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Open has made a bike for people who have no idea where their next ride will take them. Pavement? Gravel? Singletrack? We’ll figure it out when we get there! The ability to transform this bike into just about anything you want it to be is a boon for the go-anywhere types, but be sure you’re really willing to do those wheel swaps. Otherwise you might find yourself with almost the right tool for your ride, but not quite.
The bike’s versatility comes from the ability to switch between 700c wheels with ‘cross and road tires and 27.5-inch wheels with mountain bike tires. We tested the U.P. with Maxxis Crossmark/Ikon 27.5-inch tires and 3T Discus Plus C30W Team wheels. This is the setup you want if you don’t want to feel any road or dirt vibrations at all. The big tires act as a layer of suspension, but you’ll pay the price in rolling resistance. Consider this your set-up if you’ll be hitting some light singletrack on top of gravel stretches, but if you’ll be hitting significant stretches of pavement, consider a different wheel/tire combo.
The UP is sporty and generally quick steering, but again, the bigger tires make for a slower pedaling response. It bridges the gap between rigid mountain bike and cross bike, but it’s really neither. Swap it out for some 700c wheels and the U.P. changes personalities. The pedaling response quickens and you’ll soon be entertaining the idea of entering a gravel race or two.
This is all possible because the outside diameters of the various tire/wheel sizes are within a few millimeters of each other, and the overall geometry of the bike doesn’t change too significantly from one configuration to another. Start swapping out wheels and the UP’s possibilities change on a dime. (Your dime, in fact. You’ll need to buy separate wheelsets and tires if you want to take full advantage of this chameleon.)
Ultimately, Open has created what the gravel category should aspire to: exceptional comfort and unparalleled versatility. The gravel category is young enough that it’s constantly changing, so it seems wise to get a bike that can change with it. Regardless of the setup, the U.P. is a peppy ride most at home on whatever dirt you can find.