The brand new WI.DE (Winding Detours) gravel bike from Open takes wider tyres than the company’s original UP from 2015 and is all the better for it, with supreme speed over all sorts of surfaces, infused with great handling and low weight from the original it’s based on. But the price tag puts it off-limits for many and you can only buy it as a frameset with a choice of one colour.
[Note: the price for frame and forks is €3,200, the price displayed is correct GBP conversion at the time of publication]
If the UP was an SUV capable of dealing with road and gravel, the new WI.DE is a jeep aimed at much more rugged off-road terrain where commonly a mountain bike might be the more obvious choice.
Gravel bikes have been edging closer to the territory occupied by mountain bikes for a few years now, leading to many accusations they are nothing but glorified rigid mountain bikes with curly bars. On the evidence presented by the new WI.DE, there would appear to be some truth in these accusations. You see, the bike has space for up to 60mm (2.3”) tyres on 650b rims, as wide as many XC mountain bikes, or 46mm (1.8”) on 700cc rims if sticking to conventional road bike wheels.
I mostly tested the bike with 54mm (2.1”) Schwable G-One Bite tyres, an ideal fit-and-forget option, being fast and quiet on the road and grippy in the dirt. The tyres proved fast-rolling and grippy in the mostly dry conditions I tested them. Only two rear flats, easily fixed with a tubeless repair kit, blemished their durability record.
I’ve tested a lot of gravel tyres in recent years, and until now my preference had been 700x40 for the speed they offer. Riding the Open has forced me to question this assessment given the pace this bike provides with 650b tyres. Racing GritFest for the second year was the concluding factor.
Last year I rode 700x40mm and while they were indeed fast rolling on the many miles of gravel tracks, they lacked stability in the high-speed descents, especially when hooking into the apex of the corner for the racing line. In the same scenario, the 650x57 setup was noticeably more surefooted and predictable. They appeared to offer the same level of speed but with extra benefits due to the larger volume and contact patch.
The WI.DE has a high-modulus carbon fibre frame with a claimed 1,040g for a size medium weight. The signature feature is the double dropped chainstay. The original UP introduced a single drive side dropped chainstay to increase tyre clearance with road cranks, and it’s been highly copied since. Dropping both stays, as well as being a dedicated 1x frame design, has increased rear tyre clearance further still.
Open has also been able to create a large box section behind the bottom bracket to increase frame stiffness whilst also providing space for a couple of extra cage mounts. These, along with top tube bento box mounts and mudguard eyelets, increases the versatility of the WI.DE over the original UP. Mudguard mounts really open up the bike for winter riding - throw on a set of 30mm slick tyres and you have a great winter training and commuting steed.
Frame stiffness is boosted further with the flat-sided down tube with extra strips of ultra-high-modulus carbon fibre, while comfort benefits from the skinny seat stays. The U-Turn carbon fork carries over from the UP because it always provided generous tyre clearance. It’s distinctive in having the bolts for the front brake thread through from the front, which has the benefit of removing the usual flat mount adapter for a cleaner look and a small weight saving.
Axles are Syntace 12mm thru-axles with flush fitting bolts, and at the back, the same threads used to secure the axle also secure the derailleur hanger into the frame. All cables and hoses are internally routed and the frame is compatible with all current groupsets on the market. There’s a simple external seat clamp and as with the UP, and the seat tube angle has been designed around a zero-offset 27.2mm seat post. The BB386EVO bottom bracket is compatible with all road cranksets.
Open isn’t big enough to offer complete bikes, but it leant us a demo bike for the purposes of testing the frame. So while the review here is focused on the frame, it’s worth sharing a few thoughts on the components.
SRAM’s new Force eTap AXS wireless groupset can now be integrated with Eagle AXS, thus providing the massive 10-50t cassette for huge range coupled to a 42t single ring chainset and road bar shifters and hydraulic disc brakes.
It worked beautifully. Smooth gear changes and all the range for tackling the biggest hills and steepest gradients, whilst still providing ample top-end for crushing high-speed roads.
DT Swiss has been growing its wheel range in recent years with three new gravel/CX wheelsets this year. Sitting in the middle is the 1600 Spline wheels on this test bike, an aluminium tubeless-ready wheelset with 25mm tall and 24mm internal width for good compatibility with wide tyres. Weighing a claimed 1,723g, they clearly err on the side of durability rather than outstanding low weight. Tough they proved to be, and whilst not the lightest offering they felt stiff and direct.
Finishing kit is fancy Enve carbon handlebars, stem and seat post and topped with a Brooks Cambium saddle. I’ve never ridden this saddle before but came away impressed with its comfort and also the huge amount of flex that contributes to increased vibration damping on rough ground.
The handling and ride quality feels very similar to the UP, which is no surprise considering they share more than just a brand name. The new WI.DE shares the same key numbers but has a slightly taller head tube. This is a good thing, it pushes your weight back compared to the UP and is handling benefit on steep descents. It also made it more comfortable on long hauls because it's a little less aggressive on your hip rotation and back angle.
The geometry ensures the WI.DE is nimble at low speed when swerving around trees on singletrack, whilst being stable at higher speeds on loose gravel tracks. The steering is calm at high speeds making it a relaxing bike to ride on long distances because it’s not twitchy.
If you think the big tyres will mean a sluggish ride, think again. The WI.DE is stupendously quick over all terrain, whether it’s a road where it manages to not give out much speed to a pure road bike, or along rough gravel roads or forest tracks. The speed of the Open was its defining feature. The high stiffness of the frame delivers a sprightly uptake of speed and the low weight - 8.75kg for the pictured size medium test bike - ensures there’s no hill too steep or tough for the WI.DE to conquer.
Those skinny rear stays, the flexy Brooks Cambium saddle and obviously the wide tyres, which you can run as low as 20psi, gifts the Open the capability to isolate you from a lot of the jarring impacts that riding over roots, rocks and gravel generate.
Comfort is good then, but it’s not best in class. Having ridden the Cannondale Topstone, GT Grade and Specialized Diverge, I think there’s definite room for improvement. But you could argue those bikes add too much complexity and get away from the purity of a road bike with chunky tyres. If you truly want a smooth ride off-road, get a full-suspension mountain bike. So it's about choosing where the limit of your compromise is.
Where the WI.DE succeeds is in offering the performance and feel of a fast endurance road bike with the benefits of mountain bike wide tyres for really getting stuck into some off the beaten path adventures and gravel thrashing.
The only sticking point is the price. At €3,200 for the frameset and no complete build options, the WI.DE is a very expensive proposition. Replicate the SRAM Force/DT Swiss/Enve build on our test bike and you’re looking at €7,000 or so. You have a choice of this gloss and matte grey or a naked ready to paint option if you want to get a custom painted frame.
It doesn’t need me to point out the fact you can buy a very good complete gravel bike for the price of the frame only. You could buy the Mason Cycles InSearchOf with Rival 1x for £3,140, which admittedly has a steel frame but does boast wide tyre clearance.
But also offering a carbon fibre frame and fork and costing £1,799 I the Vitus Substance CRX.
A more fitting alternative is the brand new Cervelo Aspero we’ve just taken in for testing, and which costs £5,399 with a similar Force eTap AXS groupset.
So the Open WI.DE isn’t cheap, but it’s a very high-quality product with extremely fastidious attention to detail, is very light on the scales and offers a level of performance, on any terrain or surface, that is truly breath-taking. It’s without doubt one of the fastest and most capable, and fun, gravel bikes I’ve yet tested.
Do the big tyres work on a drop-bar road bike or is it too close to a mountain bike? For me, it retains the handling and sense of purpose you get from a road and gravel bike, of covering long distances over all terrains, road and off-road, at speed, but adds the extra capability of the big tyres. There's a lot to like here, apart from the price.
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