Just another week

Gerard Vroomen - 08-Jun-2018
When we started out OPEN, we had a series of posts about what it was like to set up the company and run it. Lately we have fewer posts like that, partially because we're not sure anybody cares and partially because we ourselves view our everyday work as not special enough to write about. (and if you don't feel like reading this whole blog, maybe you are an UP or UPPER rider and are interested in just skipping it and helping us out with a little survey)

But I knew this week would be quite an interesting week so I was determined to write a blog about it. For starters, Andy and I both had an important meeting in California this past Tuesday, and we thought it would be a great topic. So we both flew in to San Francisco, Andy from Denver as he has been visiting OPEN retailers, and I from Amsterdam. We get to our meeting Tuesday morning, and the first thing that happens is that we're sworn to secrecy. So unless you can tell something from the reflection in my sunglasses  or the sliver of mountain in the photo above, you'll have to wait.

So I can tell you absolutely nothing about who we met, why, and what will come out of it. At least, I can't tell you right now. I will however write the blog I wanted to post today, put it in the "vault" and publish it when we are finally allowed to do so. Which actually is very similar to how our first blog posts went, I was writing blogs for a year while we were developing the first frame, without posting anything. And then when we were almost ready to launch that frame, I released the posts.

What I can tell you is that it was great to meet up with Andy again. OPEN is a bit strange, in that Andy and I work very closely (we speak almost every day) but we rarely see each other. 3-5 times per year would be the average, but lately it has been even less because I temporarily lived in the States. So when we saw each other in California, that was the first time since last year's Eurobike!

We had a really nice couple days, including a ride through the mountains, to the beach, and back again, with some nice people (can't tell you who) and some fun discussions. California means traffic jams and although neither Andy nor I particularly like them, there are few people I'd rather sit in a traffic jam with than Andy. And the Garmin's constant attempts at "optimizing" the route, making it longer every time, added some much-needed humor.

Of course our discussions often involve future projects and bikes we would like to ride (and therefore bikes which would be "eligible" to be OPEN models as per our "policy"). That's a lot of quotation marks, just because we don't take ourselves that seriously, but the "rule" (darn, another pair) that we only build bikes we want to ride ourselves has served us - and I hope you - well so far, so we'll definitely continue in that way. 

High on our wish list (though low on our "let's have that ready tomorrow" list) is a smart cargo bike. Lots of ideas, but no idea yet how to put that all into one practical bike. Until then, we'll just keep riding our UP and ONE+!

A lot of our discussions also revolved around whether or not we should offer some complete bikes again, built with our personal favourite components, so that it becomes easier for people to join the OPEN family. Especially with the UP and UPPER, we know there are so many spec options that it can be overwhelming. Some people love picking the bike one part at the time, but others just want to ride.

So should we add complete bikes, or stick to just frames? And if complete bikes, should it be a "Gerard spec" (meaning the most cost-effective way to get the best performance) or the "Andy spec" (the absolute greatest stuff in the world)? We would love to hear from you in the comments section, both if you already own an OPEN and if you don't.

One other thing Andy and I were discussing is our current UP/UPPER geometry. We're  happy about it, but we would love to know how you feel about it. So I made a 1 minute survey at SurveyMonkey and we would really appreciate it if you could take the time to fill it out. Funnily, that is also something we did during those first months of OPEN, when the market was still just slowly moving to 29er mountain bikes (can you believe that was was ever controversial!) and we wanted to do some market research on the sly.

More soon!


Comments & Questions

I always enjoy reading the blogs, but lately less and less as it's always about gravel bikes, again and again. Seems like Open's focus has completely shifted. Perhaps gravel bikes is where the money is right now, as it's the new hype? My interest is in mountainbikes, don't know if I should remain subscribed to the mailing list or not. Anything exiting happening on the mountainbike front?
Post #1 of 39. Posted by MsC on 08-Jun-2018 08:04:41 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12762]
I would go for Gerard's specs with a innovative options (like Ultegra RX -pragmatic but with a Fox AX option)
Post #2 of 39. Posted by Luc on 08-Jun-2018 08:32:11 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12763]
Yes! Complete bikes built to Gerard spec. Love to build my own but honestly I have enough to do. Would rather just ride. Plus there might be more value in a complete bike.
Post #3 of 39. Posted by M B S on 08-Jun-2018 09:09:35 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12764]
Don't you dare build a great cargo bike. You will be my financial ruin at some stage ;) - seriously, I love my new UP, and I am thinking about a few other bikes right now, with a cargo bike on the list; so I'll shelf it and hope in the next decade or so, you'll make a good one (I just want one, not need one, so I can wait)

