Gritfest was so much fun last year (and it looks like being even better this year) that I’m going back this weekend for more sweet gravel riding in mid-Wales. Before I load up the car and head on over, here’s a quick bike check of the Open WI.DE I'll be riding.
Last year I rode the Fairlight Cycles Secan and it was pretty much perfect for the course. I subsequently bought a frameset so I could ride my own bike this year, but the event is a good opportunity to test something new. And yes because I’m in the lucky position of having several bikes that I could ride. It’s a tough life etc…
And that something new is the brand new Open WI.DE. I’ve only had it for about two weeks but I think the event will be a good place to really test it.
The WI.DE (short for Winding Detours) is a new bike from the company that brought us the UP back in 2015, a genre-defining gravel and adventure bike. The main story with the new WI.DE, as the name kinda suggests, is increased tyre clearance so you can fit “monster tires to help you conquer the most extreme terrain” to quote the company.
That means it'll easily accommodate up to 2.4” mountain bike tyres on 650b rims, or 35 to 46mm tyres on 700c rims. That’s a decent increase over the 2.1” and 40mm clearance of the UP. To enable such wide tyre clearance, the new bike has dropped chainstays (the UP just had a dropped driveside chainstay) which also allows the frame to maintain the narrow Q-factor of a road bike so road cranks can be used.
It’s also a 1x only frame design to increase the clearance, another nail in the coffin for the front mech on gravel bikes. The geometry is largely the same as the UP, with the only real change being a slightly taller head tube for a bit more laidback fit on off-road terrain. You get a few more mounts, two extra cages can be fitted to the belly of the down tube, and there are two bolts on the top tube.
Decking out the frame is a SRAM Force eTap AXS crankset, shifters and brakes, with an Eagle AXS rear mech and 10-50t cassette, which pairs to a 42t chainring. It’ll be interesting to see how this combo works on the hilly terrain of the Gritfest course, and it'll be my first time riding SRAM's wireless groupset on a gravel bike in any sort of competitive environment because up until now only the roadies have been able to enjoy the wireless dream.
I’ve also got the brand new DT Swiss GR 1600 Spline 25 wheels to try out, an aluminium clincher rim with a 24mm internal width laced to high-quality hubs with the Spline freehub body. They’re 650b sized and shod with Schwalbe G-One tyres.
Ah tyre choice. Is there any topic to get gravel cyclists more animated? I've been umming and ahhing about tyre choice all week. Last year I used 700c Mavic Allroad wheels with 40mm wide Yksion Allroad XL tyres. And they were pukka. I gather conditions are pretty good for the course with the recent rain not causing too much damage, so I may just stick with the G-One tyres based on using them on home trails. They are certainly quick on hardpack and dry trails. Maybe I’ll put another set of wheels/tyres in the car just in case…
Final details including the lovely Enve carbon handlebar, stem and seatpost, which all help to keep the weight nice and low. Then there’s the Brooks Cambium saddle which isn’t one I’ve ever used before, but after a couple of rides I’ve been getting on with it, okay, so I’ll think I’ll be brave and leave it on instead of just switching to my preferred saddle.
I'll let you know how the bike gets on at the event with a follow-up report next week.
You might also like: