Sea Otter Classic: Carbon goodness from Santa Cruz and Trigon

Plus new treads, shades, bar tape and bike racks

Santa Cruz had a new carbon version of their Blur LT trail bike on display at the Sea Otter Classic, and BikeRadar got the lowdown. We also checked out a new carbon frame from Taiwanese manufacturer Trigon, new tyres from Continental, Schwalbe and Vittoria, and the latest eyewear from Giro and Tifosi. Some grippy bar tape from Lizard Skins also caught our attention, along with a clever new car/home bike rack from Saris.

Santa Cruz add second carbon model

Santa Cruz Bicycles have taken the lessons learned in developing the recently debuted Blur XC Carbon and now applied them to its longer-travel cousin to yield the new Blur LT Carbon.

At a claimed weight of just 2.54kg (5.6lb) with the included RockShox Monarch 3.3 air shock, the new model is a full pound lighter than the old alloy version and is nearly as light as the old alloy Blur XC.

Even so, Santa Cruz claim that the Blur LT Carbon is not only stronger than before, it is the stiffest and strongest chassis in their entire range – downhill, freeride or otherwise.

The Blur LT Carbon retains several revisions already proven on the the alloy version – such as 140mm of travel with second-generation VPP suspension geometry, a carbon upper link and grease port-equipped alloy lower link, and the improved pivot seals and locking collet hardware – but adds to it a tapered 1 1/8in-to-1 1/2in head tube for more fork flexibility as well as a direct-mount front derailleur for easier setup.

Santa cruz have doubled the number of carbon frames in their lineup to two with the launch of the new blur lt carbon: santa cruz have doubled the number of carbon frames in their lineup to two with the launch of the new blur lt carbon

Santa Cruz now have two carbon frames with the launch of the Blur LT Carbon

Other details include a stainless steel ‘chain-slap guard’ on the bottom of the swingarm just aft of the bottom bracket, a replaceable rear derailleur hanger, lower profile cable stops and housing guides, carbon rear disc tabs and a moulded chainstay protector.

Santa Cruz will offer the Blur LT Carbon in four sizes beginning in June for a suggested retail price of US$2,399 (approx £1,635 – although price for UK buyers may vary). The alloy Blur LT will remain in the lineup at a cost of $1,850 for powdercoated frames and $2,050 for anodised ones.

The lower link includes handy grease ports for creak-free running: the lower link includes handy grease ports for creak-free running

The Blur LT Carbon's lower link includes handy grease ports for creak-free running

Trigon bring factory-direct carbon to US consumers

Trigon are hoping to emerge from their current status as a Taiwanese carbon frame and component manufacturer for other brands with their own eponymous range now available in several markets, including the US.

The factory-direct model obviously brings with it certain advantages in pricing, as demonstrated by Trigon’s top-end RQC-929X road model. Just US$1,699 (approx £1,160) gets you a 980g carbon frame (claimed weight) with an integrated seatmast, BB30 or standard threaded bottom bracket shell, carbon rear dropouts and a tapered 1 1/8in-to-1 1/2in front end. Add another US$374.99/£256 for the matching 390g full-carbon fork with carbon steerer and dropouts and you’re quickly on your way to a fully UCI-illegal machine.

Trigon make frames and components for other brands but now look to make a name for themselves: trigon make frames and components for other brands but now look to make a name for themselves

Trigon make frames for other brands but now look to make a name for themselves

Features and buzzwords are one thing but ride and construction quality, handling and fit are another entirely. We’ll see about throwing a leg over one for a real-world evaluation sometime in the future but given Trigon’s comprehensive range of products – including road, mountain, time trial, and cyclo-cross frames plus a slew of parts – this may be one to watch.

Check out to see more but be forewarned: some of the items may look a bit familiar, if you know what we mean.

The rqc-929x will be available with either bb30 or standard threaded bottom bracket shells: the rqc-929x will be available with either bb30 or standard threaded bottom bracket shells

The RQC-929X will be available with BB30 or standard threaded bottom bracket shells

New gravity rubber from Continental and Schwalbe

Continental’s new Kaiser features a meaty 2.5in-wide double-walled reinforced casing plus an aggressive downhill competition-specific tread made with a soft Black Chili rubber compound for improved grip in dry conditions. An open centre section promises good purchase on mixed terrain while the stout shoulder looks to provide secure cornering hold. Claimed weight is 1kg.

Continental’s new Kaiser 2.5in downhill tyre

For wet conditions, Continental now offer the Rain King, which uses the same 2.5in casing as the Kaiser but with a more open tread pattern and different Black Chili compound to shed mud. Claimed weight is 950g.

The rain king is continental's new downhill-specific tyre for wet conditions: the rain king is continental's new downhill-specific tyre for wet conditions

The Rain King is designed for wet conditions

German competitor Schwalbe also debuted a pair of new tyres – the Dirty Dan and Wicked Will. The 2.35in-wide Dirty Dan is a mud-specific downhill tyre sporting Schwalbe’s tacky Gooey Gluey rubber compound, a double-walled casing with pinch flat protection and Snakeskin sidewall reinforcement, and an aggressively siped and spiked tread pattern to dig into soft surfaces.

In addition, Schwalbe have also added their unique ‘Curve Claws’, a series of short knobs positioned radically far down the side of the casing for extra grip at extreme cornering angles.

The schwalbe dirty dan is intended for wetter conditions:

Schwalbe's unique Curve Claws provide extra security at extreme cornering angles

Drier conditions will call for the Wicked Will, which uses the same casing construction as the Dirty Dan but with shorter and fatter knobs for better bite on hard surfaces plus a more stoutly reinforced shoulder tread. Schwalbe add the Curve Claws here as well, and the Wicked Will will be offered in both Gooey Gluey or Triple Nano tread compounds.

