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Sea Otter 2022 Coverage

What Gear was Actually New at Sea Otter?

Words Cam McRae
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date Apr 21, 2022
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We Are One Composites Ninja Launch

The first year We Are One came to Sea Otter, in a small, plain, out of the way tent, most of the world assumed they still had only one rim. When I went to see Dustin Adams to ask if he had anything new, he said something like, "we do actually." In fact We Are One had designed and built 6 new rims to follow the Union. There were no press releases and no grand product announcements. What is softer than a soft launch? A ninja launch? A shadow launch? I don't even remember if he had free beer. He did however have great product. At We Are One, marketing has always come a distant second to designing and manufacturing. That theme lives on today and WAO velvet-launched both a brand new and as-yet-unnamed rim and two new travel options for the Arrival frame: a 130 mm version and the eagerly anticipated 170 mm version.

The existence of these platforms wasn't news however. From the beginning WAO made it clear that the components of the Arrival 152 were designed specifically to be adaptable to both longer and shorter travel versions; the news was that it will soon be possible to purchase one. Or at least the parts to convert your existing Arrival 152 if you already own one.

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We Are One says this about the 170 vs. 152 version of the Arrival: " A rider should be able to transition between bikes seamlessly in terms of feel between travel with regards to the appropriate terrain. Essentially we extrapolated the kinematics from the 152mm bike to better fit with the larger travel. The Arrival has been considered a progressive bike with a good amount of mid stroke support thus riding higher in its travel in comparison. These attributes are continued in the 170mm travel bike."

Joe or Josie consumer can't purchase a complete bike or frame in the 170 or 130 mm travel versions just yet, but current Arrival owners can buy a frame or purchase the bits needed to convert the frame they already own to 130 or 170. Because both the 130 and 152 take a 185 mm trunion shock, this is the easiest swap. The shock needs a spacer to reduce travel to 50 mm from 55 and upper and lower links. To go from 152 to 170 requires a new shock and upper and lower links.

The ride of the two bikes is said to change in predictable ways; the 130 is more lively while the 170 pushes the sag to 30% versus the recommended 20% sag for the Arrival 152.

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Regarding the 130 version (170 pictured above) the company line was; "The 130 bike has a more lively and lighter feeling suspension platform allowing it to really dig into corners. The 130 bike provides a feel more along the lines of a trail bike with a slightly more pronounced pedal platform and an even more supportive feel throughout the curve to prevent extreme bottom outs. The links themselves are also lighter and have a bit more milling on the CNC to provide a slightly more flexible linkage, designed to match the terrain it is designed to face.

The new rim, which may be part of a line WAO will call Convergence, is quite radical looking. Each spoke hole is angled at 7.5 degrees towards alternating hub flanges. Specifically WAO told me; "Spoke nipples sit very close to perpendicular to the rim face evening out pressure on your nipple. This leads to a much stronger overall wheelbuild. We are seeing huge gains on spoke and nipple fatigue keeping the wheel build a lot stronger for longer. Going to this faced angle also allowed us to drop the depth down even further." Dustin Adams told me that testing indicates these may be up to 30% stronger than their already robust Union rims which are aimed at the enduro market. Beyond that WAO is using a new material that they tell us will also improve strength to weight ratio. Aside from revealing this material will come from a new supplier, everyone was mum about the new carbonium.

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Aside from the alternating spoke holes, angled at 7.5º toward the appropriate flange, the profile of the new rim is lower than previous We Are One rims in an effort to increase comfort through vertical compliance.

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Only the softest launches from We Are One.

The new rims are aimed at more than just sheer strength however, and in person it's clear that these are lower in profile than the Union and other WAO rims. The idea is to add some vertical compliance without sacrificing torsional rigidity so the wheels are more comfortable and less fatiguing over the course of your ride. At 17 mm, the new rims are 4 mm shallower in profile than what WAO currently produces. And they look pretty interesting as well.

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Like any mass gathering (January 6th?), Sea Otter attracts some characters, and of course California has more than its share. I'm not sure if whoever designed these shirts decided upon a 'man-boobs rather than pecs' presentation but they succeeded nonetheless. If these guys know this; respect. Rock on manboobs!

