It is nicely documented in the webpages of Bicycle owner magazine and on this web page that I’m a lover of the bike brand Open. I appreciated driving its MIN.D street bike, for very similar reasons to why I liked the brand’s authentic design and style, the UP: for its groundbreaking and development-setting approach to modern gravel bike design.

Bike owner’s previous electronic editor Peter Stuart gave the lighter successor to the UP, the Higher, a glowing evaluate back in 2020 and immediately after equally good experiences aboard equally bikes I resolved that I wished to possess just one.

In a scarce scenario of a bike journalist placing their money wherever their mouth is, I acquired an Upper frameset previous 12 months.

Barring a swap from submit mount brakes to flat mount, the frameset has adjusted minimal considering that Open up 1st unveiled it in 2016. Considering present-day developments, it may possibly be beginning to show its age marginally with its 700c × 40mm tyre clearance.

Which is comparatively modest when calculated from the most fashionable gravel bikes, but for a person who doesn’t head applying 650b wheels when I need to have definitely voluminous tyres, a 40mm greatest for 700c is not a hindrance.

 

The Upper is the similar in shape as the UP, but Open says it works by using a revised layup schedule and some a little posher materials to provide the pounds down by about 200g or so.

Otherwise, the two framesets share an equivalent remit: to be a jack-of-all-trades when it arrives to drop bar driving.

Open up Upper: Heading everywhere quick (for the reason that I really do not have time)

The UPPER’s clean up strains and uncomplicated tube profiles aid generate mild body weight and stiffness, though pioneering quirks like its dropped driveside chainstay offer superior tyre clearance within the narrow Q-factor afforded by highway cranks, though trying to keep the back again conclusion small.

A element set like that, coupled with a nicely balanced geometry, signifies the Upper can swap identities totally in the time it will take to adjust the wheelset.

I definitely like that about the Upper – it can be a rapid highway bike with some deep portion wheels and 28mm slicks on, rip about gentle gravel working with 37-40mm tyres, or go exploring with some 47mm knobblies and a 650b wheelset.

In truth, that ‘three bikes in one’ rationale was a key factor in the justification of the buy to my spouse, so it’s as practical in theory as it is in exercise.

Set up in this guise – rapidly off-highway driving – it weighs 7.5kg. That would be very outstanding for a street bicycle, but for a gravel bicycle with the capacity the Upper does, it is remarkable and I’d say this is evident when out riding.



The bicycle feels uncommonly lively and typically affords a feeling of nimbleness off-highway that I would liken to driving a race bike on the road.

With a younger family I never have the option to go off on all-working day weekend rides – whether on highway or gravel, my outings are likely to be minimal to 1-2 hours and are about covering ground quickly. The Upper is great in that regard. In shorter, it’s a blast to journey.

Open Higher: Posh DT Swiss wheels

With the layout of the frameset permitting it to be so adaptable, I have located the elements that dangle off it have a tendency to have far more a of marked influence on the bike’s resultant character than if the frameset had been a lot more pigeon-holed in its remit.

The ideal case in point of this is in the bike’s wheelset and tyres.

In the GRC wheels, DT Swiss was 1 of the first to take into account aerodynamic performance in a gravel wheelset.

I explore the ins and out of their structure in my review, but ultimately I really do not believe they provide a great deal of an aero gain to riders applying realistic tyre sizes going at real looking speeds.

That hasn’t stopped me from rising truly fond of the wheels, though. Their 24mm inner rim width supports big tyres at decreased pressures nicely, and I assume that deep rim, at minimum in element, will help them really feel rigid below acceleration.

What’s much more, they have verified themselves to be strong and they’re light-weight adequate to get the job done fantastically on the highway with wider hookless-appropriate highway tyres.

It is rare to locate a wheelset that acquits alone so nicely in a number of guises. That is what I believe can make them superb and really very well suited to the UPPER’s identical amounts of adaptability.

I have shod the wheels with WTB’s 37mm Riddler tyres. WTB has set up by itself as the dominant gravel tyre brand and for fantastic reason.

The Riddlers are between the ideal quick rolling gravel tyres on the current market. Their very low-profile centre tread doesn’t sap pace on tarmac but nevertheless gives grip on uncomplicated gravel.

The sidewalls are a minimal fragile (search closely and you are going to see the tail of a Dynaplug tyre plug in the sidewall of the entrance tyre) but the Riddler’s suppleness and grip is worthy of it. In my experience they are straightforward to install also.

Open up Upper: Shimano GRX Di2 with SRAM-esque customisation

Shimano’s GRX Di2 requires care of the shifting and braking duties. As I point out in my overview of the groupset, I consider the GRX-certain levers are a triumph in off-street ergonomics that I enjoy employing.

