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    Otso Journal

    Etter Olson 2020 Look Back

    Perhaps like everyone, we had PLANS for 2020: international research (a collaboration with a Palestinian cycling club), bike tours, laid back bikepacking trips and more intense races. We planned to ride around things (Great Salt Lake, the Cedar Mountains, and Minnesota), through things (really big trees in Big Sur and the arches around Moab), across things (the Flint Hills of Kansas and the state of Utah) and over things (clear sandstone in Capitol Reef and endless gravel roads of the West Desert). In short, we hoped to ride the Waheela Cs through as many adventures as we could.


    Perhaps we should have taken the first day of our March tour through Big Sur as an indication of what was to come.

    Central Coast Tour (March 2-8)

    We left Fairfax in the cold, and by the time we had crossed the bridge into San Francisco, it had started raining, and raining hard. The state needed the rain, we didn’t. We took 6 days to ride from Fairfax to Santa Monica. Rolling along the beaches, over bridges, and through the forests of Big Sur. News of the pandemic chased us down the coast. On the last day of the tour, we learned that our spring break (we’re both professors) would be extended and we would be teaching remotely for the rest of the semester. We sat on the Santa Monica pier contemplating our return to Salt Lake City. Should we just keep riding? Skip the drive home and head to Vegas by bike? Alas, there was work to do, courses to prep. As we left LA, we heard news that restaurants would start closing. In Vegas, we saw people crowding the sidewalks for the last time as casinos closed the next day. We made it home just as travel and gathering restrictions were put in place here. We settled in to bend the curve and keep ourselves, and those around us, safe.


    #TWCC2020 (July 11-18)

    As everything got cancelled, we started dreaming up things that we could do close to home, and ways to try to bring other people into the adventure without actually riding together. We needed something to plan for, something to train for. The answer? This Week Contains Centuries. We’d ride 7 centuries in 7 days. For most of them, we’d leave from the front door (and sometimes swing back home to check on our foster dog who we weren’t sure could be left alone for so long) and we’d finish each day with a beer on the patio of a local brewery or some ice cream from the local ice cream shop. We encouraged people to plan their own big rides that week and make per mile pledges to organizations focused on racial equity, justice, and representation. And so, with the plan in place, we took 7 rides in 7 days, each of them just over 100 miles long. In a year that seemed to go on forever, we put 7 centuries into a week.


    Emigration Near the Equinox (September 20)56

    The year dragged on. Summer turned toward fall and in that moment of balance, with 12 hours of night and 12 hours of day, I (Brent) asked a question. How many times could I ride up and down Emigration Canyon between sunrise and sunset? The climb is a staple for cyclists in Salt Lake, not super steep or super long (7.6 miles and 1,286 feet of elevation gain) and the road had been closed all summer while they repaved it. At dawn, I left the park at the base of the canyon and started climbing, and descending, and climbing, and descending. Twelve hours later I stopped with an answer to his question: just over 10.


    Stupid Pony Gravel Race (October 2)

    Two weeks later, 28 or so other riders and I waited, hidden by the pre-dawn dark and distanced from each other at the start line of the Stupid Pony, a gravel race along the old Pony Express route across Utah. The 217 mile route included a couple miles of pavement, finely ground dust, some climbs that seemed endless, and 7 miles of washboards that fit right in with the rest of 2020. We worked to keep our distance at the start line, but on the road, in the big emptiness of the west desert, fellow riders were a rare and distant sight. Seventeen hours later, again in the dark, I rolled onto the old Air Force base in Wendover, on the far western edge of the state, picked up a finisher’s horseshoe, ate a couple slices of pizza, and promptly fell asleep on the porch of the Officer’s Hall. In the morning, Connie joined for a recovery ride in the emptiness of the Salt Flats.


    Belgian Waffle Ride - Cedar City (October 17)

    We’ve been trying to link up with our friend Toby (“Why doesn't anyone ride crits anymore”) H. for a cycling adventure for years, but the timing and travel (he lives in Indiana) has never quite worked out. So, when he called us last November (2019) and said he wanted to come out to ride the Cedar City edition of BWR, it didn’t take us long to find a way to make it work. Eventually, it became exceedingly clear that it didn’t make sense to travel all the way across the country for a day of bike racing. So, Toby stayed home and did his own big ride in Indianapolis while we headed south for another ride over gravel through the desert. Honestly we felt ambivalent about the ride and all the people in the midst of the pandemic. We kept our distance from the groups that formed and were diligent with our masks while we enjoyed the views, dirt, single track, and occasional hike-a-bike. 124 miles after the start, we finished with the requisite celebratory beer at the brewery.

    In the end, we each managed to put almost 5,000 miles on the Waheelas this year, including time on pavement, gravel, singletrack, and some time stuck on the trainer (hiding during Zoom meetings). We missed our friend who couldn’t travel, so we raced in masks without him through Southern Utah and lamented the cancelled events and plans. We had adventures and covered miles close to home. We learned more of the streets in our neighborhood and the roads through the Salt Lake Valley and the Wasatch Mountains. In a year that asked us to respond to unexpected circumstances, we needed our bikes to match our creativity and needed them to be ready for whatever we threw at them. The Waheelas were.


    New Voytek Colorways Now Available

    The Voytek has new paint, graphics, and three colorways just in time for winter riding. This is same Voytek that changed the world of fat bikes in 2016 with its narrow Q factor, agile handling, and incredible versatility. Four years later, the Voytek still has the narrowest Q factor of any fat bike—183mm compared to the typical 210-230mm of other fat bikes—and it is chosen by beginners and seasoned fat bikers alike.

    The three new colorways are Blue & Goldenrod, Black & White, and Purple & Watermelon. Three high-contrast color pairings were designed to stand out against a bright, snowy setting. There's a third color on each of these new frames, too, just for good measure. The Custom Bike Builder has options for an accent color for anodized bits and components.

    Here's how the Voytek is different from other fat bikes:

    • Narrow Q factor: A narrow pedal stance keeps your weight closer to the centerline of the bike, which creates responsive, tight control when cornering. It also allows for more natural biomechanics, reducing the knee and hip strain when pedaling that you might find on other fat bikes.
    • Adjustable geometry: With a quick change in Tuning Chip rear dropout positions, the wheelbase can be extended or shortened by up to 20mm, thus changing bottom bracket height by up to 4mm. In the forward position, it's an aggressive, responsive Voytek ready for racing. In the rear position, the Voytek has that same intuitive handling but with added stability to make it easier to ride in deep snow or adverse terrain.
    • Versatility without compromise: The Voytek blends the lines of plus and fat, keeping the party going all year long. When the trails are packed with snow, it can ride 4.6” tires. When spring comes and the trails turn to dirt, wheelsets are swapped to ride plus until winter returns.
    • Lightweight EPS molded carbon frame: A versatile bike must meet the technical specifications of versatile riders. The lightweight frame will meet the demands for any 10K race, multi-month backcountry tour, or anything in between.

    The Voytek is available as a frankset (frame, fork, cranks) and as a complete bike. Base build includes Shimano SLX 12-speed and 26", 27.5", and 29" wheelset options. The Custom Bike Builder allows upgrades on just about every detail of the bike, from tires, to drivetrain, to headset color, and more.

    All three new colorways, as well as some replenished inventory of our Matte Slate & Gray and Navy & White frames, are available now via our Custom Bike Builder and within our network of Otso dealers.

    Warakin Ti and Warakin Stainless Pre-Order

    The Warakin Ti and Warakin Stainless are now available for pre-order. Inventory of these bikes was depleted over the summer and we have another supply in the works. This includes framesets and complete builds, which are expected to ship in mid-December. All options via our custom bike configurator are available for these pre-order complete builds and framesets.

