2019 Sea Otter Classic Roundup (Part-I)

Gravel–The New, Old Hotness

California’s Sea Otter Classic (SOC) has long been a major source of new product announcements (at least for North America). But with the demise of the Interbike trade show, Sea Otter can now claim the crown for the premiere cycling event in the United States. In previous years, the gravel segment was represented by a relatively small group of companies. This year’s event, however, saw a major increase in gravel offerings. And as gravel matures, we’re seeing more diversification in the types of bikes being offered. The traditional, road-inspired gravel bike continues to dominate, but specialized models such as dedicated gravel racing machines and bikepacking-influenced rigs are gaining traction.

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2019 Flat Pedal Roundup

Based on the popularity of last year’s flat pedal roundup, it’s safe to say that more and more gravel/adventure riders are making the switch from clipless to flat pedals. Why? There are many reasons, but as I mentioned in Part-I of the 2018 roundup, modern flats are bigger, grippier, and offer support that rivals–and in some cases, exceeds–clipless pedals’ performance. OK, but what makes one pedal better than another? The answer is, it depends. Some riders want maximum grip, others favor light weight, while some place more value on ground clearance. Whatever your criterion, though, you’re bound to find at least one flat pedal that meets your particular needs.

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First Impressions: MSW Airlift 220 Pump

When I began leading group rides a couple years ago I thought it would be wise to carry extra spares for those just in case scenarios. What I didn’t anticipate, though, was needing a pump that worked with Presta and Schrader valves. My personal bikes all have Presta valves, so I was used to carrying a Presta-only pump. But more than once, we found ourselves in search of a Schrader-compatible pump. Since then I’ve been on the lookout for a pump that performed equally well with both types of valves. Recently MSW’s Airlift 220 pump ($27.99 MSRP) popped up on the new arrivals page of my favorite retailer’s website, so I decided to give it a try.

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First Impressions: Teravail Cannonball Tires

When I reviewed Teravail’s Rampart road-plus tires last summer, I didn’t anticipate that they would become my go-to tire for mixed surface riding. The 650B x 47 tires’ ample volume offered plenty of flotation (and comfort), but with much of my commute now taking place in the dark, I found myself wanting more traction and control than the Ramparts’ minimal tread could provide. As luck would have it, however, Teravail began offering their Cannonball gravel tire in 650B sizes, so I decided it was time to give them a try.

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First Impressions: 45NRTH Ragnarök Shoes

Originally making a name for themselves with extreme-weather gear, Minnesota-based 45NRTH’s lineup now includes items for use in milder conditions. One of the recent additions is the company’s Ragnarök shoe for clipless pedal use. Available in reflective ($235 MSRP) and black ($195 MSRP) colorways, the Ragnarök is designed to keep you riding in comfort during fall/spring and mild winter weather.

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