I was posting up daily photos and comments on our Facebook page, so this is a follow up on what I saw and how the overall show impressed me, what the focus seemed to be, etc. There were a couple of surprises, nothing too amazing, but as always, a cool show, even with so much of the press releases and bag-O-Cats being let out earlier and earlier these days.
My impression, after thinking about this for a couple of days, is that, if there was any focus at all, it was on anything goes with wheel and tire options. The consumer seems to be accepting new ways to get out there and ride, so while Plus was still the biggest slice of the pie as far as new bikes/wheels/tires/forks, it is getting wider and wider, that pie slice. 26+? Yep. 27.5×4.0 Fat? Yes. 27.5+? All over the place, but it’s nuanced a bit as there are two approaches to 27.5+: Longer travel FS bikes with 2.8″ or smaller (coming more and more I bet) tires, focused on increasing traction and footprint yet avoiding 3.0″ tires to keep things less bouncy…and full on trail/adventure bikes that embrace a 3.0″ tire to get all the flotation, comfort, and traction advantages of Plus AND get a near 29″ wheel/tire combo as well.
I will tell ya, and I thought this from the first time I saw a Plus tire…Plus is going to take a huge bite out of ‘traditional’ tire sizes.
What I did not see any growth in? 29+. Did I miss something? Could be.
Let’s begin with two surprises, of a sort, but for different reasons.
Trek had promised something “Big”. I expected a longer travel 27.5+ FS, slack…like a Remedy+. What we were shown was a fully fat Bike in 120mm travel: The Farley EX in a 9.8 and an 8.0 version. One in carbon with carbon wheels, etc, one in alu. Both are the 27.5″ wheel size with a 4.0 tire. Trek is committed to that new Fat Bike wheel diameter and I have heard from folks that really know Fat Bikes that it is the future of Fat.
I find this interesting. Other than the Salsa Bucksaw, I only know of a couple of Fat fullys…one from Foes and one from Turner…but sometimes small builders might not even get a bike like that into enough production to ever see one on trail. SO the Farley EX joins the Bucksaw in a niche of the market that I have to admit has little appeal to me. But if you like where the terrain is really nasty/loose, etc, I suppose. I do wonder though, if 27.5×3.0 in an FS is not all you need in that case? Choices.
Father Time of the MTB set, Gary Fisher, opened the day for us. He is a cool cat and I always enjoy speaking with him. Even though he is marginalized these days in the Trek world of doing things, he is a figurehead with deep, deep roots in what we love to do…ride mountain bikes.
The second surprise was a bike from Salsa Cycles, the Redpoint. It is a 27.5 (not Plus) bike, long travel, slack, looong top tube, short stays…made for aggressive trails. Of note is that is marks a point…a Redpoint…where Salsa now offers a bike that is not big wheels…either 29er, 26×4.0-5.0, or 27.5+. It is 26+ ready though, and was shown as such with some new WTB rubber. Early reports are positive regarding the Redpoint.
This was sneak released in a series of posts on this site, kind of an Adventure Saga, “Have Dirt, Will Travel”, and I recall seeing the early posts and thinking that sure looks like a beefy Horsethief (and the wrong color too).
Not a bike that fits in here at this site, or for me at all, but its cool to see Salsa broadening horizons. Curious to see how it is received by the buying public who might not see Salsa as a gravity oriented bike maker.
29″ Stuff? Oh yes. Two bike stood out to me…the YT Jeffsy and the Yeti 5.5c. Both are stunningly good reasons to have hope for 29ers as viable trailbikes, even in longer travel. The Jeffsy brings the Horst Link based rear end to-your-door consumer direct delivery, reflected in the very reasonable pricing, and Yeti continues to show that bikes can be absolutely gorgeous and still function at a high level, albeit at a correspondingly high cost, with the SB5.5c. 29ers live on.
More 29er news…Bontrager showed a new tire in a 29×25.5″ size that is just at 800g and looks very trail worthy. What will that fit, I asked? Well it will fit the Boost 29er FS bikes Trek makes. Will it fit your bike? Dunno. Here it is shown on the new ‘Line’ XXX wheels in carbon. Wide…light…costly. You know how that works. But the Line and Line Pro stems and bars are quite good looking and the new Dropper post, a hydraulic post with a mechanical release, felt very smooth and solid…almost NO side to side waggle and it is adjustable within its range to wherever you want it to be.
Back with more from Sea Otter, and some thoughts on Adventure/Mixed Surface bikes. Stay tuned.