If you recall we did a review on the BELL super helmet last year as a part of our Enduro product reviews. At that time BELL had not yet released the Super 2R or Super 2R MIPS. These are the latest in the All-Mountain / Enduro type line up for BELL Helmets along with the Super 2.
The Super 2R come as a standard foam type EPS liner with a In-Mold Polycarbonate Shell, while the Super 2R equipped MIPS steps up the protection in the shell. MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. This allows for better protection to the head.
The key feature to both Super 2R helmets is that they use a detachable chinbar. This is great because it allows you to remove the chinbar while say climbing, put it in your pack, and then allowing you to simply reattach it back to the helmet with three clips.
The other cool thing is the fact that you get not just a CPSC Bicycle safety rating, but also a CE EN1078 rating.
BELL Helmets was quite busy at the Sea Otter Classic showing off the good.
Retail for the SUPER 2R is $200, while the MIPS equipped SUPER 2R retails for $220.
What this means is when you attend an event like this you will see some of the most interesting people an well as going on’s here. With this many people that are into cycling I have to say we are a rear group.
GOOD MORNING SEA OTTER
Yes it has been 25 years of one of the biggest cycling events to ever be on the west coast and one of the fun things about coming to Sea Otter is the dive up. If you are fortunate enough to be able to ride along the coast, this makes for one beautiful ride up. Again the MtnBikeRider.com crew was able to bum a ride up wit the fabulous D-Crew from Dainese, thank you guys.
If you have never been to the Sea Otter Classic, this is an event so big that it spans four days of racing that covers mountain biking, road biking, and one of the biggest consumer expos ever.
Fun for the whole family, cycling enthusiast, as well as the competitor, Sea Otter has made itself a staple when it comes to cycling events. You will see many aspects of this weeks happening to come.
Here is the first day part 1.
While at Sea Otter we ran into Loaded Precision Inc. If you have never heard of them they are a precision bicycle component manufacturing company based out of San Diego California.
They make everything from handlebars, stems, headsets, seatpost, wheelsets, and hubs. This is a company that has a lot of really cool products. Their products stick out because of the beautiful anodizing and precision machining that is just a part of what and who they are and one of their products that caught my eye early on while at Interbike this last year was the AMXC grips No Slip Grips. It was this unique grip surface that was on them that made me stop and look at them. It looked like something that the military would use and I’m not just talking our ordinary military, but Special forces, namely our Navy Seals. Sure enough when talking with the guys at LOADED they did confirm this was a material used by them and in what way I can not say. The other part of the grips you have is the clean looking machining of their Lock-Rings & end caps.
GRIPS WITH GRIPSION OK I made that word up and what does gripsion mean, simple “Ultimate Grip”. I know looking at the LOADED grips one would think their just another pair of lock on grips, but I’m hear to tell you these things hook you up like a fly stuck on flypaper. LOADED was kind enough to give us a pair to test and seeing that I was racing the downhill at Sea Otter what better place to do a first test.
When you feel them for the first time bare handed you can tell off the bat that they do have a tacky surface on them, one I have never felt on a grip before. It almost feels gummy to the touch. With gloves on you get the same feel, so what is it with the surface that makes them unique. Well its the material of the grip, as I had mentioned earlier this grade of rubber is used by a part of our US military and what does the NoSlip Grip offer, no matter what the weather condition is, snow, rain, mud, dirt, or something like grease the LOADED NoSlip grip ensures rider hand contact to the grip. This is as important to the rider as it is to a soldier gripping his weapon or vital item he is using in the field.
ON THE RACE RUN Once I fit the grips on and tighten them they locked on like any other lock on, but they do have an extra ring that comes with the grips that give them better lock to the bars, end caps go in with no hassle. Now I’m use to a fatter grip, but I really didn’t mind the feel of the LOADED NoSlip grips, yes they were slimmer, but they felt really good in the hand and with my gloves on you had no slipping at all.
Now I didn’t have any practice to get a feel with the grips, so my race run was a cold one with these babies and the first thing I noticed out of the gate was my hands were stuck to the grip till I would release them. On my run moving the bike under me, pulling on the bars to jump or maneuver was like having clips on my hands. After my run I thought about it and I was truly impressed with these grips, they preformed as stated. Now I really like to pick apart a product before I will say this is the best thing next to ice cream or tacos, but I may have to lean this way.
