The Sea Otter Classic isn't just about showing off new gear for the coming season – there's plenty of racing going on, too, and lots of race bikes to go along with it. Among the top-level talent on hand were gravity racers Danny Hart and Jared Graves, and inspirational superstar Tara Llanes.
Hart's (Giant Factory Off-Road Team) Giant Glory was decked out in a manner befitting his status as UCI downhill world champion and a member of SRAM's exclusive BlackBox testing program. The spec included a new RockShox Vivid Coil rear shock and DLC-treated Boxxer fork, a SRAM/Quarq power measuring crankset, SRAM's new X0 Type 2 clutch-equipped rear derailleur, Avid's latest X0 Trail four-piston disc brakes, and even a Truvativ BooBar BlackBox handlebar with a custom 25mm rise and nine-degree backsweep.
Factory rider Jared Graves competed at Sea Otter on this Yeti four-cross machine
Graves tackled the dual slalom course on a prototype Yeti four-cross rig, specially built for the discipline with a short 3.75in-travel rear end, low-slung geometry and burly aluminum construction. Unlike the old Yeti 4X production bike, Graves' team-issue machine uses a linear-rail based suspension setup similar to that found on the company's original 303 DH downhill bike.
The multiple world champion went with a stiffly sprung FOX 32 831 fork up front and matching Float rear shock – both with a slippery Kashima coating – a mix of Shimano XTR and Saint components, DT Swiss wheels, grippy Maxxis tires and custom clipped ODI lock-on grips.
The short rail is used to precisely control the shock rate on Jared Graves' Yeti
Perhaps the most interesting pro machine at Sea Otter wasn't a bike at all but rather a wicked custom trike piloted by Tara Llanes. Llanes was severely injured during a dual slalom event in September 2007 that left her paralyzed from the waist down but that hasn't tarnished her passion for shredding trails. Her trike sports a hand crank system augmented by a Schlumpf two-speed transmission and a powerful BionX pedal-assist electric motor housed inside the rear hub.
Suspension is provided by a simple single-pivot rear end matched to a double-wishbone front, all controlled by FOX Float shocks. Llanes is still resolute in her drive to regain mobility and we at BikeRadar continue to wish her the best. In the meantime, don't feel bad if she passes you on this awesome creation.
Double wishbone suspension for the front end of Tara Llanes' incredible trike