2009 Sea Otter: Quick Review Sette VEXX Sunglasses

Tim Scissors scored a pair of Sette Vexx sunglasses at Sea Otter. He’s been riding with them for the past month and a half. Here are his thoughts:

Sette Vexx sunglasses from Pricepoint.com

Eye protection is of the utmost importance while doing any type of riding. Could you imagine getting a little winged fellow in your pupil while doing 20mph down some single track parallel to a nice little drop off? Well for this reason and a few more I always wear sunglasses while “eye” ride.

The Vexx are comfortable and stylish with holes on the arms and in the front for venting

My first pair of real biker glasses came in the form of Sette’s VEXX sunglasses, previously I always wore my trusty Oakley street shades. These glasses are definitely a cyclist style and not really what I’m used to. To that end they feature a nice aerodynamic shape, holes for venting, UV protection lenses and a little cyclist style. The lenses are pretty cool as they get progressively lighter towards the bottom.

Product Specifications
# Features: 100% UV protection, Impact tested Polycarbonate Lenses
# Frame Color: Black, Silver/Black
# Includes a Rigid Durable Zip Case

The first thing I noticed about the Sette glasses was how light weight they were compared to my regular glasses. They hugged my face nicely and I could barely tell they were there. The problem I always had wearing “street” shades for mtb’ing was that they would fog up at the wrong time. While wearing these they never once fogged up and the lenses were distortion free. They say that your brain will make up for any distortion in a lens but as far as I could tell, these were clear as a bell.

The Vexx are MUCH better than using street shades for biking

These glasses will now be my go to glasses whenever I cycle; I never knew what I was missing by wearing regular ol’ street shades for biking. You can find the Sette Vexx here. They are definitely worth every penny. They even come with a pretty cool and sturdy case for safe keeping.

Sturdy useful carrying case

Sea Otter 2009: Turner Sultan Quick Ride Review

The 2009 Turner Sultan

The longest but least technical ride of the weekend sadly belonged to the Turner Sultan. The “least technical” part was not by choice. Scissors and I started out thinking it would be great to get in a longer ride on Saturday morning before the crowds showed up. After looking around we saw a 10 mile tour ride. Sadly the “tour” part meant all fireroad. It ended up being about 4+ miles of fast downhill fireroad proceeded by a long, tough 5+ mile climb. We were able to, in the end, ride some fun singletrack, but that was short lived as we hit the pavement after less than a mile of singletrack and went back to the Sea Otter exhibition area.

The DW Link is new for the 2009 model year on the Sultan and, correct me if I’m wrong, all Turner bikes

My first thought on the Sultan was: 4.7 inches of travel on a 29er is going to be total overkill for my riding style. I was very concerned about the extra travel robbing me of the pedaling efficiency I experience with hardtails and 3″ full suspension 29ers. Pedaling efficiency was and is key for me because even though I’m more of a XC oriented rider, I’m still a clyde and pedal bob wreaks havoc on my mind.

The Sultan, though, blew me away when it came to climbing. It was extremely efficient even without having to “lock out” or turn on the propedal feature of the shock. I distinctly remember commenting to myself that even though I’m not a fan of long sustained climbs the Sultan’s efficiency made it sort of OK. The 50% more travel than I’m used to (from 3″ to 4.7″) wasn’t noticeable at all when climbing. I expected some bounce and for the shock to be using some travel, but nothing.

The Off Road 10 mile Tour’s saving grace was a rest stop at the bottom of the descent. Cookies, drinks, made to order sandwiches and a bike mechanic, all for free! You rock, Sea Otter!

On the wide fireroad downhill, the Sultan did great. I mean really, what bike would not have done well in that situation? Poor trail choice by the rider. The singletrack we finally did get to do was new to me but I did get a chance to open things up just a smidge when the coast was clear and I could see ahead down the singletrack a bit. The Turner Sultan did really well in those situations but even then the zip tie showed I wasn’t using all of the travel. I really wish I had some more time on more technical trails to get a good feel for this bike.

Sea Otter 2009: Specialized S-Works Carbon HT 29er Quick Ride Review

Tim “Scissors” was able to get some ride time on the new S-Works Carbon 29er HT from Specialized. Here are his thoughts from the short loop we rode:

So here I am on an all new Specialized S-Works Hard tail 29er made from the fiber of the gods, heading to the trail head with Gary Fisher. Why would Gary Fisher be riding with little ol’ me you say? Well, we just happen to be riding at the same time and at the same place at the land of the Dirt Otter. Gary on his, well you know, and me on the badest Specy Hardtail ever made. Yup, that’s right, the not yet released frame rid’n on the not yet released Roval 29er wheel set.