I did want to give them one test while I was at Sea Otter, so I poured water on the grips and sure enough the water beaded right off the grip and when I poured the water over my hand and grip there was no slippage. again “Wow”! I’m sold and as time goes on I will be giving these grips an extreme mud, dirt, water (again), and grease (well maybe) test for a long term.
QUICK TECH Here’s the tech on the grips. Material: NoSlip rubber / Clamp: CNC 6061 Alloy Lock-Rings & End Caps / Weight: 118g / Clamp Diameter: 29.5mm / Length: 130mm / Colors: Black, Blue, Red, Gold, Green
WHAT’S THE PRICE FOR GRIPSION
To have ultimate grip from LOADED and their AMXC NoSlip grips the msrp is $29.99. Yes this may be a little on the high side for a set of grips, but well worth it if you ask me. They come in five colors, so I’m sure you can find a color to make you stead look cool.
You can go to the LOADED website to check out all their cool products at www.loadedusa.com.
We wish to thank LOADED PRECISION INC.
Well I thought hard about this, asked my editor and chief RL Policar, “should we do a best in show” and he said sure why not, this would require tons of hours combing Sea Otter for a best in show bike and what would be the criteria, do we only count factory race bikes, one off bikes, bikes that use green materials, bikes ridden by that regular racer that put an edge on it to make it just a little cooler, and we can’t forget that funny cool bike that we see and tell ourselves I want that, but really if we had it we probably never ride it.
Sea Otter has such a plethora ( just like that word) of bikes that you will find to choose from.
So the hunt started and while I looked at bikes, listened to people talk about the coolest bike they saw with my ear just over their shoulders, trying to weasel my way into a team pit to take a pic of a super secret bike up close, or some prototype model.
I still had to ask what is going to be the criteria, how to do this, should it be part tech, style, useability, fun factor, what!
BEST CHOICE FOUND
After seeing a lot of bikes the whole week I was there it was a tough choice and you’ll be surprised of my choice.
The bike if choice grabbed quite the attention by all or it could have been the rider on the bike that was receiving high praise.
SMALLEST S-WORKS EVER
The Specialized S-WORKS Hot Walk is the choice for “Best in Show”. This little bike caught all the attention as it’s rider pushed along with his dad at Sea Otter. This had to be one of the smallest S-WORKS bikes I have ever seen. I talk to the little tikes dad and found out that he worked for Specialized and dad was at Sea Otter to road race, afterwards son Luca showed off his mad skills pushing along side dad while all the girls couldn’t keep their eye off little Luca looking good. Could be this little future factory rider is on his way with this bike.
Seeing that dad worked for Specialized his bike has the same paint scheme as dad’s road bike. I guess it pays to be in the know.
ABOUT THE BIKE This little S-WORKS has a custom matching paint scheme with name custom painted on the bike just like the factory guys, 12″ A1 Premium Aluminum frame to stay lite for hours of fun, foot platforms to give sheer stability while hitting the big jumps, alloy blade fork helps keep the weight down, adjustable bar height, lightweight alloy rims for a curb-hopping blast of a time , Specialized Rhythm Lite Sport tires for traction on and off the dirt, and alloy flat bar that come equipped with soft Kraton grips.
Well this was my Sea Otter “Best in Show”. There were many choices and it was a hard pic, but I just had to give it up for this cool custom S-WORKS. Lets see what next year will bring.
One of the best things about Sea Otter is that you get to see not just prototype stuff, but 2012 products that are coming out soon. The one thing that will always bum me out though are the things I will never ever be able to 1.) AFFORD, 2.) only the “PROS” get.
We all want it, but can’t get it, We all like to touch it and some times can, and we like to see it which is free to us. So here are some pics from Sea Otter of a few things that pros have and things that we say “WHAT! IT COST HOW MUCH!!”, but it looks cool.
Avid had some cool Black Box brakes that were on Giant team racer Danny Hart’s bike that had his name on the levers. I would pay to put my name on my levers. “Its the little things.”
Customized brake lever…
Acros is a company out of Germany that makes some of the coolest headsets, seat post, bottom brackets, and now rims and wheelsets, but wait that’s not all. Their newest venture is drive train components that are lighter and cooler then anything I’ve ever seen out there.
Front, and rear deraillers plus shifters are all high quality cnc machined parts. The price, just over $2000. “wow!!” Did I mention that they are hydraulic?
One of the next things we saw while walking around was a new rim set from DT SWISS, asking price $4000. Was that right? Very cool lite set .
The 29er set weight is toted at 1200gr for the set.