On the complete bikes - for me the hunt for parts is part of the pleasure of a new bike, so I wouldn't need them. I'd rather see you focus your time on new bikes that are just as amazing as the others. So far, all your bikes somehow made it onto my Wishlist, so I am sure that will continue like that.
Post #4 of 39. Posted by Jannik on 08-Jun-2018 09:10:31 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12765]
Def enjoy the blog entries! Regarding complete bikes, I think it is a good idea. And I don't see why not offering both smart-efficient ones along with top-specs options. Cant wait to hear the news!
Post #5 of 39. Posted by stef on 08-Jun-2018 09:10:40 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12766]
I live in Tahoe/Truckee CA and shop at your retailer in Truckee (great shop). Considering an Open gravel bike but didn’t realize it’s frame only and you spec the components. They were in the process of building a frame with full dura-ace (big $$$). Tell me what is the Gerald group spec and the Andy group spec. I’d rather ride than pick part by part? Thanks.
Post #6 of 39. Posted by Dennis Tukua on 08-Jun-2018 09:18:03 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12767]
I liked hand picking the parts for mine
Post #7 of 39. Posted by Greg on 08-Jun-2018 09:39:06 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12768]
If UP have had a concave seatpost tube, you had been able to use 700*45 tires
You could also design a frame with interchangeable headset cap system allowing stack changes without spacers +/- 10mm.
Ability to move the FD mount down from standard position, so you can move FD to fit smaller big rings when we use 2*11.
The real deal would be a new fork, which is light but offer suspension/ damping.
The Fox etc is really far too heavy, which leaves us with Lauf Grit as the only resonably lightweight offer.
650B/ 27.5' * 2.1 option with todays wider rims should also be nice.
Post #8 of 39. Posted by wheels on 08-Jun-2018 09:57:35 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12769]
As someone who is waiting to build my "once in a lifetime" bike, I'm interested in the Andy spec build. I decided a while ago that my next bike (and may be last??) would be an UP and I want to spec it out to be something that I'm drawn to ride continually. Having never built up a bike before, I'm a bit intimidated by the concept of going part by part. Having an option to have a build available would be great.
Post #9 of 39. Posted by Steve on 08-Jun-2018 10:05:13 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12770]
Hi Steve, even if there won't be complete bikes, the Open dealers I know so far are all extremely competent in advising you on spec. Especially for a once in a lifetime build, I think they can help you to build one that is just the perfect bike for you.
Post #23 of 39. Posted by Jannik on 09-Jun-2018 05:35:51 GMT in reply to post #9 [12770<--12784]
I like the insights, I am amazed at the amount your "small" company achieves and how it does so.

So, the secret meeting - discussions for support of an Alpine/Mainland European Grinduro, I reckon. If I'm right a VIP package including travel, will buy my silence!

I was at The Keswick Mountain Festival in the UK just about 20 rears ago. During a forum I asked principles from Hope, Orange and Pace about 29ers and also how I could get some aftermarket wheels/components for my new Ti version ... "Good luck with that!" and indulgent laughter was the reply.

Same thing from my local club's riders when I stated bringing my U.P. to social rides, just over a year ago.


Please keep doing what you're doing, if I appreciate it, there will be plenty others who do too!

Keep, keeping it small guys!
Post #10 of 39. Posted by Tony Oswald on 08-Jun-2018 10:08:24 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12771]
As an Open dealer that builds up a lot of ‘Andy specs’, I’d love to see you guys offer a ‘Gerard spec’. This way, we will not lose as many potential customers who go out and get a Haaka or Diverge instead just because the price is right. I also wouldn’t mind if the geo was a bit more relaxed. Our avg. Open customer is probably 50-60 and does not race. Thanks for doing what your doing guys!
Post #12 of 39. Posted by Kevin on 08-Jun-2018 11:43:06 GMT in reply to post #10 [12771<--12773]
I agree on Gerard spec, because it could help to get some of my friends on an Open… but I am 24, I love the geo, please don't change it ;)
Post #24 of 39. Posted by Jannik on 09-Jun-2018 05:37:57 GMT in reply to post #12 [12773<--12785]
The survey has a couple of questions that relate to geometry. I would be interested in see what percentage ride a U.P. with spacers of 20mm. It seems like almost every U.P. I see is setup that way. Maybe that's why they asked the question?

