THE SEA OTTER CLASSIC
The Sea Otter Classic is the big event that kicks off all of the competitive cycling events of the year in North America. It started in 1991 at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. Originally called the Laguna Seca Challenge, it was a small event. Now, 27 years later, it is a massive event, drawing some 74,000 people over the four days, as well as 9600 athletes.
Spectators can obviously watch their favorite athletes from around the world compete in all the disciplines of road racing and mountain biking—from criterium to circuit, downhill, dual slalom, cross-country and more. There are so many events packed into the four days that it’s a veritable three-ring circus going on all the time.
THE E-SIDE OF THINGS
This year the booth spaces sold out, representing over 900 brands of bikes, accessories and other bike- or rider-related things—from sports drinks to energy bars to socks. Most bike brands have a demo fleet, so people can sign up and take a bike out for a ride to try it out. There were so many companies here with more electric bikes than ever that one observer quipped, “Maybe we should start calling it the ‘E-Otter’”!
One repeated theme is the move to larger, integrated batteries, which was best illustrated with the arrival of Bosch’s new PowerTube 500-watt-hour battery. Also here in abundance were downtube-integrated versions from Brose and Shimano that really added a cleaner look. Bulls’ new E-Core EVO even offers Shimano’s new Twin Core technology, allowing for one or two batteries to be used in the downtube.
We got to see many of the new bikes and products for 2018 and even 2019 at Sea Otter. Here we share some of what we saw and experienced
On Friday afternoon there’s an e-MTB race sponsored by Bosch, with several age groups and a Pro class. It’s a timed race, and everyone is on the track at once. Riders make four laps as fast as they can, and the course includes some steep climbs, a rock garden, challenging turns and some flat ground for extra distance to make it a three-mile course.
New racers are always surprised how hard it really is, as most everyone has the same advantage. Manufacturers happily offer bikes from their demo fleet for riders to use. Bikes are limited to Class 1, pedal assist only and 20 mph or below. This year the race officials used disinterested, third-party officials to inspect bikes to ensure they were spec’d correctly.
Most enter for fun, though there is a prize for both the Men’s and Women’s Pro categories, with equal purses of $750 for first place, $500 for second and $250 for third.
THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET ELECTRIC BIKE ACTION
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