felt Compulsion 27.5 is available in three models, and this is the top-of-the-range Compulsion 10. It has 160mm of travel front and rear, internal dropper post routing, a 66-degree head angle, 13.4in BB height and a great spec. The 10 is expected to retail for around $5,000, which makes it pretty good value, considering some of the handpicked components – the Schwalbe Hans Dampf and Rock Razor tyre combinations, for example. Look out for a full test soon.
Also spotted on the Felt stand was a revised Nine FRD frame, now featuring intriguing cable routing that isn't consistent with current mechanical set-ups.
This rubber grommet at the rear of Felt's Nine FRD frame looks like something we'd expect to see on a high end road bike
Bike Mag’s Brodie Softride
Our friends over at Bike Mag have had an ancient Brodie with the Allsop Softride beam on it for an age now, and it’s seen all sorts of daft antics – including Cam McCaul backflipping it. It’s nice to see it’s just about still going – although it did look like Bike Mag’s Anthony Smith was wheeling it towards the nearest skip!
Intense F1 T-shirt
As we discovered while watching Rush with Jeff in his private cinema, he loves vintage F1, and based the latest Intense T-shirt on the Hesketh race team that the film Rush was based on. And it’s modelled here by the lovely Jenn Gabrielli from Intense.
RAM Bikes singlespeed full sus bike
There’s always a few odd bikes floating around at shows like Sea Otter – including this unified singlespeed full suspension bike from RAM bikes – who made a point of telling us they had their name before the other Ram Bikes. It’s a pretty wild-looking bike, and was totally designed around the Cane Creek Double Barrel Air shock.
Rocky Mountain Sherpa and Blizzard
Adventure riding is getting more and more popular, and the Sherpa, a beauty of a bike, was custom designed by Rocky Mountain, and custom painted by Vancouver frame painters Paint House. The bike is based around 27.5in x 2.8in tyres and a carbon/alloy frame. It features a few really nice details, such as the dynamo front hub with USB port on the ‘The Plug’ stem, which allows you to run a GPS unit or smart phone for navigation when out in the sticks.
Rocky Mountain were keen to mention that they’re not aiming the Blizzard at trail riding, but at having fun on the snow. It’s not designed for bike packing – just out-and-out snow shredding, and features the much talked about RockShox Bluto fork.
Club Ride clothing
Mountain Biking clothing is often very road-based or inspired by MX, and it’s sometimes hard for mountain bikes to have their own identity. This is something that Scott Montgomery has been looking to solve with Club Ride clothing.
Clube Ride clothing aims to provide high quality clothing that’s both technical and casual. Some items in the Club Ride range are squarely designed for riding performance, but on the large part there’s a distinctly casual vibe. The range includes jeans with a stretch-weave in the denim, a seam-free crotch and a decent pocket on the thigh for a smartphone. Turning up the bottoms reveals reflective material for road visibility. There’s also a black shirt that’s made from a fast-drying fabric, with vents and epaulettes that button down and can hold a courier bag in place. Finally, there are casual shorts that can be worn for riding too and a Polo-style collared shirt made from a wicking fabric.
Club Ride are discussing UK distribution, so keep watch on this space for full details.