What we saw, learned and experienced at the Sea Otter this year
The Sea Otter’s Pro Men’s and Pro Women’s Cross-Country races both started before 7:45 a.m. on Sunday morning. It wasn’t ideal for spectators, but the action was still good.
In the age of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, mountain bikers have grown used to finding out about events the same day they happen. If you have time to be at the event, or sit glued to your computer for three or four days, you can find out a lot about what happened at an event.
ProTaper launched this cool new handlebar and grip combo for junior riders called the J-Unit. The bar tapers down to the appropriate size for kids and features a sleeve next to the grip so regular-sized brakes can be used.
Of course, that’s not always possible to do. Even if you’re at an event like this year’s Seat Otter Classic in Monterey, California, it’s always possible to miss something you wish you’d seen.
Marzocchi once dominated the market with the classic fork seen on the lower right side. Today, Marzocchi plans to earn back its diehard fans with the help of Fox behind them. The Z2 is an all-new fork that we will be testing in a future issue.
The MBA staff spent several days at this year’s Sea Otter, then rushed back home to Southern California to post some updates on the Sea Otter on our website while we put the finishing touches on another issue of our magazine that was just heading to the printer.
America’s Walker Shaw was the surprise winner of the Pro Men’s Downhill this year. The Santa Cruz-mounted rider beat the three stars of the Santa Cruz Syndicate—younger brother Luca Shaw, Loris Vergier and Greg Minnaar (who finished 12th, 11th and 14th)—as well as everybody else.
Now that we’ve had some time to digest our experience of this year’s Sea Otter, we thought it would be fun to take a look at the people and things that caught our attention there.
Funn MTB showed off their components, including these flat pedals, which are offered in a variety of colors.
With the annual Interbike show having been canceled for this coming September, much of the bike industry took the chance to get together at the Sea Otter to display their latest products, see their friends and usher in a new racing season.
Below, you’ll see some of the people, products and events that impressed us this year.
Cody Kelley (in red) and Joey Foresta (in blue) put on one of the better dual-slalom battles of the weekend in this practice round. Though they were two of the favorites, neither made it past the round of eight.
Impala MIPS is a brand-new helmet from Lazer that’s said to provide increased safety and comfort. The helmet features an action camera mount, an adjustable visor and a place for goggle storage. Additionally, this helmet features three sizes, with the size small weighing in around 295 grams.
Luca Shaw, a Santa Cruz Syndicate downhill racer, tossed swag from the rooftop of the Fox rig. The crowd roared with anticipation in hopes of snagging free gear.
Youn Deniaud of the Factory Giant Off-Road team (right) popped out of his clips, nearly crashing during the Pro Dual Slalom race. Nikolas Nestoroff (left) took full advantage of Youn’s mistake, advancing to the next round. Nestoroff went on to finish second, right behind Mitch Ropelato, the three-peat champion of the event.
Leatt showed off their newly released Velocity 6.5 goggles. We spoke with Leatt, and they showed us a lens that had been shot with a .22-caliber bullet. To our surprise, the lens was able to stop the bullet from breaking through; however, good luck getting the wrecking crew to stand in for that round of testing.
RSD (Rubber Side Down) introduced the Middlechild trail hardtail with a new titanium frame. The frame is painted black with laser cut-out logos, which expose the raw titanium underneath.
The legendary Tinker Juarez was roaming the pits when he wasn’t annihilating his fellow Masters racers on the Otter’s cross-country course.
Rotor had their 1×13 drivetrain on display in their expo area.
This little Commencal is the bike we dreamed of as kids. If you want to supply your young shredder with a sweet ride, this is the bike for them.
Jill Kintner (center) reigned supreme in both the Pro Women’s Downhill and Dual Slalom battles. The top five riders in women’s downhill all made the quarterfinals (the top eight) in dual slalom. These women go fast whatever bikes they ride.
The legendary Cedric Gracia happily showed off his new USWE Protector hydration pack.
Keegan Swenson was leading the Pro Men in Sunday morning’s XC race at the halfway point, but Simon Andreassen was right behind him, ready to pass him when the time was right and score the win.
Three-time downhill world champion Greg Minnaar showed off his impressive jumping skills in this year’s downhill race but finished well off the podium. The top riders in the Otter downhill usually run shorter-travel bikes instead of downhillers because of the pedaling required.
(Left to Right) Greg Minnaar, Luca Shaw and Loris Vergier met with their fans in the Santa Cruz tent when they weren’t racing.
Steve Walton (left) and the legendary Steve Peat (right) drop into the Sea Otter’s dual slalom course on Saturday afternoon. Peaty, soon to turn 44, came out of retirement and showed that he’s still fast enough to race against the top riders in the sport.
Guerrilla Gravity is a Denver, Coloradobased company that proudly designs and manufactures carbon frames in their Denver office. The bike shown here offered some unique features, including a Geoadjust headset, a Crush or Plush Flip Chip and an integrated external cable routing.
America’s 2018 UCI world champion Kate Courtney had a slightly disapointing weekend. She took third in Thursday’s Pro Women’s XC event and placed second in Sunday’s, losing both to former world champion Annika Langvad.
Revel Bikes is a new company privately owned by riders with the goal of making drool-worthy full-suspension mountain bikes. The bike shown here is the Rail, offering 27.5-inch wheels and 165mm of travel. Up front is a 170mm-travel fork. Three build kits are available ranging in price from $5000–$8700.
Spank Industries showed a beautiful assortment of pedals, stems and rims in the expo area.
Denmark’s Annika Langvad celebrated her second win of the Elite Women’s two cross-country races on Sunday morning.
Mitch Ropelato is a force to be reckoned with in the Sea Otter Classic Dual Slalom race. The Santa Cruz-backed rider racked up his third win in a row this year.
Christopher Blevins won the first Pro Men’s Cross-Country race on Thursday and took second on Sunday. Barring any surprises, he could be America’s top male cross-country rider for the next 10 years.
Greg Minnaar raced dual slalom at the Sea Otter this year, and although he got knocked out in the round of 16, he still looked impressive.
Danny MacAskill high-fives his fans at the end of one of his shows. Danny put on multiple shows at the Magura area, even doing backflips for the crowd.
Sunday’s cross-country races gave the pro riders a chance to experience the beauty of the hills outside the pit area, as the riders did an out-and-back loop of over 20 miles in the single-lap race.
Mitch Ropelato (left), Keith DeFiebre (center) and Jill Kintner (right) celebrated another great year of dual slalom racing at the Otter. Keith is the man who builds the legendary course each year. Ropelato won the race for the third year in a row. Jill won for her ninth time.
Denmark’s Simon Andreassen (left) and Annika Langvad (right) won the cross-country finals on Sunday in the Pro class. While Annika was clearly the most consistent rider of the weekend in the women’s XC ranks (with two wins), American Christopher Blevins was the top rider among the Pro Men.
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