Sun Valley's Outerbike was the place to be for those who wanted to forgo the sometimes frustrating realizations of long lines to empty bike racks that occasionally plague more popular stops of the traveling demo event. For attendees, it was an all-you-could-eat buffet, as riders were only limited by which bikes they wanted to demo, and how long they wanted to spend pedaling them around on Sun Valley's buff trails during business hours. In addition to bikes, dozens of vendors were showing off their latest product.
Esker had a handful of their 27.5" Elkats available to wing around the Valley, and I couldn't resist throwing a leg over one. The carbon 150mm travel, 1x-specific DW-Link design is available as a frame (with headset, shock and axle) for $2,850, with complete Shimano SLX flavored builds starting at $4,200. Two laps on the flowy Mindbender trail, and first impressions were of a well-sorted bike that was easy to hop on and get up to speed almost instantly. A few basics - 65.5-degree head tube angle with a 160mm fork, 75.9-degree seat tube angle, 425mm chainstays, and clearance for 2.8" tires. While Esker isn't giving specifics, expect a 29er version in the near future, too.
Hidden pivot bolts off the wishbone style shock mount are a nice touch in the form department, and Esker says the gusset-looking downtube protrusion is all for show, too.
The lower linkage of Dave Weagle's Orion design fits snuggly around the bottom bracket, allowing respectably short 425mm chainstays.
Less sendy, but still trendy, Moots Cycle's new Mountaineer looks to be what bikepackers dream of. Forgoing 27+ compatibility, the titanium frame is now 29er-sepcific and fits up to 2.6" tires. An angry inch(and a quarter) of YBB suspension should take the edge off of packed bikes bouncing down the trail thanks to an all-but-unchanged elastomer and coil design Moots has used since the 90's. Where's the pivot? It's up to specially designed chainstays to not only flex enough to accommodate the movement, but also act as a damper to keep the wheel from bouncing around like a pogo stick.
All the usual cage mount options should keep zip-ties and extra gear straps to a minimum on even the most gear-laden rides, if not provide a cleaner look more suitable to the $3,500 frame. Compatible with 120mm and 130mm forks, the latter will net a 67-degree head tube angle and 74-degree seat tube angle.
50, 51.... Continuing the one-upping trend, Rotor's new 12-speed cassette is now available in a 10-52 range, as well as a 10-46. The 10-52 is claimed to weigh a mere 312-grams, and offers a more evenly graduated span of gear choice. 7000-series alloy makes up the biggest six cogs, with the remaining six made of hardened steel. The cassettes are currently only compatible with Shimano freehubs.
Tom Watson was rolling his 1999 Jamis Diablo around the venue, a bike he designed and LP Composites manufactured with a pocketed expanding silicon mandrel. In 1999. Still in impressively original condition, it was this old-guy's pleasure to reminisce with Tom about how amazing the original Hayes brakes were compared to Dia-Compe 987's, how underrated Hutchinson Python tires were for commuting, and how this was the bike that caused a huge headache over at Rockshox - the original single-crown 70mm travel "downhill" fork known as the Judy DH was originally named the Diablo until Jamis pointed out that they'd already called dibs on the name.
Wild Rye claims that their shorts fit 95% of the women who try them on, but they didn't have anything in my size. Alas, my search for llama-print shorts in a 36-waist and 13-inch inseam continues.
Currently, sizing is from 0-12, with plans of bumping up to size 18 next year. The Kaweah short(pictured) is their latest addition, which will retail for $95 and feature a 10-inch inseam, 4-way poly blend stretch material, and a zippered pocket big enough for an iPhone Plus with protective case. Named after a peak in California, the shorts will be offered in at least two patterns that will rotate seasonally.
Wild Rye's Sandia long-sleeved jersey is rated at UPF50, and currently only available in the color shown, but should have more options by the end of the year. Wild Rye also offers a chamois short designed to be worn either by itself, or under their baggies, that retails for $115. Coming soon are a tank top, lower priced chamois, and more color options in current offerings.
Fidlock has traditionally been more of an ingredient brand in their dozen years of business, providing companies like Bell with magnetic closures for helmet straps. Their magnetic water bottles have been mentioned before, but they just introduced a new collaborative project with High Above. The Lookout pack is Fidlock bottle compatible on both sides, allowing smooth access to bottles by comparison of pulling a bottle out of a holster. Look for the Lookout in shops later this summer for $125.
Celebrating 25-years of making baggy cycling shorts, Zoic is expecting their latest design samples any day now. It was fun arguing with them about which brand can actually claim the first baggy short to hit the market back in '94. They made the claim, but didn't realize they were talking to an old Chrome Industries quality-control employee that was shipping out Chrome baggies in 1994.
Regardless, a quarter century of product history in this industry is respectable. Also respectable are their prices, with Zoic Ether shorts starting at $65 without a liner. On the women's side, the Naveah short is available in either 7-inch or 11-inch inseams, has 5 zippered pockets, and a flat waist for $70 or $80 for printed versions. Kids are covered, too, with $50 boy and girl version Komfy shorts, along with kid-specific chamois for $25.
Squirt Lube is expanding beyond their wax chain lube, with a tire sealant that'll launch this April in Europe. Pricing and availability on Seal are still TBD, and there weren't any details on what makes it stand out from any of the other current sealants, other than that the larger bottle comes with a separate little container of Bead Lock - essentially little beads that help coagulate the sealant at punctures. The smaller bottles come with the Bead Lock already inside, which was explained as being less likely to settle too far away from the cap. Squirt was also showing off a reusable bike box and a little grocery-style gear bag with dividers inside to keep your dirty bits away from your snacks.
Notably niche, Light in Motion's Rando is claimed to be the first bike light that can take a charge while in use. Solar jokes aside, those with dyno hubs could run all night without worrying about running out of light, or setting up camp in the dark when your wheel stops turning. The 500 lumen light retails for $79 and is available now. Light in Motion is also a firm believer in pulsating back lights verses traditional blinking lights, which have been proven to be difficult to gauge the distance and direction of their travel by highway patrol tests. The Vis 360 Pro is one of their latest helmet-specific lights that features a pulsating 25 lumen red light integrated into the battery, along with a 600 lumen headlamp, which retails for $130.