    A few updates are in the works for Warakin Ti and Warakin Stainless. Both models will have an added notch for dropper post routing, a new 420mm axle-to-crown fork, and a slightly shorter head tube to accommodate the new fork. Geometry is unchanged. The Warakin previously used a fork with a 400mm axle-to-crown. This new fork length will allow for greater tire clearance and feature a 12mm axle. The addition of a notch for dropper post will provide routing for a cable-actuated dropper. The Warakin Stainless will have updated graphics as well.

    We released the Warakin Stainless alongside the Voytek in 2016 when Otso was first created. It is a capable all-road bike with tire clearance for 700c x 51mm, adjustable geometry, and a superior ride quality. We've seen it in gravel races, cross-country tours, commutes, CX races, singletrack, and everything in between. The overwhelmingly positive feedback we've received from Warakin owners kept us from making any changes to the frame itself for the bike's first four years. We believe these changes will meet updated rider needs while staying true to the original Warakin.

    The Warakin Ti was launched just this year, in February 2020, as an experiment of sorts. Everything is the same between the Warakin Ti and the Warakin Stainless, with the exception of the frame materials. We first tested the bike in 2019 to see how the Warakin geometry could be translated to a new material that is significantly lighter than stainless steel. The result is a spirited ride quality that begs to take the long way home. It was too much fun for us to keep to ourselves. Our first batch sold out quickly and we expect this next order to do the same.

    Pre-order of the Warakin Ti and Warakin Stainless requires full payment. Refunds are available, less $100 that covers expedited shipping from the factory to our workshop. Placing a pre-order today ensures that you will receive a frameset or complete build in this December shipment. The following supply without pre-order is expected to arrive in spring 2021. Explore pre-order options for Warakin Ti and Warakin Stainless now to get started.

    Tuning Chip Technology on Otso Bicycles: Everything You Need To Know

    What is the Tuning Chip, and what does it do?

    Our patented Tuning Chip rear dropout system is found on all bike platforms in our collection, and adds an element of versatility to any Otso Cycles bicycle purchase that can make your bike feel like three different machines.

    The Tuning Chip has three different positions, and each position gives each of the bicycles in our lineup a different riding experience. You can adjust your wheelbase by as much as 20mm, and your bottom bracket height by as much as 4mm. In the rear position, you’ll find more stability and comfort and a lower bottom bracket height, as well as have maximum clearance for larger tire sizes. Switch to the front position to get more agile handling and responsiveness, as well as a higher bottom bracket height. In the middle, well, that’s the best of both worlds.

    The Tuning Chip can easily be switched at home with just a few tools and this simple guide. All parts can be replaced if needed.

    What Parts Make up the Tuning Chip System?

    Part #

    Part Name



    Bike Frame



    Left Dropout with Disc Brake Caliper Mount



    Right Dropout with Derailleur Hanger






    M6x16 with Captive Washer

    10 Nm


    Thru Axle

    12 Nm


    Dropout Nut

    20 Nm


    Tuning Chip - Forward or Back Position



    Tuning Chip - Middle Position


    A Simple Guide to Adjusting Your Tuning Chip

    Tools needed:

    Tuning Chip Installation and Adjustment Instructions:

    1. Remove rear thru axle using a 5mm hex wrench, then remove rear wheel.
    2. Remove left and right dropout nuts using a 20mm socket (never use a cone wrench or adjustable wrench).
    3. Loosen M6 bolt on left dropout one full rotation only using 5mm hex wrench. Do not loosen this bolt more than one rotation, unless steps 4 and 5 are particularly difficult. If you have to loosen more, make sure to hold the T Nut so it sits in its intended slot behind the dropout.
    4. Remove both right and left Tuning Chip. Use a screwdriver to push from the back if needed.
    5. Slide dropouts to new location and replace Tuning Chip in desired new position (or install new Tuning Chip if needed for desired position). Note that it will also be necessary to slide the brake hose and derailleur cable forward or back.
    6. Thread dropout nuts on by hand until snug, then tighten to 18-20 Nm using a torque wrench.
    7. Tighten dropout slider M6 bolt to 10 Nm using a torque wrench.
    8. Replace rear wheel and axle and tighten axle to 12 Nm using a torque wrench.


