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So far it’s a solo ride.

Wider is Better: Introducing the OPEN WI.DE.

Derek Yarra |

Since its inception, the Open U.P. has reigned as the pinnacle of do-all gravel bikes. With its clean, minimalist lines, substantial tire clearance, and perfectly balanced geometry, the U.P. (and its even lighter sibling, the U.P.P.E.R.) quickly prevailed as one of our favorite bikes to ride. Naturally, it proved to be one of our best selling models, too.

As time went on, though, and riders got used to running bigger tires, pushing the limits of riding "road bikes" on rugged terrain, the desire for something more quickly followed. That desire resulted in Open's latest offering that you see here, the all new WI.DE.—an even more capable follow up to the brand's already successful all-roader. More tire clearance. More rad. More better.

open upper gravel bike WIDE tire

The styling on the bike is quite familiar. While many brands tend to change things up simply for the sake of change, the WI.DE. largely resembles its predecessor with its clean lines and minimalist design sensibilities. Especially when looking at it from the front, one might mistake it for just another color scheme.

open WIDE gravel bike front end

The rear end is where things get a little different. Making clearance for massive tires on the inside while remaining slim enough to clear road cranks with a narrower q-factor is the challenge at hand on these bikes. It's the challenge that led to the "dropped" drive side chain stay on  the original UP. To nudge those clearances even further, the WI.DE. gets a dropped left side stay too. The symmetrical design not only gains the clearance for up to a 2.4" tire (on a 27.5" rim) but also allowed Open to make the bike stronger and lighter. 

Open cycles WIDE rear end

We wanted to take advantage of that clearance, so we built up our first test bike with a lot of rubber. Using the wide  Enve G27 gravel wheels, we mounted a set of big ol' Schwalbe G-One tires. Obviously, the extra squish is great for bombing gnarlier trails and pushing the "send it" levels higher, but we know not everyone's goal is to get loose.

With a 700c wheel, the bike will clear a 45c tire, which has a bit more universal appeal for riders with more sensible aspirations. The volume of a 45c tire provides a little more compliance for taking the edge off on bumpy terrain, allowing riders to feel less body fatigue over a long ride, all the while giving them extra confidence when cornering on looser terrain.

Open cycles WIDE gravel bike wheels

All of that tire clearance does come at a cost, and in this case it meant giving up the ability to run a front derailleur. While we do like the ability to go 2x, it did make this build a perfect opportunity to run the Sram AXS stuff in the "mullet" configuration. We mounted a 1x Sram Red crank with a 40t chainring up front. At the rear, an Eagle XX1 derailleur an 10-50 cassette. Big tires mean more traction for steeper, looser climbs, so we figured we'd make the bike as capable as possible with a huge gear range. We can now push these drop bar bikes up grades we previously could only imagine tackling on our mountain bikes.

open cycles WIDE drivetrain sram AXS mullet

As I'm sure you've gathered at this point, the theme of this build was to make it as capable as possible. With that in mind, we mounted up the new Enve gravel handlebar.  Compared to their classic road bar, these feature an aggressive flare to the drops. While they definitely look a little strange, the shape actually is actually quite useful in the dirt. When descending rough, technical terrain, riding in the drops gives you improved grip and less fatigue on your hands. Flaring out, it opens your shoulders and flattens your hands, giving added control when things get rowdy. 

To complete the cockpit, our test bike is built with a traditional Enve stem and seatpost. For bar tape, the squishy 3mm Fizik Terra tape, and an Aliante VS Evo saddle.

open cycles wide gravel bike cockpit enve fizik

Sweetening the package, Open offers the WI.DE in five sizes versus the four available in the U.P. In addition to their increased tire clearance, they also feature taller head tubes, even more bottle/accessory cage mounts, and even hidden fender mounts. All welcome bonuses on a purpose built adventure bike.

open wide gravel bike front back angles

While having more isn't necessary for everyone, for riders who want it, the WI.DE. is poised to deliver. As if the lines between modern gravel bikes and mountain bikes weren't already blurry enough, the new WI.DE. pushes things even further, seeming nearly as capable as the company's own One+ hardtail. To us, it's a welcome addition to the Open line up and we're excited to finally have them available here at the shop. If you've been feeling the need for a monster gravel bike, drop us a line and we'll be more than happy to help you out. 

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