Test: With the Open UPPER, we tested an extremely light and very elegant gravel bike - equipped with components from Easton, for which the bike serves as a show bike. The UPPER shows that compromises between road bikes and gravel are possible and can be a lot of fun.
Open UPPER: The facts
Frame material: Carbon
Wheel size(s): 700c (650b compatible)
Maximum tire clearance: 40mm (700c) / 2,1″ (650b)
Axle dimensions (v/h): 12 × 100/142 × 12
Mudguard Eyelets: No
Luggage carrier eyelets (v/h): No
bottle holder: Down tube up, down tube down, seat tube
Other: eyelets top tube
Weight wheels v/h/total (with tires and brake discs): 1.380g / 1.506g / 2.886g
Weight complete bike without pedals (size M): 7,7kg
Price: about 8.000 Euro
It is not even a decade ago that the manufacturer Open Cycle saw the light of day - almost a blink of an eye in the long and traditional bicycle world. Open is not such a real newcomer after all; The name, brand and models do, of course, but the two founders, Andy Kessler and Gerard Vroomen, have many years of industry experience. Among other things, Andy Kessler was CEO at BMC for seven years, Gerard Vroomen was one of the two founders of Cérvelo - so there is definitely no lack of know-how. The drive to unhinge Open was to get back to basics, away from big business. As they say so beautifully themselves, their top priority is to build bikes that they would ride themselves. With their portfolio and their approach, they are clearly targeting enthusiasts and custom bike fans - no open bike is offered as a complete bike, there are only frame sets. There are also no flashy designs, instead the frames are also available as RTP (ready-to-paint) - i.e. in bare carbon, so that the buyer can decide on the design himself.
Since the early days of Open, carbon has been used as the frame material for all models and low weight is high on the agenda. This is undoubtedly the case with the Open UPPER, which at approx. 880g (frame in M without fork) is probably one of the lightest gravel bike frames on the market at the moment. It's basically the super-light version of the Open UP, which weighs around 180g more, but otherwise doesn't differ from the UPPER. Well, there is one not insignificant difference: the price. At 2.900 euros (frameset incl. fork), the UP is already expensive, but still a whole lot cheaper than the UPPER, which costs 4.500 euros
In addition to the UP(PER), with the WI.DE, Open has another gravel bike in its already manageable portfolio of only three models. Of course, there needs to be a differentiation between the two models - but that couldn't be clearer. While the WI.DE is more likely to cater to the off-road bikepacking group, the UPPER we tested is for speed junkies who don't want to be stopped by insignificant obstacles such as gravel or unpaved paths.
Open doesn't make the mistake of sacrificing versatility for speed, or the other way around, with the UP. This is also reflected in the generous tire clearance: anyone who can get along with small 650b wheels can install fat 2,1" wide mountain bike tires, classic 28" tires fit up to 40mm through the frame and fork. If you want, you can also ride a 28mm street tire without any problems thanks to the slightly higher bottom bracket and have a slim, light racing bike for asphalt rides. The UP is not that universal when it comes to mounting options. There is space for three bottle holders on the main frame and the top tube has two more eyelets for bags on the top, but if you want to mount mudguards or a luggage rack, look into the tube.
Of course, such an extreme and at the same time versatile concept only works if the geometry is right. But this is where it gets complicated: should you focus more on the classic racer or the modern gravel bike? Or dare a mixture of both? Quite a few manufacturers have already failed with the latter.
Geometry Open UPPER
|seat tube (in mm)
|Top tube horizontal (in mm)
|head tube (in mm)
|chainstay (in mm)
|Wheelbase (in mm)
|Steering angle (in °)
|Seat angle (in °)
|Stacks (in mm)
On paper, the geometry of the Open UPPER is very close to that of a modern road bike or endurance bike. The steering angle is quite steep, the chainstays are short, and the saddle cant is obvious. One difference is the bottom bracket drop of 70mm, which is more like that of a normal gravel bike to ensure sufficient ground clearance off-road.
With regard to its equipment, the Open UPPER occupies a special position in our test in two respects: Since Open does not offer complete bikes, we “had” to sit on a custom body – the following explanations therefore relate exclusively to our test bike. Our UPPER is even more special because it is a "show bike" from Easton, which their German distributor Bike Action (thanks for that!) provided us with for the test. Accordingly, components and add-on parts from the manufacturer from California are often installed. But before we get to the attachments and components, it's worth saying a few words about the U-Turn fork. It is not only extremely light (approx. 370g), but also consistently and elegantly designed for flat mount brake calipers. While most other forks require adapters for attachment, the brakes on the U-Turn are simply screwed directly into the fork with the appropriate screws - done.
