Yep, it’s Sea Otter time again. It’s the first big event of the year and so it has a two-fold importance in the bike industry. Due to its springtime date, it’s often the first time that many racers will have appeared, riding for their new sponsors, or in their new team kit – or on special new team bikes. And secondly, it’s often the place where manufacturers will launch new products that are due out immediately, or later in the year. The eagle-eyed can also spot prototype products that are being tested for NEXT product year (so, mindbogglingly that’s now 2011…)
So far, it’s been pretty quiet on the Thursday, the first day proper of the event, but the crowds usually swell on Friday and especially at the weekends (after all, we can’t all skive off a weekday to play bikes…)
There’s still plenty to see though and our cameras unearthed a few gems, with many more to come.
You come all the way to California and the first booth you get to is the Zedsport booth, who import Whyte, Orange and On One... You can't escape, eh?
The new colourways of the Whyte 19 carbon - red and green - both look stunning.
A new Grammo seatpost. A spring keeps the seat clamp open so that you just snap your saddle rails in place and a single bolt does up the post head. This was a 3D printout plastic prototype just last month.
Carbon spoked road wheels - there's a lot of them around. Here's a Grammo one.
This Grammo/Factor wheel has a full carbon hub shell, replaceable carbon spokes and even a carbon axle.
There's an awful lot of coloured anodising around. But how about some matching gold grips from ODI?
A pair of the new Manitou Dorado forks in the flesh
Scott Beaumont was fresh from the first UCI round in South Africa. Here he is showing off his custom Rocky Mountain 4X bike. XC forks, carbon Race Face NEXT cranks and an integrated USE Sumo seatpost head.
This is when you know you've made it as a rider...
...and when you get your nickname on the toptube. Check out that post! This is a super light bike.
Niner finally have their sub-600 full carbon fork (including uncut steerer) in production and in a colour to match everyone's bikes. There's room for huge tyres in them, magnesium dropouts and steel brake post inserts.
This is last summer's Santa Cruz 'stupid bike'. A V-10Dumb - or 'Vee Tendum - Vee Tandem'
Can you guess what it is yet? There are two frames and two shocks
Do you like the paintjob? It's known as 'Bacon Lettuce and Tomato' - you can see the bun, bacon, lettuce, tomato and bun...
Edge Composites are the hot new name in the carbon world. They make carbon XC (300g) and All Mountain (400g) rims and these special tubular mountain bike rims. Light, strong and potentially so long lasting that they're actually worth the price tag.
21lbs for a full suspension bike? Oh yes...
It's the new Tomac Carbide SL - 21lbs, 90mm rear travel and even two sets of waterbottle mounts. It doesn't even have stupid-light(tm) gear on it!
The 5.10 Rennie model. Shiny, shiny...
Girls can get rad on flat pedals too with 5.10's Impack Karver.
...and shoes for lovers of more skate-shaped shoes.
When we say the first day is quiet - we mean quiet with loads of people. On Saturday you won't be able to move here as tens of thousands turn up to watch the racing.
A sixpack of bike journalists look over the new Blur LT Carbon. For fans of the original alloy LT, that continues too.
A great view from the press centre shows a small part of the expo and pit area.
The new Intense 951 FRO in the flesh.
Pink or Green fluoro Turners?
Extended seatposts are creeping over from the road world for race bikes.
The Norco Team - full carbon race hardtail.
A BB30 bottom bracket, extended seatmast and fancy paintjob. It's even got slanted graphics to make it look faster.
We don't even get to see these until tomorrow - but they're appearing on bikes already - the new SRAM XO stuff - in colours.
Pink outer ring, bolts and graphics
Bula fashion never died - Greg Herbold shows he can still woo the fans.
New Lizardskins road bar tape - extra wide and super tacky.
New Control Tech Double Play carbon cranks, with double ring setup.
Commencal Absolut - a bit Orange Blood up top and a bit Cove Hustler down below. Interesting prototype.
Foes has a 29er full susser. Happy now?
Foes custom trike. Checkout that 3D downtube logo.
Santa Cruz new baby blue colour.
The new Driver 8 from the Santa Cruz folk. Big forks and some great swooping shapes to the frame.
The new Santa Cruz Syndicate paint jobs. Half polished and half red/white graphics.