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Sea Otter Classic: The Weird Stuff

A custom ti hardtail from Alchemy, a sleek winter shoe from Giro, and an add-on electric motor that we actually might be seen in public with

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Bimotal Add-On Motor Kit

There are two kinds of booths at the Sea Otter Classic. There’s the kind that is showing products you care about, and the kind that isn’t but really wants you to come look anyway. The trick is not to make eye contact with the latter. If they catch you looking at their suspension seatposts or magnetic pedals or bamboo enduro bikes, they’ll start a conversation you probably don’t want to have. Your first glance at the Bimotal booth might make you think they’re one of those, but they’re actually onto something, and not just because they were founded by a former Tesla employee.

Last November, I got a chance to ride a pre-production Bimotal setup (for less than 10 minutes and only on pavement) and it is actually really cool. A small motor drives the rear wheel via a gear mounted to a special brake rotor. The motor itself attaches to special brake-caliper bolts, but here’s why it’s worth getting sucked into a conversation with these folks; The motor is designed to be easily removed with two quick-release levers and stored in your pack for the descents.

A 250 watt-hour battery fits in a special bottle cage, and weighs 2.75 pounds, which is about one and a half water bottles. The motor weighs about the same, but that will feel like it all but disappears once it’s in your pack. There is no torque sensor in the system at the moment, so it works with a throttle.

And there are external wires and zip-ties involved. And beyond all that, the Bimotal concept isn’t right for every situation. If your trails undulate quickly and frequently between climbs and rowdy descents, you probably won’t want to be pulling the motor off every five minutes. And if you leave it on, all that extra unsprung weight will impact your suspension performance and probably affect the lifespan of the motor.

So, it’s not quite as elegant as a Kenevo SL, but maybe you don’t want a Kenevo SL. Or maybe you just don’t have an extra $13,000 lying around. But if you have long smooth climbs to get to your rowdy descents, this could be the half-step towards an e-bike that could get you on board. Units are shipping soon, and go for $1,950.

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Alchemy Argos U.S.-Made Titanium Hardtail

If you’re in the market for a U.S.-made Titanium bike, it’s probably for one of just a few reasons. Maybe you want that light and snappy ride. Maybe you want to own a bike that was built by the same group of people who design and ride others just like it. Or maybe you just want to know you have something that’s rare. Something that’s special. 

All are good enough reasons, I suppose, but Alchemy’s new titanium trail hardtail offers a benefit that is far more tangible. The Argos, named for a piece of the Apex Trail System of Golden, Colorado, can optionally be purchased with a fully custom reach, stack height, and head angle. There are also off-the-shelf models, made with the same care as your tailor-made frame would be, but for a little extra cash, the Argos can arrive at your doorstep with the front triangle of your dreams. Alchemy claims there’s just an 8-week lead time to get there. And though they wouldn’t get specific, that “extra” cash is on top of the $4,500 that a stock frame would cost you. Not cheap, but Alchemy has spared no expense in building this frame. 

For one, the titanium itself is all just as U.S.-made as the complete bike. And that domestic raw material is shaped specifically to suit Alchemy’s goals for the Argos, from the SNAPPY s-bend stays to the gentile bend near the bottom of the seat tube, to the custom tapered head tube. There’s also the clean hardware around the internal cable routing ports, the replaceable threaded inserts for the post-mount caliper mounts, and the thin but durable Cerakote paint used in place of decals and accents. 

If you’re not too picky on your fit dimensions, the stock geometry is on the progressive-but-not-excessive side. 65-degree head tube, 478mm reach for a large, and 435mm chainstays. And if you’re not too picky on spec, the Argos you can choose from five build kits, all of which run 140mm Fox 34 Factory forks. 

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Giro Blaze Waterproof Winter Shoes

If you live in a wet climate, your feet probably get soggy once in a while. If they don’t, then it’s probably because you’re wearing waterproof shoes. The thing is, there aren’t many options out there, and they are often pretty bulky. The new Giro Blaze shoes, on the other hand, are actually pretty sleek.

Most obvious is the zippered waterproof shell. While most others bury the waterproof layer somewhere just beneath the surface, the Blaze shoes get that part out of the way before any of the shoe itself even has a chance to get wet. This cuts down on excess material and helps trap more warmth. Aiding that effort is a heat-reflecting midsole that works like a foil rescue blanket on the one part of the shoe where there’s really no fabric to help with insulation.

Beneath all this is what, structurally, is a pretty normal low-top shoe. The closure is handled by also-not-bulky quicklace-style laces that are easy to access once the outer shell is unzipped. And although they are indeed low-tops, there are two patches of D30 padding that protect your ankle bones just above the structure of the shoe itself. The Blaze shoes go for $250 and will be shipping by the time cold weather hits.

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Photos: Ryan Palmer