The new schwalbe wicked will uses stout knobs with lots of biting edges for use on harder terrain:

Schwalbe's Wicked Will comes in two compounds

Higher thread counts and new ‘cross treads from Vittoria

Vittoria have increased the thread count of their already-high Corsa tubular and clincher tires from 290tpi to 320tpi for an even suppler ride while a second-generation puncture-resistant belt supposedly offers better protection than before.

Vittoria have increased thread count to 320tpi in their top-end tyres:

Vittoria have increased thread count to 320tpi in their top-end tyres

Vittoria will continue to use the 290tpi casing on their new Cross Evo XM ‘cross tire, though, which features a more open tread for wetter conditions plus specially angled knobs to provide better grip in corners. The Cross Evo XM will be available in both tubular and clincher varieties in 32mm and 34mm widths.

The new vittoria cross evo xm is intended for muddy conditions and is offered in 32mm and 34mm casing widths:

The new Vittoria Cross Evo XM is intended for muddy conditions

Riders who insist on both racing and training on tubulars will also find solace in Vittoria’s new Rubino Pro, which uses a more conventional 120tpi thread count but a seamless construction for easier mounting and rounder profile. Claimed weight is 290g and retail price is a modest US$50 (approx £35).

Expanded eyewear options from Giro and Tifosi

Giro have expanded their eyewear range into the more casual realm with two new models – Fader and Cymbal. Giro expect the squared-off Fader to appeal more to men and the decidedly more rounded lines of the Cymbal more to women.

Giro add two new casual models to their lineup, including the fader:

Giro have added the squared-off Fader to their eyewear range

Both feature Zeiss-certified optics in a variety of tints and subtle metal details around the temple hinges, and the Fader also adds rubber pads on the nosepiece to prevent slip. 

Metal details adorn the hinge area:

The Cymbal offers a more rounded and softer profile, and metal detailing

Giro will also add yellow and orange lens tints to their sport performance range – including Havik, Semi and Filter – for low light conditions.

Giro also add new yellow and orange tints to the range of lenses for the havik, semi and filter frames:

Giro also add new yellow and orange tints to their range of lenses

Tifosi will add at least three new models to their range including both casual and sports glasses. The Salvo definitely falls into the former category with its stout metal frame and military-inspired styling. Polarised and standard versions will be available for US$59.95 and $39.95 (approx £40 and £27), respectively. 

Tifosi's new salvo uses a metal frame for its military-inspired styling:

Tifosi's new Salvo uses a metal frame for its military-inspired styling

At the other end of the usage scale is the Scatto FC (full coverage) with a feathery 24g claimed weight and customisable temples and nosepiece. Standard and photochromic Fototec lens-equipped versions will be available for US$39.95 and US$59.95 (approx £27 and £40), respectively. 

The new tifosi scatto is said to weigh just 24g:

The new Tifosi Scatto is said to weigh just 24g with customisable temples and nosepiece

Tifosi have also removed some frame material from their popular Pavé model, making them less bulky and a tad lighter while also easing lens swaps. 

The popular tifosi pavé model gets a revised frame that is less bulky than before:

The popular Tifosi Pavé model gets a revised frame that is less bulky than before

Lizard Skins debut grippy bar tape

Cyclo-cross season is still several months off but Lizard Skins are prepared with their new DSP Road Tape. The textured Dura Soft Polymer material offers superb dry grip – and only barely affected wet grip – and a slightly cushioned feel. The closed-cell surface cleans up easily, the tape is lightweight at 56g per set including plugs, and it’s also available in a generous range of eight colours.

The non-porous surface is easy to clean:

Lizard Skins' new DSP Bar Tape is impressively grippy and easy to clean

Lizard Skins are also now offering custom-etched lockrings for their range of lock-on grips. Though there is a minimum order of 15 sets, Lizard Skins let you mix and match colours between red, blue and black, and designs are apparently limited solely by what you can fit in the limited real estate.

New T-Bones hitch rack from Saris

Saris's marketing co-ordinator Maggie Walz was in her own mobile booth at Sea Otter, carrying the company’s latest T-Bones hitch rack which has been designed as a dual-purpose car rack and indoor storage system for “urban cyclists and people on the go”.

Saris intend for the rack’s sturdy four-point plastic base to remain indoors while a second base stays mounted on your towbar.

Saris's new T-Bones rack is aimed at urban cyclists

A handy Qwik Dock lever secures the 4.5kg (10lb) aluminium upper section to either one, meaning you don’t have to leave the rack on your car when not in use and – at least in theory – you also always have a place to store your bike inside your apartment or loft off the ground and away from walls. 

The four-point plastic base is meant to stay inside

The upper section folds into a fairly compact form and fits into the included backpack-style carrying bag for transport back and forth with room left for other gear such as shoes and helmets

An integrated cable lock and a number of lock cores help keep things secure:

An integrated cable lock and a number of lock cores help keep things secure

The T-Bones uses the same folding arms and rubber-coated cradles as Saris’s popular Bones trunk rack and an integrated cable lock and lock cores help keep everything reasonably secure, too.

Saris will offer the T-Bones in both two-bike and three-bike versions for US$349 and US$379 (approx £240 and £260), respectively, both of which will include the rack, both bases and the carrying bag.  

James Huang

Technical Editor, US
James started as a roadie in 1990 with his high school team but switched to dirt in 1994 and has enjoyed both ever since. Anything that comes through his hands is bound to be taken apart, and those hands still sometimes smell like fork oil even though he retired from shop life in 2007. He prefers manual over automatic, fizzy over still, and the right way over the easy way.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado, USA

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