It’s been a short six months since the 2021 Sea Otter in October after a COVID-19 pandemic delay. Six months ago attendance was lower than usual even amongst vendors. In contrast, the 2022 Sea Otter felt like pre-pandemic times, abuzz with participants and activity. Interbike was an industry-only event for companies to introduce new products and generate business with local bicycle shops. The last Interbike show was in 2017. Since then the Sea Otter festival is the event for new product introductions to the industry and consumers alike. We spent a day at the festival expo and here are a few things of interest we came across.
New Cannondale Topstone Gravel Bike
One of the bigger introductions at Sea Otter 2022 was the new Cannondale Topstone gravel bike. Just before Sea Otter 2022, Cannondale made an announcement and we were able to see the production bike at the expo. The redesign follows some clues from the redesigned Synapse road bike introduced last year and is quite different from the Supersix EVO we just reviewed.
The heart of the new Topstone is the redesigned carbon frame specific to 700C wheels with a King Pin rear suspension system. The King Pin suspension is based on flexion of the chainstays, seat post and seat tube with a bushing pivot where the low mount seatstays meet the downtube. Cannondale tells us all combined up to 30mm of travel will be realized at the saddle. The previous King Pin version used a bearing at the pivot point. The bushing proved to be more rigid and durable in Cannondale’s test and saved 100 grams in the process.
One version offered includes a lefty fork offering 30mm of active suspension called Oliver. I rode the first version of the Oliver on the Cannondale Slate in 2015, offering a real 30mm of travel with a 650B wheel. The new version is 700C with a more polished finish that has a carbon integrated crown and body, with a moving lower stanchion.
The same as other Lefty forks, the front brake caliper must be removed to remove the front wheel. This time, a caliper quick-release aids removal. There is a suspension lockout at the top of the crown with a large lever that has a resounding click to change modes.
Remarkably, Cannondale took the same approach with the new Topstone as with the new Synapse introduced last year. The bike has a standard BSA threaded bottom bracket. That is a 68mm wide bottom bracket shell with 1.37″ X 24 TPI. Also, the seat post is a standard 27.2mm diameter with a round cross-section, and a standard external aluminum seat collar secures the post. Adding to user-friendliness are tube-in-tube fully guided internal control line runs. This means no more fishing for cables or hoses when installing or changing cables.
Taking another step away from the proprietary component design that Cannondale pioneered years ago, the new Topstone abandons the Cannondale AI (asymmetric integration) design that shifted the drivetrain 6mm to the right. Now interchangeability among wheelsets is not the problem it was with the AI-specific rear wheel dish. Wheel hoarders rejoice!
Thankfully Cannondale kept the out front geometry with a long front center, long fork offset and relatively slack headtube angle I described in detail in the Supersix EVO CX review
Alternative to the Oliver Lefty version is a rigid fork version that includes Cannondale Smart Sense. The Smart Sense system includes integrated front and rear lights with a rear radar powered by a single battery attached to the downtube near the bottom bracket. The idea is to add safety and convenience. The system changes the light mode with a rear-approaching vehicle and integrates with a head unit to alert the rider. Only one battery needs to be charged for the whole system.
The two models shown are the RLE1 with SRAM AXS 2 X 12 and Smart Sense, and the Carbon 1 Lefty with SRAM AXS. Both are $7800. There are other builds with and without the Lefty Oliver fork for varying costs.
More info: cannondale.com
Industry Nine 1/1 UL Carbon Wheels
North Carolina wheel builders Industry Nine released a new wheelset based on their UL 250 carbon rim that has a 25mm internal width and a hookless profile. Industry Nine made its name with hubs manufactured entirely in-house and builds wheels entirely from U.S. sourced components. The rims come from U.S. partners based on Industry Nine’s specifications. The UL 250 rim is a proven performer, and a slight redesign from that used on one of our favorite wheelsets, the UL 240 TRA wheels. Unlike that high-end wheelset, this uses Industry Nine’s 1/1 hubs to reduce wheel cost. The 1/1 hubs are easier to manufacture and only come in black with center lock. The 1/1 UL wheels use 24 stainless steel 1.8-2.0-1.8 double-butted spokes in a standard X2 lace pattern.
This wheelset looks perfect for a lighter gravel setup. The claimed weight is 1440 grams and $1600 for the pair. It is available from Industry Nine and dealers now.
More info: Industrynine.com
American Classic Is Back in the Wheel game
The American Classic brand reintroduced itself to the cycling community at the 2021 Sea Otter with a new owner and a line of tires. They redid the entire tire line with a lighter but more protective nylon protection layer and a new rubber compound. Durability without weight increase was a goal of changing the rubber compound. With these two changes, it seems the goal was achieved, but we’ll see out on the roads and trails.
The tire price has increased slightly, but still, the entire line comes with a reasonable price range that’s lower than much of the competition, partly based on the direct-to-consumer sales via the American Classic website. A dealer network is in development.
Tire models did not change at all except a 35mm width was added to the Kimberlite road tire, and a brown sidewall color was added in addition to tan and black.
New is American Classic’s reentry to wheels with two rim models. The lower-cost Feldspar is 6061 aluminum with a pinned joint. The Aplite is a 6069 aluminum alloy with a welded joint that is lighter and stronger than the same Felspar extrusion. Both models are available in 6 different widths from 19mm to 35mm internal for 700C. The four wider widths are available for 650B. The rim depth varies with rim width. The rims are presently available OEM only, but consumer availability is coming soon.
As far as hubs and complete wheels go, we will wait and see.
More info: amclassic.com
Wolftooth Components: Always Something New
Wolftooth components introduced two new portable tools for road or trailside repair. The small keychain-sized 6-Bit Tool is based on the 8-Bit Pack Pliers but without the pliers or valve tools. Meant for ‘everyday carry’, the 6-bit Tool has an included keyring that detaches to unlock the hex bit storage. The socket head is a 6mm hex itself and pivots 90 degrees in either direction for access and torque. The 6-Bit Tool is 4 inches long, weighs 2.2 ounces and costs $40.
The Axle Handle Multi-Tool is a minimalist tool that stores inconspicuously on your bike’s through-axle. It has to be with a through-axle that uses a 6mm hex wrench to tighten. Wolftooth ideally recommends their through-axles since they have a special fitting with an o-ring to keep the tool securely in place until you need it. Trek/Bontrager uses a removable through-axle lever and this Wolftooth Axle Handle Multi-Tool would be a good fit to replace that if you own a Trek bicycle.
Friction alone holds the lever on other through axles, so it’s a matter of having a tight enough fit so you won’t lose your $30 tool (and lever) on the trail. The lever has a fixed-on stepped 5mm-6mm hex fitting, while a hollow on the inner side stores two extra bits.
The $30 Axle Handle Multi-tool comes with 4 bits and a fitting for the Wolftooth Components through axle. WolfTooth machines the lever from 6061 aluminum and it is available in eight colors.
More info: wolftoothcomponents.com
Italian helmet company Met sponsors the UAE Team Emirates ProTour team including Tadej Pogacar, twice winner of the Tour de France. So far in 2022 Pogacar has done quite well with the Spring Classics beginning with a remarkable win of the Strade Bianche. Also notable, 13-time Belgian National Cyclocross Champion Sanne Cant wears a Met helmet. Even with that high profile, Met helmets were unavailable in the U.S market.
Even if you wanted to be like your favorite pro, international dealers would not ship to the U.S. That has changed with Met’s partnership with QBP (Quality Bicycle Products). The helmets pass all CPSC and European bicycle helmet certifications. The 25-year-old company designs and manufactures the helmets in-house at headquarters in the Italian Alps.
Noteworthy is their top-end Trenta 3K Carbon. The use of carbon fiber in the shell lightens the helmet and allows the use of a lower-density EPS liner. Additionally, the MIPS 2 system offers the same rotational impact absorption with better ventilation.
We will have a couple of helmets to spotlight in the future.
More info: met-helmets.com
Hustle Bikes Labs Avery REMtech Pedal
Hustle Bike Labs has one product. The mountain biking founder Craig Payne wanted a secure but quickly releasing pedal after he could not release fast enough in a near-death mountain bike crash. The Avery REMtech pedals use Neodymium Rare Earth Magnets for shoe retention. The product introduced is a mountain bike flat pedal with magnetic retention, but speaking to the founder, other applications are on the way, perhaps a gravel-oriented model next.
