ENDURO’s and GRAN FONDO’s editors-in-chief aren’t the only two characters in this story to look like they were separated at birth. You can say the same of the OPEN WI.DE. and Yeti SB115. So, where do the similarities end? Can the both share the enjoyment of the Dolomites’ finest with one gravel bike and one mountain bike?

Brother from another mother: Ben and Christoph don’t just look a whole lot like they could be twins, they also happen to represent two of the three editors-in-chief here at 41 Publishing.

If you’re reading these lines, then you are surely familiar with Ben, this very magazine’s editor-in-chief. Me? I’m Christoph, although often mistaken for Ben when wearing a helmet and sunglasses. We also happen to share the same job title, though I’m responsible for a different magazine. ENDURO Mountainbike Magazine is the name of my baby. We also have the same passion for cycling in all its facets, as well as the appetite to help shape its future. We try to spot emerging trends as they crop up and provide objective test reviews to make sure our readers get an even better experience on the bike. In recent years we’ve tested more than 100 bikes each, taking our perch on pretty much all of the hottest bikes released. But there’s something that we’ve never done: testing bikes together. In fact, testing two bikes that are almost as similar in looks as we are, but exist in two different realms, was never something we thought we would do. Are mountain biking and road riding really that far removed from each other? Is the world of lycra and performance really all that different to my one with mud and trails? Are we missing something?

The perfect bike unlocks a world of adventure

From reading ENDURO and/or GRAN FONDO, you’ll know that riding means much more to us than watts and training. Instead of nutrition plans and coaching tips, at the centre of both magazines is the experience and lifestyle. It sounds cliché, but we’re motivated by moments like lingering sunsets on a post-work ride, chilled beers by the lakeside after a long pedal and high fives with buddies after shredding a seriously nice trail. Bikes are not just a tool for us – they’re the ticket to another world full adventure. For many road riders, their gravel bike does the unlocking but us mountain bikers will always opt for a trail bike to open the doors. So, why shouldn’t we take two of these very bikes to the Dolomites, specced in exactly the way that Ben and I see fit? We ploughed on with the idea, building up our dream bikes… and despite coming from two different worlds, what emerged were two rather similar steeds…

Ben’s OPEN WI.DE. in detail

OPEN WI.DE. TURQUOISE. | 9.50 kg | € 7,000

A gravel bike on anabolic steroids would be one way to sum up how the OPEN WI.DE. has been specced. With DT Swiss 650B wheels, burly MAXXIS Aggressor tyres for the rowdiest gravel and a Kind Shock LEV-Ci dropper seatpost, this is a gravel bike that’s raring to hit some trails. The hardtail that would once have been called into action can stay in the shed. Being underbiked is the word of the day, taking your ride far beyond its comfort zone, turning mellow trails into spice, and letting Ben unleash his former downhill skills. For putting the pedal to the metal on the flats, the OPEN excels with comfort and speed thanks to its drop bars. The high rolling resistance of those chunky tyres isn’t ideal but that’s why we’ve got leg muscles. The SRAM AXS Mullet drivetrain with a 520% gear range is fit for the steepest, roughest ramps. Enough said? Check out the in-depth test of the OPEN WI.DE. in this very issue.

Fat tyres, a dropper and massive gear range – the OPEN WI.DE. gravel bike has been seriously doped!

OPEN WI.DE. in detail

Groupset SRAM Force eTap AXS with SRAM Eagle eTap AXS
Gearing 40 t and 10–52 t, 1×12
Brakes SRAM Force HRD, 160/160 mm
Bars Zipp Service Course SL-70 XPLR, 420 mm
Stem Zipp Service Course SL, 90 mm
Seatpost Kind Shock LEV-Ci, 65 mm travel
Wheels DT Swiss GRC 1400 SPLINE DB
Tyres MAXXIS Aggressor 650 x 58B
Price € 7,000
Weight 9.5 kg in size L
More info opencycle.com

Maximal range
With a gear range of 520 %, the combination of SRAM AXS road and mountain bike parts makes this the ultimate all-terrain set-up for those looking for ‘proper’ gravel rides.
Ready for everything
With so many mounting points, the OPEN WI.DE. is ready for anything. Bikepacking next week? Sure thing.
Rough and ready
The MAXXIS Aggressor tyres won’t be your first choice for tarmac-heavy rides on your gravel bike but they’re spot on for our all-mountain exploits.
Down with the stays
An asymmetric design with super low chainstays gives the OPEN the clearance necessary to mount wider tyres.
Größe XS S M L XL
Seat tube 464 mm 495 mm 530 mm 550 mm 564 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
Head angle 68.0° 69.0° 71.0° 71.5° 71.5°
Seat angle 72.5° 72.5° 72.5° 72.5° 72.5°
Chainstays 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 394 mm
Stack 520 mm 545 mm 570 mm 595 mm 620 mm

