This was my third time going to Sea Otter, and despite having been there before, there’s just no way to be prepared for how huge, loud, and exciting it is! Sea Otter Classic is the biggest bike event in North America, attracting 900 exhibitors and 85,000 attendees. There are races, an enormous expo, bike demos, and industry events.
If you’ve never been and love bikes, put it on your bucket list to attend one of these years.
And if you didn’t get to go this year, I tried to document some of my experience for you. There are way too many brands to visit and races to watch to share it all, but here were some of the highlights (according to me).
Women’s Bike Clothing And Accessories
Most of the Sea Otter Classic recaps you’ll read focus on the bikes and the tech, but a lot of the women I know want to hear about the clothes and accessories. And Sea Otter didn’t disappoint–so many pretty things!
Wild Rye is one of my favorite mountain bike brands and I was excited that they had a booth this year. Front and center was a display of the new Wild Rye and Juliana collaboration print: “Juliana Fern.”
The bold celery green colorway pays homage to Santa Cruz, California, where Juliana originated and where you can’t go for a ride without seeing ferns. The print comes in the Freyah Pant, Merritt Muscle Tank, Freel Short, and Galena Gloves. Plus, there’s a new addition: the trail Bandana.
You can snag these limited-edition pieces exclusively at EVO or online at Wild Rye and Juliana.
In addition to the new Fern print (and some good but oldies like the short overalls) we got to preview some of the Spring 2024 collection. We can’t share what all is in it but can assure you there are some new very exciting things coming!
Jelenew was a first time exhibitor at Sea Otter. The brand new women’s cycling apparel company, had their jerseys and bibs on display.
I loved the mesh sides to their jerseys, and the unique straps on the bibs. The sizes did look TINY, but the brand reps assured me that they’re working on the sizing to better represent an American audience.
I look forward to testing some of these pieces to see how they perform. It’s always good to see more women’s specific clothing brands come to market, especially after the departure of Machines For Freedom earlier this year.
Velocio has the most luxurious cycling clothing around, and their women’s line was front and forefront and their Sea Otter booth this year. The Spring 2023 collection is bright and beautiful. Lots of reds, yellows, and pinks!
I stopped by the Thousand booth to chat with founder Gloria Hwang about the newest helmet from Thousand, the Heritage 2.0. The company did research on a wide variety of head shapes to redesign the helmet and make it more inclusive for all riders.
In addition to the new shape, the helmet also has increased ventilation and integrated magnetic tail light compatibility. And like all the Thousand helmets, it comes in a variety of beautiful colors which makes it one of our favorites for biking around town in style.
We’re currently testing the updated helmet and have a full review coming soon.
At the Liv booth, we got to meet with Jen Audia from the Liv Global Marketing team. She walked us through both the new Liv Intrigue LT Advance Pro and the Liv Intrigue X Advance E+ Elite.
The Liv Intrigue LT Advance Pro is a long travel, seriously burly bike for women who want to shred. It has a flip chip with 3 riding positions, 160mm of travel front (150mm rear), and a mullet wheel set up. There’s also internal storage for tools or other goodies.
The Liv Intrigue X Advance E+ Elite is the latest e-bike offering from Liv, and boy is it a blast. I actually got to demo this bike out on the trails and LOVED it.
Even on the steep loose trails at Fort Ord, I was able to fly. I made it up a gut-busting climb with my heart rate firmly in zone 2. Unlike other e-bikes I’ve tested, it felt light and easy to handle.
More coming on that experience soon.
Scott had one of the more impressive booths we visited. Of particular interest to me were their bikes with the integrated rear shock. That’s right, this is a full suspension bike with the shock inside the frame. Not sure how well maintenance would work with that, but I’d love to test one out.
Most of the Scott booth was taken up with their very large e-bike displays. It’s clear that they are fully leaning into electric bikes for both mountain and gravel.
I’m a huge fan on Osmo nutrition. It’s what I use on all of my rides!
They company just release a new product, Osmo Power Fuel. The drink mix includes carbohydrates to be more of a food replacement on the bike.
I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of the idea (I’m a firm believer that you should eat rather than drink most of your calories), but I am intrigued by the lack of coloring and neutral flavoring. Will be testing this one out!
Short Travel Gravel Bikes
One of the biggest trends we saw at Sea Otter were gravel bikes with short travel suspension forks. They were everywhere!
On Instagram, I asked y’all what you thought, and more than half of you had a positive reaction.
While somewhat dubious of this trend myself, I went ahead and took the Giant Revolt X out for a test ride. The bike has 40 mm of travel and a dropper post.
Then to really put it to the challenge, I took it on some gnarly, rutted out singletrack. While I’m well accustomed to riding gravel bikes on trails they’re probably really not supposed to go on, this time the ride was comfortable. No sore arms or shoulders from hammering them on the techy stuff.
I’m now a convert to the idea of short travel gravel bikes, and look forward to playing with them more.
An e-bike that doesn’t even look like an e-bike?! That’s what’s coming from Salsa.
The company (who’s bikes I love) have a brand new, not-yet-release bike on display, the Confluence. These bikes would be great for commuting around town as well as doing a little adventure touring with a boost!
They will be available Fall 2023.
Surly, with their affordable, rough and tumble bikes, had their newest and most economical bike on display. The Preamble is only $899 and would be perfect for commuting and around town riding, as well as a little gravel grinding. Highly recommend this one!
Twisted Spoke CBD
We saw at least three of four CBD brands at Sea Otter, but our favorite was Twisted Spoke CBD. I slept funny in the hotel bed, kinked my neck, and was shocked to discover that my pain totally resolved thanks to the help of some of their CBD recovery cream. I kid you not!
The company’s wide range of CBD products are far more affordable than most of their competitors, and the two owners seemed like genuinely nice humans.
They also shared that the brand’s chamois cream is PH balanced, has no offensive scent, and was designed with women in mind. We look forward to testing it out.
Fox Union Shoe
If you didn’t already know, Fox recently released a mountain bike shoe: the Fox Union. Upon observation, it seems very similar to the Five Ten Kestrel. It’s offered in flat, clipless, and BOA versions.
When I asked about a women’s shoe, I was told that they are unisex as the sizing is European. That’s all well and good BUT the available colors were definitely more masculine than feminine. This seems like a bit of a miss.
B-Corp Happy Hour
On Friday night, we got invited to a B-Corp happy hour at Fieldwork Brewing Company in Monterey. The event featured bike companies that are certified B corporations.
If you don’t know what that means, a B corp is a private certification of for-profit companies of their “social and environmental performance”. In other words, they are committed to being good corporate citizens.
These companies included Mountain Flow, Wild Rye, Schwalbe, Teravail, Salsa, Surley, and Miir. If you care about giving your money to companies doing good, consider supporting them.
Other Cool Things We Saw
More Stuff You Might Like
- 10 Best Women’s Mountain Bike Shorts
- 9 Best Women’s Gravel Bikes & How To Choose!
- A Bikepacking Adventure Thru Pakistan, India, and Nepal With Eliza Sampey
About The Author
Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.
An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.
Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life. Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son. If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.
Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.