Sea Otter Stories: Hans No Way Rey

I’m standing in the shade near the GT Bicycles booth at the 2017 Sea Otter Classic when I turn around and see an old guy performing crazy flatland tricks on a 90s GT Zasker mountain bike with 3 spoke nylon wheels. A beat after he says something in German-accented English, I suddenly realize I’m standing right next to Hans Rey. I automatically shout “No way!” without thinking about it.

The young, early 20s guy who owns the vintage GT obviously knows the reputation of Hans Rey, and grins ear-to-ear as the Mountain Bike Hall of Famer who popularized trials riding autographs his old Zaskar.

Hans Rey signs autographs - I literally said "No Way" when I bumped into him.

A crowd of children soon appear, and Hans happily signs his name “Hans No Way Rey” for them.

Hans Rey signs autographs - I literally said "No Way" when I bumped into him.

GT has been sponsoring Rey since the 1980s, and I’m thrilled to see that they continue to do so in spite of their cycles of ups and downs in the bike industry.

At Sea Otter, GT displayed their “Grade Carbon Pro” endurance carbon fiber endurance road bike which GT advertises is for “the gravel road to work” which really appeals to my idea that bikes should be about utility as well as fun. The seatstays are those low-modulus resin-impregnated glass fibers (as opposed to higher modulus carbon fiber used for the rest of the frame) that twang like bass strings when you pluck them, and give a ton of cushion at the rear end. It’s pretty incredible. Other features include fender mounts, SRAM Force 1×11 drivetrain, SRAM HRD brakes, WTB Exposure 32c tubeless bead tires on 700c wheels. This bike punches a lot of the right buttons for me; I wish I had decent photos of it.

Sea Otter 2017 Stories: The Legend of Joe Breeze

I arrived early for the 2017 Sea Otter Classic with vendors still setting up at Laguna Seca Raceway. I’m getting the lay of the land in the morning chill when I see a grandfatherly gentleman by himself unloading boxes and adjusting bikes at the Breezer Bikes tent and, whoa! It’s the legendary Joe Breeze himself!

I caught Joe Breeze setting up at the Breezer Bikes booth at #seaotterclassic early this morning. He reminisced about Jobst Brandt's quirky mansplaining personality.

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Crazy eBike race at Sea Otter, 2nd Edition

Bosch eBike Systems invites racers to participate in the 2017 Haibike eMTB Race epowered by Bosch, which will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 21st at the Sea Otter Classic.

Bosch’s Brian Sarmiento competes in the 2016 “Industry Challenge,” part of the Haibike eMTB Race epowered by Bosch. Contributed press photo from Bosch

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Secure bike storage in the garage or shed

Bike theft from a garage, shed, or the back porch inside of a fenced yard is a fairly common problem around these parts. One solution is to install a floor anchor to which you can cable your bike.

Later this week at the Sea Otter Classic, Hiplok will introduce another option: the “Airlok,” a secure wall-mounted bike hanger for those who want to display their bikes, or if you need to keep your floor area clear.

hiplock airlok wall mount bike security

Secure wall fixings, hardened steel framework, and a secure lockable bolt combine to keep your bike safe while displayed on your wall. An impact resistant outer casing further prevents access to the framework and fixings. Hiplok says providing the Airlok design accommodates mulitiple styles and sizes of bicycles, while the rubberized mouth prevents frame scratch. The Airlok will be available beginning in May for $195.

Hiplok also announced Z LOK, an armored ratcheting cable-tie style lock to discourage crimes of opportunity from car racks. Z LOK is a 40cm long security tie consisting of a reinforced steel core with a durable nylon outer. Its double-sided ratchet system allows it to automatically lock when looped into place, and unlocks only with the included universal key. This looks like it might be convenient for quick coffee-shop stops at low risk locations during long road rides, too.

Hiplok cable tie / zip tie Z LOK

You can see all Hiplok products on display at the Sea Otter Classic this weekend in Monterey, California. The Z LOK will be available for purchase at Sea Otter.

My Kickstarter rules and a GPS bike

When Kickstarter became popular shortly after its 2009 launch, I and many of you were amazed and thrilled with the awesomely creative crowd-funded bicycle projects available. Before long, however, we began to see funded projects that failed to deliver, and I cringe at some projects from folks with little to no obvious background in bicycles who sell product with possible safety issues.

These days, I try to limit Kickstarter product mentions for ideas that are truly innovative, or that come from people with a proven background in product design and delivery and provide value for the cyclist. The perfect suspension saddle, airless tires, Bluetooth handlebars, and supposedly theft-proof locks are a dime a dozen, as are people crowdsource funding for a container of cheap singlespeeds and space at the Port of Los Angeles to assemble and ship these discount bikes, assuming they haven’t been seized by U.S. Customs for failing CPSC safety requirements.

Hence, I’m happy to mention Mission Bicycle Company’s current Kickstarter for the Lyra, a basic bicycle with built-in lights with one-touch on-off, and a real GPS tracking unit.

Mission Bicycles Lyra

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Faster and farther on the MVMT Carnelian

Taishan Sports manufactures bikes for several second tier bike brands, and they designed and manufactured carbon-fiber bicycles under the Pardus brand for the 2016 Chinese Olympic team. They’re now launching a new, direct-to-consumer brand — MVMT (pronounced “movement”) — for the North American market, launching models for road and mountain enthusiasts on April 15, 2017.

MVMT Carnelian

I’m a road guy, so I tried the MVMT Carnelian road bike.

MVMT Road Bike from Taishan

The bike is a very competently designed road bike with mechanical disc on 700c thru axle wheels. The full Shimano 105 group provides dependably smooth shifting and braking. MVMT brand carbon drop bar, stem and post, with MVMT alloy rims complete the bike. The bike will be available in three colors: white (shown), matte black, and turquoise blue.

I tested the Carnelian during the worst of the storms we experienced in the Santa Cruz Mountains earlier this year, taking it out on the few non-rainy days. This is not an adventure or cobble bike, but I rode over shattered roads and confidently weaved around fallen redwood trees. The disc brakes may have saved my life during a fast descent in the mountains: a tree fell in front of me, taking down a power pole. I came to a complete and controlled stop with live power lines bouncing literally inches from my front wheel.

Two days of nice weather in late February was the perfect opportunity for a longer ride, and the Carnelian shines in the rolling hills of California Highway 1 along the Pacific Coast.

#California between storms. #cycling

A post shared by Richard Masoner (@cyclelicious) on

The beefy bottom bracket enables snappy acceleration and pedaling efficiency. I’m not savvy enough to know precisely how a bicycle’s geometry affects parameters like comfort vs efficiency and performance, but this bike earned me four new Personal Records (per Strava) on the Swanton Loop in Santa Cruz County, and I didn’t even feel like I was trying that hard on this early season metric century. MVMT has a heritage in time trial bikes, and the Carnelian wasn’t designed to be an endurance or sportive bike, but it’s almost as comfortable to ride as my trusty old Specialized Roubaix but with enough liveliness to brighten the ride.

Why a nicer bike?

Which brings me to the title of this post: Faster and further. People frequently ask, “Why don’t cyclists who ride for fitness ride heavy bikes? Won’t heavy bikes help them achieve fitness faster / more quickly / with less effort?”

There are numerous reasons people might buy lightweight road bikes, but for me the short answer is: long distance rides are more enjoyable and less painful on quality, well designed bikes.

I rode 40 miles last Friday, and 32 miles on Saturday. I intended to complete a metric century on both days, but had to abandon at distances that normally are moderate for me. The reason: I rode a heavy, 28 pound $300 clunker made with high tensile (aka “gas pipe”) tubing and bottom-of-the-barrel components, mostly to prove a point. That cheap bike is fine for short-distance city riding, but for these longer distances it left my wrists numb and my shoulders, neck and back sore. I think the heavy, straight-gauge tubing probably transmitted a big percentage of road shock directly to my spine and arms via both the seatpost and through the forks.

The Carnelian, by contrast, has stiffness where it counts in spades, but my middle-aged joints really appreciated the superior design and material that gave me a good feel for the road without knocking me senseless. MVMT’s American marketing manager in San Mateo described Taishan’s proprietary carbon layering process techniques that frankly went over my head, but it all means a bike I can ride fast for hours on end.

The Carnelian will retail for $1680 and will be available for online purchase at MVMT Bikes on April 15, 2017. Unlike other 105-equipped road bikes approaching this price range, the Carnelian is full 105, instead of “105 light” with a mix of downgraded and Brand X components to reduce cost. MVMT bikes come with a five year frame warranty, and two year warranty on MVMB components. There will be a crash replacement program allowing riders to exchange their damaged frame only for a price that amounts to about 30% off retail.

You can demo this and MVMT’s Corundum mountain bike (Carbon 29er w/ carbon bars and post, SRAM NX 1×11 drivetrain, Rockshox Recon fork, hydraulic disc brakes) at the Sea Otter Classic coming up April 20 – 23, 2017 in Monterey, California.