14 Slalom Bikes of Sea Otter 2017

Apr 22, 2017
by AJ Barlas  
The slalom at Sea Otter is easily the event that everyone wants to see. Like years past, the spectators filled in the area for all of the action and riders from multiple backgrounds battled in the near perfect berms. The bikes ridden were an interesting mix of regular trail bikes, hardtails, and customized (read lowered to the floor) 29ers and in the end, it was the regular, well-selected trail bike that took the win in each, the Pro Men and Pro Women's events.


Mitch Ropelato and his sanded Santa Cruz Bronson. Rockshox and SRAM running gear Fabric seat Roval wheels and a Specialized Butcher up front with a Ground Control out back.

Mitch Ropelato – Santa Cruz 5010cc (Pro Men Winner)

Mitch Ropelato and his sanded Santa Cruz 5010. Rockshox and SRAM running gear, Fabric seat, Roval wheels and a Specialized Butcher up front with a Ground Control out back. Nothing special was done to his bike for the slalom.




Jill Kintner wins again. She looked so strong on her Norco Optic 7 and really wasn t challenged until the finals. Her Optic was a size small with 120mm rear 130mm front

Jill Kintner – Norco Optic 7 (Pro Women Winner)

Jill Kintner wins again. She looked so strong on her Norco Optic 7 and really wasn't challenged until the finals. Her Optic was a size small, with 120mm rear, 130mm front. Like Mitch, nothing special was done to her bike in order to help her win.





The Plus Thirteen


Martin Maes was looking to three-peat this Sea Otter aboarrt his GT Distortion. Martin said he loves the 26 wheeled bike going as far as to say that it s one of his favourite bikes that he s ridden.

Martin Maes – GT Distortion

Martin Maes was looking to three-peat this Sea Otter aboard his GT Distortion. Martin said he loves the 26" wheeled bike, going as far as to say that it's one of his favorite bikes that he's ridden.




Kyle Strait and his signature Commencal Absolut SX. Despite being 26 for life Lyle was running a 275 Pike set to 100mm with a 27.5 front wheel so that he could run a new tire that isn t available in 26 yet. Kyle also runs a 780mm bar for slalom compared to his usual 755mm bar that he has on this bike. He ran his Rockshox suspension a little softer than it is usually setup as well.

Kyle Strait – Commencal Absolut SX

Kyle Strait and his signature Commencal Absolut SX. Despite being "26 for life", Lyle was running a 275 Pike set to 100mm with a 27.5 front wheel, so that he could run a new tire that isn't available in 26", yet. Kyle also runs a 780mm bar for slalom, compared to his usual 755mm bar that he has on this bike. He ran his Rockshox suspension a little softer than it is usually setup as well.




Anneke Beerten was running a GT Distortion which is their 26 wheeled bike that Tyler McCaul rides.

Anneke Beerten – GT Distortion

Anneke Beerten was running a GT Distortion, which is the brand's 26" wheeled whip, ridden on slopestyle course the world over by Tyler McCaul. Aside from Kialani Hines, Anneke was the only racer in the women's field to be riding aboard a 26" wheel. She went on to take a hard-fought third place.




Kialani Hines killed it at the pumptrack last night and continued her momentum in the slalom. She started out on her Norco Range but switched back to her Norco Rampage hardtail noting that it felt more comfortable on the track. She looked super comfortable too but couldn t hold onto the speed of the top women.

Kialani Hines – Norco Rampage

Kialani Hines killed it at the pumptrack last night and continued her momentum in the slalom. She started out on her Norco Range, but switched back to her Norco Rampage hardtail, noting that it felt more comfortable on the track. She looked super comfortable too but couldn't hold onto the speed of the top women.




Jared Graves is here at Sea Otter with one bike the Camber. The 29 inch trail bike is being customized to suit each event but he is riding the same frame. For slalom Jared had 27.5 wheels put on left the 140mm 29 fork up front had a SRAM X01 DH cassette derailleur put on and there is a custom Ohlins rear shock tweaked to fit on the Camber frame. He was finding th front to be a touch on the high side but it wasn t enough to bother him to change it.

Jared Graves – Specialized Camber (minified)

Jared Graves is here at Sea Otter with one bike—the Camber. The 29" inch trail bike is being customized to suit each event, but he is riding the same frame. For slalom, Jared had 27.5" wheels put on, left the 140mm 29" fork up front, had a SRAM X01 DH cassette/derailleur put on, and there is a custom Ohlins rear shock, tweaked to fit on the Camber frame. Jared was finding the front to be a touch on the high side, but it wasn't enough to bother him to change it.