Frame only and complete bikes seems to be a logical step. Like Canyon. Make it super easy for new customers.

Random thoughts ;

If Open release a road frame it seems like a backflip on the idea of one bike two wheels sets minimalist idea the was key to the idea behind Open.

If you ride a "modern" hardtail design either as 2'25 or in plus build it's obvious that the Open MTB is dated. There are a bunch of similar hardtail bikes out there that are way more fun to ride then the Open One+.

I've tried a few gravel bikes with suspension (elastomers, suspension forks) and none of them are great. The U.P. with good tyres is still much better then anything else I've tried.
Post #26 of 39. Posted by Andy on 10-Jun-2018 03:14:38 GMT in reply to post #12 [12773<--12788]
I just did the survey - my answers may skew the results so to clarify a couple of things:

My stand over height is fine but I have am 6'1" with a 33-34" inseam.

I think my Large fits me like a dream, the only reservation being that I have to run the saddle almost at its forward limit, to get my knee/BB position right.

I could maybe have taken a Medium, but I think there would have been other compromises with that.

If I'm riding on more serious off road - as sections of UK gravel usually are, I put on a shorter stem than I use for the road
Post #11 of 39. Posted by Tony Oswald on 08-Jun-2018 11:42:00 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12772]
Both spec. Please. Andy one to get the absolute top. Gerard one for the “good enough” oriented guys.
Post #13 of 39. Posted by Stefano Resnati on 08-Jun-2018 12:11:00 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12774]
By all means, offer you bikes in complete builds... perhaps a Gerard model, an Andy model, and perhaps something middle ground (Ultegra/XT). Whatever you decide, keep making those awesome bikes!!
Post #14 of 39. Posted by Mark Spencer on 08-Jun-2018 12:11:56 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12775]
Complete bikes? Yes. Gerard’s specs? Yes. Clearance for 700 x 42c tires? Yes. Additional color choices? Please. Your framesets are beautiful, light and a joy to ride. Keep up the good work.
Post #15 of 39. Posted by Joe on 08-Jun-2018 12:31:12 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12776]
I think you guys absolutely should do complete builds. Offer both specks and an ever evolving build. Its a win win for client and Open.
Post #16 of 39. Posted by Rys on 08-Jun-2018 12:40:07 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12777]
Hi Gerard, great post! I'd like to see an Up/Upper that's probably a mix of your cost effective spec and Andy's best stuff!
Post #17 of 39. Posted by Jay Park on 08-Jun-2018 13:08:12 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12778]
Hi, guys: One of my favorite aspects of your philosophy and ethos is your transparency. You involve your customers and your company will be stronger because of this approach. I recently built an UP with Above Category just north of San Francisco. I won’t bore you with the specs here (will post to showcase instead)—currently I run 650bs with 2.1 tires. I just finished Lost & Found up in the Lost Sierras and saw at least a dozen OPEN UPs, mostly running 700c with 40mm tires. When you’re in the OPEN tribe you see a familiar sense of wonder and ecstasy on the rider’s face. A shared smile, head nod, and thumbs up lead to the inevitable conversations about how we all ignore our other bikes in the quiver. As far as I could tell, I was the only OPEN I saw on the course with 650b tires, and the bike just shredded the course (if only my abilities could match). Even with fatty tires I continually passed other gravel bikes on asphalt, and left mountain bikes in the dust on climbs. This is a longwinded way of saying that while I enjoy my custom spec, I support you offering complete bikes, to get more people involved in this OPEN adventure community. Please keep us engaged in the discussions, and keep dreaming up what’s next. And for god sakes, when you come to my city (San Francisco) let’s go for a ride! There are many of us OPEN enthusiasts here (as you know). So curious what you were meeting about! Cheers.
Post #18 of 39. Posted by Brian Scott on 08-Jun-2018 13:44:37 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12779]
I love my UP, "Ivy". It was a challenge to piece her together but it created an opportunity to look forward to riding. When I come across someone on an OPEN I know they probably wanted a special bike too. I understand the business opportunity for complete bikes but there is something nice about being in a group of bike owners who are willing to start with just a frame.
Post #19 of 39. Posted by Mike on 08-Jun-2018 16:29:10 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12780]
An OPEN disc road bike that fits up to 32mm tires would be awesome!! Nothing like the 3T Strada though......
Post #20 of 39. Posted by Geoff on 08-Jun-2018 17:18:24 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12781]
I bought one of your original builds - an OPEN my riding partner at the time dubbed "The Virgin." The nickname stuck, and the bike is still my favorite ride so, yes, I think you guys should return to offering limited edition complete builds - a Gerald version and an Andy version.

I look forward to reading your account of your top-secret meeting in California. As a Professor of Management, I always enjoy your posts on the business side of things. I have often thought of using your company as a case study detailing the opportunities and challenges of running a virtual organization.
Post #21 of 39. Posted by Dan on 08-Jun-2018 19:37:27 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12782]
I totally agree that you should offer full bikes as well as just the frame. I found it a bit overwhelming and ended up going with something I expect Andy would like because that is the type of shop I ended up at:) But it took forever and so much consulting back and forth. It was fun but definitely a big barrier to entry!
I think you could offer a more gravel focused approach and a more road focused approach to the bike as well. I think you would sell a LOT more frames that way!
Post #22 of 39. Posted by Erika on 08-Jun-2018 23:38:08 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12783]
Gerard Spec. In my case a local painter and assembler would possibly be utilized.
Post #25 of 39. Posted by Jeff on 09-Jun-2018 17:07:03 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12786]
I think it's a good option to "suggest" builds, maybe with some more explanation on the choice of components and the alternatives (Gerard vs Andy); but in todays market, with all the possibilities of getting parts "online" (through and not-through a physical shop) the nice part of the OPEN concept results that everybody has its own Open, rather than a standard one, like every other OEM out there... continue your great work guys! and thanks for the fun!
Post #27 of 39. Posted by Luka on 11-Jun-2018 04:30:37 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12790]
I think stick to frames. There's so many options for these bikes and that's part of the charm, and I'm sure most dealers can satisfy most customers requirements and surely wouldn't mind the odd component sourced elsewhere.
With the geometry for me (small) it couldn't be any better. Just please don't go with way bigger head tubes to satisfy that America market, it's a bike not a chair :-)
Post #28 of 39. Posted by Packs on 12-Jun-2018 09:06:36 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12794]
Stack is too low for me in my opinion. Satisfied with custom frames, I think it keeps your company focused on what it does well.
Post #29 of 39. Posted by Mr. Tim on 12-Jun-2018 16:43:04 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12795]
Love my UP - still waiting for my "road" wheels. Off road it's very agile and great fun - you can feel the stiffness will translate to a very responsive road bike - so can't wait to try that and compare to my Roubaix Pro. Spent much time agonising over gear ratios - one rule only - 1 by... Looking at the impact of different cassettes it quickly becomes clear that switching a wheel and cassette does not move you from off-road to road gearing - that requires a change to the front chainring. I want to stick to 1 by but there should be a way for a non mechanic (like me) to change quickly - as easily as a wheel (i.e. not removing cranks) - would be great to a solution for that and would add to the versatility of the UP.
Post #30 of 39. Posted by Geoff on 12-Jun-2018 16:48:08 GMT in reply to blog [0<--12796]
Gerard: My wife and I both have had UPPER's now for about 6 months. I think you should raise the top tube a bit at the front because of the number of spacers just about everyone needs (it's still a gravel bike, not a super-aero machine). Also think you should consider an XS size--perhaps only for 650b. If my wife were any smaller, there is no way we could have made an S fit. Anyway, we are both totally stoked with our new bikes. My wife has yet to ride any other bike in her arsenal because she loves hers so much. I have been on my road bike for only about 100 km since I built the UPPER, which now has a good 4000 km on it. I think that says enough! There is something very unique about a company that only builds frames. Are you really sure you want to get into offering complete bikes like Canyon? That is a lot more complicated, although you would surely reach a lot more people. Quite a number of people I talk to who would be interested in your bikes are intimidated because of the infinite number of build possibilites.
Post #31 of 39. Posted by Andrew Terker on 13-Jun-2018 05:41:00 GMT in reply to blog [0<--13793]
I took your survey and have a few more meaningful comments.
1. I own a new green UP. Love it!
2. I own a One Plus. Love it!
3. Good news first. The One Plus handles exceedingly well on 27.5/2.8 Racing Ralph's with the Roxshock SID fork locked out 95% of every ride. Extremely stable, fast or slow riding, and quite precise. Well done!
4. More good news. The new UP is quite fantastic in the dirt on 650x2.1 tires. Also quite good on pavement. Quick steering, precise, stable. However, the extra rotating mass is apparent on the road, and not apparent on the dirt (bumpy and slower seems to mask tire mass). So I bought a lighter set of wheels and tires for road/winter rides. A lot of them it turns out.
5. UP Area for improvement: 700x38 Jon Bon Pass ENVE wheel set - on the road. very slow to turn in, unstable in even light wind (feels like I am riding disc wheels) and not at all precise. Has a tendency to always want to go straight, causing the bike to wander. Most of the time it's fine, but I can't help by think that the geometry changes with the larger wheel, even though the outside diameter is not much different.

