Riding the new Open WIDE

Every BQ test bike that arrives at our office is greeted with enthusiasm. When OPEN hinted that they had a revolutionary, top secret, new bike they wanted us to try, we were even more excited than usual. Until now, we’ve had to keep the new bike under tight wraps, but it’s just been launched, so we can tell you about it.

So what makes the new OPEN WI.DE. special? Officially, WI.DE. stands for ‘Winding Detours,’ but it really means that the new OPEN fits really, really wide tires. And yet you can run road cranks with a narrow Q factor. Almost as exciting are the fender mounts that you can see lurking in shadows – OPEN’s new fender system will debut later this year.

How wide are the tires on the WI.DE.? Our test bike’s 650B boots measure a whopping 61 mm, and they are about as wide as will fit.

OPEN pioneered the dropped chainstay. The stay no longer sits between the tire and the chainring, but underneath. That means that the tire can be wider without pushing the chainring outward: You can run road cranks with a narrow Q factor, rather than mountain bike cranks. For most cyclists, a narrow Q factor means a more natural spin, more power and less fatigue. And yet you can run 61 mm tires. That is amazing.

New for the WI.DE. is the left chainstay: It also drops downward. This isn’t just to provide more clearance, but to create a box section that stiffens both chainstays. It’s often said that stiffer chainstays make a bike perform better. Does the WI.DE. deliver?
[youtube https://youtu.be/PMOkSzwJ-Sc?rel=0&w=640&h=360]
We’re only in the early stages of our test, but first impressions are… well, the WI.DE. is really amazing. I never thought that I’d want tires wider than 54 mm, but now I am riding with 24% more air. And I could feel it during my first rides in the city. Rough streets are smoothed out, and riding in traffic, I can pick the best line regardless of the road surface. And best of all, the WI.DE. really likes to go fast. It’s a bike that entices me to push myself harder, to squeeze out that little bit of extra speed and fun. When I return home, I am tired, but elated.

Now I’m dreading the day when OPEN asks for their bike back. That will be very soon, because many magazines are lining up to test the new bike. We’re glad to be the first to ride it, and I’m determined to enjoy it as much as possible. We’ve already planned a great adventure for it, and the full test report will be in Bicycle Quarterly soon.
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38 Responses to Riding the new Open WIDE

  1. Jennifer Brien May 31, 2019 at 2:21 am #

    Next step, the return of elevated chainstays?

    • Jan Heine May 31, 2019 at 8:28 am #

      😉 I think somebody already does elevated chainstays, but you’ll get the opposite: Chainstays that are less stiff.

      • Chris June 3, 2019 at 11:38 am #

        That design didn’t seem to hold back the men’s and women’s winner of DK200 this year!

        • Jan Heine June 3, 2019 at 12:40 pm #

          Can’t be too bad, then! We’ll try to get a test bike for BQ!

  2. Jason Hewerdine May 31, 2019 at 4:37 am #

    Does it plane?

    • Jan Heine May 31, 2019 at 8:29 am #

      It feels like it does. We’ll have to run it at different tire pressures to see how much of that is flex in the tires, and how much is the frame. In the end, it doesn’t matter – it seems to climb really well.

  3. Pierre May 31, 2019 at 6:17 am #

    Well, they’ve built the bike, now we just need RH to build us the tires. Seriously looking forward to see something like 650bx55.
    Maybe 60mm would be pushing it with very few bikes actually capable of running them even in the custom bike space.
    Already enjoying the current 48mm line up but want more while retaining he unrivaled ride quality of RH tires. Tried many 2.1” out there to get more volume.

    • Jacob Musha May 31, 2019 at 8:57 am #

      The problem with such a wide tire on a 650b wheel is that only the tallest riders will be able to use it with fenders and avoid toe-overlap. Even at 5’9″ and riding a custom bike with lots of fork offset (low-trail) I had to be careful to avoid toe-overlap with a 52mm tire on 26″ rims.
      A 60mm tire would work better for the vast majority of riders on a 26″ wheel or even 24″ [507].

