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Sea Otter Tech: Ibis' alloy wheels, Challenge's new sidewalls, more

Published April 15, 2016

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — In recent years, the Sea Otter Classic is become the venue for many brands to launch new products, and this year is no exception. At virtually every tent at the event's enormous expo area, companies had at least one brand new item to show off. Here's a look at just some of the items BRAIN editors found on Thursday, the Sea Otter's opening day:

Ibis' aluminum wheels

Ibis is expanding its wheels range, which previously consisted of two kinds of carbon mountain bike wheels: wide and very wide.

Now, the historic brand is offering an alloy version of the very wide model. It's also offering an updated hubset that it's using on the aluminum-rim wheels and on carbon wheels. Ibis is offering a more expensive wheelset with the carbon rims and Industry Nine hubs.

The new alloy rim is 35mm wide internally, the same as its 742 and 942 carbon rims. The outer width of the alloy rim is bit narrower than the carbon version, at 38mm versus 41mm. It has asymmetric spoke hole drilling for even spoke lengths.

With the Ibis-branded hubs, the alloy rim wheels retail for $549 a pair in either 27.5 or 29-inch versions.

The carbon wheels are now offered with the Ibis hubs, for $1,099 per pair, in either 27.5 or 29-inch, and in wide (29mm internal width) or very wide (35mm internal).

Ibis founder Scot Nicol said the hubs were redesigned with a more durable four-pawl ratchet system, in part because larger cassette cogs and 29er wheel diameters has put more stress on rear hubs.

With Industry Nine hubs, the carbon wheels are $1,799 per pair.

Challenge's new 'cross tubulars

Challenge has revamped its Team Edition cyclocross tires with a new tread rubber compound and sidewall treatment. It's also launched a new tread pattern, called Dune, for sand, hard surface and ice conditions.

Challenge, which manufactures its tires by hand in Thailand, has updated its sidewalls with a new UV-resistant treatment that is more durable and waterproof than Challenge's previous treatment. The new treatment means racers don't need to treat their sidewalls with Aquaseal, said company founder Alex Brauns.

Tires with the new treatment are identified by their whiter color. "And it stays white," Brauns said. The new tires also have a red patch reading "Team Edition," while the previous versions had black lettering.

Challenge also modified its tread compound, adding ingredients, including silica, that improve suppleness and grip while decreasing rolling resistance.

The Dune and the updated Team Edition tires were tested last season by sponsored pros including the Fidea team and are available now from Challenge's distributors.

Jamis keeps the plus-sized action going

The steel Dragonslayer, introduced last year, will be complemented by the new aluminum Komodo 27.5-plus model.

After introducing its Dragonslayer last year — and quickly selling out of the 27.5-plus steel hardtail — Jamis has a big soft spot for plus-sized models going into 2017. 

Not only does the Dragonslayer expand to four price points, but it gets two aluminum counterparts in the Komodo 27.5-plus Series, which shares the trail geometry of the Dragonslayer.

And just as 27.5-plus wheel/tire combinations equate to the same diameter as a traditional 29er combo, Jamis will introduce new 26-plus women's models that deliver a regular 27.5-inch wheel profile and, hence, a more fitting standover for some female riders than 27.5-plus.

The steel Dragonfly shares all the features of the Dragonslayer, including a Reynolds 520 frame, but with increased standover, a wider and shorter WTB saddle, and narrower bars. It will be available at two price points, as will the Eden women's-specific triple-butted 6061 aluminum model, fashioned after the Komodo. 

Both the Dragonfly and Eden will be available in 14-, 16- and 18-inch sizes. Past that, Jamis figures women can size up to the Dragonslayer 27.5-plus, according to Sal Crochiola, MTB product manager.

The new Jamis plus-sized bikes should all be available at retail in June or July.

Schwinn returns to drop-bar world with IBD-exclusive model

Schwinn carries over the road-damping Smooth Ride Technology elastomer design of its Vantage hybrid to the Vantage RX1 endurance drop-bar bike.

Schwinn takes the ride-damping design of its Vantage hybrid/fitness bike out on the open road — paved or otherwise — with the 2017 Vantage RX1, a model exclusive to IBDs. Outfitted with front and rear rack mounts, the bike marks Schwinn's return to the drop-bar market after a couple years' absence.

“It really is made for comfortable road riding, double track, rails-to-trails and commuting,” said Sam Greenman, senior product manager for Schwinn.

The  endurance road frame features Schwinn's Smooth Ride Technology, a pivotless elastomer design mounted between the seatstays and seat tube that allows up to 15 millimeters of rear travel. But the RX1 differs from its hybrid predecessor by using firmer-durometer elastomers for more demanding on-road/off-road riding conditions. An elastomer stem is designed to further reduce road vibration.

The RX1 comes spec'd with 35c Continental Sport Contact II tires, but the aluminum frame and carbon fork — with 135-millimeter quick release and 15-millimeter through-axle, respectively — have clearance for 45c tires, or up to 40c with fenders.

A SRAM Rival 22-speed drivetrain with an 11-32T cassette and hydraulic brakes, FSA Gossamer compact crankset, Alex tubeless-ready wheels and Fizik Ponente saddle round out the spec for an MSRP of $1,599. The lower-priced RX2 — with a Shimano Sora 2-by-9 drivetrain and TRP brakes — will be available for $999.

Both models should reach retailers in August or September.


Jamis' new Dragonfly has 26-plus tires.
Topics associated with this article: Sea Otter Classic

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