Sea Otter Classic Roundup (Part-II)

Gravel Wheel & Tire Trends

After spending three days perusing booths at the 2019 Sea Otter Classic, I can say without hesitation that it’s a very good time to be a (gravel) tire nerd. Nearly every tire manufacturer–both big and small–now offers (or will be offering) dedicated gravel tires. But it’s not just tire companies that are sliding into the gravel space. Rim and wheel vendors are responding to gravel riders’ needs with dedicated models designed for mixed-surface use.

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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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