Each year Sea Otter is a gathering place for media folks to catch glimpses of new products. Some companies let us know ahead of time while others simply surprise everyone. This year was no exception with goods coming out of various camps like SRAM, Fox Shox, Shimano SAINT, FSA, Yeti and Trek
to name a few of the big ones.
Here's a look at the goods we were given the opportunity to really look over:Elayna over at Fox Racing Shox
had a fancy new 15mmx100mm front thru axle system to show us that has been dubbed 15QR. Shimano and Fox partnered up on this adventure to create a thru axle system for the XC, Trail and light duty All Mountain riders out there looking for more strength over their current open drop out set ups. We all know that a thru axle is stiffer by design, but Shimano and Fox felt that the current 20x110mm option was too over the top for true XC applications, so they set out to create a set up that was better suited to the XC and trail crowd with out the added weight of the 20x110mm version.
15x100mm Thru Axle
In the end a 15x100mm version was developed. Here are their thoughts on this new standard 15QR in terms of Axle Stiffness:
A properly designed thru axle system is going to provide better torsional and transverse sheer performance than an open dropout axle system. Fox and Shimano chose the 15x100 as the appropriate blend of weight, stiffness and packaging for the XC, Trail and light duty All Mountain applications. Axle diameter plays a big theoretical role in predicting system stiffness. In practice however, since there is little to no unsupported axle in any bicycle thru axle system, the axles themselves end up more in sheer and in tension, where cross sectional area and closure method...not diameter...are the key design parameters.
At the end of the day they feel that they have achieved a light and stiff set up for the XC and Trail riding crew looking to step up from open drop outs, but not up to the bigger 20x110mm DH and Freeride Standard for Thru Axles.
A quick stop by Marzocchi
to say hi and voila a few more 15QR forks were on display. Their new 44 line up of forks looks to be promising for the Trail riding crew.
One of the longest awaited press releases has to be Shimano's
new SAINT revamp. When SAINT hit the market a few years back it was aimed at the freeride crowd and was ready to take a beating. The down side to it was that it had a few of it's own quirks that made if difficult to mix and match with other parts that were non SAINT-like the rear derailleur and hubs. After a lot of work and many late nights at the drawing board Shimano has released the newest rendition of SAINT and it's a beauty. I could go on and on and rehash what they told me, but here are the details straight from the SAINT crew:New Saint Group: Find Your Flow
The new Shimano Saint group shares some features with the current group such as top-level durability and reliability for extreme mountain biking such as Down Hill, Freeriding and Extreme All Mountain. At the same time, the new group is completely different and promises much more such as increased rigidity and a lightweight design which is in line with the current gravity trend for faster and smoother trails. The appearance of this group is very technical and aggressive, in shiny black and subtle gold-colored details.4-piston disc brakes
The Saint disc brakes have been designed from scratch. The result is a choice for dual-diameter 4-piston calipers that provide an incredible 50% more stopping power than the current BR-M800. The calipers have an increased oil flow which makes bleeding a lot easier.
The brake levers feature Servo Wave technology that contributes to the brake power and offers excellent controllability and extra pad clearance as well. The levers feature a tool-free reach adjust and they have a beefy lever blade for optimal control.Shimano Shadow
The group includes a Shadow rear derailleur that minimizes the chance to damage the derailleur by hitting any object on the trail. The most remarkable difference with the Deore XT and XTR Shadow derailleurs introduced last year is the super wide inner link that offers the additional stiffness that is very important in gravity. Shimano managed to combine this additional rigidity with a remarkable weight saving of 100 grams compared to the current version.
