Now Bikes' connection to OPEN:In the spring of 2014, founder of HED Cycling Steve Hed, owner of OPEN Cycle Gerard Vroomen and Now Bikes VP Bob Sumada rode together at the Almanzo 100. Gerard was riding a Thor Hushovd's specialty Cervelo R3 with, at the time, whopping 28c tires.
It was this experience that got him thinking about the idea of a gravel bike with Cervelo geometry and the ONE tire size concept to run different tires sizes on one frame.
A year later at Interbike 2015, Gerard introduced the OPEN UP and Now Bikes became one of their first dealers to sign on and bring this special brand to the Midwest.
Classic U.P. vs New U.P. vs U.P.P.E.R.
The 3 members of the U.P. (Unbeaten Path) family all combine a road riding position with clearance for mountain bike tires. Get out of town on asphalt, hit the gravel roads or switch to singletrack. Your position gets you there fast; the big tires make you unstoppable.
The frame is available in three versions:
|-||The Classic U.P. with 3T Luteus II fork and post-mount disc brakes|
|-||The New U.P. with OPEN U-Turn fork and flat-mount disc brakes|
|-||The superlight U.P.P.E.R. with OPEN U-turn fork and flat-mount disc brakes|
Every U.P. and U.P.P.E.R. shares the same shape, geometry, intended use and most importantly: tire clearance. But they differ in layup, weight, fork, disc brake mounts, thru-axles and colour.
The U.P. fits mountain bike tires up to 2.1” wide. But you can also fit a 40mm cross tire, or a 28mm road tire, or anything else in-between (exact tire sizes depend on manufacturing tolerances and rim width, so this is a guideline. Always make sure you have 6mm clearance between tire and frame).
Behind the bottom bracket, the chainrings, frame and tire all fight for space. And with the need to fit big mountain bike tires and narrow Q-factor cross/road cranks & chainrings, the U.P. presents the toughest possible packaging problem.
Dropping the right chainstay moves it out of this crowded area, allowing it to be wider and therefore stiffer (a huge effect; with the same amount of material, twice the width will give you eight times the stiffness!).
“100% hi-modulus carbon”, “aero-space grade”, etc. Useless – and hopefully false (we’ll get to that) – claims meant to impress you.
It’s not about high- or low-modulus, it’s about the right carbon in the right spot. And because the bike industry loves techie-sounding abbreviations, we’ll humor them and call it TRCinTRS™.
Fact: stiffer carbon is more brittle. Strategically placed ultra-high-modulus carbon is a good idea. Making the whole headtube out of it when you have big impact loads is not!
The best lay-up is not 100% of one modulus; it’s a blend. We use the highest modulus (stiffest) carbon of any bike manufacturer where we can, and tougher grades of carbon where we must. That’s how our frames are both light and durable.
For the U.P. and the U.P.P.E.R., we use different lay-ups, meaning the shapes of the plies and the ratio between the different materials is different for the two models, with the U.P.P.E.R. using an extremely complex lay-up.
The downtube is the key for stiffness, connecting the steering center of your frame with the drivetrain. The flat-out downtube’s characteristically flat outside faces allow us to strategically place strips of ultra-high modulus carbon far away from the center plane. The stiffest carbon exactly where it matters, guaranteed!
Disc brake mounts
One of the key differences between the Classic U.P. on the one hand and the new U.P. and U.P.P.E.R. on the other is the disc mount standard. The Classic U.P. uses post-mount, the other two are designed for flat-mount. We don't like how the bike industry keeps “inventing” new standards, so we always investigate if they are an improvement before we use them.
Post-mount brake calipers work very well, and the main argument for flat-mount is that it looks better (sigh) while a significant drawback is that the front brake always requires an adapter for mounting, adding weight and reducing braking efficiency.
So why did we decide to offer the U.P.P.E.R. with flatmounts? Three reasons:
Shimano has decided to make the new DuraAce group only available for flat-mount. So to use their top group, you need a flat-mount frame.
SRAM does offer all its brakes in flat-mount and post-mount versions, but the flat-mount calipers are lighter.
We came up with the U-turn, a new fork that accepts flat-mount calipers without the need for that silly adapter. So that disadvantage is eliminated for OPEN.
In conclusion, to use the lightest possible brakes from both Shimano and SRAM, you need their flat-mount brakes. And thanks to the U-turn fork, you can make those set-ups even lighter by removing the normally required adapter. A win-win.
For the U.P.P.E.R., we designed a new fork that accepts flat-mount calipers without the need for an adapter. So you can get your Shimano or SRAM flat-mount caliper, remove the standard adapter it comes with, and bolt it directly onto our fork.
This saves weight and increases the stiffness of the braking system.
We do this by making the fork dedicated for 160 mm brake rotors (140 mm is a bad idea anyway on this type of bike) and using the same through-bolt design that is normally reserved for the rear.
Some may not like the exposed bolt heads on the front of the fork leg instead of them being hidden, but we actually like it. It’s a technically superior design, so this engineering choice should be clearly visible.
But the U-turn fork doesn't just save you weight on the flat-mount brake, it is also extremely light itself. At 375 grams, it is by far the lightest fork that fits GravelPlus tires. And to save even more weight, it is comes with an extremely light 12mm Carbon-Ti custom axle
So the U.P.P.E.R. ships standard with the U-turn. Since the U.P. is a post-mount frame, it ships with a post-mount fork, the 3T Luteus II.
The U.P. uses the 386 EVO bottom bracket standard. The wide (86mm) BB shell is perfect to attach the dropped drive-side chainstay to. Furthermore, it fits most of the cranks on the market, from Shimano and SRAM but also smaller brands like THM and Rotor. 386 EVO even allows for the installation of many mountain bike cranks. Not all versions of each crank fit though, so be sure to check with your local OPEN retailer if you have questions.