America’s biggest bike expo, race and celebration live on

Canceled twice and postponed once, the Sea Otter Classic is an event that thankfully refuses to get beat by the pandemic shutdowns! Having been held every spring at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California, since 1992, the Sea Otter played a dual role as the largest public bike expo in North America, as well as the annual kickoff for the year’s competition calendar. However, beyond the racing and expo booth, the very essence of the Sea Otter is the role it plays as simply a celebration of all things cycling. 

Other than the pandemic-forced schedule change, the big news coming into this year’s event was the news that the nationwide fitness brand Life Time had purchased the event from its longtime founder. So, for many Sea Otter regulars, there was a concern that the buyout could alter a decades-old fan-favorite event. 

It’s not the Sea Otter Classic without seeing Skipper, the official mascot.

Fortunately, in addition to their nationwide chain of indoor gyms, Life Time is also now focused on promoting their healthy lifestyle outdoors, as they have recently been on a buying spree of renowned athletic events around the U.S. As such, the Sea Otter Classic definitely fits in with the brand.

On any given (non-pandemic) year, the infield of the famed raceway is double-booked with booths full of everything that any cycling enthusiast would find relevant and desirable. From an array of new-model-year bikes to the latest parts and accessories, and also including the massive food court that offers up a variety of food trucks, everybody is crammed between the aisles nearly shoulder to shoulder. 

There are plenty of things for kids to do, including a kids’ track for bike demos.

This year, thanks to all the COVID upheaval, the event was definitely smaller than previous years. We were told the number of booths was close to half of the 800 or so normally on hand, and yet it still seemed crowded enough with the walkways crammed with fans and an endless parade of kids practicing their wheelies through the crowds. 


In addition to the mountain, road and gravel races, there is also an e-bike race, which has grown from a single, quasi-invitational race to one that is now open to multiple divisions. The e-bike race is held on the mountain bike course and is a timed event to fit as many laps in as possible in an hour. The track is approximately two miles long with a fair amount of steep elevation gain, a rock garden and plenty of different terrain. 

The 2022 event is planned again for the spring between April 7th to the 10th. If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. We hope to see you there!

We saw plenty of new bikes in the aisles, including the new Johnny 5 e-bike from Haro. The name is inspired by (and licensed from) the 1986 movie Short Circuit, and the frame design also comes from the same era.
This is what the inside of the Bimotal battery looks like.
Even without any mud, the Muc-Off bike-washing station was a popular post-ride spot.
Bimotal, a company that makes e-bike conversions in a very unique way, was showing off their e-bike conversion kits to a receptive audience. We tried them, and they are much improved over the prototype we tried a year ago.
Though understandably the crowd was down from previous years, the main exhibit area still had plenty of booths and new products to check out.

Flyer is now available in the U.S., and we were smitten by this Bosch-powered tandem that, interestingly, uses a drivetrain that doesn’t need both sets of cranks in the same position.