Another year, another Sea Otter. As one of the first major events of the coming season, Sea Otter brings a host of fresh products to fuel the growing stoke. The first of the Sea Otter 2019 Round-Ups features an interesting tire, a unique pressure gauge, components for small riders and something that addresses our favorite complaint about outdated frame geometry.
For weight-conscious riders, or simply those on small and extra-small frames, pay attention. The new Fall Line R is a super light and a super-short dropper. How short and how light? For comparison’s sake, a KS LEV CI in the shortest length measures 340-millimeter in length with a 65-millimeter drop. The Fall Line R at a 75-millimeter drop only measures 275 millimeters. There are are a few frame designs out there that have tiny insertion depths and can’t run most droppers, and they’re probably serving short riders. So, the Fall Line R gives a much shorter option for those small frames, and with more drop to boot. Oh, and the KS Lev CI weighs 375 grams while the Fall Line R comes in at 336 grams. However, price is a tad bit more than either at $399.
Also on the Fall Line R is an optional -25 millimeter forward-offset head (pictured at top). Who would want a forward-offset head? Anyone who jams their saddle all the way to the bend in hopes of getting more power to the pedal on the climbs. Some bikes still don’t have properly steep seat angles, even ones with long enough reach measurements to accommodate them. Among the many options available when buying your new 9point8 dropper post, this forward-offset head moves your seat forward by an inch, which is better for the rails and still allows them to maintain some natural flex. But most importantly, it just gets you an extra 25 millimeters closer to getting on top of your pedals. It’ll cost you $17 as an upgrade, or $39 if you buy it separately.
There’s a new stem from 9point8 as well, the Stout Stem. It’s available in both 31.8- and 35-millimeters and in a variety of lengths ranging from 30 to 50 millimeters. The Stout stem is designed to be light and strong, as all stems should be. In the 31.8 x 30 configuration, the weight is 113 grams, or 99 grams if you get the optional titanium bolt kit. The Stout runs $99.
Check out the new Fall Line R here.
The Mota tire, designed as an aggressive all-around tire, uses a sophisticated blend of rubber and siping to increase traction and durability at the same time. The 4C rubber is a four-compound rubber. That’s right, folks. Just like the arms race that brought us the five-bladed shaving razor, Vittoria is offering one more compound than its three-compound competitors. 4C puts softer rubber where you need it for traction, a harder rubber in high wear locations, and two types of an even harder layer beneath each for stability. The secret sauce of the rubber comes from Vittoria's Graphine mixture, which increases the durability of the rubber compounds and allows for finer tunability during development.
The even secret-er sauce is the siping pattern Vittoria developed—they call it "progressive siping." The cuts are angled so that in one direction they help the rubber flex to increase traction (braking) while in the other direction (accelerating) they help the knobs remain rigid. This helps with long-term durability, and in conjunction with the Graphine, the surface level siping remains effective longer.
Check out the Mota here.
J UNIT — Manitou / Hayes / Sun Ringle / Pro Taper
Do you have a little ripper in your life? If you do, the J UNIT is for you. Hayes, Manitou, Sun Ringle and Pro Taper have just released a fairly extensive line of down-sized components for kids who ride hard.
Most notable in the release is the Manitou Machete fork, which is essentially a pint-sized version of Manitou's high-end forks. Available in 20- or 24-inch, the Machete is an air-sprung fork with Manitou's ABS+ damper and, of course, a slick reverse arch. More importantly, the fork is made from quality materials, so with its alloy stanchions, steerer and hollow crown, it's not going to weigh a metric ton like most kids forks—in fact, it comes in at 1,720-grams for the 24-inch model with 160-millimeter post mounts and a 15-millimeter thru axle.
Hayes has made a version of its Dominion brake that uses a smaller lever to work with small hands. This isn't something we've seen much of before, and thus bring some serious stopping power to kids who actually need it. The new Dominion, the Dominion A2, uses two pistons instead of four at the caliper, and is aimed at smaller riders in cross-country and trail applications. The Dominion A2 will run you $230 per brake.
Of course, bikes need wheels, and any good modern bike needs tubeless wheels. Sun Ringle's new Duroc J UNIT wheels come in 20- or 24-inch sizes, have an internal width of 26 millimeters and are, of course, tubeless ready. The wheels are laced with 28 spokes, and you can get standard Boost or non-Boost spacing, along with a 135xQR spacing for the rear. There aren't many tubeless tires out yet in smaller sizes, but the industry needs to start somewhere—plus most tires can be set up ‘ghetto-tubeless’ with some time and effort.
Last but certainly not least, Pro Taper has a handlebar for the small-handed crowd. Instead of just offering cut-down versions of their bars, they've actually made a smaller-diameter bar designed for the average hand size of 6 to 10-year-olds. What they've ended up with is a bar and grip system that is about the same diameter of a standard naked handlebar (22mm). To make current brake and shifter clamps work, they've added a sleeve that extends off the grip. Clamping your brake and shifter on the sleeve pinches it on the J UNIT bar, clamping down the kid-friendly grips.
The Accubar is a low-pressure analog gauge that can be used in-line with your current pump or as a standalone gauge, and is accurate to the half-PSI. Unique and classy? Yes. Do you have to pay for the said classiness? Also, yes. $53, to be exact.
Check out the Accubar here.
Stay tuned for more Sea Otter 2019 content.