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11 tech highlights at Sea Otter Europe from BMC, CHPT3, 3T, Vielo, Sportful + more

All the stuff you need to know about from the Spanish bike show, and a race-winning bike to ogle too...

We were at the fifth edition of Seat Otter Europe’s Costa Brava-Girona Bike Show this weekend. Here’s all the cool stuff that we stumbled across that you need to know about…

BMC URS Gravel Bike

2021 Sea Otter BMC URS full bike.JPG

It’s happening... front suspension on gravel bikes being the 'it'! BMC has just added coil-sprung front suspension to its existing MTT (Micro Travel Technology) rear suspension, that gives 10mm of travel to the stays of its URS LT gravel bike. There’s 20mm of travel at the front now with a controller located at the top of the headset.

BMC is not the only brand moving towards front suspension for gravel bikes. SRAM, Zipp, and RockShox recently introduced a whole range of new XPLR gravel bike components which included a suspension fork with 30mm or 40mm of travel.

The Swiss bike brand collaborated with HiRide for this brand new suspension option, saying the design allowed it "to retain the design and geometry of the fork's blades and crown while packing a full-featured, reliable suspension system in the head tube".

2021 Sea Otter BMC URS close up

Looking at the previous model and the new URS side by side, you can see the crown of the fork is a lot slimmer in the new model to integrate the suspension system. Seeing the two together also highlighted the fact that the cable routing is no longer internal through the headset.

CHPT3 x Vielo V+1 Gravel Bike

2021 Sea Otter CHPT3 x Vielo

Despite its aesthetics receiving a little bit of backlash on social media and in our recent story, we reckon if you see the CHPT3 Vielo V+1 Dirt gravel collab bike up close, some of you might change your minds. Each frame has been painted unique by David Millar’s personal frame painter Eduard.

Millar's clothing apparel brand CHPT3 teamed up with British bike brand Vielo for this limited edition model that’s specced out with Campagnolo’s newest Ekar gravel groupset with carbon Shamal wheels and WTB Riddler 45 tyres. More on how the bike feels to ride soon...

UYN Naked Full-Carbon Shoes

2021 Sea Otter UYN Naked Ccyling Shoe.JPG

The 3D knitted upper of these cycling shoes is basically a double layer sock that’s soft and flexible to touch. There seems to be a growing trend to offer a shoe that puts comfort first with a sock-like construction. Specialized opted for a 3mm air mesh Dyneema-reinforced sock liner in place of the tongue that we’d usually see in its Ares shoes which were launched earlier this year.

While UYN are sponsors of the Israel Start-Up Nation, the WorldTour team aren’t using the Italian brand’s innovative cycling shoes just yet…

There’s a lot of interesting materials being used here. The inner layer is made from Natex which is, according to UYN, a 100% bio-based yarn that dries 50% faster than traditional nylon. The outer Exoframe is made by recycling the plastic laminate found in car windows, and is used for its super-strong qualities—it usually prevents glass from shattering, explains UYN. Then there’s the insole that is made from hemp for keeping things nicely ventilated.

The sock-like feel is certainly comfy. It’ll be interesting to see how abrasion-resistant these really are, and if the Exoframe does really keep your foot planted in max efforts.

Technomousse Red Poison Evo tubeless inserts

2021 Sea Otter Technomousse Red Poison Evo

Made in Italy, these are said to have superior rim protection for tubeless gravel setups, with the brand claiming you can ride completely flat for 50km and all is good. Touching the material, the Technomousse rim protector certainly feels a lot denser than Vittoria’s Air Liner offering, to give one example.

> 9 things they don’t tell you about tubeless tyres

You can see it has quite rounded sides, these are designed not to put any pressure of the shoulders of the tyre, which Technomousse claims shoukd make the ride feel more smooth and precise when turning.

Unlike Vittoria’s offering, Technomousse’s Red Poison Evo doesn’t attach with zip ties. Itt’s more like putting on a regular tyre, which could prove simpler to setup.

The Red Poison Evo inserts are compatible with tyres from 32mm to 50mm, and Technomousse says it also won't absorb any type of sealant.

Mattia De Marchi’s 3T Exploro Racemax Italia

2021 Sea Otter 3T Exploro Racemax Italia 1 .JPG

The bike that Mattia de Marchi stormed to victory on earlier this month in Spain at the Badlands ultra-distance gravel race was on display at Sea Otter, complete with De Marchi’s minimal bikepacking bag setup supplied by another Italian brand, Miss Grape.