The Saint rear derailleur has an increased spring tension compared to the other Shimano Shadow derailleurs. Furthermore, it has a bracket switch to select usage with close or wide ratio cassettes. Close ratio cassettes (23-28T lowest gear) are recommended for Down Hill and wide ratio (32-34T lowest gear) for Freeride and All Mountain usage. The Saint Shadow derailleur is available in a short (SS) and a medium (GS) cage version.Rapidfire Plus shifters
The gravity -oriented Rapidfire Plus shifters have been designed to combine a crisp shift feeling with 1-finger braking. They feature a short release lever stroke and Instant Release technology for a fast and direct response. Of course these shifters also feature 2-Way Release technology that allows the release lever to be operated in two directions. The new Saint shifters have been developed with an
adjustable bracket to allow inboard and outboard mounting. Last but not least, they have an excellent mud shedding design.Cranksets
The Saint cranksets will be much lighter and even more rigid than current versions. There will be options for single and double chainrings. Both have been developed with HOLLOWTECH II technology and feature an extreme heavy duty spider arm and spindle. The new
crank arm design allows more ankle clearance and the "honeycomb" designed bash guard has a great impact resistance. It has a steel pedal thread insert for extra rigidity.
Single chainring options:34/36/38/40/42T.
Double: 36 x 22T compact drive crankset for All Mountain usage offers a wide gear ratio and a narrower Q-factor.Front derailleur
Saint includes a double specific mountain bike front derailleur, designed to perform with a 36x22T compact drive crankset. It has a very compact size with increased stiffness and improved clearance of the chain, chain stay and rear tire for an optimal compatibility with all kinds of full suspension frames. A wider and lower positioned inner plate reduces the chance of chain drop considerably.Hub and freehub
The new Saint hub and freehub are around 100 grams lighter than current versions and they feature a standard size center lock mount which saves weight while maintaining strength. The hub has been provided with fully adjustable and easy serviceable cup and cone bearings. Over Locknut Dimension (OLD) is 110mm and they feature a 20mm through axle for an ultra stiff fork/hub combination.
The bearings of the freehub have been positioned wider apart for increased stiffness. The freehub body has been developed with Shimano's quick engagement technology that results in increased performance especially in technical terrain. The Saint freehub will be available in two versions: 135mm OLD in combination with a 10mm or 12mm through axle and 150mm OLD with a 12mm through axle. Sealings have been further improved for 400% better durability.
The new Saint: lighter, stiffer, better. Enjoy the ride and "Find your Flow."
Fully equipped SAINT bike at the Shimano booth
Availability in the market: August 2008
If you are still curious to see how the new SAINT is working, here is a sick video put together by the Collective featuring Thomas Vanderham in Utah doing some R & D for Shimano:
Proving Ground with Thomas Vanderham
The crew at FSA
brought a bunch of us together to have a look at BB30-a new standard in bottom bracket shell design and crank specs. BB30 has been around for a few years with Cannondale leading the innovation, but now more companies are getting on board and FSA is helping with the push. Key features to BB30:
BB30 is lighter-by eliminating the BB cups and using an alloy spindle, the weight of the crank and BB assembly can be reduced by up to 12%.
BB30 is narrower-with the bearings inside the BB shell, the width of the crank at the spindle is reduced, increasing ankle clearance.
BB30 is stiffer-the oversized spindle increases the stiffness of the crankset. New EFBe testing dramatically shows these resutls.
BB30 is more durable-BB30 bearings are significantly larger than those used in other systems, resulting in longer bearing life.
This is obviously more geared to the road and XC crowd, but the FSA's brand Gravity was also on hand showing their DH/Freeride offering for the 68/73mm BB crowd.
Luc's coverage of the SRAM media camp can be viewed here -https://www.pinkbike.com/news/2009SRAMProductsSeaOtter.html
Tyler's coverage of the Trek Session 88 launch can be viewed here -https://www.pinkbike.com/news/trek-session-88-launch-2008.html
Pinkbike.com's coverage of the new Yeti bikes can be seen here -https://www.pinkbike.com/news/yeti-releases-new-proto-bikes-2008.html
Last but not least I want to leave you with a little video of the driving we went through to get to Sea Otter 2008. It was all over the map and so were we with 4200 new kilometers getting put on the truck and our asses were also seated in the truck for some 53 hours of driving time all to get to the big show and home again. Here's the view from the road, next year we're flying!
-Tyler, Jordan, Radek, Fiona and Danice