Lezyne Tubeless CO2 Blaster
There's a good chance some of your fellow riders carry a spare tube but not tire plugs. Maybe they're skeptics, maybe old habits die hard, but the humble plug kit is probably the best possible use of 2 cubic inches of pocket space. And somehow, just barely a year ago when we conducted our tire-plug Versus review, there were only a handful of choices on the market. Now, as more riders are wising up, more options are being introduced. One that we saw at the show was from Lezyne. The nifty new gadget is so new, it barely made it across the pond from Lezyne’s factory in time for the show. It’s essentially an inflator and plug insertion tool in one.
Dynaplug offers a similar concept, but this one's got a few extra features. Because its traditional fork-style insertion tool uses traditional bacon-strip plugs, you can use however many of whichever plug you want. And there's an integrated reamer at the base of the tool to rough up the surface area for better adhesion. The air is released by a separate valve instead of by twisting the CO2 cartridge, which makes that crucial moment a little more controlled. But there's one more nifty hidden feature.
The cap that seals off the bacon-storage compartment when the kit is not in use stays on the tool while inserting the plug, but once you've inflated the tire and you're ready to pull the insertion tool back out through the tire, you pull it through the cap as well. That ensures that the plug is pulled off the insertion tool instead of coming out of the tire with it. At first, it seems like a lot of steps, but it's easier than it looks, and it's way easier than walking. The Tubeless CO2 Blasticer will go for $50, and it’ll be available late this spring.
Hydro Flask Journey Series Packs
It's rare that the new kid in class gets popular on the first day, but walking into the Hydro Flask booth, it seems that's exactly what happened. Known for its well-insulated canteens, Hydro Flask just dove back-first into the hydration pack market with its Journey series packs and Sea Otter showgoers were as curious as we are. We've had a tester shouldering the review of the 20L model for a month now, but this was a chance for the rest of us to get up close with one. Of course, Hydro Flask's focus is on insulation, with a neoprene bladder compartment lined with a cold-reflecting inner surface. Outside of that compartment is a high-tech structure to lift the entire pack off your back to keep your body heat from warming up your water. Even the bladder itself is insulated against coolnes-robbing sweat.
But all that stuff was in the press release when the Journey series launched. It becomes clear that they stand out when you hold one. There's an almost waxy feel to the material, and it's clear you won't need a rain cover if you'll be Journeying in wet weather. The waterproof zippers feel robust and add to the near-seamless aesthetic of the packs. Inside, Hydro Flask went with an open floor plan. There aren't several different pouches or compartments. It's up to you how you keep your smaller items together. The raised back panel feels more rigid than most. It doesn't compress down once you lean over, but we didn't get a chance to load it up and test its limits. Journey packs are designed to sit relatively high up like a more traditional pack, and are contoured to fit the curve of your back. The overall build feels like it's made to last, but only time will tell. Ryan Palmer is working on the long-term review, so we'll just have to wait and see
Rocky Mounts Wetslope
This is one of a few racks that acknowledges that bikes don't like sitting next to each other. You'll often have bars and brake levers fighting with saddles and seatposts like two toddlers stuck in the same stroller. Though your older bike might not taunt your younger bike with, "Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!" or, my personal favorite, "I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you!" they certainly might do some damage to each other.
And just like those two toddlers, it's not advisable to just solve the problem by wrapping their appendages in socks and towels. Instead, the Wetslope puts the two bikes on a tiered base that raises the outermost tray a few inches above the innermost. It folds up just as flush as a traditional rack, fits both 1 and ¼-inch and 2-inch receivers and goes for $330.
New OneUp Droppers, Stems and Carbon Bars
OneUp Components surprised us when they released their dropper post last year. But the surprise wasn't just the fact that they released one. Seems like every brand has a dropper, whether they should or not. The surprise was that it's actually good. It offered a clean cable connection, a broad range of lengths and about the lowest stack height in the industry. Now, a year later, they came out swinging with an even lower stack height, and one more length option, a towering 210 millimeters. Another modern step in OneUp’s dropper lineup is a remote lever that's compatible with Shimano's new XTR levers.
Just as cutting-edge is OneUp's approach to the 35-millimeter handlebar. Word is finally getting out that the bigger-diameter configuration is too stiff for most riders' taste. But it's quickly becoming the new standard. So, OneUp's new bar relies on a flat oval just outside the clamp to achieve one of our favorite things to say: lateral stiffness and vertical compliance. The bars are available in 20- and 35-millimeter rise configurations and can ship with an optional decal kit in six colors. There's even matching grips with some nifty directional fins to get your digits.
To hold those bars on your bike, there's a matching OneUp stem. But it's not just another place to put a OneUp logo. For those who want to run one of OneUp's steerer-tube mounted EDC tool kits but aren’t quite comfortable with threading the inside of their fork, this neat little guy uses a wedge-shaped clamp hidden beneath the stem’s bottom pinch bolt to inch down on your headset bearings and set a preload. On top of the stem are semi-integrated spacers that are sized so that a regular EDC tool will lock right in.
Marzocchi released the $500 Z2 fork a few weeks ago as a more affordable alternative to the Z1, which itself is a more affordable alternative to products from Marzocchi's owner, Fox. While the Z1 uses Fox's simple-yet-effective Grip damper, the Z2 uses an old-school open-bath damper. Though servicing it is a little messier, it's potentially simpler, and involves replacing a few seals instead of an entire cartridge. The main disadvantage is the extra weight that results from filling a leg with oil, but compared to one of Marzocchi's old-school open-bath forks, the Z2 is a feather.
Fat Chance Yo Eddy Titanium Frame
By today’s standards, there wasn’t much variety in bike frames back in the '80s and early '90s. The advancements each brand made were pretty subtle. Lots of talk about butting and brazing, but not many huge leaps in geometry. That’s why Fat Chance bikes stand out in so many of our memories. The Yo Betty was a women’s-specific frame with a drastically sloping toptube. Few of us realized it at the time, but it was an aesthetic that would help inform frame design across genders and decades. Fat Chance’s founder, Chris Chance, hasn’t gone away through those decades. He’s still been producing the steel-framed Yo Eddy, which begat the Yo Betty.
And at this Sea Otter, he revealed the reincarnation of the titanium Yo Eddy. Welded in Oregon, this ti dream machine features chainstay-mounted brake bosses, CNC’d dropouts and chainstay yoke and clearance for 29×2.6-inch tires. No word on exact prices yet, but frames should be available this summer.