> Review: Miss Grape Node Road

It’s also the very first limited edition Founders Exploro Racemax Italia gravel bike that 3T has produced since bringing its carbon frame manufacturing in-house to Italy.

You can find out more about more about the filament winding and dry fibre process technologies 3T are using at the new Italian factory over here.

The Italian riders’ bike is specced out with Campagnolo’s Ekar groupset, with a 40T front chainring and 10-44T cassette. He was also field-testing Fulcrum’s new Rapid Red Carbon wheels which were yet to be released when we saw them (they are now), with Pirelli’s 40mm wide Cinturato Gravel tyres.

SP Connect Gravel Bike Mount

2021 Sea Otter SP Connect Gravel Bike Mount.JPG

SP Connect’s Handlebar Mount Pro MTB, which can hold phones either in portrait or landscape, has a shock absorbing system inbuilt to reduce vibrations that could potentially reach your mobile. The L-shaped design allows you to position the phone centrally, and you can also mount an action cam or front light on the underside with a GoPro adapter (available separately). 

Magicshine Ray 2600 Front Bike Headlight

2021 Sea Otter Magicshine Ray 2600.JPG

This new two-LED front light from Magicshine that combines a far reaching spot light with a close-in spread flood light looks really great to operate. It's controlled by an up and down button which means you can quickly switch back and forth between brightness levels, rather than having to go full circle once you’ve gone past the one you need.

> The best 2021 front lights for cycling: Our big beam comparison engine plus how-to-choose guide

The battery indicator is also integrated into this up-down button. It’s a steady green from 100% down to 21%, then it switches to steady red until you reach 10%, at which point it’ll start flashing at you to warn you need to charge up.

Smart mode keeps this light at 50 lumens during the day when you’re riding in well lit conditions, and then the output is automatically upped when you shift into a low light environment, such as after sunset or entering a tunnel. It also has a vibration sensor which triggers sleep mode after three minutes of inaction.

As well as this super powerful 2600 lumen option, there’s 1100 and 800 lumen models.

Sportful Supergiara Jacket

2021 Sea Otter Sportful Supergiara Jacket .JPG

Sportful has just dropped its winter collection, and there’s this new jacket with pockets galore—I counted nine in total! As well as three fabric pockets at the rear these are doubled up with mesh pockets to make six, then there’s a further two mesh pockets at the top of the chest and another down the left sleeve. There’s certainly a lot of carrying capacity with this new jacket, and it’ll be interesting to see what it’s like when riding with bits and bobs stashed in these locations.

SR Suntour GVX

2021 Sea Otter SR Suntour GVX.JPG

Some more gravel front suspension for you, this time for retrofitting to your existing bike. The GVX was launched last year, but like myself you might have missed it... to be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about adding any travel to the front end at that point! It was who covered the launch for us.

2021 Sea Otter SR Suntour GVX 2

SR Suntour is the brand that supplied Tom Pidcock’s Olympic-winning BMC Fourstroke mountain bike with a suspension front fork. They also have a fork for gravel, the GVX, which is based around an adjustable air-sprung cartridge with rebound damping adjustment and a lockout switch. The travel is adjustable from 40-60mm in 10mm increments, through inserting or removing plastic spacers in the air shaft.

CHPT3 Dirt Shorts

2021 Sea Otter CHPT3 Dirt Shorts.JPG

As well as launching a collab bike with Vielo, CHPT3 also had on display its new Dirt gravel apparel line up for men. There’s no women’s for now for off-road riding, but the brand is releasing its indoor collection initially just for women, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

The new Tech Liner Shorts come with an Elastic Interface pad and are paired with the Most Days Tech Shorts, in a lovely stone shade for a look that doesn’t look out of place off the bike. These have two standard-looking side pockets that are mesh on the inside for keeping things breathable, and there’s also a generously-sized zipped pocket further down the thigh for securing valuables.

UYN Biking Be Seen Aerofit Jacket

2021 Sea Otter UYN Be Seen Jacket.JPG

The Biking Be Seen jacket is for long winter rides in cold temperatures, which are often in low light conditions too. This jacket has been put to the test in extreme conditions; it was part of Italian ultra-cyclist Omar di Felice’s layering system for his crossing of the Himalayan region up to Everest Base Camp at 5364 metres, in winter earlier this year.

UYN’s buffer cone technology retains heat in specific zones where needed, while its Ergomotion sleeve and shoulder blade design gets rid of that frustrating constraint feeling so you can move about with ease.

What's your favourite thing in the round-up? Let us know in the comments as always...

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