Reserve Fillmore Valves get Tweaked

Another soft discovery at Sea Otter 2022 was a new version of the Fillmore tubeless valve. The original version had much to recommend it with both high air flow and low clog features but some of us discovered an issue. Although it pumped up incredibly well with my floor pumps, inflation on the trail was a problem. With my favourite mini pump, the EDC from OneUp, I was unable to get a good seal. The first few strokes were okay but as the pressure increased it became clear that I was losing as much air as I was putting in. I tried this in my shop under more controlled cirumstances, attempted slightly different angles and did everything I could to make it work without success.

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The original Fillmore Valve (pictured) has a a recess and an unthreaded portion that makes inflation with some pumps (or at least OneUp's EDC pump) very difficult. Photos - Cam McRae

When I asked the Reserve Wheels department at Santa Cruz about this, I learned there was a new version of the valve that solved this issue. The original valve was engineered to accept a sealant injector. I wasn't clear if this was an existing product or something Reserve was developing, but this accommodation required a small recess and an unthreaded portion near the head of the valve. These elements made it difficult to get a seal with some pumps so Reserve did a "running change" and produced a second version. I believe all new Fillmore valves will be the new style that works with all pumps.

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The new Fillmore Valve has no recess and threads reach to the top of the outer cylinder of the valve.

If you, like me, have a pump that doesn't work with your Fillmore valves, Reserve will send you a new set. I am waiting on confirmation about how this will work, and what sort of proof of purchase is required and I will update this article once I have that information.

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The new (left) and the old (right) side by side. (thanks

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The 2022.5 Fillmore has yet to be recorded historically.

Small Stuff

Ripton and Co. is a small company making denim for those of us who take part in XXtreme sports. Their Jorts, which I have worn and which I love, are very stretchy and apparently quick drying, making them suitable for at least some riding. And they don't look dorky on mountain bikers, which is a feat worthy of our respect. The people I met from the company are really nice and friendly and the customer service is next level as well. I purchased a pair of joggers for my wife. She loved them but they were a little too big (in my defense, I bought XS which I assumed was the smallest size). She got in touch with customer service at Ripton to work on an exchange and they told her they would just send her a pair of XXS and to just pay forward the pair I bought for her. These are my kind of people!

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Ripton and Co's Jorts are soft and stretchy enough to ride in. I'm smitten with mine.

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These however, may not be ideal for aggressive mountain bike rides...

I came across 5DEV on instagram when a pair of their pedals showed up in my feed. I was interested right away. They looked cool and were manufactured domestically. They are clearly striking a chord with riders and their booth was jumping every time we went by. I hope to get some pedals to test eventually but it seems at this point they are too busy trying to keep up with demand to worry about media types.

There was a Gee Atherton sighting and we had a chance to talk to him and his long time team manager, business partner (etc.) Dan Brown, who is also the co-founder of Atherton Bikes. Because of the custom tube lengths Atherton can produce, they make their enduro bike in 22 sizes... If you can't get one to fit, it's likely not their fault. That's another bike we'd like to get our mitts on to test and we're planning to put that in motion.

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Gee was all smiles and looking healthy.

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His bikes look pretty great as well. They are particularly interesting for those who have a hard time finding a bike that fits.

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Cushcore's Beadbro was on display in action. I walked away with one and will be putting it to use shortly.

As we wandered around Sea Otter and I ran into acquaintances and friends from my 22 years in the media wing of the bike industry, we often ask each other if we've seen anything cool, new, or interesting. This year there weren't a lot of mind-blowing product releases or surprises but it felt like the best Sea Otter in ages to me because of all of those acquaintances and friends, and much of my time was spent catching up rather than chasing the newest widget.

This year, in spite the impolite nature of its namesake, Sea Otter was indeed a Classic.

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Comments

ThadTheRad
Jake Smith
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+6 Ryan Walters pedalhound Taiki DancingWithMyself domdb lewis collins

I'm usually a fan of leaving visible machining marks, it can look quite nice when done properly, but the toolmarks on those 5Dev pedals look horrible. Maybe it's just the oilslick finish, but if you are gonna have a machined surface finish, at least put in the effort to make sure your finishing passes look nice. If not, just toss that shit in the tumbler for a bit. I get that they are pedals and are going to get chewed up anyway, but it would be a nice detail to see, and if I were to see how prominent those toolmarks were after anodizing I would make immediate revisions to the toolpath

Reply

rwalters
Ryan Walters
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+3 cedrico domdb lewis collins

I actually made a comment about that, but erased it because I thought it was mean, haha!

