By Nicole Formosa
By the third day of Sea Otter, the hours blend together in a sun-drenched, dust-covered blur of media events, race starts, food court lunches and happy hours. In the midst of the madness, plenty of choice new gear always shines through. I noticed and appreciated the attention to the women's market with a few sweet new mountain bikes that should be available later this year.
Specialized teased its Rumor women's mountain bike with the old "black sheet over a conspicuously shaped object" at the booth move. Though marketing folks are staying mum on details until the official release, rumor has it that the Rumor is a full suspension carbon fiber 29er based on the men's 110-millimeter travel dual suspension Camber. Stayed tuned for more details on Tuesday when the real Rumor is revealed.
We got a few more details, but not many, on Santa Cruz's anticipated line of women's mountain bikes. Developed by Juli Furtado under her namesake Juliana brand, the multi-model line will be unveiled in mid-May. Furtado created the original Juliana model 12 years ago, and the aluminum frame 26-inch XC bike has been in the Santa Cruz line up ever since. The second generation of Juliana will be broader, but for now all we know about is the full suspension 29er Origin model. Furtado has stayed mostly out of the spotlight since retiring from her decorated racing career in 1997 but has remained on staff with Santa Cruz for the past decade. About 18 months ago, she went to management with the idea of redeveloping the Juliana line and was involved in the concept, design and naming of the new models. Although the "Queen of Dirt" was apprehensive about returning to the mainstream to promote the brand, her outlook has shifted as she's seen the result. "It's not my natural role. It is what it is. I am excited about the legitimacy for women and to get more women riding. It's exciting to use my education (Furtado has a business degree) to help steer it."
While we're on the topic of kick-ass women, Marianne Vos flew to Sea Otter fresh off her Fléche Wallonne win and was hanging out in Giant's booth on Friday evening. The Olympic gold medalist was rolling around a carbon fiber hardtail 650B, her wheels of choice for the pro XC race on Saturday, and a bike that may eventually show up in bike shops. Vos, the reigning World Cyclocross Champion, already slayed the pro short track course on Friday. We're not worthy.
It's next to impossible to walk 10 feet at Sea Otter without seeing evidence of the current enduro craze. Geax's contribution to category du jour is the Goma enduro tire. Engineers developed the Goma with well-spaced knobs that have ample surface area in order to tackle the enduro style all-mountain terrain. The tubeless compatible tire is meant to roll fast through hardpacked singletrack, and stay grippy on loose, loamy dirt. The Goma comes in all three wheel sizes in widths between 2.25 and 2.4. Geax also has a full line of six 27.5 inch tires.
Lake Cycling knew inviting sleep-deprived, harried journalists to an 8:30 a.m. media event on the third morning of Sea Otter could end up being a fairly lonely morning. So, the Dutch shoe brand lured the pen-wielding cast of characters to its booth with breakfast burritos and coffee to meet the company's new owner and see the reworked line of road and mountain shoes, and a prototype cyclocross shoe. The grub bait worked, and the shoes, as it turned out were well worth the early morning slog to Laguna Seca. The entire line has been reworked, as well as received a few interesting additions. There's a new water resistant spring/fall training boot built with plenty of reflective strips that is meant to be cooler than the full winter boot, but still provide early or late season warmth and moisture protection.
The top of the line MX 331 mountain bike shoes use an internal carbon fiber thermafoam heel and a BOA closure. Lake has a close relationship with BOA, and all its high-end models use the lace-free closure system. The most interesting piece though was a pair of bright orange prototype cyclocross specific shoes made to motor through mud, sand, grass and water and reengage quickly with pedals. Removeable spikes and lugs allow riders to shift traction around where they best see fit on the sole.