Specialized S-Works Carbon HT 29 with singletrack ready to be ridden

One of my 2 current rides is a 29er hardtail that was geared and is now single speed. This demo is perfect for me since I rode my On-One Scandal geared for a lot longer than it has been a S.S. My Scandal is made from Scandium tubing and the Specy from carbon so an immediate difference in ride characteristics should be noticeable. The Specy was also outfitted with their Fast Track tires in size 29 x 2.0 set up tubeless and mounted on the new Roval 29er wheelset with straight lacing on one side and 2-cross lacing on the brake side. The front fork was a Rock Shox with custom Specialized carbon crown and steer tube. The crank set was a Specy unit with integrated BB; head tube was a 1.5” to 1 1/8”tapered variety, this all made for a very stiff frame laterally.

Integrated BB for stiffness and Specialized’s carbon cranks

Nic, global sales manager for Specialized, took care to make sure I was sized right on the bike adjusting the seat post height and fork air pressure. With everything dialed in, I hit the trail with Jer. We met up with Gary Fisher and Laura and proceeded to ride about 5/6 miles of almost all single track. First thing I notice of course was how compliant the frame is. It absorbed all the little nuances in the trail but remained laterally stiff at all times. This is definitely not a soft tail but this frame rode very well indeed. The bike was very predictable at speed and on rough trails as long as you were smart about how you rode it; ride it smartly and it rewards you with excellent acceleration, predictable handling and a compliant ride that won’t beat you up.

Roval 29er wheels, straight laced on one side, 2-cross on the other

This bike was set up tubeless with the fast rolling Fast Track tires. We got to take home some Fast Traks which will get a full test in the future. I typically prefer a little wider tire than the 2.0’s but I got to say, these tires got the job done without scaring me and the bike went every where I pointed it but remember you have to ride it smartly.

We came to a short but very steep climb. At this point, I was determined to ride it as a S.S. and just see how well it would perform. With Gary Fisher in front of me, I rose out of the saddle and started to hammer. Passing Laura, I continued up the hill where I finally caught Gary at the top resting. I made a comment to him about the bike weighing about 20 lbs and he says “ let me see”, he dismounts his ride and proceeds to pick the Specy up with both hands and says “it weighs a little over 20 lbs”. I guess this comes from years of picking up bikes by hand to determine the weight. Later that on the same ride, while riding next to each other, he looks over at me on the Specy and says “nice bike” with which I return, “ you wanna ride it” he says “no”. I’m not sure why he didn’t want to ride it but, I agree with him, this was a very nice bike indeed!

Trends that we saw at Sea Otter Classic 2009

One if the bigger things to hit Sea Otter this year was the full suspension 29er bikes that were introduced. Last year a handful of companies started coming out with them, but this year it seemed like more of them were showing up from various brands. Some of the FS29ers were considered “All Mountain” due to the amount of travel, kinda makes me wonder if they’ll ever try to come out with some sort of freeride/downhill 29er in the next few years…

Is Pink really dead? Well that’s hard to say. We did hear that from one company stating they were moving away from pink products and start focusing more on white. But if you recall, we mentioned that white was super hot at Interbike 2008, so I wonder if they are jumping on the wagon a tad late.

After thinking about this pink thing, I sought out pink looking products from bikes to accessories. From what I saw, pink is still pretty hot. In fact I even bought Priscilla a pair of pink Lizard Skin gloves that weekend. I also saw that Ellsworth was still offering their pink Epiphany, just like the one Kim Finch rides.

Frame sales are down, but accessories sales are high. Another tid bit we gathered was sales of high end frames have started going down. People are just not as willing to drop 2k for a new frame. So what more and more people are doing is keeping their current frame and spending more money on accessories and parts. Basically if you haven’t already figured it out, this thing called the economy is pretty bad and folks have quite a bit less cash to throw around, so what they’re doing is holding on to their stuff and replacing things if or when they break.

Personalization is King. Customizing your bike to your liking has always been a high point for bikers. From colored pedals to wheels, we like our stuff to either match or go with a theme. Well for those companies that offer small accessories to make a bike more personal, they’ll be doing well in the next few months.

Take for example this bike. New Ergon Grips, New Reaper Stem and Ghetto tubeless conversion. Already this bike has more personal appeal than it came with. But with added accessories, this bike is now a bad boy to its owners eyes.