    Always adjust the rear derailleur B-screw after changing chip positions. Familiarize yourself with properly adjusting your rear derailleur using the manufacturer's user manual or by bringing your bicycle to your local bike shop.

    Chain length may also need to be adjusted when changing chip positions.

    5mm Hex Wrench, 5mm Hex Torque Wrench, 20mm  Socket Torque Wrench, Wolf Tooth Pack Wrench, Wolf Tooth 20mm Pack Wrench Insert
    Hand removing Wolf Tooth thru axle from Otso bike rear wheel
    Removing dropout nut from Otso bike
    Loosening M6 bolt from left Tuning Chip dropout on Otso bike
    Holding front/back Tuning Chip next to Otso bike
    Holding middle Tuning Chip next to Otso bike
    Hand tightening dropout nut on Otso bike
    Using a 20mm socket torque wrench to finish tightening dropout nut on Otso bike
    Using 5mm torque wrench to tighten M6 bolt on Otso bike
    Using 5mm torque wrench to finish tightening thru axle on Otso bike

    Rear Tire Size Compatibility Charts for each Tuning Chip Position

    Each Tuning Chip position affects the rear tire compatibility, so we've included this section to help determine which rubber you can safely pair with your Otso build. The further back your rear wheel sits, the wider the tire that will fit.

    Regarding front tire compatibility, if using something other than the Voytek carbon fork on the Voytek, or the Lithic Carbon Fork on the Waheela C, Waheela S, or Warakin, please check with your fork manufacturer for their recommendations on maximum tire size.

    #TWCC2020: This Week Contains Centuries

    Everything is canceled. Everything. I’m deeply lacking in motivation in these days where every day is a week, every week is a month, and every month is a year. But we might as well make the most of a given period of time. So, we need a plan. Something big, weird, maybe a little stupid, with ways for people to connect in creative ways.

    So, here’s the plan: Let’s all share a week (July 12–18) that contains centuries.
    Sometimes plans have lots of structure. This plan has a flexible form.
    • Each ride should start at a donut shop, coffee shop, bagel shop, diner, or campsite. (you don’t have to go inside and order/eat/drink if it isn’t legal or safe, but they provide convenient starting spots).
    • Each ride should end at a brewery, distillery, ice-cream shop, or campsite.
    • Each ride should be about 100 miles. Unless you are metric, then you get to ride 100k. That’s cool.
    • As we’re still trying to keep everyone healthy, we all should start when we’re ready, ride at our own pace, finish when we are done. We should plan to be self-sufficient on the ride and resupply safely and responsibly.
    • We can ride one century, or seven. (or 2–6)
    • Are you a runner? What’s the running equivalent of biking 100 miles? (for me, I think it would be about 4 miles, but I’ll let you actual runners pick a number).
    • We use this as a way to support organizations you believe in. Connie and I will be making a per-mile donation to the Black Visions Collective, Cycling Palestine, and the Salt Lake City Bike Collective. Maybe people want to sponsor riders?
    • Social media is fun and social. Let’s commandeer the hashtag #TWCC2020 (This Week Contains Centuries)
    • Ride bikes. Have fun.
    Our tentative schedule here in SLC: (We’ll start as early as we can in the morning in order to avoid some of the heat.
    • July 12: Big O Donuts to Fisher Beer
    • July 13: Sugarhouse Coffee to Hopkins Brewery
    • July 14: Publik Coffee to TF Brewing
    • July 15: Uintas A (Pre-drive coffee/Bagels at Bagel Project, whiskey at the campsite)
    • July 16: Uintas B (Route: Coming soon)(Coffee at the campsite, Post Drive beers at Roha)
    • July 17: Atticus Coffee and Books to High West Distillery (Route: Coming soon)
    • July 18: Banbury Cross to Fisher Beer (Route: Coming soon)
    Let’s Go!