All of this also makes it complicated to put a price tag on our test bike. We roughly added the current "street prices" of the components, the frame and a small flat rate for small parts and accessories. With this equipment we come to about 8.000 euros - sporty! However, the same applies to the weight: At an almost sensational 7,7kg, the Open is by far the lightest bike in our test field. Even if you were to use the "heavier" UP frame, the distance to the competition would still be considerable.
|Open U-Turn Carbon
|Schwalbe G One 35mm
|Shimano XT Di2
|Shimano Ultegra Di2
|Easton EC90 SL
|Shimano Ultegra Disc
|Easton EC70 Carbon
|Fizik Antares R1 Carbon
|Easton EA90 SL
|Easton EC70 AX Carbon
The shifting group comes with the best from Shimano for the Gravel area - BEFORE the introduction of the current GRX Di2 group. The Ultegra Di2 levers installed on our test bike control an XT Di2 rear derailleur that changes gears on an 11-42 cassette. So you get high-quality, ergonomic STIs, a rear derailleur with damping for off-road use and a wide-ranged cassette so that you can also be armed with one chain ring for different terrain. The 380% bandwidth is not huge, but should be sufficient for most drivers. We encounter the first component with Easton lettering on the crank: The EC90 SL installed here is not only beautiful to look at, but at 350g (without chain ring) it is also one of the lightest cranks on the market.
A look at the wheels also reveals several Easton logos. The EA70 AX wheelset is the entry-level Gravel wheelset from Easton and, despite its low weight, has a generous internal width of 24mm. A good example of how even a very light wheel set does not always have to be carbon rims. In our case, 35mm wide Schwalbe G-One tires were mounted on it. Thanks to the wide rim, however, there are no upper limits - and of course: the EA70 AX are also tubeless-compatible.
The lively Easton parade continues in the cockpit: The combination of EA90 SL stem and EC70 AX handlebars is also used on other high-quality gravel bikes and is a good choice in terms of both ergonomics and weight. At 16°, the handlebar offers noticeably flared bar ends, but it is not so extreme that newcomers should feel uncomfortable. From the cockpit once along the top tube to the seating area. Here an Easton EC70 AX carbon post does its job, mounted on it is the usual good Fizik Antares in the noble R1 carbon version.
More tests, products and background information about the Velomotion Gravel Month:
- Storck Grix Platinum Ultegra Di2 gravel bike in test: Race tourer for gravel and off-road
- GT Grade Carbon Pro in the gravel bike test: Comfortable triangle for lots of driving fun?!
- Orbea Terra M30-D in the gravel bike test: Lively bike for training and gravel tours
- NS Bikes Rag+ 2 in the gravel bike test: Convincing aluminum all-rounder
- Rondo Ruut CF 2 in the gravel bike test: Fast gravel bike with a striking look
Let's Gravel—Open UPPER
The Open UPPER test bike reveals itself to us in a simple, high-quality design and convinces with first-class workmanship. Thanks to the Easton attachments and the sporty frame, the bike has an insane total weight of 7,7 kilograms, which is a real statement even for a high-end gravel bike. The good weight is of course clearly noticeable in the climbing passages and makes it easier for us to tackle and master climbs. However, the range of gears with a maximum of 42 teeth at the rear and only one chain ring at the front should get in the way and make particularly steep or longer climbs not quite as relaxed as hoped.
But let's take a step back. With its sporty but balanced geometry, the Open UPPER is primarily aimed at riders who like it faster. Racing cyclists who want to leave the asphalt from time to time are particularly addressed here. Despite the speed, a certain level of comfort is not neglected. The performance of the bike is just as sporty and balanced as the geometry. Because in addition to pleasant driving comfort, the acceleration of the Open Gravler is not to be scoffed at and provides the necessary sportiness. Here you not only benefit from the low weight of the bike, but you can also clearly feel the good power transmission and convert the power used into propulsion.
For sheer sportiness, however, a certain calmness is not completely neglected and thanks to direct handling, the Open UPPER can be controlled precisely and safely without getting nervous at higher speeds and losing its smoothness.
We don't really have to say much more about the equipment. The combination of Ultegra Di2 levers and XT Di2 rear derailleur works well and certainly makes sense for the gravel rider with an affinity for road bikes. The ergonomics of the high-quality add-on parts is very pleasant and leaves little room for improvement.
Other gravel bike highlights in the test:
Test: With the Open UPPER, we tested an extremely light and very elegant gravel bike - equipped with components from Easton, for which the bike serves as a show bike. The UPPER shows that compromises between road bikes and gravel are possible and can be a lot of fun. Open UPPER: The facts Frame material: Carbon Wheel size(s): 700c (650b compatible) […]
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