I love both bikes and spend 80% of my rides on them, and 20% on my road race bike. Thank you!!!
Post #32 of 39. Posted by Bob Read on 14-Jun-2018 21:32:30 GMT in reply to blog [0<--13797]
I ride the Compass 700x38 tyres on my Open. No steering issues at all. It corners like a good road bike should. How deep are the Enve's?
Post #33 of 39. Posted by Andrew on 15-Jun-2018 10:15:19 GMT in reply to post #32 [13797<--13806]
Interesting question. I had wondered if the overall shape/width/depth including the tire was simply giving me more surface area combined with substantially less mass. The ENVE wheels are the M525 - maybe 45 deep? Not a 70 or 90 (which could push in the wind).

After playing with the bike yesterday and seeing your comment, I'm going to dig deeper. Cable housing too short and stiff not allowing it to track naturally? Head cup binding? Time to play mechanic. ??
Post #34 of 39. Posted by Bob on 15-Jun-2018 10:28:52 GMT in reply to post #33 [13806<--13807]
I like the idea of G Spec or A spec option for the U.P. Or U.P.P.E.R. That would make decisions for the buyer quite simple.
Post #35 of 39. Posted by Wesley Lincoln on 15-Jun-2018 19:21:14 GMT in reply to blog [0<--13820]
A) GO for the Cargo bike! Would love to see what you can come up with! I have seen a trizillion here in Denmark - only a few rides well...
B) Don´t go for complete bikes! - Make a detailed list instead (or several) of your favorite set up´s, maybe as B:O:T:M spec. ( just as a list)
Leave a little chunk for the local bike dealers.
C) A word on geometry; I ride the New U.P in size M and it fits me perfectly (178cm - 15mm spacer). I did a lot of amateur MTB racing back in the mid 90´s - 00´s. I like technical trails, and i ride it more or less as a hard tail MTB, and I Absolutely love the precise steering, low weight, short wheelbase, and geometry of the U.P. in general. There is just one thing that bothers me; I seem to catch an awful lot of roots/stones etc. with the crank arms. When i picked the parts, i went for 175mm cranks just because it worked fine for me back then ( high torque/ low rpm and all that...) So two things happens; A) this is not a 1995 MTB with very little BB drop ( kinda knew that!)
B) Difference in the center-of-pedal-to-end-of-crank-arm-measurement (!) between my 1995 Cook Bros. cranks, and the SRAM force is perhaps 8-10mm. These factors in combination with low tire pressure and an aggressive riding style puts me much closer to the ground than i was used to - or at least as i remember it.
I don´t think choosing a 172,5 or 170mm crank arm would help much, and i absolutely don´t regret my choice of bike - BUT, if i could choose between a 70mm BB drop, or say 65mm - i would pick the latter.
Enjoy the summer- and go ride!!!
Post #36 of 39. Posted by Mik J on 27-Jun-2018 10:42:52 GMT in reply to blog [0<--13852]
I just ordered a UP with Ultegra DI2 and Zipp 303's. Can't wait to get it after reading all the blogs. I like Mik J's suggestion. Don't go with complete bikes but perhaps a number of suggestions. Really looking forward to my new ride!!
Post #37 of 39. Posted by George P on 05-Jul-2018 09:30:55 GMT in reply to blog [0<--13871]
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Post #38 of 39. Posted by edward on 09-Aug-2018 11:29:50 GMT in reply to blog [0<--13939]
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Post #39 of 39. Posted by edward on 09-Aug-2018 11:29:51 GMT in reply to blog [0<--13940]