The OPEN U.P.P.E.R.: A High-End Gravel Bike Worth the Price
The OPEN U.P.P.E.R. is undeniably one of the most expensive gravel bikes I’ve ever tested, but it’s also one of the best. In this review, I’ll share my experience with this top-tier bike from OPEN.
Testing the U.P.P.E.R. at Sea Otter
During the Sea Otter event, I had the opportunity to Review ride the U.P.P.E.R. Although time was limited due to the demands of covering the show, OPEN graciously allowed me to take the bike home after the event. Keep in mind, the U.P.P.E.R. comes with a hefty price tag of $4,500 for the frameset alone.
A Lightweight and Stiff Frame
The U.P.P.E.R. is the high-end counterpart to the OPEN U.P., featuring a more complex carbon fiber layup for a lighter and stiffer frame. Compared to the U.P., the U.P.P.E.R. is 220g lighter (880g vs 1100g for a medium frame), thanks to the carbon fiber layup and a lighter thru axle. The U.P.P.E.R. also boasts a Carbon-Ti bolt-on axle for a flush fit with the frame.
An Upgraded Fork
The U.P.P.E.R. distinguishes itself from the U.P. with its fork. Instead of the color-matched 3T Luteus II fork, the U.P.P.E.R. features an OPEN U-turn fork with a 100 x 12mm thru axle and flat mount disc brakes. This fork eliminates the need for an adapter, providing a better connection between the caliper and the fork. It’s designed to accommodate 160mm brake rotors and has generous tire clearance for various terrains.
Impressive Performance with WTB Byway Tires
For this review, I opted for WTB Byway 650b x 47mm tires. These tires performed exceptionally well on mixed terrain, offering a smooth roll on pavement, dirt, gravel, and even hard-packed sand. They struggled a bit in muddy conditions, but overall, they provided a great balance between road and off-road performance. Additionally, the Orange Seal-filled Byways remained flat-free throughout three months of riding in various conditions.
DT Swiss XRC 1200 Spline Carbon Wheels
The U.P.P.E.R. was equipped with DT Swiss XRC 1200 Spline carbon wheels, which not only provided a lightweight feel but also offered a nice fit with the road plus tires. These wheels were easy to set up tubeless and provided excellent lateral stiffness. The DT Star ratchet mechanism ensured a smooth and quiet ride on the road. However, it’s worth noting that these wheels come at a high cost, with prices starting at $2,691.
A High-End 1×11 Drivetrain
The U.P.P.E.R. features a high-end 1×11 drivetrain, consisting of an Easton EC90SL crank with a 38t direct mount ring and an e*thirteen trsr 9-46t cassette. The drivetrain is controlled by SRAM Force CX1 HRD shifters and hydraulic disc brakes. The e*thirteen cassette offers an impressive gear range, making it suitable for both high-speed road use and off-road riding. However, a wider gear range may be necessary for some gravel bike riders.
Durable Components and Thoughtful Design
The U.P.P.E.R. is equipped with durable components, such as the clutched CX1 derailleur and the Easton cranks with a durable finish. The bike also features the convenient Silca Premio Seat Roll for easy access to tools. The Brooks Cambium C13 saddle and Cambium Rubber bar tape provided comfort and durability, although the saddle’s width may not be suitable for all riders.
Overall, the OPEN U.P.P.E.R. delivers exceptional performance and quality, making it worth the high price tag for serious gravel bike enthusiasts.