Much like the original that's nestled within the twists and turns of the Laguna Seca Raceway, Sea Otter Girona is one of the biggest and most exciting bike shows on the planet. Located just an hour and a bit from Barcelona, Sea Otter Girona is known for its superb gravel roads, pristine Tarmac and amazing weather. The historic town will welcome brands from across the globe who'll exhibit their wares and show us the coolest tech to hit the market. Scroll down to see the coolest tech from the show.
In the cycling industry, Sea Otter is one of the biggest names in the show business and the 2023 edition is no different. The seventh iteration plays host to over 400 bike brands. Its organisers are already promising big things as we can expect a raft of new bikes and kit on display throughout the weekend, so as we're there, we'll be keeping our ears to the ground, in order to sniff out the most exciting kit you can expect to hit the shelves soon.
But Sea Otter Girona isn't just about techy goodness as top-tier racing is also a staple of the show. This weekend, visitors can spectate all manners of off-road bike racing, including Girona's leg of the UCI eMTB World Cup as well as the Scott Marathon that'll take place on the most authentic marathon circuit in Spain. We can't forget the MTB Classic Sea Otter Europe which invites riders to revive their bikes from the 80s and 90s in a tribute to what the organisers believe is the most splendid era of mountain biking. Anyway, here's what we saw.
Pinion's e-MTB motor and gearbox
e-mountain biking tech came out in force during Sea Otter Girona and of course, Pinion's E1.12 showed its gears. While I'll admit that we're late to the party on this one, as it was launched at this year's Eurobike, this motor and gearbox combo looks pretty exciting for the world of e-MTB, and an obvious step forwards for the brand behind the gearbox.
This motor not only supplies e-bikes with up to 120Nm of torque at the rear wheel, but it comes with full 12-speed shifting. Gear changes can be made under all of the pedalling load and the motor won't need a lick of maintenance until after 10,000km. And that's just scratching the surface as riders can allow the system to automatically shift.
Have we spotted SRAM's new e-bike drive system?
SRAM's entry into the world of e-MTB is high anticipated, and heavily rumoured and we reckon that we've caught a glimpse of it in the flesh. At the moment, we can't say much but it does look like one sleek unit.
Titanium is out in force
There were a number of brands showing off its titanium wares but Chiru really caught my eye as it's one of very few bike companies that offer a full range of bikes, ranging from racey all-road bikes, right through to all mountain rigs. My favourite was this Alpin, it's a gravel bike that's designed to be right at home where the climbs are a steep as the descents.
This bike can accomodate a suspension fork with 50mm of travel, but the brand also handles the manufacture of a special titanium fork that can come equipped with all the mounts and dynamo ports you can shake a stick at.
Next up is Leon88's Semita cross country bike and while it may look like any old Ti bike, check at that shock yoke. The brand says that it's purposely decided not to add loads of travel to this bike in order to make the most of the pedalling effieciency that comes from using small suspension components while utilising the natural flex and compliance that titanim offers.
Then what makes this bike really different is that it doesn't use any bearings. Instead, it relies on the flexion of a titanium plate that's sat behind the bottom bracket. The bike then comes with a 50 year warranty.
We got a sneaky peak of what Ceramicspeed is up to next
2023 SO ceramic speed transmission joclet.jpg, by Liam Mercer
Ceramicspeed, the brand known for its oversized pulley cages, super smooth bearings and making people raise the question, are ceramic bearings worth it? looks to be up to something. We reckon that this pulley cage is designed to work with SRAM Transmission derailluers, bringing the goodness of ceramic bearings, and efficiency of an oversized pulley.
What's extra cool is that the pulleys are completely solid, rather than open as seen on normal pulleys. This means that it doesn't benefit from that cool Magic Pulley tech but instead the fact that it's solid should stop grass and other stuff from getting caught. There's also a very interesting system that we think is designed to stop mud and dirt build up around the bearings, which can be seen if you look closely.
But for now, Ceramicspeed has quiety introduces a range of cleaning products, offering riders a complete Ceramicspeed bike care setup if they so desire.
Nino Schurter's Scott Spark RC 34 edition
A Scott stand wouldn't be complete without showing off one of the GOAT's bikes and what an example the brand brought. This special colourway of the Spark cross country bike was put together to celebrate Nino's 34th World Cup win, and it's designed to show exactly that.
