There hangs a framed quotation by Andy Kessler’s desk which reads “Don’t be the best in the world at what you do…….be the only one in the world who does what you do….”
Words by Barney Ingram, Images by Marc Gasch
It’s fair to say that Andy, co-founder of OPEN Cycle alongside Gerrard Vroomen, have a unique approach to their products alongside an ethos that they only produce bikes which they want to ride.
The Open U.P.
When the U.P. launched in 2015, I could scarcely hide my bewildered excitement at seeing one in the flesh. It seemed so unique – the dropped chain stays and huge tyre clearance – part-road bike, part-mountain bike. The U.P. became an immediate icon within the consumer-confusing “gravel” moniker with some bigger brands copying some of the U.P.s standout features.
Fast forward to 2019 and we’re here in Basel to test OPEN Cycle’s latest gravel frame, the WI.DE. (short for Winding Detours, like the U.P. was short for Unbeaten Path – ed.) Their newest offering has been specced in part from feedback from UP owners and while the WI.DE. does share the UP geometry, they’ve increased the stack and head tube length for a more upright position. Tyre clearance is 46c or 2.4” providing even greater off road ability, and the frame will also accept mudguards. In addition to the standard down tube and a top tube cage mounts, there are two handy cage mounts under the down tube and bottom bracket. All this adds up to being a versatile bike, adept for commuting, tackling some serious single track, fast group rides or some bikepacking action. A potential bone of contention for some folk will be the 1 x specific drivetrain of the frame but with the advent of wider ratio sprockets, this seems less of an issue in light of its intended uses.
Swiss Test Ride
We took the WI.DE. out on a sunny scenic afternoon loop in order to get a measure of its capabilities. Out on the roads, it’s immediately clear how spritely and light the bike feels which isn’t surprising given the 1000g frame weight. It’s fitted with SRAMs new FORCE eTAP groupset, Enve finishing kit, G series wheelset and WTB 45c Riddler tyres; all this adds up to bike light enough to feel nicely reactive on road. Stick on some sticky road slicks and you would have no issues keeping up on fast group rides.
All Surface Fun
Once out of the city we take on some forested roads in the hills of the Jura which straddles the borders of Switzerland and France. As the quality of the road deteriorates to looser gravel sections, the bike begins to show its composure, this balance along with the plush larger volume tyres offers so much confidence to press on hard. We hit a steep ascent with some loose babyhead switchbacks, allowing the WIDE to display some serious climbing prowess. Out of the saddle or sitting down, it feels reactive and stiff, with every effort feeling like the power is being put down. As with all climbs, we’re rewarded with a descent mixing an undulating gravel forest path and then some smooth asphalt. The WIDE feels planted and sure footed on both sections, it feels just so competent on any surface.
So who is the WI.DE. aimed at? With it’s considered features that lend to a broader mixture of uses, OPEN Cycle have offered a compelling proposal to anyone eschewing the n+1 theory. If we were to have just one bike, the OPEN Cycle WI.DE. just might be the one.
* The images above were not taken during our test ride in Switzerland.