I’ve established the groupset up 1× because I’m not particularly delicate to jumps in my cadence and seriously like 1× gearing as a option for equally gravel and highway.

Additionally, by using the Shimano E-tube app, not owning to cater for entrance shifting implies I can set equally the upshift and downshift paddles on just about every lever to accomplish the similar shift function.

It replicates SRAM’s eTap shift logic of employing the remaining lever for much easier gears, ideal for more challenging types, and properly amalgamates the slender, different change paddles of Shimano’s levers into a person big paddle. It would make change regulate fool-proof even in muddy ailments or in excess of tough ground.

I have opted for a 40-tooth chainring and an 11-40 cassette. It is quite a limited gearing unfold but I live in Dorset, where there are countless shorter, sharp hills and even those problems I have never ever felt the have to have for everything decreased than a 1:1 bottom equipment.

My knees might grumble afterwards in life, but for now they seem to be information to allow me grind up the 20% gravel ramps of my dwelling trails with no fuss.

As well as, preserving the cassette to 11-40 alternatively than going to 11-42 suggests the jumps among gears on the 11-pace cassette are minimized. While I’m not significantly cadence-delicate, I’m not going to say smoother equipment development, in which attainable, is not welcome.

Open up Higher: Pro finishing kit

I have caught exclusively with Pro for the UPPER’s ending package. Particularly, components from its Discover off-street relatives.

Professional suggests its Find out seatpost promises a little further convenience by way of some flex built into its carbon layup.

While I can’t consider the effect of its inclusion makes a night-and-working day variation over a a lot more regular put up, I reasoned the assure of excess comfort and ease only will come with a 10g pounds penalty more than Pro’s frequent Vibe article, so was almost certainly worth a punt.

It has Dyneema in it also, which Pro suggests really should make it additional resistant to impact destruction. In my working experience, crashing is a case of ‘when’ fairly than ‘if’ though gravel driving, so I imagined this was a welcome aspect.

The Professional saddle on best of it is the off-street model of the brand’s snub-nose Stealth saddle. It is the exact condition, just with a little much more padding on the shell.

I’ve observed the Stealth to be a terrific form for my anatomy, but as the hulls of Pro saddles are inclined to be pretty firm, the further cushioning is welcome. It is an outstanding, superior price saddle that I would advocate remarkably.

At the front of the bike, I chose Pro’s Explore Carbon bar. It is mild, rigid and has Dyneema in way too for that additional assure of toughness, but ostensibly I chosen it for its ergonomics.

It matches the Shimano GRX levers completely (the bar-to-hood transition is seamless), sports activities a neat compact bend, and the 20° flare let me go narrower on the tops (for a extra aero situation position with no trade-off) but even now wide in the drops for more handle when needed.

I went for the Find out stem purely due to the fact it matches the relaxation of the ending package.

It is the suitable length, it’s not way too hefty and all its bolts are conventionally positioned. I’m not ridiculous about the dorky honeycomb decal on the faceplate but the sense of symmetry accomplished by speccing matching finishing package outweighed my ambivalence in direction of that attribute.

Open Higher: Cherries on top

A pair of extra minimal information concluded the bike for me.

1st was a set of Silca Ti cages. Even though undoubtedly an extravagance, they are light, robust and wonderful. I can not truly describe why, but I like the way they clash with the carbon frameset but select out the silver of the chain, cassette and rotors.

I should really probably mention that they are also fantastic at their primary function as well. They hold bottles firmly, in spite of those people bottles staying uncomplicated to get rid of and replace by hand.

Bar tape was not a notably fretted-more than preference. It had to be black and a minor tacky, but normally anything at all would do.

Syncros’ Tremendous Mild bar tape was knocking close to in my shed, in good shape the monthly bill and was notably uncomplicated to set up.

A few Wolf Tooth Precision headset spacers finished the construct off. Wolf Tooth would make major-high quality aluminium spacers in a vary of anodised colours, which includes a luscious purple. Purple comes about to be my favourite color, so their use provides a individual pop to an normally demure make.

Work completed.


Sam’s Open up Upper spec

  • Body: Open Upper (dimension Massive)
  • Fork: Open R-Transform
  • Fat: 7.5kg
  • Groupset: Shimano GRX Di2 (40t, 11-40)
  • Wheels: DT Swiss GRC 1400 Spline 42
  • Tyres: WTB Riddler TCS (37mm)
  • Bars: Pro Discover Carbon (40cm)
  • Stem: Pro Explore (110mm)
  • Seatpost: Professional Find out
  • Saddle: Professional Stealth Off-road
  • Pedals: Shimano XT
  • Accessories: Silca Ti bottle cages, Syncros Super Gentle bar tape, Wolf Tooth headset spacers

Shots: Lizzie Crabb