Video: Why You Should Give A SH!T About Bike Festivals Like Sea Otter

Apr 9, 2024 at 17:00
by Christina Chappetta  


If you aren’t familiar with the Sea Otter Classic, well it’s much different to an indoor European biking tradeshow, a World Cup racing weekend or even Crankworx mountain bike festival, in that it encompasses nearly ALL of the biking disciplines, including road cycling, enduro, downhill, dual slalom, XC, trials riding and more. I always say biking is for everyone and when you walk, or ride, into the Laguna Seca Raceway, you’ll see exactly that.

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Looking down into the sea of tents that is the Expo Center. It's important for brands to show up and represent at one of the biggest biking trade shows there is.

With roots dating back to 1991, the Sea Otter Classic is one of the biggest biking events and tradeshows each year and brings together all sides of the biking industry from athletes to brands, spectators and consumers. Taking place in April in the sunny hills of Monterey, California, that means this event really feels like the official start to the biking season in North America. Aside from the video above, here are a few captures from the event over the years as I got fully stuck in during this trip down memory lane.

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Who doesn't recall the florescent craze of the 2015 era?!
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Brian Lopes, back in 2014 with his Intense tracer, and many other professional athletes love this opportunity to get on fresh equipment.

As Sea Otter takes place in early spring, it’s usually one of the very first events athletes can compete at and see how their off-season training has been going while lining up against amateur and professional racers. Riders come from all over the world to compete in the many disciplines that Sea Otter caters to. The podiums at Sea Otter have featured many of the best to ever compete. If you’ve seen a rider atop at a world cup, they’ve probably given these courses a go at some point.

Gwin full gas.
Aaron Gwin, fully donning the stars and stripes at Sea Otter 2015. He went on to win the DH...on his trail bike.

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Jill Kintner has put in some serious time on the various race tracks over the years. Here she is racing Dual Slalom in 2015 where she won, again.
Winner winner chicken dinner.
That same year, Martin Maes won the Dual Slalom, proving he can do it ALL on a bike from enduro to downhill and everything in between.

photo
What a fun match up! Mitch Ropelato and pal, Cam Zink, going head to head on the DS course. Style for miles.

If you consider yourself a biking connoisseur, then you’ll likely enjoy wandering the pits, checking out all the latest and greatest products. Sea Otter is often a time where new, or just quirky, items are seen for the first time in person.

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Still a crowd favorite, the MRP AMg guide and bashguard from a round up article in 2015.
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I can't recall exactly when the GINORMOUS eyewear really took off and I'm not complaining because I love them, but these Oakley Flight Jackets from 2018 were quite "eye-catching" at the time. .

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The Fox Float X2 became available to the public in 2015 and finally consumers could see it in person. No doubt there will be a LOT of new suspension to check out this time around.

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Now that's a bike! I can't recall the year but it looks more like something an AI generator would come up with today.
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And then there's this little beauty Sarah Moore spotted in 2019. Shout out Sette that was the brand of my first ever, new, downhill bike in 2012. Don't see many of those around!.

It’s almost like an event within an event. There is the racing, the “festival grounds” and to top it off, camping on site! While Sea Otter is not the biggest trade show on the planet or the most prestigious racing, it’s an event that tries to offer something for everyone.

Race day heat had riders hiding in every patch of available shade.
A recurring theme at Sea Otter, huddling for shade and hiding from the heat of the day whether on the race tracks or walking the pits.

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Thankfully there are plenty of "snack" booths...read energy and nutrition...along with brands serving up morning coffees.
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And other beverages... Brands will really do anything to reel you into their booth and honestly, you do get parched out there!

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Truthfully, it was really hard to pick photos for this article because there were so many fun, old ones. But I mean come on! I had to include this one of Jackson Goldstone from 2014.

Many thanks to Anneke Beerten, Cody Kelley, and Adam Craig for the input on this video. This year, Pinkbike is headed back to the warm and sunburn-inducing raceway to be part of the Sea Otter Classic yet again so keep you eyes on the homepage for the countless articles coming up. Thanks for watching and reading along as I took a trip down memory lane! Hope you enjoyed and if you see any of the Pinkbike crew out there, wandering aimlessly in the expo center, getting sunburnt on the sidelines, or seeking shade... please say hello!

What Are You Looking Forward To From The Sea Otter Classic?








Author Info:
christinachappetta avatar

Member since Jul 6, 2012
34 articles

142 Comments
  • 168 12
 I don’t give a shit about anything.
  • 11 1
 But Mountain Biking...
  • 68 0
 "Ve believes in nossing, Lebowski. Nossing. And tomorrow ve come back and ve cut off your chonson."
  • 13 0
 @Lanebobane: sounds exhausting
  • 11 0
 For me, it's been 3,553 days since I last gave a shit.
  • 22 0
 For me, it's been 3.5 days since I last took a shit.
  • 20 0
 @carlitouk: 3 more days til you should see a doctor
  • 6 0
 "these men are nihilists"... Walter Sobchak
  • 5 0
 Who are these people that picked anything other than dual slalom?? I want names!
  • 3 0
 Constipation?
  • 4 0
 I'm here now, but I gotta say it's pronounced Laguna Sayka not Secca. We do forgive you, Christina.
  • 1 2
 I can give shit but I don't take any shit.
  • 66 0
 What about the year Tom Bradshaw raced every event on a single bike while still being the life of the party?
  • 8 4
 You mean the thing brought up and discussed early in the video?
  • 11 0
 Toms commitment to a bit was always next level
  • 67 0
 @blanshard16 bloody good time, but I'm still recovering....
  • 7 1
 @pmhobson: I read and look at the pictures but since auto play it is rare I watch a video, just a race to pause it and review pictures. the solid videos of riding almost never auto play. I figure if you have to "force" me to watch it it's probably not worth it.
  • 8 0
 What about that time Tom Bradshaw (insert anything) and was the life of the party?
  • 2 0
 @pmhobson: There was a video??
  • 1 0
 @axelsand5: same. The title got my back up too. Nearly didn't click at all.
  • 1 0
 Spencer Rathkamp is doing the same on the new Epic Evo. I am not sure if he is doing the E bike race though.
  • 65 6
 People who get to go to Sea Otter care about Sea Otter. To the vast majority of us, it's just an event that's not relevant to our lives.
  • 14 6
 You should take our word for it and plan to travel in to the event next year. (or this year if theres time!) Its worth it if you're interested in biking, outdoors, anything exercise related, or just being around like-minded people. Its a fun time.
  • 7 3
 @gserrato: true but if you're going to travel as a spectator, just go to Crankworx instead. If you want to race, go to 24 Hours of Old Pueblo or BC Bike Race or whatever floats your boat.

Sea Otter is a trade show with racing in the background. With the lack of Interbike, it's the de facto meeting spot for dealers, industry reps, media, team owners, racers, etc.

Plus it's always a fun time for industry folks to catch poison ivy riding in the Santa Cruz campus forest.
  • 29 1
 @gserrato: or just go mountain biking if "you're interested in biking, outdoors, anything exercise related, or just being around like-minded people. Its a fun time."
  • 5 1
 SeaOtter is one of my least favorite bike events I've ever been to. If it's convenient, then cool, but if you're traveling, then I'd head elsewhere.
  • 15 0
 @GTscoob: It's poison oak.
  • 2 1
 @BornOnTwo: You can do that at Sea otter too!
  • 2 0
 @GTscoob: we don’t have poison ivy in SC lol. Poison oak is around though. Don’t come here. Poison oak will get you.
  • 3 0
 @onemanarmy: HAHA The 'Euro Surprise' is in full bloom this tear, too!
  • 1 1
 @GTscoob: if I was going to a show I'd go to MADE. The coverage from that show was the definition of bike porn.
  • 2 0
 @mkul7r4: That show rips.
  • 36 1
 I'm probably alone in this, but bring back flourescent bikes please.
  • 22 2
 you're not. the matte olive/slate/rose/tan craze has been god awful. i've been awaiting the comeback of wild TLD shit (and others) that get us back to the old D3 schemes and the clothes and bikes to go with it.
  • 6 0
 My first mountain bike was an old Huffy. It was white with neon yellow splatter. I miss that bike!!
  • 7 0
 @Sweatypants: I'm waiting on the 2016-2017 Santa Cruz colors to come around again! That Miami Vice Bronson...
  • 1 0
 Wish Specialized would bring back the Mardi Gras colors they had on their 09 Stumpjumper.
  • 4 0
 @islandtrader: what happened to the Ole Huffy Toss at events. Does it still exist! Ha Those were the days!
  • 4 0
 The colors of bikes these days are so boring
  • 1 0
 I am with you on that, I miss the wild TLD colors and still have my 2016 Scott Genius 900 tuned that is FLOW green with orange on it.
  • 2 0
 @Sweatypants: Marketing teams need to drop some acid and give us psychedelic colorways
  • 1 0
 @kylar: You mean Nomad?!? The blue and pink one? I loved that bike. If they made a new nomad that color I’d have no choice but to buy!
  • 2 0
 @mkul7r4: whatever gets them there. fist fulls of peyote? remember Sam Hill's old D3? and Palmer's? the whole line up from like 2010 to 2014. Even that blue/white D2 with all the crazy images on it that had a matching jersey... man...
  • 27 0
 "The Fox Float X2 became available to the public in 2015 and finally consumers could see it in person."

But could they hear the squish?
  • 8 1
 Nah, it's hard to hear the squishing over an exploding aircan
  • 20 2
 This event has zero relevance to me. It doesn't have any impact on my riding at all.
  • 17 0
 At least Sea Otter is more than just Social Media Influencers filming each other
  • 19 4
 I’m bummed they made the booth price so high, pushing out the smaller lesser known brands.
  • 4 17
flag singletrackslayer (Apr 17, 2024 at 9:29) (Below Threshold)
 It's a business expense, ain't it, tax deductible?
  • 35 0
 @singletrackslayer: Tax deductible does not mean free money. It just means you pay a little less money when taxes are due. You still need to front the money.
  • 78 2
 @wpplayer18:

Kramer : It's just a write off for them .

Jerry : How is it a write off ?

Kramer : They just write it off .

Jerry : Write it off what ?

Kramer : Jerry all these big companies they write off everything

Jerry : You don't even know what a write off is .

Kramer : Do you ?

Jerry : No . I don't .

Kramer : But they do and they are the ones writing it off .

Jerry : I wish I just had the last twenty seconds of my life back .
  • 10 2
 @singletrackslayer: it can’t be written off if the company doesn’t have the money.

I work for Mike’s Bikes and even at their size it didn’t make sense to pay the entry fee for the smallest booth in the corner.
  • 16 0
 It's the reason we don't go anymore. Fly across the country, hotels, rental car, expenses, shipping product, etc. All to have the media outlets not even respond to requests, blown off promises, articles that don't happen. It's a major expense for small companies to get nothing in return. But the media will bend over backwards to do a write up about a product everyone already knows about.
  • 3 4
 @ethanrevitch: PON owns Mike's Bikes. They could be there if they wanted.

Santa Cruz always has a huge booth. I'm sure One Up will be there showing off the new dropper post and products, same with GT, Cannondale, etc.
  • 7 0
 @GTscoob: Santa Cruz does not have a booth and I don't think they have for a few years now.
  • 1 2
 @onemanarmy: aww dang, always used to score free beers behind their booth after meetings with their team. But I haven't been in a few years.
  • 3 0
 @GTscoob: They were always a stop for me too. Love their booth. Love their staff. Love the Shimano guys too. They usually have some good coffee in their booth. Coffee Shimano. Breakfast with Bell. Beers with SC and Fox. LOL!
  • 1 2
 @wpplayer18: But the OP is in a bind: isn't the point of being there to become a known brand? If that's not worth the expense, then maybe starting a business isn't to be.
  • 3 0
 @singletrackslayer: Fair point, but I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say you shouldn’t start a business just because you can’t afford to go to Sea Otter. Starting a company is expensive!
  • 1 0
 @everythingsucks:

George: Meh, I don't give a shit!
  • 2 0
 @singletrackslayer: It's called a write off. That's what Kramer is referring to Wink LOL
  • 2 0
 @everythingsucks: there is always a Seinfeld reference for every situation in life...
  • 8 0
 Sea Otter is so much fun, especially the heyday around 2010 when pretty much all the top World Cup riders were still going. The trade show is also less relevant than it once was but it’s still more than worth the trip! I always loved getting sunburned in Monterey
  • 7 0
 If anything the trade show is MORE relevant than it was before. In 2010 you still had a very active Eurobike and you still had Interbike. Those where where and when companies launched product. Now Sea Otter is when major products are launched. Look at the launches we've seen in the last 10 days. This is the event that much of the industry revolves around now.
  • 3 0
 @onemanarmy: what's a major product that was launched at Sea Otter recently? I'm not questioning you I just can't remember any. It seems like independent launches are the norm now and the Sea Otter Expo is just that, an Expo. I can't remember anything recent as exciting as the Carbon Demo launch in 2012 for instance
  • 5 1
 @chrisclifford: You haven't been paying attention. Do you not see all of the product launches happening right now? It's not so much AT Sea Otter it's AROUND Sea Otter.

Go back and look at product launches the past 5 years on pinkbike or any other online portal. You'll see primarily the dates are often in April.
  • 3 0
 @onemanarmy: Yeah, lot's of launches in April even from brands that aren't at Sea Otter. It's the beginning of the season so it kind of makes sense. Maybe I'm just nostalgic for the days when I lived nearby and went every year
  • 1 1
 @onemanarmy: the question is: why do company go to Sea Otter if they overflow the news the weeks before, all at the same time? Quite stupid actually, battling for attention in the same days, all together.
  • 1 0
 I always enjoyed those few years when Sanjay sent his pixie bikes to the F'n moon off the massive barely-legal kicker in the evening. IYKYK
  • 9 0
 There’s one party a year I don’t want to miss and it’s on the hill watching pro dual slalom on Saturday afternoon. I will be drinking bubbly waters with reckless abandon
  • 2 0
 Careful out there, pal. Lest you become overly bloated.
  • 12 1
 Still don’t give a shit
  • 4 0
 me either
  • 9 3
 History and nostalgia will keep it there but it should move to a cooler location that has better trails and is welcoming of Mtb and new progressive building that highlights the massive improvements in bike tech.
  • 2 1
 Be interesting to do it in North Carolina or Bend or even Tahoe. Wonder if moving it back and forth would help or hurt the event. This year it's here. Next year it's in North Carolina. Year after it's here. Just go back and forth.
  • 6 1
 I know the majority of Pinkbike doesn't care, but the kickoff of the Lifetime Grand Prix with the Fuego XC race is pretty exciting. IMO it's the most relevant racing of the whole weekend as it kicks off the most competitive US bike series happening these days.
  • 5 0
 What has changed in the 30+ years since the first Sea Otter is that "events" are now a big business profit center on their own.
  • 4 0
 Sea otter is not what it once was… That said, I am currently en route to the venue for a kickass 4 days of camping, racing, and general debauchery and I couldn’t be happier!
  • 6 0
 "Why You Should Give A SH!T About Bike Festivals Like Sea Otter"
* Kona Bicycles has left the chat *
  • 6 2
 I'm most interested in the mass release of new bikes and new tech. C'mon Specialized - I know you have an Enduro to drop on us!
  • 1 2
 After last week I can’t see anything more coming…or can we?
  • 4 0
 @ethanrevitch: I think last week was a lot of brands dropping new models so as to not get "lost" during product releases planned for Sea Otter. At a minimum I've heard rumblings of new models from Specialized since they seem to be out of stock on sizing and no new colors for 2024 on some of their mountain bike models...
  • 2 0
 I'm excited for sure! The world needs a new shade of beige or maybe dark beige (brown). Wink
  • 2 0
 @KJP1230: true, a new Enduro is long overdue. I wouldn’t be surprised!
  • 1 0
 @ethanrevitch: don’t say that I haven’t sold my 2021 yet Wink
  • 7 1
 $60 for parking and $30 for admission? no thanks.
  • 1 0
 You're doing it all wrong!!! Parking is free and you can shuttle wristbands and smuggle booze.
  • 1 0
 Or register for one event at the earlybird price and get a 4 day pass ($100 'value') and some free Mexican food.
  • 2 0
 I had never been and read this comment before heading over yesterday. Thankfully you are wrong and parking is free
  • 2 0
 Are trade shows even a thing anymore? Some of the bug camera ones have stopped as no one wanted to unveil their latest and greatest only to have it trumped by their rival next door. I feel with zoom etc my work really has to justify sending us internationally once year for essentially just a catch up. I'll miss it, but the day of travel either side and events to fill the three days I won't.
  • 2 0
 Pinkbike, could you please confirm or deny this? Just surprised to find out about this on this way... You guys have the contacts to confirm it according to journalistic standards.
Thank you!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=COqr3TXtW40
  • 1 1
 wow pole bikes is done. Someone will pick up the brand
  • 6 0
 Looking forward to new product from Kona….
  • 2 0
 Might send them this video
  • 2 0
 Looks like they have a new gravel bike to add to the warehouse auction alongside the 26" process 165
  • 5 1
 Sea Otter is fine, but I wouldn't travel more than an hour for it...or pay to go to it.
  • 2 1
 Sea Otter is a favorite of mine. My only beef is how the camping is managed. It's expensive, and fills up fast so you need to commit the dates and spend about $400 in advance. That I can usually live with. What's annoying is that often times a 1/3 of the sites are unoccupied even though camping is sold out. There are lots of last minute folks (like me this year) who could enjoy the camping experience if camping reservations were actively managed.
  • 2 1
 Hop the fence?
  • 3 0
 "florescent craze of the 2015 era" Just upgraded my fluo pink bike (Commencal Meta HT 2014) with a green fluo fork from Suntour :-) Long live fluo!
  • 1 0
 And we wonder why cycling is so expensive, factor the cost of presenting manufacturers booths, travel and staff into the price of their products for and event that 75% of cycling, from any discipline, have no clue exists.
  • 2 0
 I raced DH and dual slalom a few times. The Dual Slalom is SO FUN! I was far from winning, but practicing and making it past 1 round was the highlight of my weekend.
  • 4 1
 I went to an event where all they did was burn gravel bikes. I will be attending next year too
  • 4 0
 Sounds like Kona is about to close its doors.
  • 2 0
 the slowest suicide of any bike brand.
  • 1 0
 Bonus points for the Adam Craig story, but you lose a bunch of points for not talking about Sanjay doing the dirt jump contest on a beach cruiser www.mtbr.com/attachments/p1010042-jpg.12467
  • 8 5
 Hopefully, they bring back the wet T-shirt contest!
  • 4 0
 Only if there is a ebike division
  • 1 0
 @29er1: That's brutal. Wouldn't they get electrocuted?
  • 3 0
 Please feature slalom and dh bikes.
  • 1 0
 especially tandem versions
  • 3 0
 Pinkbike doesn't have a booth this year
  • 1 0
 no way. a booth is like 6000
  • 1 0
 Great history on Sea Otter. Say hi to Paul Components. Chico brand that builds a bike every year for the event. Dont forget the sunscreen
  • 3 3
 I would attend if:

1) it’s located nearby
2) it’s free
3) lots of free quality swag
4) free eats and drinks

These criteria apply to any event , doesn’t have to be mountain biking.
  • 1 1
 The thing I look forward to is the ridiculous DH race and the lycra suits. Trade show are only interesting for pro riders and press. And now brands do separate release for new bikes
  • 1 0
 Generally, if you need to be told to care about something, it’s not for you anyway. If I’m not interested in bike shows I don’t need to be told to be interested.
  • 4 2
 I'd rather give a shit about pinkbike!
  • 8 0
 or not
  • 5 3
 Make PB Great Again
  • 2 0
 @naptime: Easyyyyy man, don’t get them riled up
  • 3 0
 Long live slalom
  • 2 0
 Pro tip: go the week before the festival when everything is tuned up
  • 1 0
 Been a couple of times. Great to race my bike a ton over a weekend, but that's it. I haven't been since the takeover.
  • 1 0
 Sounds like a fun demo weekend for consumers, a dealing room for the trade and a jolly for the media squids
  • 1 0
 Seeing all the other paracyclists is my favorite part, especially with para categories in the races, even the Fuego XL.
  • 1 0
 I think Sea Otter is quite the testament that the UCI needs to bring back DS..... on DIRT
  • 2 1
 How is DS nor most looked forward thing
  • 2 1
 Doggo's!!!!
  • 1 0
 Great advitorial but, why should I give a ahit
  • 1 0
 This show is great! Apart from the wind some years is nuts!
  • 1 0
 Other: How did the sink hole evolve?
  • 1 0
 Pole and Kona out of business....I definitely don't give a $hit
  • 2 1
 Sea Slaughter.
  • 1 0
 ...
  • 1 0
 Sea what?
  • 1 0
 Who saw an otter ?
  • 3 4
 We just wanna know who Daprela is riding for
  • 1 1
 He's on a Canyon, but racing as a privateer this season.
  • 1 3
 So we can look at Chinese plastic shit
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