These trends that I’ve mentioned were gathered from various industry people that we spoke with during the show. Plus we also saw it with our own eyes. So its not like we’re making this stuff up. Who knows what the next Interbike will bring, DH 29er? New suspension linkage? New internal geared hubs for mountain biking? Electronic braking? Carbon spokes? Frictionless bearings? Super lite weight AM Bike under 20lbs? What ever it might be, we’re looking forward to it!

Sea Otter 2009: Camelbak

We stopped by the Camelbak booth for a bit and talked about the Racebak which is a wearable hydration system. The Racebak is great for the athlete who just needs fluids and gets annoyed when the hydration pack dances around on their back. This is also popular for runners, bicyclists and triathletes.

Wearable underneath a jersey, but the big key is that it doesn’t move around

Camelbak’s new Podium Chill Jacket: keeps fluids cool

Has a unique “Jet Valve” that seals when not squeezed

When squeezed, the Jet Valve opens up and squirts out your precious hydration

The Jet Valve is great in that it does not leak and when you’re ready to throw it in your bag, you can rotate the dial on the top and the jet valve will not open even when squeezed.

Good stuff from Camelbak. For Camelbak’s official site, click here.

Sea Otter 2009: Turner Flux Quick Ride Review

Tim “Scissors” got a chance to ride the 2009 Turner Flux, a 4″ travel DW Link equipped bike. Here are his thoughts of the red beauty:

DW Link Turner Flux

So the Sea Otter did not fail to deliver new products and rides as usual. For my second demo of the weekend I really wanted to try something with a different suspension design then my regular ride which is a Trek Fuel EX. I took the new Turner suspension design as a sign of which manufacturer I should visit and I headed straight for the new Turner Flux. This would be a good opportunity to directly compare it to the only 26” FS ride in my barn. Turner is now using the DW Link which has proven a solid and reliable design throughout the years and has been utilized by other manufactures quite successfully. Now, from what I am told by bike guru’s, although a manufacture pays the entry cost to use a patented suspension design, exactly how it is executed can make a big difference between bikes. With that said, here are my thoughts on the new Turner Flux with DW Link.

First let me say that the test route for this bike consisted of mostly fire road climbing and descending with about a mile of downhill single track, not the ideal test route. The Flux also has the same components as my Fuel which was basically all XT. Our route started off with about 3 miles of big ring descending which really allowed me to get a feel for the bikes handling at speed. The bike did just fine; it was not overly plush but not harsh as well. My Fuel Ex is a notch above on the pushiness factor but that is probably has allot to do with the carbon frame.

Close up of the suspension

The Flux was definitely stable, solid and predictable. Climbing was quite nice on the Flux and in this department it is a notch above my Fuel Ex. The DW Link worked perfectly while climbing; the rear end stayed planted and followed the trail, no pedal induced bobbing was noticed at all. I tried switching the pro-pedal on and off and no difference was detected, you can climb anything on this bike without the pro-pedal. The front end stayed planted as well. It should be noted here that the guys at Turner took great pains in setting the bike up for my weight and pedal reach; they even had a scale on sight to get our “real-time” weight which mine was 180 lbs geared up.

This bike would make a great addition to anyone looking for a XC FS ride from a tried and true manufacture with a great suspension design that was definitely executed well.

Sea Otter 2009: Lezyne

Lezyne was a must stop for me at Sea Otter 2009. I’ve got one of their saddle bags and it’s pretty cool. Very functional, great material and the zipper has never let me down. We got to meet some cool people from Lezyne and were shown some of their products.

First up is their floor pumps. The pumps actually have different colored handles including some made of wood.

colored multi tools

also comes in carbon, click to see the carbon weave!

saddlebags. I have the third one in from the left.

Handpumps. Some of the handpump’s hose fits inside the pump itself. This makes them less bulky. The hose also makes the connection to the valve more secure.

Handpump, hose has presta and schrader side, screw into pump and your all set. Hose stores inside pump.

Minipump attaches to bike water bottle cage. When needed, minipump opens up and becomes a very useful floor pump

Lezyne All Pack. Can fit a full face helmet

A place for everything and everything in its place. I really like this feature of Lezyne’s packs and my saddlebag.

I really like the pictures of the tools. Makes organization a breeze.

and we’re here… Sea Otter 2009

We arrived at Laguna Seca, home of the 2009 Sea Otter bright and early – 7:30 am! This has been the earliest I’ve arrived here in years.  After meeting RL, Moe, Jeremy and Tim for a super early breakfast at Dennys, we headed straight to the Sea Otter.

IMG2798 by you. The crew getting ready in the Media Parkng lot.


IMG2797 by you.                            The Moe’s super excited!!!

IMG_2800 by you.Moe and RL getting a head start.

We’ll be posting through out the day so stay tuned…