Sea Otter Classic expo opens to sunny skies

By James Huang, technical editor | Friday, April 17, 2009 8.45am

The annual Sea Otter Classic opened in Monterey, California yesterday. BikeRadar's technical editor James Huang took a stroll around the expo to check out some of the shiny new kit on display. Click on the thumbnails on the right for more pictures.

Felt developing 4in-travel cross-country race bike

Felt Bicycles’ head suspension engineer Mike Ducharme was seen rolling around Sea Otter aboard a prototype aluminium full-suspension test mule that was developed for their sponsored athletes, such as the Mafia Racing team. The aim was to give them something more cross-country race-appropriate than the current Virtue trail bike.

The unnamed prototype sports four inches of travel versus the Virtue’s five, and also a snappier pedaling response thanks to a retuned Equilink suspension design. The carbon fibre seatstay/dropout/chainstay assemblies were moulded in one piece as on the Virtue 1, and Felt also machined upper and lower linkages and a new Equilink specifically for the project.   

According to Ducharme, a large frame weighs about 5.9lb while a complete race-ready rig can be built to sub-22lb.

Ducharme says this short-travel platform was built mainly as a development project just for the teams and isn’t likely to make it to production. Instead, Felt will ultimately offer a more advanced-level cross-country bike that is “a little bit different” – probably in carbon and certainly lighter – and the final product may not even use the Equilink suspension design. 

Intense Cycles’ new 951 downhill bike

We gave you a look at Intense's new 951 downhill bike yesterday, but Sea Otter was the first chance to see it in the flesh. 

The new dedicated downhill racing platform features 8-8.5in of rear wheel travel, second-generation VPP linkage geometry, a 1.5in head tube, proprietary Easton EA6 aluminium tubing and a machined 83mm-wide bottom bracket shell with integrated ISCG05 tabs and lower linkage pivot.

The top-end FRO model will cost about US$2,700 and is scheduled for delivery starting around the end of May while the standard 951 will be $2,400 and will arrive later in the summer.

The new intense 951 : the new intense 951

Tomac debut lighter Carbide SL

Tomac Mountain Bikes jump headfirst into the ultralight cross-country world with their new Carbide SL. The new frame sports just 90mm of rear wheel travel and weighs just under 2kg (4.4lb) in a large size including a DT Swiss rear shock, mostly thanks to a new carbon fibre swingarm.

Even with the Carbide SL’s low weight, Tomac still place a high priority on durability. Dropouts and suspension hard points are aluminium and the single-pivot swingarm design features just three sets of bearings (the rear swingarm flexes about three degrees through the compression stroke to accommodate geometry changes).

An 80mm fork yields quick 71/73-degree head/seat tube angles while a 100mm fork relaxes things a half degree. Tomac will offer the Carbide SL in four sizes and retail price is approximately US$2,700 for the frame and fork.

Tomac carbide: tomac carbide

Foes do 29in

Foes Racing displayed a prototype 29in cross-country frame with 100mm of rear wheel travel and their trademark 2:1 low leverage ratio suspension design. The single-pivot rear end included a tidy swing link up top plus a giant Curnutt air-sprung rear shock.

Claimed frame weight was not available, nor was pricing or availability as the frame was still in development. Chalk up another one for the wagon wheel crowd regardless.

Foes prototype 29” cross country bike: foes prototype 29” cross country bike

Tucked next to the 29in prototype was a super trick custom tricycle – apparently someone at Foes recently had a baby? – complete with the Foes trademark monocoque aluminium construction, a dual crown fork, lathe-turned alloy wheels at all ends and liberal doses of machining throughout.  

Also on hand was an unusual-for-Foes urban commuter dubbed ‘Pasadena’ in homage to the company’s headquarters. The alloy frame bore the usual welded monocoque construction and was fitted with a variety of pavement-oriented bits: 700c wheels with skinny road tires, a carbon bladed fork, a carbon seatpost and taller gearing. Not what we usually expect to see from Foes but a nicely executed example of the genre nonetheless.

Foes pasadena urban bike: foes pasadena urban bike

FSA launch Vision wheel range and new 2x9 cranksets

FSA launched a new range of aero wheels at this year’s Sea Otter Classic under their Vision nameplate. As befitting the TT/Tri-specific Vision label, the four-model range will place a strong emphasis on aerodynamic performance.  

The top-end Vision TriMax Ultimate uses an 88mm-deep carbon tubular rim, Sapim straight-pull bladed stainless steel spokes (20/24 front/rear) and cartridge hubs with ceramic bearings, interchangeable alloy freehub bodies and a carbon front hub shell.  

The $2,000 asking price will include a pair of Vision Mercury skewers with stainless steel shafts and carbon levers, wheel bags, valve extenders and a set of SwissStop Yellow King pads. Claimed weight is 1,730g for the pair (without skewers). 

Carbon skewer lever: carbon skewer lever

Next in the range is the TriMax Carbon with 50mm-deep carbon tubular rims and the same spokes and hubs but with steel bearings instead of ceramic and without the carbon front hub shell. Claimed weight drops accordingly to a more versatile 1,420g for the pair. As with the Ultimate, the Carbon’s $1,600 retail price will include Mercury carbon skewers, bags, valve extenders and SwissStop pads.

The TriMax Pro uses the same hubs as the Carbon but is intended more for training with its 30mm-deep aluminum clincher rims. Alloy skewers and rim tape are included for $650.

Completing the range is the TriMax carbon tubular flat disc wheel with a 20.5mm width, interchangeable freehub bodies and threading for track cogs.  Claimed weight is 1,280g without the included carbon quick release skewer and suggested retail price is $1,700.

Internals: internals

FSA also showed off their latest range of 2x9 mountain bike cranks which use a proprietary ‘386’ spider configuration (three bolts, 86mm bolt circle diameter) instead of the previous version’s 94m pattern. According to FSA, this allows for smaller and more versatile inner ring sizes than before and the new cranks will be fitted with 27/40T or 27/42T sizes.

FSA will offer the new cranks in K-Force Light carbon fibre and Afterburner hollow-forged aluminium varieties, both in either standard 68/73mm threaded or BB30 bottom bracket configurations. The K-Force Light model will include ceramic bearings as standard equipment, a slightly narrower 164mm pedal stance width and a trick outer chainring with extra-thick sculpted mounting tabs that yield extra stiffness for improved shifting.

FSA will offer the new cranks in k-force light carbon fiber and afterburner hollow-forged aluminum varieties: fsa will offer the new cranks in k-force light carbon fiber and afterburner hollow-forged aluminum varieties

Claimed weight for the complete BB30-compatible version is around 680g and suggested retail pricing is right around $1 per gram. Given the roughly two-hour machining time per outer chainring, replacement costs will be pricey there as well at around $200.

The Afterburner version will offer far better value at about $270 and just over 700g in BB30 (MegaExo versions will still weigh under 800g). Pedal stance width is a more common 170mm or so and the outer chainring is made from conventional aluminium plate. Both cranks will be available around the end of June.

FSA also showed off their latest range of 2x9 mountain bike cranks : fsa also showed off their latest range of 2x9 mountain bike cranks

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