Bernard Kerr was riding the Pivot Switchblade. The 135mm bike can be changed between 29 and 27.5 but Bernard was running regular 27.5 which we guess would lower the bike up to another 6mm. He was also running Shimano Di2.

Bernard Kerr – Pivot Switchblade 27.5 Plus-Minus

Bernard Kerr was riding the Pivot Switchblade. The 135mm bike can be changed between 29 and 27.5+, but Bernard was running regular 27.5, which we guesstimate would lower the bike up to another ~6mm. He was also running Shimano Di2, in addition to his usual mix of Reynolds carbon wheels and Fox suspension.




Bryn Atkinson was ripping about on his Norco Optic 7. The frame was a size medium 120mm rear 130mm front.

Bryn Atkinson – Norco Optic 7

Bryn Atkinson was ripping about on his Norco Optic 7. He was also one of the few to ride his trail bike as is, though does have the option to select a shorter travel bike from his stable. The frame was a size medium, and the Optic has 120mm of travel in the rear, and 130mm up front.




Cody Kelly was riding something special. He had the Yeti SB45c s 29 wheels replaced with 27.5 wheels and the 130mm 29 was swapped with a 140mm 27.5 fork. He stuck with same size large that he normally rides.

Cody Kelly – Yeti SB4.425c

Cody Kelly was looking set to put on a show after qualifying in second behind Ropelato. Unfortunately, he looked to have a little trouble when the racing began, with two consecutive runs that contained some mistakes. He did have one of the more customized rides of the field, though. Cody's Yeti SB4.5c's 29" wheels were replaced with the smaller 27.5" wheels and his 130mm 29" fork was swapped with of the 140mm 27.5" variety. However, he did stick with the same size large frame that he normally rides.




Iago Garay and his Santa Cruz 5010cc

Iago Garay – Santa Cruz 5010cc

Iago is beginning to form a bit of a habit of showing up in these checks on borrowed bikes. This time, team manager and Santa Cruz bikes Doer-of-things, Allan Cooke. Minus the DH cassette and lack of dropper, the bike is the regular trail bike and Iago hadn't done much in the way of special customizations for the race.




Kyle Warner snuck in to the main event by qualifying in the final position. He was riding his Marin Hawk Hill in a size medium. He changes between a medium and a large depending on the trails he s riding. The bike has 135mm of travel and Kyle is a big fan of it.

Kyle Warner – Marin Hawk Hill

Kyle Warner just scraped into the main event by qualifying in the final position spot. He was riding his Marin Hawk Hill in a size medium. Kyle noted that he changes between a medium and a large depending on the trails he's riding. The bike has 135mm of travel and Kyle is a big fan of it. Up front, he was running an SR Suntour Auron and during practice was pushing his WTB tires into drifts through all of the flat corners on the lower portion of the course as he looked to find where the limits of traction were.




Rachel Strait and her GT Sensor. Rachel ran the same exact bike that she raced the enduro on and didn t make any changes to the setup.

Rachel Strait – GT Sensor

Rachel Strait was riding her regular GT Sensor. It's the exact bike that she raced the enduro on and she didn't make any changes to the setup at all.




Peaty had a crack at slalom but unfortunately we didn t get to see the legend in the main event with him unable to make the cut. He was riding the Santa Cruz 5010 with the usual mix of Fox suspension Enve wheels and Shimano drivetrain and brakes.

Steve Peat – Santa Cruz 5010cc

Peaty had a crack at slalom, but unfortunately, we didn't get to see the legend in the main event with him unable to make the cut. He was riding the Santa Cruz 5010 with the usual mix of Fox suspension, Enve wheels, and Shimano drivetrain and brakes.




Martin S derstr m didn t make it to the main event but he had a good time regardless. He was riding the Specialized Enduro SX fitted with some carbon hoops and running gear from Rockshox and SRAM.

Martin Söderström – Specialized Enduro SX

Martin Söderström was another rider that we would have liked to see in the main event, but it wasn't his day. Despite not making the cut to the round of 16 he was still in high spirits. He was riding the Specialized Enduro SX, fitted with some Novatec Factor carbon hoops and running gear from Rockshox and SRAM.


46 Comments

  • + 71
 26 ain't dead! Yeahhhh
  • - 52
flag FuzzyL (Apr 23, 2017 at 0:09) (Below Threshold)
 As long as you don't want to win anything, 26 is still alright ;-)
  • + 54
 @FuzzyL: I heard Semenuk disagrees.
  • + 11
 @kanioni: if it is about speed not tricks then 26 is not the best choice, if it is about stylsh spins and hard landings then 26 ftw. Why not to choose best tool for the job?
  • + 12
 @b-wicked: DS is all about acceleration and agility, I am surprised that nobody uses 24". Not much difference between DS and BMX racing. Wink
  • + 18
 @FuzzyL: Josh Brycelands 1st win was on a 26" bike against a horde of 27.5's!

