Held over four days outside of Monterey, California, the Sea Otter Classic delivers a wealth of new gear in addition to road, mountain and now e-bike racing. Here is a look at one old-is-new bike, plus some outright new technology as well.
Rocky Mountain Pipeline returns
Can the name that ushered in freeriding do the same for plus-size tires? Rocky Mountain's original Pipeline defined the freeride movement of the late 1990s. Piloted by Rocky's iconic Frorider team, consisting of Wade Simmons, Brett Tippie and Richie Schley, the legendary machine opened the eyes of crusty hardtail purists to the capabilities and insanity that a full-suspension rig with (relatively) slack angles and six big-hitting inches could deliver.
Today's carbon Pipeline looks to offer the same eye-opening experience with its 27.5 x 2.8in Maxxis Rekon tires. The increased traction, stability, and confidence in ugly, chopped-up terrain from the plus-size tires allows riders, in Rocky's terms, "to take the stupid line."
Fat rubber lets riders "take the stupid line," Rocky Mountain says
The Pipeline is based off Rocky's Instinct platform, and features BC2 pivots, Ride-9 geometry and suspension tuning adjustments, as well as their SmoothLink rear end offering up 130mm travel. The front and rear axle spacing is Boost can swallow up to 3.25in tires.
Two models are on offer for 2017, the Pipeline 770MSL rings in at $4,799, and is equipped with 150mm Fox 34 Float Factory and Float DPS Factory suspension, Shimano XT brakes and drivetrain, and a RockShox Reverb dropper post. The Pipeline 750MSL costs $3,999, and runs on RockShox Yari RC and Monarch RT Debonair suspension, Shimano XT drivetrain, and a RockShox Reverb dropper post. UK pricing was not immediately available.
Stan's NoTubes new rims
Wider, lighter, stronger. How about that? Stan's NoTubes continue to push their aluminum rim manufacturing strengths of width, weight and toughness. A long-time proponent of wider rims, all three of Stan's most popular rims gained width with the XC-oriented Crest rim bumping up from 21mm to 23mm internally, with a new rim shape that adds strength and lessens the chance of a tire pinch flat.
Stan's Flow rims boast a massive 29mm internal width
The all-mountain Arch EX rim gains 24% in width growing from 21 to 26mm internally while still weighing in at pedal-friendly 425g. The 26mm width backs up trail rubber ranging from 2.25 to 2.5in.
The downhill and enduro-ready Flow rim grows from 25.5 to 29mm internally, creating a rim ready to support proper downhill rubber up to 2.8in. And despite dropping 30g, Stan's claims a 25% increase in stiffness and strength.
All three retain Stan's Bead Socket Technology and simple tubeless tire compatibility.
Hope's "because we can" bike
Hope's unique HB 211 frame is made at the company's UK factory in Barnoldswick. Beyond CNC'ing the aluminum rear end, Hope made the molds, and took the time consuming task of laying the carbon as well.
The 160mm travel bike has been in development for years, and is Hope's first actual mountain bike frame. Suspension is provided by a Horst Link rear end, and just above that chainstay mounted pivot resides a radial disc mount. This mount allows for simple washers, rather than a unique adaptor, to keep the unique caliper in line with different sizes of rotors.
Like all its components, Hope made this alloy-and-carbon show bike in Barnoldswick
Other trickery sits out back as well. Hope uses their own 130 x 17mm rear axle. This bike was in development long before Boost, or even 142 x 12mm axles. The larger 17mm axle provides the stiffness, and to build a dishless rear wheel, Hope position the hub's rotor mount inward, closer to the spokes.
The bike on display is the only bike in existence, but Hope is currently building 10 more. When asked about availability and pricing of the HB 211, a Hope representative simply said, "there's none, we built it simply because we can."
Marin Pine Mountain 1
Marin's new 2017 Pine Mountain 1 splits the difference between their fully rigid Pine Mountain and their high-spec Pine Mountain 2, delivering in effect a hardtail with plus-size tires for the masses. The full chromoly hardtail nullifies the bumps with Marin's Fastback seatstays, which join the back of the seat tube just below the top tube / seat tube junction for more compliance.
Up front, a RockShox Recon Silver lends 120mm of travel to soften the trails. And of course there's the plus-size tires. Schwalbe Nobby Nic 27.5 x 2.9in fatties calm the rough, while delivering huge traction and increased confidence on technical terrain.
Skinny chromoly meets plus-sized rubber
Shimano 1x11 SLX handles shifting duties, and is powered by a narrow/wide chainring. For those who need a smaller gear to turn, the cranks have a 76 BCD, making them compatible with chainrings down to 26 teeth.
Out back is a new Boost 141 x 9mm open dropout which delivers stiffness and proper spacing for plus-size tires, but also allows for a less expensive rear hub, and a less expensive frame, resulting in a well-spec'd bike for $1,299. UK pricing was not immediately available.
Race Face Next SL G4 Cranks
Race Face's Next SL cranks have long been the go-to for riders wanting low weight, strength, and compatibility. Weighing in a paltry 430g, including a 32-tooth chainring, the Next SLs are perfect when every gram is counted, analyzed, and counted again.
Lateral chainring stiffness is improved, providing less twisting even at the extreme chain angles 1x drivetrains sometimes produce.
Light, stiff and - now - in five color options, too
The versatility comes from Race Face's CINCH system. CINCH plays nice with single rings, or can take a spider and hold two, or even three-ring set ups. This also helps the carbon cranks remain flexible and adaptable to future drivetrain developments.
The axle is a 30mm spline interface that's CNC’d from commercialized super alloy said to be 20% stronger than 7050 aluminum.
On top of that, five colors are available for building up your color-matched dream rig.
BikeYoke upgrades old Specialized shocks
Suspension company X-Fusion is now distributing German company BikeYoke. What's BikeYoke? It's the answer for owners of older Specialized full-suspension mountain bikes with the need, or the desire, to upgrade their worn-out rear shocks.
Want to upgrade your old Specialized? BikeYoke has your solution
BikeYoke's solution is pretty simple. By replacing your bike's yoke (the piece that connects the frame's rear end to the rear shock), it enables the use of a standard 12.7mm eyelet rear shock, instead of the proprietary stock versions commonly found on Specialized models.
In addition to being able to replace old, unrepairable shocks, it also allows riders to bolt on a shock utilizing new technology to revitalize, or modernize an old frame. And in certain instances, with the new metric shock sizing, increases in travel may be possible.