With the OPEN WI.DE. the Swiss two-man business led by Andy Kessler makes a lot of room – room for really wide tires and half a beer crate! We took the latest creation of the fine gravel-bike manufacturer to the mountains of the Jura and tested it for you extensively. Now the question is, does bigger necessarily mean better?
If you’ve read our recent first ride review of DT Swiss’ new gravel-specific wheelsets, you may have noticed that we were testing the wheels on a brand-new OPEN Gravel rig. The call of the Swiss Jura was way too tempting to resist, so we decide to jump straight back into our flannel shirts and wait for things to kick off. Whilst preparing for our first descent, however, we get a queasy feeling: Why is everyone wearing waterproof jackets over long bib shorts and keeping their rainproof gloves at hand in their frame bags? After all, it’s a mild 15° C at the beginning of our ride in Basel and if you’re serious about gravelling, then you should wear loose shorts anyway… We shrug our shoulders and just get on with it, totally unaware how much we will regret this choice of clothing later in the day. We cross the river Rhine and head towards Jura at a leisurely pace while Andy Kessler, OPEN’s CEO, explains the technical features of his new bike.
What’s new on the OPEN WI.DE.?
U.P., U.P.P.E.R., U.P.P.E.S.T.? No! The latest model of OPEN, which considers itself a gravel brand, is called the WI.DE. – the name says it all. The frame of the WI.DE. has a massive tire clearance and accepts tires of up to 2.4″ in 27.5” and 46C with 700C rims.
Unlike with other manufacturers, however, these numbers refer to tires with side-knobs and off-road treads and not slick tyres.
By dropping both chainstays and renouncing a mounting point for a front-derailleur, OPEN can maintain the standard Q-factor. Compared to the U.P. and U.P.P.E.R. models, the headtube of the WI.DE. is about 1.5 cm longer (depending on frame size) and provides a more relaxed riding position for long rides and a safer handling for technical passages.
|Seat tube||500 mm||500 mm||530 mm||560 mm||590 mm|
|Top tube||510 mm||530 mm||550 mm||570 mm||590 mm|
|Head tube||99 mm||125 mm||150 mm||170 mm||196 mm|
|Chainstay||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm|
|BB Drop||80 mm||77 mm||75 mm||75 mm||75 mm|
|Wheelbase||990 mm||1.004 mm||1.009 mm||1.022 mm||1.042 mm|
|Reach||346 mm||358 mm||370 mm||382 mm||490 mm|
|Stack||520 mm||545 mm||570 mm||595 mm||620 mm|
Besides the usual mudgard mounts, the WI.DE. has a total of five attachment points for water bottles and tool containers. If you use all of the mounting points and use big bottles, you can carry around almost half a crate of beer on your WI.DE. 😉
Potential customers now have a choice of five frame sizes, from XS to XL, whereby the XS is particularly suitable for riders under 1.70 m. The WI.DE. is an addition to OPEN’s portfolio and both the U.P. and U.P.P.E.R. are still part of the line-up.
In true OPEN fashion, the WI.DE frameset will be available in both standard and ready-to-paint finishes. The latter gives you the opportunity to live out your very own artistic streak, starting from the colour choice. According to OPEN, a two-colour paint finish will set you back around € 300. Whilst frame sizes M and L will be available starting mid-June, all other frame sizes will be ready around mid-July. Price is € 3,200 for a frameset. The following table illustrates the main differences between the WI.DE. and U.P. models:
|Riding style||Allroad, Gravel, extreme Trails, mixed terrain (predominantly offroad)||Road, Allroad, Gravel, mixed terrain (on-/ offroad)|
|Tire clearance 700c*||35–46 mm||28–40 mm|
|Tire clearance 27.5”*||1.9–2.4”||1.9–2.1”|
|Drivetrain||1x only||1x and 2x|
|Geometry||Tall Road||Standard Road|
* Since tire clearance varies depending on the tire/rim combination, you should always measure the actual size, rather than just reading the label.
