What is a “gravel bike”? It’s a question often asked around Worldwide Cyclery lately.
How a gravel bike is defined, is a somewhat blurred line between a traditional road bike, a cyclocross bike, touring bikes, and even early hardtail mountain bikes.
They all share common traits:
OPEN Cycle, was started by Gerard Vroomen (the co-founder of Cervélo) and Andy Kessler (former CEO of BMC). Together, they created an incredibly unique frame, the U.P., or the “Unbeaten Path.”
With tire clearance up to a 700/40c or 650/2.1” mountain tire, this is a truly versatile bike. It can be built as a fast road bike with a double chainring in front to hang with the local club rides on the weekend, or a SRAM Eagle 1x12 if one really want to get lost on the back roads on a bikepacking trip into the wilderness.
OPEN Cycle U.P. - Worldwide Cyclery Build Kit:
This bike was set up as a fast gravel racer, but with speed and comfort in mind as well. All the carbon parts provides vibration dampening, while providing enough stiffness on standing climbs or sprints.
Don’t let the good looks of this bike fool you. This is no garage queen or something to be sitting in a rack at the bike shop. It is meant to be ridden, and it can take a lot more than you think it can.
I have taken the U.P. on a lot of my pre-work morning rides on the gravel roads near my home in Chester and Lancaster Counties, and it handles all the types of gravel in the area. Everything from large new chunky golf ball-sized chunks to smooth and fast “moon dust” rail-to-trail surfaces. Pennsylvania is notorious about using tar-n-chip on the roads, and the U.P. smoothed out those roads as well. It has already participated in several local gravel events with some really tough climbs and descents, with more gravel events planned throughout the Fall, Winter (yes), and Spring of 2018.
Descending on gravel or tarmac, the UP is stable with it’s lower center of gravity and longer wheelbase.
Climbing on the UP is really nice. The stiffness of the BB386 in the crank area gives a nice feel of power transfer from pedal to cranks to the wheels.
The geometry on this bike is just so dialed from anything else I have ridden. It took me only a few minutes to know what I could do on the bike, like cornering and riding over the rougher roads that were newly “maintained” by PennDOT. Everything feels balanced and “right”. The amount of time Andy and Gerard took put together this amazing bike, shows in every detail, and more importantly, how it rides.
The OPEN U.P. is a great option for someone looking to branch out to the roads less traveled. For those who may want to get in some dirt miles and race a bit here and there, while still able to put on slick road tires to do a local club ride on the road, or large volume 650b tires for a weekend bike-packing trip.
The OPEN U.P. bridges the gap between the mountain biker and the roadie, providing enough fun for each riding style.
Swing by the Lancaster shop and demo this incredible machine. You’ll be glad you did.