My Yeti SB115 in detail

Yeti SB115 T3 | 13.24 kg | € 10,000

Versatility wins! The Yeti SB115 sweeps the board in this regard which is why I’m such a fan, even if it only has 115 mm rear travel. It’s basically unrivalled on pretty much any trail as it is super-efficient, quick to accelerate and has agile and responsive handling. This is mostly thanks to the amazing Switch Infinity linkage which manages to achieve excellent efficiency and traction, allowing the suspension to handle big hits smoothly even with this limited amount of travel. Sure, more capable bikes exist, especially for the downhills, but the Yeti SB115 hangs with the best of them on the climbs and the flat. Modern but not too extreme geometry lends it a balanced, forgiving ride. This dream bike is kitted out with a SRAM AXS drivetrain, on-trend oil slick components, lightweight and precise DT Swiss carbon wheels and FOX Factory suspension that ticks all the boxes. Trust Yeti to pick the right tyres too: the combination of an Aggressor out back and a Minion DHF at the front provides long-distance efficiency and masses of traction on trails.

Whatever your plans, the SB115 has the answer. Good times guaranteed!

Yeti SB115 the spec in detail

Fork FOX 34 FLOAT Factory Fit4
Shock FOX FLOAT DPS Factory
Seatpost FOX Transfer Factory
Brakes SRAM G2 RSC 180/180 mm
Drivetrain SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS 32 t, 10–50 t
Stem Race Face Turbine 50 mm
Bars Yeti Carbon 780 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss XMC1200 SPLINE
Tyres MAXXIS Minion DHF 2.35” / Aggressor 2.35”
Weight 13.24 kg
Price € 10,000
More info yeticycles.com

Invisible strength
The Switch Infinity suspension platform – the sliding lower shock link – is the major USP on the SB115. As it slides up and down, the resulting translation of the pivot allows fine-tuning of the suspension kinematics. It’s also well hidden with a cover to protect it from the elements.
Pure luxury
Wireless shifting – the secret to becoming a better rider? Hell, no. But that doesn’t make it any less cool when the gears shift as if by magic.
A true icon
Having a Yeti badge on the head is surely every mountain biker’s dream! The same can’t be said for the rattling cables in the frame – we used zip ties to solve that.
The Yeti SB115 is an evolution of the well-known SB100, with a new linkage allowing a longer stroke shock and more travel for the SB115. More travel, revised geometry and an even more wicked bike.
Size S M L XL
Seat tube 393 mm 419 mm 457 mm 495 mm
Top tube 577 mm 606 mm 631 mm 658 mm
Head tube 96 mm 107 mm 123 mm 145 mm
Head angle 67.6° 67.6° 67.6° 67.6°
Seat angle 74.1° 74.1° 74.0° 73.9°
Chainstays 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm 437 mm
BB Height 339 mm 339 mm 339 mm 339 mm
Wheelbase 1,125 mm 1,154 mm 1,181 mm 1,209 mm
Reach 405 mm 431 mm 451 mm 470 mm
Stack 603 mm 613 mm 628 mm 648 mm

Limits only exist in your mind!

Does this make sense? Will it work? What will everyone else think? Who cares. Don’t waste time worrying. So, you want to go for a ride with a gravel bike and a trail bike? Sure, go for it. Is there a law dictating that riser bars and drop bars can’t mix? The overlapping characteristics between the OPEN and the Yeti are heightened on the trails – more even than you’d expect. While individually they each make the most of their strengths on different sections of the ride, there’s not a huge disparity in their overall performance, meaning nothing to stop us two denim-shirted riders from enjoying the breathtaking scenery of the Dolomites as we ride up to the Fanes mountain hut. Sure, we could wax lyrical about the OPEN cruising along at speed on the flat sections and how the Yeti can crush the rocky trails on the way back down. But these are just details. What counts is that both of us had a great time.

Just gonna send it – Ben introduces the OPEN to some air time.

Technology, like the SRAM Eagle AXS drivetrain, is what has closed the gap in terms of capabilities between different disciplines. With categories getting blurrier by the day and bikes becoming ever more versatile, few bikes express this more vividly than the OPEN WI.DE. and the Yeti SB115. They both push the boundaries of what is deemed possible with bikes of a certain category. Of course, the industry is pumped full of hyperbole and vacuous marketing hype but there’s also genuine innovation taking place that is making our sport all the more versatile, exciting and brilliant. Our role now is to recognise this potential, grab it with two hands and make the most of it.

Let’s get lost! Modern bikes have shed loads of potential – we’ve got to learn to utilise it!

After the joint ride, have they remained brothers in spirit? More than ever! The mountain bike and gravel bike both excelled, earning themselves first call-up as tools for the next adventure. The ratio of trail to tarmac was tipped more in the favour of the smoother stuff than I’m used to on a regular mountain bike ride and Ben was definitely on a more leisurely ride than usual, but what matters most is that we had a great time together. There’s nothing like getting out, trying something new and defying those self-imposed limits!

The reward at the end of the hard slog… Check out our ride on Komoot and give it a go! We’ll leave your bike choice up to you.

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