While new build photos are often the most lustful, we find the dust-clad, just skidded-to-a-stop photos and “whoa!, you should have been on that ride” stories to be the most satisfying reflection of what we strive to deliver for our clients.
A year ago, we profiled this fresh OPEN U.P. build for one of our local clients. Given that he’s local, we have the benefit of seeing it roll past the shop frequently. We were recently catching up on where this bike has taken him and realized it had been a year since delivery. We thought it would be fun to look back on this bike’s first year of service.
AC: Remind us, what was your inspiration for this build?
Well, I’d been living on the East Coast for a few years and in coming back to Northern California, I wanted to be out exploring even more of Marin and Sonoma than I’d been able to on my road bike alone. (hours on the trainer staring at a cold garage wall gives you time to dream!) The inspiration for the paint was the landscape in and around us here in Northern California – specifically the big, hazy sunsets that we get as the sun fades into the Pacific.
AC: What’s it been like after a year?
Fantastic. When I built the bike, I really wanted to explore the idea of a single bike that could get me out on all of our local terrain. Given phase of life, I don’t ride as much as I used to, but I deeply cherish the time I do have. For most of the last year, I’ve been able to hold to a ritual of a solid Sunday rides after family time. I’ve usually tackled these with only a general sense of destination and a desire to see something new. This leads to more “Whoa!” opportunities as I discover new vistas or cool, peaceful spots tucked out of sight. The OPEN has allowed me to make those discoveries while riding far enough to completely change the terrain. Once COVID hit, that became even more rewarding because I could load up three bottles and a snack bag to escape for some deep social distancing.
AC: What’s the biggest or best ride so far?
Well, given that all the organized stuff was cancelled this year, everything was self-made. The most memorable (and divorceable) was this ride that I did up to a remote beach that I’d heard of up the coast. I decided on it that morning, jammed in some snacks plus extra water, and headed out with an old paper map. It turned out to be an epic 75+ mile day on road and trail. Because of COVID restrictions, the parking lots for the park were closed so after the first 20 miles of road, I dropped into the trail network and didn’t see another person for the entire afternoon. I explored to the point that I was cooked, tagged on a few more for good measure, then dragged my cramped legs back over the mountain to arrive home some time after 9 PM!
AC: Now, let’s talk tech: You went with a 2X SRAM AXS build along with some road and trail wheels. How’s that been?
For me, great. As I said, I wanted to see how broadly I could range on one bike. Although it wasn’t the plan, I actually left my road bike back East after an event last October. I never needed it back. I’ve been swapping between a set of 700C wheels (Enve G23 with Rene Herse Bon Jon Pass) for more road-oriented days and my trail wheels (Enve G27 with Schwalbe Thunder Burts and now Ultradynamico Rose). I don’t think a true “quiver killer” exists but this build has filled a really big range right down the middle. There’s certainly some terrain where a mountain bike is the right tool and days when I’d want to be on a purpose-built road bike, but man, a build like this allows for a ton of adventure.
AC: Anything you’d do differently?
Ride more of course!
Okay, so overall, not much for me on the build, but I think a couple lessons I could share with others. First, certainly think about your local terrain and how you will ride. Some areas just have much better gravel/fireroad systems than others and an all-road type build is perfect. If you don’t have that, then a burlier rig with wider tires and bigger gearing might be a better answer for a trail-oriented drop bar bike.
Most importantly, just appreciate that with a wide-ranging bike there will be times to be full gas and times to methodically work through a tougher trail segment.
In terms of specific build choices: If you are going to go with two wheelsets for the same bike, make sure the wheel build uses the same hub+rotor combo to make swaps easy. Be willing to experiment too. The incredible terrain/conditions variability you cover with a bike like this means optimal for one region or season may shift as you travel to ride or just change riding style. For instance, I went with Enve’s Gravel bar. I think it’s perfect for a bike that will be mostly on dirt. Given my current split, I’d probably opt for Enve’s road bar just to get those elbows tucked in on the road, but this is minor. Lastly, some kind of top-tube or bar bag can be really handy because jersey pocket access is harder when your bouncing along a trail.
AC: Last thoughts?
This bike was a ton of fun to build and it’s been incredibly rewarding to ride over the course of the last year. Simply having the capability to go more places has encouraged me to do so and I’m richer for the experience.
Ready to spend a year on a versatile terrain rig for yourself? Drop us a line and we'll be happy to get your perfect build in the works!