Well this was just a few things and there was so much more to see. It gets overwhelming and this isn’t even Interbike.
Kona = a quality bike company that conjures up images of coffee, my other favorite hobby.
Kona was represented at Sea Otter 2010 in a small way via a booth, not a big diesel rig and huge bike display with a lounge for the employees and guests to hang out. Kona came to Sea Otter allowing their bikes to speak for themselves. What I heard calling my name was a 24.75 lb Kona Abra Cadabra, a 6” travel all mountain trail bike, wait a minute, 24.75 lbs, are you kidding me?..for a 6” travel bike?
This bike was a custom build by one of the Kona employees to showcase just how versatile a frame the Abra Cadabra can be. He told us it was available for a demo so I quickly scheduled a time. The bike features Kona Magic Link suspension design, FSA SLK components, a Sram XX 1×10 drive-train, (that’s right a 1×10), Sram XX brakes and a Stans Podium MMX wheelset. The drive-train was the new SRAM XX with only a 35 tooth chain ring up front. The paint scheme was beautiful with a polished/grey look and a solid clear-coat.
When we hit the trailhead I noticed how easily this burly bike pedaled and how comfortable it was. When I say burly, I am comparing it to my 4.7” Trek Fuel EX that just crosses the line from XC race to all mountain, the Kona is definitely closer to the downhill side of business than my Trek. The Magic Link works as advertised. Climbing puts the shock in a near vertical position with less travel and a more efficient pedaling experience. Going down hill puts the shock in a more relaxed position and allows for more travel via the extra spring in the magic link. For a video of the Magic Link in use and an explanation of the design theory, please click here.
I ended up riding this bike behind a fellow SO goer who was proudly riding an older hardtail Trek. What a huge difference there was when the bikes were pointed downhill, I caught up to him so fast that I caught myself braking just to avoid a crash. Braking was easily handled with Sram’s XX brakes and the rear suspension made sure the rear wheel kept in rotaional contact with the dirt. I’m the type of rider that likes to brake as late as possible (which goes for Grand Turismo as well). I definetely felt confident in my braking decisions.
The purpose of this bike is to be the “one” bike for someone who does not have the pockets for several bikes. This bike proves it can be done. Are there there other manufactures that make a bike in this category? Of course, but this bikes deserves to be at the top of the short list. The frame weighing it at around 6.75 lbs is neither lite nor is it too heavy but is versatile enough for several MTB categories. I was a bit surpised at the frame weight, just looking at it I would have guessed north of 7 lbs. Kona uses their Scandium tubing which is both light, strong and stiff.
I’m a fan of buying a frame only and then selecting the parts that work best for the intended purpose. This frame would be a great starting point for either a freeride oriented all mountain bike or built up closer to xc. If you needed something designed for either category, then you might need to look to the Coilair or the Hei Hei. I really need to get more time on the Abra to get a long term take on it but based on my short ride, it definetely looks like a great bike.
Scissors and I picked up our Specialized steeds, the 29 S-works carbon HT for Scissors and 29 Epic FS for me (first ride reviews will be coming shortly). As we were heading out to the trailhead, who did we spy? Gary Fisher himself and Laura of Momentum Magazine.
Scissors, Gary and Laura
The Pro XC men and women were racing on part of the course that we wanted to ride, so we had to detour around until we found another entrance. The detour took us through Bicycling Magazine’s campground where Gary Fisher was camping. Turns out that on Saturday night, Gary slept out under the stars with two Coleman sleeping bags.
Scissors and I ended up hanging with Gary and Laura for the 45 minute ride. Laura was a champ. She was riding a 26″ (her first problem… it wasn’t 29″) Ellsworth BIG travel bike that had way too much travel for the trail. But, Laura had a great attitude and never backed down from the challenges of climbing or descending on the bike. This was especially impressive considering it was her 2nd mountain bike ride, ever. Laura is an avid biker in general, just new to the mtb scene.
Gary… well, he still has it. He was standing up on all of the climbs attacking and conquering them as if they were flat paved paths. Good fun to tag along with him for the ride.
That’s right folks, the videos we shot and edited made it to the Sea Otter Classic Home Page….AGAIN! This is the second time they’ve used our videos to showcase what you can see at the event.
The videos were a collaboration between the work of myself(footage/editing), Jeremy (photos) and Moe(videos), in other words it was a team effort. The videos they featured were of Ryan Leech’s show and the SRAM Dual Stunt Show. You can check out SeaOtterClassic.com or watch them below to relive the experience.