The Avery pedal is a dual-sided flat pedal with twin magnets on each side. The flat pedal has removable pins with multiple holes to configure the grip pins to your liking. The shoe has a flat oval plate in place of a traditional 2 bolt cleat. The plate must be relatively flush with the sole to obtain a good magnetic bond. Payne said the combined magnetic force is 100 pounds per pedal, so retention is remarkably strong and the pedal attracts the shoe with proximity. The magnets have nothing for the sole to hang up on, so the release is a matter of applying enough force to overcome the magnetic attraction. The mountain bike pedal combines magnetic retention with the platform and pins, a good combination of retention and ease of exit. Magnets are not light, so that is a consideration regarding the application. This concept is not new, the magLOCK pedal and Magped are earlier attemps, but the Avery has stronger magnets than these previous magnetic pedals and an independently pivoting mount (similar to a Crankbrothers Mallet) for better retention, especially to sheer force, but still offers easy release.
Payne and I briefly discussed the need for a cyclocross rider with mud and sand at the interface and the need to be running for some sections. We did not conclude whether this would work or not, but this concept has certain possibilities. Bicycle commuting and indoor cycling are huge potential markets for the magnetic pedal. The innovation and this particular execution impress me.
more info: hustlebikelabs.com
Vielo: Different in a Sea of Carbon Bikes
It seemed every company had a carbon bike and a gravel bike to display at Sea Otter 2022. Vielo, a father and son team from the UK differentiates itself with bikes completely designed around a single chainring. Ian and Trevor Hughes have been in the bike industry for decades as distributors and are well aware of the ProTour team Aqua Blue debacle with 1X drivetrains in 2018. That was the ProTour mechanic’s nightmare with dropped chains and the need to change chainrings, chain lengths, as well as cassettes for each rider’s preference for each day’s stage.
That was then, and the Vielo is not for the ProTour rider. Without the need to think about a second chainring or a mounting system for a front derailleur, the chainring clearance is tighter and the tire clearance is wider with better chainstay symmetry. The +1 moniker is a nod to the 1x drivetrain and the idea that you always need another bike.
Control line routing in internal on Vielo frames. The R +1 road bike has control lines run entirely internal from the lever to the caliper, so the bike has an extraordinarily clean look. The V +1 uses a more standard approach with hydraulic lines entering via the downtube. Remarkable are versions of the R +1 road and V +1 gravel bikes that are wireless only. There is zero provision for a cable or wire to the rear derailleur. The R+1 road has only the exit of the brake hoses at the caliper.
Small aesthetic details have attention paid by Vielo. The paint of the V +1 Race fades from orange to pink with an array of V’s, 1’s, and pluses. There is a small stainless steel plate by the brake rotor to protect the paint when removing the wheel. I like that attention to detail.
more info: vielo.cc
Bianchi and Adam Myerson
I ran across Adam Myerson at the Bianchi tent. He had just finished the Circuit race in his new Bianchi kit. While Bianchi had no new bikes to introduce, Adam Myerson is new to Bianchi. He had capped his 2021-2022 cyclocross season with great results at the Resolution Crosscup Pan American Championship races with a 4th place in the Elite race on Saturday, followed by a win in the 50+ Masters race the very next day.
Myerson’s bike sponsorship from KindHuman ended after the season. That allowed Myerson to seek a new sponsor. He looked for a dedicated cyclocross race bike and identified the Bianchi Zolder Pro as one of the bikes that would suit him (Bianchi also markets the same frame as a gravel bike.)
Perhaps our previous Sea Otter coverage helped him with that search:
Fortuitously, an attendee at one of his CycleSmart training camps had a connection with Bianchi that led to the new sponsorship. It is a mutually beneficial relationship that allows Myerson to run his CycleSmart company and spend time with his family while racing on a great cyclocross machine that was good enough for Wout van Aert. Of course, Bianchi benefits from the notoriety Myerson brings to the brand with his influence in the sport.
Myerson will be racing the Paris to Ancaster 2022 gravel race 100k event. We’ll look forward to seeing him out there.
In the meanwhile, we will look forward to reviewing a Bianchi Inpulso E-AllRoad, an aluminum all-road and gravel-oriented bike with a 250-watt E-bikemotion hub motor.
This is a system Bianchi has used for its e-bikes since the introduction of the Aria E-Road bike in 2018
Remove the motor (by swapping the rear wheel) and battery, then the bike will lose the majority of the e-bike weight and perform like a “normal” bike.
More info: bianchiusa.com