You can still win on a 26" but newer stuff does give you an edge. Nevermind that the better edge on acceleration and manoeuvrability of the 26" makes it the best choice for slalom.
  • + 5
 @BDKR: josh almost became double world champ when riding most of season on 26.. he switched that year cause of sponsor pressure I would say...
  • + 21
 If I see another 29er frame fit with 27,5 wheels my head will explode, all of these brands making so many different bikes, and then pros jst changing things around, and lets face it, if it didn´t work, they wouldnt do it!!!!
  • + 7
 I think it is to lower the bb.
  • + 6
 @Trailstunter: Yes, it is an easy way to lower your BB height. I am contemplating running 26" on a 27.5" frame for that reason. Running a 29er fork will also slacken your head angle, and give you a different feel with the different fork trail. Nothing wrong with trying to find what works for you, experimenting is half the fun!
  • + 2
 I almost bought a switch blade to throw my i9 downhill wheels onto and make a sweet bike. But people kept saying it would mess up the bike and make it hit everything.. if I had a taco guard and a sense of what Im doing it would probably be okay? Or am I missing something?
  • + 4
 @chillrider199:
Just make calculations ????
  • + 1
 @stefanfresh then don't buy it, experiment like the pros (and many other "enthusiasts" do). You should have this figured out already - people like to go pick something off a shelf and it be just the way they want, or the way they think they want it. They sell $80k Ford Raptors because not everyone wants to build their own. Additionally, this gives the buyer some security as he or she is getting a pre-built, well tested set up that benefits from large-scale purchasing and assembly (i.e. mass production and OEM spec). Why does anyone buy a complete bike? For the same reasons.
  • + 1
 Yup, take away here is that the days of cool creations for DS are over. Heck, only one shortened travel bike, & the Specialized SX Martin rode is something they came up with 3 or 4 years ago.
  • + 1
 @trialsracer: I never said anything about buying, I just said that it's a little off putting, that´s all!!!
  • + 20
 Cody Kelly looks like a flat chested chick
  • + 17
 F'king love that sanded look...
  • - 6
flag chillrider199 (Apr 23, 2017 at 7:41) (Below Threshold)
 Sanded look?
  • + 3
 would be cool as a production colour for 2018
  • + 12
 Nice to see some 26" bikes here.
  • + 10
 Mitch is on 5010 [solo], not Bronson. Same as Peaty and Iago
  • + 7
 Thanks for the catch. Updated.
  • + 5
 I'm confused... why those guys choose small wheels? Everybody knows that 29ers are fastest bikes out there, the new school, super progressive geo makes them faster and playful.

I suggest Pro riders to read pinkbike forums. Maybe they can learn something about bikes
  • + 6
 iago's bike has a dh cassette on the back & no dropper post so not quite a regular trail bike
  • + 14
 Well, in terms of changing wheelsizes and suspension, like the others were doing, it's pretty standard.
  • + 2
 I think the Norco Optic 7 with a chrome frame is the best. Though I wish they made a more slalom specific 26" version. Though it looks like you could get away with 26" wheels given the current suspension setting. I'd love to try it out.
  • + 6
 Where's Buchanan and her bike?
  • + 2
 Mitch on a santa cruz but still running specialized roval wheels and spec tires? Glad to see he still has a relationship with them.
  • + 4
 Maybe using some leftover parts for a last minute build...
  • + 4
 Yo Justin! Ropo has retained official support from specialized for wheels, tires and shoes.
  • + 3
 @jason745: Knowing that Specialized has been trying to grow Roval as a brand, this makes sense...
  • + 3
 The big DS bikes are ugly... I think the slalom rigs from the late 90's looked better, like little flat track moto bicycles.
  • + 1
 "Nothing special was done to his bike for the slalom" - apart from having the life ridden out of it.
  • + 1
 Does anyone know where I can get wheel decals like Kerrs? My ugly reynolds decals clash with my frame.
  • + 1
 Norco Rampage jest najlepsze Big Grin
  • + 1
 That camber that graves is riding looks like a fast fun bike.!!
  • - 1
 Well they killed dual slalom riding those bikes RIP what happened to slope bikes only
  • - 1
 Maybe Martin has spent too much time on his eBike....
  • + 3
 It's crazy how used to seeing 27.5 and 29ers I am that the 26" bikes look like bmx now
  • + 2
 @dro-cfr: totally! Martin's bike in particular looks small as. Crazy.
  • - 3
 It's shit that Graves isn't riding Yeti anymore....
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