Outerbike is a combination of a trade show, a trailhead tailgate and one of those dreams in which you have all the toys you’ve ever wanted and your only worry in the world is wondering which to play with first. Unlike other industry events, Outerbike lets attendees demo the bikes, not just look at them, which makes it a great place to go if you’re interested in picking up a new mountain or gravel bike.
Sun Valley, site of the most recent iteration of the event, offers great riding and a real chance to see what a bike can do. Attendees get lift tickets, lunch, happy hours and unlimited access to the trails for three days. If you’re thinking of getting a new mountain bike, it’s the place to go. If you missed Sun Valley, don’t worry, there are three more events this year. Meantime, here are the five coolest things we saw this past weekend.
Cannondale’s latest gravel offering picks up the slack between their value-driven alloy Topstone and the shreddy-but-heavy Slate. The Topstone Carbon builds in 30mm of rear suspension using carbon flex and a pivot that Cannondale calls the “Kingpin.” A compliant handlebar, wide tire clearance and a range of bottle cage and accessory bolts (that are actually weight bearing and not just flimsy rivnuts) make this bike a great choice for gravel racing, light bikepacking and comfort commuting. We tested it on trails and dirt roads and it feels fast!
Open WI.DE Frameset
Open more or less invented the gravel bike with the groundbreaking UP a few years ago. Now the brand is reinventing it with the huge clearances on their newest drop-bar adventure bike. WI.DE stands for “winding detours” and that is where Open wants you to go with their new frameset. Clearance for 2.4-inch tires means you can shred singletrack, but a road crank means you can efficiently cover ground in your road position. This isn’t a road race bike or a mountain bike — it’s a little bit of both, and it looks like a lot of fun.
Pivot Shuttle – Race Build
Long travel bikes are great, but they suck to ride uphill. E-bikes are also great, but some aren’t designed as bikes as much as small motorcycles. Pivot makes awesome mountain bikes and added a motor to their trail bike to create the Shuttle, a bike that powers up the trail and shreds down, meaning you don’t have to pile into a smelly van to get to the starting line. With 29-inch wheels, 160mm of plush travel and a weight of 44.75 pounds, this bike is an endure ripper that just happens to have an electric boost — not a moped with some token suspension. If you’re interested in bigger lines and rougher trails but don’t want to drive back uphill, this might bike ticks all the boxes. Yes, it’s pricy, but some of the $7,899 price tag is amortized by potential savings on lift passes and/or beers for the poor person who would be shuttling you otherwise.
Rotor 1x 13
Rotor’s new 1×13 groupset is more than just an incremental step past the existing 11- and 12-speed standards. Why? Because a 2×11 setup has 13 unique combinations, meaning that you can get the same range and the same jumps as most existing road bikes without a front derailleur on Rotor’s new system. The closed hydraulic system will never need charging and won’t ever suffer from cable stretch. The system does use its own hub and offers four cassette sizes from 10-36 to the enormous 20-52 as well as chainrings in two tooth increments from 26-54t.
Moots ROUTT YBB
Moots bikes might have a timeless look thanks to their largely round tube titanium construction, but they’ve got much more to offer than classic looks. The ROUTT YBB uses a “softtail” micro suspension that ’90s mountain bikers will recognize. Mountain bikes have moved on, but for gravel bikes, the 20mm of rear axle travel might be perfect for taking the sting out of long days, especially when combined with the huge 700x45mm tire clearance. Also making a comeback, thankfully, is a threaded bottom bracket that shouldn’t creak like many press fit designs on modern bikes. Moots is offering select builds for 2019; these options promise a faster build and delivery time than their standard bespoke builds while still allowing buyers to upgrade everything from the groupset to the decals to make their bike unique.