The Sea Otter Classic: Day 3’s Coolest Stuff
The Sea Otter Classic, by virtue of having started as a mountain bike race, sees more eMTBs displayed than any other category of e-bike. That’s not to say we don’t see plenty of commuters, city e-bikes and even some cargo e-bikes—we do. In many company’s tents their e-bikes were front and center, often occupying the single most prominent display space available.
Marin Bikes gets our nod for the best eMTBs at Sea Otter. Sure, there were lighter eMTBs and ones with more sophisticated suspension, but with both the Rift Zone E and the Apline Trail E being equipped with Shimano STEPS EP6 motors and 10-speed drivetrains and going for $4499, we didn’t see a better opportunity for someone wanting to purchase their first eMTB.
RedShift is a component/accessory maker that produces a variety of shock-absorbing products, like stems, grips and seatposts. They also produce pedals with rechargeable blinking lights that automatically change color to orient the white light forward and the red light to the rear. It’s one of the smartest uses of blinking safety lights we saw.
We’ve seen a number of fat-tire e-bikes touted for their off-road abilities, but often, they are better as commuters than they are on the trail. With the Specialized Turbo Tero X 4.0, we have a full-suspension eMTB capable of tackling technical terrain, but also equipped with fenders and a rear rack to allow owners to commute to work when they aren’t on the trails.
Bafang had a booth in which they showed off their motors, batteries and controllers. More interesting was how they showed off some of the diverse range of e-bikes their motors are spec’d in. This police-issue e-bike recalls some of the fat tire e-bikes we see from companies like Aventon and Himiway.
Vinka is a Chinese maker of e-bike motors, batteries controllers and more. They one division within a giant manufacturing concern that produces appliances and automotive products in addition to e-bike electronics. Vinka has responded to the rise in popularity of pairing hub motors with bottom brackets that incorporate torque sensors by making their own. The device in the lower right is an example of a bottom bracket with a torque sensor. The cranks mount to the spindle and when the rider begins pedaling, the sensor in the bottom bracket detects the forces on the spindle and translates that into an electric signal that goes to the controller.
Vinka not only makes hub motors, they make mid-drive motors, batteries, controllers and displays. This 36V mid-drive motor produces 250W and 80Nm of torque.
One of the more eye-catching designs we saw was the Miku Retrolax, a motorcycle-styled e-bike. The Retrolax comes equipped with a 750W hub motor, offers a range of up to 40 mi. (claimed), a maximum speed of 20 mph and tackles hills with the help of a 7-speed Shimano drivetrain.
The Pole Voima was another bike and brand new to us. Pole is a Finnish brand and the Voima is made through a most unusual process. The frame is constructed by CNC-machining two mirror-image halves and then welding those two halves together. Buyers can order either a frameset or a completely built e-bike, and, yes, the gold finish is an option.
Pytes is a company known for making battery packs for homes, medical equipment and personal care products (like toothbrushes). They also make a number of batteries for e-bikes and showed off a wide range of their 36 and 48V batteries.
Specialized brought a whole fleet of their new Globe Haul ST to the Sea Otter Classic to allow people a chance to take them out for test rides. Riders returning from spins praised the Globe Haul ST for terrific acceleration, great handling and good on-the-bike comfort.
The battery pack for the Bafang BBSHD is so obnoxiously large that is unlikely to fit frames that have a small triangle. It’s good to see other battery pack makers in the mix. Hopefully, they will create sleeker packages.
Thanks and great job. I attended SO for years until recently, and didn’t see anything that made me miss it this year. Looks like more behemoths and a few nice lightweight MTB’s. MEH!