      • Jan Heine May 31, 2019 at 9:01 am #

        I was surprised that the OPEN – at least in my size – does not have toe overlap. Fortunately, most makers of all-road bikes are beginning to realize that with wide tires, a lot of toe overlap is really a nuisance.

      • Jacob Musha May 31, 2019 at 11:04 am #

        But add fenders (which don’t yet exist for that tire size, of course) and I bet it would be a different story.
        The makers of all-road bikes have few options unless they start specifying smaller wheels to go along with even wider tires. There is only so much “magic” that can be done with geometry before compromise is the result. I am personally not a fan of toe-overlap, too long top tubes, very short stems, or steep seat tubes combined with slack head tubes. I would rather choose the wheel size that allows the correct geometry to be used.
        Finally, a tire that wide should probably be on a 26″ wheel or smaller to provide the optimal rotational inertia for handling.

        • Jan Heine May 31, 2019 at 11:44 am #

          Agreed, but it seems that the industry isn’t ready to resurrect 26″ wheels yet. Most of them are still transitioning from 700C to 650B.

      • Stuart Fogg May 31, 2019 at 9:31 pm #

        I’m 6’1″ and riding a bike with normal angles, normal fork, and long (60cm) top tube. I have plenty of toe clearance even with 48mm tires on 700C rims. I’m using a 110mm stem but the same frame with a 60mm or 80mm stem should work for a wider variety of riders. Of course you’d have to like the resulting long wheelbase, which I do.

    • Jim G June 3, 2019 at 10:21 am #

      Jan, any comments pro/con on the Schwalbe G-One tires on this bike? I’m looking for some 27.5 x ~2.25″ rubber good for mixed terrain for my new MTB….

      • Jan Heine June 3, 2019 at 10:33 am #

        It’s hard to say without a direct back-to-back comparison. In isolation, they feel fine, but I was a bit surprised that the bike didn’t feel more comfortable than other test bikes with 48 mm Rene Herse Extralights. You do get the extra volume for rough ground, though.

  4. Phillp Cowan May 31, 2019 at 7:42 am #

    For us people who are carbon averse I can’t help but wonder how the dropped chainstays would translate to steel construction.

    • Jan Heine May 31, 2019 at 8:31 am #

      Steel is much stiffer per volume than carbon, so it’s probably not necessary. One of the ways OPEN made room for the wider tires is by limiting the bike to a single chainring… If you did that with steel, and you shaped the chainstays very carefully, you probably could get the same clearance with chainstays that curve around the tire, but don’t drop down.

    • Frank June 2, 2019 at 1:20 am #

      Mark from Prova (in Melbourne) does it in steel …

  5. Bryan Willman May 31, 2019 at 8:55 am #

    Just when I thought my OPEN UP was the endgame…. OPEN couldn’t leave me with any bicycle budget lying around now could they?
    And while the UP can use some MTB tires, it would appear this bike goes WELL into MTB tire space – though clearence for knobs may be an issue.
    (For those asking, I think my UP planes, at least some of the time – but my sense of what that is might different from Jan’s.)

  6. John Clay May 31, 2019 at 9:50 am #

    Neat bike. How much clearance between the chainstays and tire? It doesn’t look like there’s room for fenders, or much room at all; and that’s not an indictment just an observation and a question. But if there isn’t then I think you can get there, or nearly, with conventional steel. My RTP frame could accommodate an honest 58mm with adequate clearance and the RH bottom bracket shell and chainstays would make it pretty easy; I did it the hard way. #MakeTheRTPaFull54mm

    • Jan Heine May 31, 2019 at 9:54 am #

      There isn’t a huge amount of clearance – 61 mm tires are about the maximum you can fit. Yes, I think you can do it with steel.