All over the bike are trinkets and graphics commemorating Nino Schurter's success but there's also some cool tech to be found. Firstly, it's running a RockShox Blackbox fork, while we don't know much about it, we do know that this is a prototype fork that'll be running some interesting technologies that we're still yet to find out about. Also present is SRAM's top of the range XX SL Transmission drivetrain, and a RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post.
Pro bikes were everywhere
Even though cross country's presence is huge in Girona, it wasn't just about lycra clad mile munchers as there were plenty of downhill bikes on show, including Jackson Goldstone's Santa Cruz V10. Much like Nino's bike ahead, this bike is custom painted in an eye catching orange with some ultra cool graphics. This one is clad with Fox suspension and Reserve carbon wheels.
Sea Otter's retro show harks back to the glory days of MTB
Early MTBs were rife with technological innovation, and if brands didn't push the boundaries of what was possible (even if there were a few mistakes) mountain biking wouldn't be what it is today, and Sea Otter is keen to remind visitors of what was. First up is Cannondales more than eye catching Raven and even though it was built in the late 90s, it still looks pretty space-age and it's one of the early adopters of thermoplastic carbon fibre.
Another very interesting tidbit about its build is that its carbon shell is draped over an aluminium spine that runs along the bike.
This very crazy looking STS from GT also uses thermoplastic carbon but this time its bonded into aluminium lugs Atherton Bikes style... Kind of.
Decathlon's house brand, Rockrider continues to offer impressive value
While still relatively unheard of in the UK, Rockrider has a very firm foothold on continental Europe where its cross country bikes are being raced at all levels of the sport. We came across one of the French brand's latest bike, the Feel, which looks to bring bang up to date geometry along with very good componentry to a very reasonable price of €2,999.
At the moment, it's not available on Decathlon's UK website but if and when it does, it'll cause a storm on home turf. That's because it offers 130mm of suspension, which is plenty for most of Britians riding, but the geometry looks spot on, with a 65-degree head tube angle, a 76-degree seat tube angle and a 475mm reach on a large frame.
But it's not all about trail bikes, as of course, Rockrider has famously come onto the elite XC circuit and this Race 940S full suspension cross country bike not only brings 120mm of suspension at both ends that's delivered thanks to a RockShox SID fork and SIDLuxe shock, but it comes with SRAM's latest GX Eagle Transmission drivetrain. All of that comes in at just under €4,500. Hopefully we can get both of these bikes on test to find out whether these bikes can stack up against their pricier counterparts.
It's always exciting to see big brands bring thrilling tech to the market, but it's often the small brands that get up to very special things and that includes Majorcan start up brand, Myotragus Bikes.
The story behind this self invested bike company is that main man, Roger Pisà designed the OLS suspension system whilst experimenting with suspension layouts and kinematics using wooden mock-ups. Then, in comes a close engineer friend and exhibiting at Sea Otter Girona is what they've come up with. At the moment, these are prototypes but after playing with one of the bare frames, it axle path definitely looks very rearward. Keep your eyes peeled, Myotragus may be onto something here.
Lightweight is definitely cool
If you're a weight weenie, you'll have been in paradise at Darimo's stand where on show were road bikes that weighed 4.6 kilos, as well as the brand's range of cockpit componentry.
Those weight savings don't come easy, however, as Darimo resorts to such serious measures, like using string, or thread instead of seat clamp bolts. There were also sub 300g drop handlebars.
Cinelli's stand was a sight to behold
Italian brand, Cinelli is best known for its road bikes but its range of gravel bikes were a thing of beauty and I would go as far to say that it's pink Nemo was my favourite bike of the show.
It's definitely not a subtle colour, but the frame's lines and calm logos seriously appealled, as did its Hi-Ride suspension fork. In fact, this bike has been completely overhauled for 2024, to be the brand's most extreme gravel bike to date.
We also clapped eyes on the Hobootlegger which is an all-out adventure machine that in some ways looks more mountain bike than gravel. It gets fat WTB tyres and all of the mounting points you could ever ask for. And that handlebar has absolutely tonnes of flare.
Bosch's Performance Line SX motor is taking e-bikes by storm
While perusing the many stalls of Sea Otter Girona's 400+ brands, one thing became very familiar - Many brands are specifying Bosch's lightweight e-bike motor on all kinds of bikes.
And I can see why because it looks very inconspicuous, especially on this very French Moustache e-gravel bike. Details on this one are slim at the moment... As is my understanding of the french language but with its mega wide bar and dropper post, this is quite an exciting bike.
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