Yeah, those are some bad machining marks - I can only hope these are pre-production prototypes. I'm sure these pedals won't be cheap either. 

And "space grade" 6061-T6?? Seriously guys, give it a break.

Reply

SteveR
SteveR
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Agreed! Sure, it's just a pedal thats going to get beat on, but that lack of attention to finishing detail raises questions in my mind about what we can't see.

Reply

swackerbat
swackerbat
3 months, 4 weeks ago
-1 lewis collins

This is a long winded way of saying. I ride composite pedals because they smooth lines match my smooth brain. :)

Reply

helpimabug
helpimabug
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+2 Cam McRae goose8

“stainless steel which they claim is 30% stronger than chromoly”

Tensile strength?  Yield strength?  Reminds me of some titanium spindles I’ve seen which claimed to be “stronger” than 4130 (they weren’t).

Reply

the-prophet
the prophet
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 4Runner1

Wait, what? A $400 dollar stem?

I was just waffling about getting a 35mm WAO stem to replace a 45mm for $125.....now I feel great about it! :)

Reply

xy9ine
Perry Schebel
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 cedrico

the WAO bar & stem combo is $400(cad), AND the stem is lighter (80g vs 110).

Reply

syncro
Mark
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

I was gonna mention the same thing. $400 USD for a stem is laughable.

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 4Runner1

I think that WAO bike could cure my carboniphobia.

Reply

xy9ine
Perry Schebel
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 4Runner1

SO dreamy

Reply

4Runner1
4Runner1
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Cam McRae

A $400 slide on stem that scratches your new Deity bars? Where can I get one? 

The new WAO rims are interesting. If my Unions ever need replacing they would be a no-brainer. Impressive if they really have improved ride feel, considering how good the Unions are already. My biggest hesitation with going carbon was ride feel. Turns out that I prefer the snappy character over alloy rims.

Reply

cerealkilla_
jdt
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Cam McRae

Need a few more valve pictures please

Reply

cornedbeef
cornedbeef
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Cam McRae

Some information on Reserve's patented sealant injection system - https://wheelbased.com/2021/03/17/inflation-system-for-tubeless-tires-by-santa-cruz/

Reply

stinhambo
Steven Hambleton
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

I wonder how these stack up against e*thirteen's Quick Fill Plasma Valve, and 76 Project's Hi-Flow valves?

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

The flow of Fillmore valves is the best I have experienced by quite a margin. I also had trouble with some pumps with the e*thirteen valves.

Reply

stinhambo
Steven Hambleton
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

You've tried the 76 Project ones too?

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
3 months, 2 weeks ago
0

I have not.

Reply

FlipFantasia
Todd Hellinga
3 months, 3 weeks ago
0

yeah the valves are the real deal, aside from the issue Deniz mentions which I've experienced on mine with one of my floor pumps, haven't had to use a handpump on the trail at this point. Glad to see the change as it is a bit frustrating on an otherwise stellar product.

Reply

DancingWithMyself
DancingWithMyself
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Cam McRae

That 5Dev stuff reminds me of early crankbrothers in that they seem to have spent an awful lot of time and energy focused on aesthetics.  Curious to hear some reviews and see what the durability is once a decent amount of product gets out in the marketplace.

Reply

rwalters
Ryan Walters
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

This comment has been removed.

craw
Cr4w
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Good thing the Athertons have a lot of hype behind them because their site leaves a lot to be desired information-wise. Is there any way to still buy a bike from Robot Bike Co. without the Atherton name on it?

Reply

xy9ine
Perry Schebel
3 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Cr4w

it's a curious enterprise. i can't imagine that business is at all profitable currently, nor scalable to any reasonable extent. i'm guessing they'll branch into conventionally manufactured (offshore) bikes at some point.

Reply

fartymarty
fartymarty
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

I read they're fine some Al frames

Reply

jt
JT
3 months, 4 weeks ago
0

If I remember right, no as RBC went under and sold the IP to the Athertons. One of the founders of RBC is onboard with Atherton. Memory could be fuzzy on the last bit however.

Reply

caspar-beronius-christensen
Caspar Beronius Christensen
3 months, 3 weeks ago
0

What rear shock is that on the WAO 170 ? LSC dial on the side ?

Reply

davidt93
David Tran
3 months, 2 weeks ago
0

The unreleased rockshox superdeluxe, also has HSC dial. Usually has a blackbox sticker on it

Reply

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