OPEN WI.DE. – Our test bike in detail
Our OPEN WI.DE. test bike features a complete bar/stem/seatpost ENVE-kit and rolls out on a DT Swiss GR 1600 SPLINE 25 and GRC 1400 SPLINE 42 wheelset, respectively. The 1x SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset controls a SRAM Eagle eTap AXS rear-derailleur which shifts on a matching 10-50T SRAM Eagle MTB cassette. Despite the big 42 T chainring, the massive gear-ratio of 500 % makes even the steepest of climbs feel like a walk in the park. Thanks to SRAM’s AXS platform, road- and MTB- specific components communicate with each other and can thus be combined accordingly. Now if there were a matching 27.2 mm wireless SRAM Reverb AXS dropper-post, this super tidy gravel-spec would be nothing short of perfect! Both brakes run 160 mm rotors. Our size L test-bike, complete with a 27.5″ DT Swiss GRC 1400 SPLINE 42 wheelset and tubeless Schwalbe G-One Bite tires, weighs in at a sporty 8.28 kg.
OPEN WI.DE. – First test
Leaving the plain of the Rhine behind us, we venture deep into the “Many Hill Show” of the Jura, which criss-crosses the French-Swiss border several times – basically a constant rotation of croissants and gipfeli, baguettes and röstis. On the 79 km ride, we gain over 2,300 vertical metres and really value the superb uphill performance of the OPEN. With the low overall weight and the huge gear-range of the SRAM Eagle cassette, even the steepest of climbs feel easy. The gear steps might be too big for experienced racers, especially in the low gears, but today it doesn’t matter because we’re here to soak up all the different impressions and the breathtaking views, and not to hunt the local KOM. The groupset is a hybrid of SRAM’s Force and Eagle eTap AXS and performs flawlessly. Not once did the chain jump off the chainring and even a thick layer of mud can’t stop the drivetrain from working properly. The SRAM Force brakes run 160 mm rotors and combine good modulation with excellent braking power. In this configuration, an uncompromising recommendation for all Gravel fans!
With such a mindblowing landscape, the WI.DE. falls into the background. And that’s one the biggest strengths of the bike: it has the power to make you disappear into the landscape and blend in with nature. With its centred riding position, the WI.DE. is both a comfortable cruiser and an efficient gravel bullet-train. And that’s primarily due to the fact that the geometry of the bike, the seat post without offset and the 90 mm long stem harmonise incredibly well with each other. Furthermore, the overall system provides a high level of comfort. While the voluminous 27.5×2.25″ Schwalbe tires take the edge off bigger hits, both the frameset and the ENVE components-kit provide great compliance and efficiently dampen smaller vibrations. Comfort should always result from a balance of different elements and never depend on one single factor – the WI.DE. implements this mantra perfectly. The high degree of comfort is clearly noticeable on descents. The OPEN is easy to control even at high speeds and never feels sluggish.
In our latest gravel group-test, the predecessor of the WI.DE, the OPEN U.P, impressed our test-crew with its superb handling credentials. Now, even 1.5 cm of extra headtube, don’t seem to affect its lively nature. While chunky tires will usually make for a more indirect steering behaviour, the higher front-end totally harmonises with this character. As a result, the WI.DE provides a less aggressive, more enjoyable and safer ride. Downhill gravellers at all skill levels will benefit from this too.
The huge gear-ratio combined with the light system weight and smooth-running wheel/tire combo makes us literally fly at well over 30 km/h on the compact trails. On the few tarmac transitions, however, the drawbacks of wide tires become evident. Whilst in the corner entry phase wider tires require firmer and more vigorous steering inputs, they tend to oversteer in the actual corner. And that’s why you should always pick your tires wisely and buy them according to your preferences. As a rule of thumb, the wider a tire, the more honest its character.
Towards the end of the first day, a sudden downpour and ice-cold temperatures of around 0° take us by surprise. Our friends in waterproof Lycra give us a compassionate nod while we’re shivering away in our stylish flannel shirts. On the last kilometres to the hotel, we really appreciate the stability of the WI.DE. and become really fond of the big shifter-blades and hoods, which are easy to operate even with frozen hands. On day two, with beautiful weather and even more gorgeous flannel shirts, we ride over the Chasseral and down to Biel, where we finally sit down for coffee and review the past two days of riding.
With the WI.DE., the Swiss two-man-gravel-brand presents a very powerful bike. The balanced handling, huge tire clearance, and numerous mounting points for mudguards, drinking bottles and bags make it the ideal platform for individual superstructures. The high level of comfort and safety will appeal to gravel fans of all skill levels. If you choose your tires wisely, this frameset could be a very solid base for your next multi-day adventure bike or sporty after-work fun-rig for technical terrain. And yes, bigger is better indeed!
In the following months, we’ll find out how the OPEN WI.DE. stands up against its competition.
For more information head to opencycle.com
Words: Benjamin Topf Photos: Marc Gasch, OPEN