      • John Clay June 1, 2019 at 7:51 am #

        I just checked my RTP bike for tire/chainstay clearance; you can definitely do it in steel…with a low tread double. #MakeTheRTPaFull54mm

  7. Jim G May 31, 2019 at 12:04 pm #

    Soon BQ is going to start reviewing full-on MTBs. Full-sus rigs that are “supple” and “plane”. 🙂

    • Jan Heine May 31, 2019 at 2:40 pm #

      We’re pretty much a road bike magazine, except that our definition of ‘road’ is a bit wider than most. Still, if a full-suspension mtb offers great performance on the road, too, we’d be very keen on trying it.

    • jan n May 31, 2019 at 8:14 pm #

      There’s the Niner full suspension gravel which should be within BQ selection criteria:

      • Jan Heine May 31, 2019 at 10:04 pm #

        I saw that. It’s interesting! Not sure about the reasoning they gave for the suspension when they launched the bike: It allows you to run narrower tires at higher pressures – seems like they are catering to old beliefs that don’t match our experience.

  8. John C. Wilson May 31, 2019 at 1:55 pm #

    Dropped chainstay appeared on early 90s Schwinn Paramount PDG MTBs. In steel. Hardly the only ones.

    • Jan Heine May 31, 2019 at 2:39 pm #

      That is why OPEN couldn’t patent the feature, and everybody has copied it.

      • Tommy p June 2, 2019 at 4:44 am #

        On the road side, yes, but the MTB community was dropping right chainstays ca. 2014 just before open launched.

      • Marcin June 2, 2019 at 11:50 am #

        Yeah, maybe everyone has copied it but not from OPEN. Dropped CS has been common in ful suspension bikes for years. It’s true however that OPEN was first to use it in road/gravel bike.

    • Jim G May 31, 2019 at 4:37 pm #

      Great memory!!!

      • aubrey June 1, 2019 at 10:48 am #

        Don’t forget the early 90’s Univega Alpina series mountain bikes, they too have the dropped chainstays, many with the sweet Tange tube-sets!

    • Scott Henry June 1, 2019 at 5:21 am #

      Schwinn dropped the drive side chainring though. Different reasons.

    • Scott Henry June 1, 2019 at 5:24 am #

      Schwinn dropped the drive side chainstay though, and for different reasons

  9. singlespeedscott June 1, 2019 at 2:23 pm #

    Any plans for BQ to try out Shimano’s GRX groupsets? It appears they may have listened to you when visiting there HQ a while ago.

  10. Jon Blum June 1, 2019 at 5:19 pm #

    Interestingly, the Paramount dropped chainstays were curved at the other end, near the dropout. This did not change clearance near the bottom bracket significantly. According the the catalog, the purpose of the lowered stays was to reduce chain slap. Clearly, other solutions have caught on better. Some Hetchins models also had curved stays, though the shape was like an S, and they actually curved upward rather than down behind the BB. The “curly stays” were said to provide some shock absorption. Whether they did, I don’t know, but one source said this suspension effect was thought to make the bike faster by reducing wasted motion, which sounds rather familiar.

  11. Niraj Shrestha June 2, 2019 at 2:03 am #

    At $2900 for just the frameset, I wonder why more people don’t get a custom frameset made to their spec? I suspect it has to do with getting a very lightweight bike, for which carbon can often be the answer.

  12. Niraj Shrestha June 2, 2019 at 2:08 am #

    I am noticing that a lot of these recent ‘gravel bikes’ have pretty slack head angle of 71 degrees combined with fork offset of around 50mm. I would love to hear your feedback regarding how this combination handles compared to steeper head angle and lower fork offset.
    Also, please test the bike with narrower 700c road tires, as they market this as one bike that can do both. Thanks.

  13. Rick Harker June 2, 2019 at 4:52 pm #

    Its nice to see that Gerrard has a lot of trusted respect for your enterprising work to sent the bike for review. He chose well.