It’s nice to see that Open Cycle has finally taken a new path, albeit a gravel one, with its new U.P. (aka Unbeaten Path) GravelPlus frame.
Digressing for a moment, last summer I had the occasion to come across one of Open’s MTB bikes. The bike was absolutely stunning in every way.
In fact, I would be hard-pressed to say what stood-out the most about it, the gorgeous paint scheme, the parts kit, the bike itself, or the fact that it weighed next to nothing in the way of MTB bikes ?
In any case, everything was truly stellar about it. But, there was one problem (if you what to call it that), I’m not even remotely a mountain biker. So, are there any other styles I asked ?
Well, unfortunately, at the time, Open only specialized in the MTB segment, turning out small batches of very exclusive bikes to lucky owners. But, as you’re about to learn, that’s now changed.
Andy Kessler, one of the founders at Open Cycle, was gracious enough to forward me some info about their new U.P., along with a ditty about its design. Which, by the way, was written by Gerard Vroomen, you know, the guy who cofounded that little known brand – Cervélo. 😛
Open refers to its new bike as the “Unbeaten Path”, by virtue of the fact that it’s specifically designed to give riders the ability to egress to places less traveled, and experience new territory – otherwise unreachable on a road bike.
Despite not being a mountain biker, this I find appealing.
Living in the wilds of western Massachusetts, on the borders of Vermont and New Hampshire, I’ve come to find that pavement can often be a scarce commodity. And, while the whole “gravel” movement has continued to grow, so has my interest in venturing far from the beaten path too.
Therefore, I must confess, as staunch “roadie” and purveyor of all things “euro-geek”, the want for a gravel bike like the U.P. has never before emerged like it has until now. I’m also thinking, just as soon as I fully embrace the gravel thingy, the town where I live will suddenly decide to pave my road. Win, win !
Here’s Open Cycle’s ditty about their new U.P. GravelPlus frame.
by Gerard Vroomen
Andy and I are very excited to introduce the U.P. (Unbeaten Path) today. It is our new GravelPlus frame, a gravel grinder without limits. Ideal to go off the beaten path, from exploring a few gravel or dirt paths during your local ride to taking “the road never traveled”.
For me personally, this is probably my favorite frame ever, because it best reflects how I most like to ride. Asphalt is great to get you to the places where the real fun happens, and that is on gravel and dirt, away from cars and other fun-crushing obstacles. Over the past years, it’s been hard to miss that many people feel this way, witnessing the emergence of gravel rides and other adventurous styles of riding. So we hope the U.P. will be as exciting for you as it is for us, and if not, at least I’ve got my favorite bike now!
U.P.’s geometry is performance-oriented, so closer to a cross/road position than a mountain bike position. Combined with clearance to fit mountain bike and road/cross cranks, this gives you a comfortable and efficient position to far and fast on any terrain.
U.P. also fits the widest range of tires – even mountain bike tires – so not even the toughest conditions can stop you. We’ve placed a great emphasis on compatibility for U.P. The rear axle is 142×12 thru-axle so you can fit your 29er and 650b mountain bike wheels. The BB standard is BB386 EVO so you can fit virtually any crank you desire (rather important since the frame is meant to accept both mountain and cross/road cranks). Headset, seatpost, everywhere we’ve gone with the most common standards as long as they made sense.
We will start shipping U.P. in July. Whether the final frame will be orange or brown is in your hands, as you can vote for either color by leaving a comment below that starts with “My U.P. is ORANGE” or “My U.P. is BROWN” followed by the rest of your comment. You can also vote on social media by liking the post on Facebook and/or to go on Twitter and retweet/favorite the BROWN or ORANGE tweets. We’ll raffle of some socks on each of the platforms and you can vote multiple times (just once on each platform though) to increase your chances of the U.P. becoming your favorite color (and to increase your chances for some sweet OPEN socks).
U.P. KEY FEATURES
To go anywhere, the U.P. fits tires up to 55mm wide. But wider tires are also taller, which affects the steering geometry. The U.P. is designed for cross & road tires in size 700c and mountain bike tires in 650b (which have a smaller rim than but an OUTER diameter similar to 700c cross tires).
