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Sea Otter News

Published April 19, 2012

Onza comes back to America • Ibis goes big • Advocates fight to protect Sea Otter land

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — Onza, one of the iconic brands of the 1990s mountain bike boom, is re-entering the U.S. market with a line of mountain and road tires.

Michel Manz bought the rights to the name for use on tires and tubes about five years ago and has been selling the tires in Europe since then. The tires are specified on some BMC and Commencal mountain bikes. But Manz, based in Switzerland, has waited until this year to make a push for U.S. sales. The company is meeting with U.S. distributors this week during the Sea Otter Classic.

Manz, who worked for Maxxis tires before launching his own company with the Onza name, said he gets requests at least once a week for the Onza Porcupine tire. The mould for the sticky tire still exists, but is rusty and would not produce a good tire, he said. Besides, Onza officials said the tread design, while trendy in the 1990s, is dated today.

One 1990s tire trend is returning via Onza, though: natural-colored sidewalls.

"The Swiss riders started asking for them. Here it is seen as retro, but in Europe they think it is new," Manz said.

The natural sidewalls are a bit lighter than the black-rubber coated sidewalls, but not as durable, so they will not be used on gravity tires, he said.

Ibis skips 29ers, and 650b, jumps to 59-inch

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — Well, it is still April. Ibis Cycles was showing a 1,000-pound full-suspension bike at Sea Otter, complete with 59-inch diameter wheels.

The steel frame was welded by sculptor Nick Taylor from 1/4-inch steel pipe. (Taylor is best known for being the project supervisor on Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park).

The giant Ibis has working bearings in the headset and hubs and a stand-over height of about 77 inches. It was driven to the Sea Otter standing upright on a flat-bed truck, likely making some motorists wonder if they had fallen down a rabbit hole.

Meantime, Ibis' Scot Nicol says sales are up 45 percent this spring — and that's just with 26-inch bikes.

Advocates fight to protect Sea Otter lands

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — A portion of the land used for the Sea Otter Classic cross-country and road race courses is in danger of being developed.

According to Keep Fort Ord Wild's Michael Salerno, a 550-acre subdivision and horse-racing complex is being planned for lands adjacent to the federally owned land used for the bulk of the Sea Otter trail system. The area set to be develop includes a trail system locals call "The Happy Trails."

Much of the area is part of the Fort Ord U.S. Army base, which was closed in 1994. More information:

Related: All BRAIN 2012 Sea Otter Classic coverage.

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