Consistent outer diameter means consistent handling and compared to 700c/29er mountain bike tires, the 650b size allows for a shorter chainstay to keep the frame compact.
Behind the bottom bracket, the chainrings, frame and tire all fight for space. And with the need to fit big mountain bike tires and narrow Q-factor cross/road cranks & chainrings, the U.P. presented the toughest possible packaging problem.
Dropping the right chainstay moves out of this crowded area, allowing it to be wider and therefore stiffer (a huge effect; with the same amount of material, twice the width will give you eight times the stiffness!)
SHARED OPEN KEY FEATURES
The rear triangle has to provide lateral stiffness for an efficient drive train, but vertically we’d like to have compliance for better comfort. Both our chainstays and seatstays are extremely thin vertically to provide that compliance, while their lateral width and layup ensure rock-solid propulsion. Truly the best of both worlds.
The downtube is the key for stiffness, connecting the steering center of your frame with the drivetrain. The flat-out downtube is oversized to generate more stiffness relative to its weight). The characteristically flat outside faces allow us to strategically place strips of ultra-high modulus carbon far away from the center plane. The overall shape of the cross-section transitions very gradually without any sharp edges in order to best deal with the changing loads.
With a minimal 27.2mm diameter we maximize the flex in our seatpost & seattube. This is especially a big plus on rough terrain. The seattube angle is designed around the use of a straight, zero-setback seatpost rather than a regular seatpost with setback (we’ve never understood those). Zero-setback posts are lighter, saving you another 10-30 grams (every little bit helps).
External cables & hoses collect dirt, risk getting stuck behind objects (particularly expensive with electronic shifting) and are frankly ugly. So the U.P. runs them internally. With the MultiStop design, you can customize the frame for 2×10/11, 1×10/11 and Di2 shifting. Just pick the right insert when ordering your frame. In case you run a single chainring, you can also remove the front derailleur hanger to further clean up the frame.
Most thru-axle frames are heavier than quick-release frames. Extra carbon for the dropouts, heavy hangers, and the axle itself. But they are stiffer, So what do you want most? The answer for most people is “both”, and so we introduce the first frames that combine a thru-axle with a lower weight. How?
The ThruThread design uses the same threads that hold the thru-axle to lock the derailleur hanger into the frame. Simple, light, effective.
We didn’t just redesign the dropout, the entire seatstay and chainstay design is optimized with the added stiffness of the thru-axle in mind.
For the thru-axle itself, we choose the stiffest design available, the Syntace X-12.
SafePost™ Pilot hole
Seatposts usually indicate a minimum insertion dimension. While it is important that there is enough seatpost inside the seatTUBE to support the former, it’s only half the story. The seatTUBE also needs to be supported properly, and therefore requires a minimum insertion. Simply make sure the seatpost is inserted past the SafePost Pilot hole AND past the minimum insertion stated on the post and you’re good to go.
“100% hi-modulus carbon”, “aero-space grade”, etc. Useless – and hopefully false (we’ll get to that) – claims meant to impress you.
It’s not about high- or low-modulus, it’s about the right carbon in the right spot. And because the bike industry loves techie-sounding abbreviations, we’ll humor them and call it TRCinTRS™
Fact: stiffer carbon is more brittle. Strategically placed ultra-high-modulus carbon is a good idea. Making the whole headtube out of it when you have big impact loads is not!
The best lay-up is not 100% of one modulus; it’s a blend. We use the highest modulus (stiffest) carbon of any bike manufacturer where we can, and tougher grades of carbon where we must. That’s how our frames are both light and durable.
Bottom bracket: 386 EVO
Parts: MTB/cross/road for rear derailleur, cassette, chain. Road front derailleur direct, MTB via adapter
Frame weight: 1150g
Frameset price including 3T Luteus thru-axle: €2900 (tax incl) / US$ 2900 (excl. sales tax)
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