Open Upper Custom Build with Custom Paint Job For The Boss

published by bktr on 06/09/2017 12:01:00


My Open Upper arrived back from Fat Creations this week and looked wonderful in its new livery, all matt black , gloss undercarriage and a subtle burnt orange colour to the inside of Opens new U-turn fork. A single vertical orange stripe emblazoned onto the down tube and continuing through onto the seat post with my logo neatly tattooed at the top of the stays was a custom paint job that had taken time.  However, I’m pleased to say that it has been worth the wait and it looks amazing; Rome wasn't built in a day after all, but then again I wasn't on that job!


The Open Upper frame is a remarkable piece of the latest hand built carbon engineering , weighing in at 870grams with offset stays to accommodate a range of different tyre sizes , its intended use as both an on and off road adventure bike is perfect for the Lake District terrain.  Unique and versatile, a bike to suit any rider!  With a simple change of wheels and / or tyres this bike can be a gravel machine, cross bike, 650b mountain bike or a very quick road bike.  It was this versatility that attracted me to it and having always wondered what it took to build a bike I arranged some time with Martin in my Ings workshop to help me build up my new frame!


With the frame neatly secured to the workstand, a box of market leading components from the likes of Shimano, Mavic and Easton already to go I set about assembling the bike.  It had to be easier than an Ikea wardrobe that I managed in two days!  The pitfalls of not being completely organised at this stage with the appropriate instruction, a well kitted out workshop and a game plan that puts every component into a sequence of time honoured procedures to ensure that we complete the build in both a safe and timely manner could be truly catastrophic.  It is to our credit that at Biketreks this never happens ! We pride ourselves on employing only the very best and using the very best, and god help you if you don’t put it all back where it belongs!!


First up was the secret cable routing, threading the brake hose into the frame towards the rear calliper mount and then through the fork to the front calliper was tricky and fiddly, especially difficult when it has to firstly be teased through an acoustic dampening sheath to prevent tube rattle.  However with the use of a magnet to slide along the carbon frame, I fished the wire out ready for charging with brake fluid from an oversized syringe.  I’ve never used one of these before, so like taking blood at the doctors, there’s a certain technique to dispensing with the air bubbles before sealing the system, otherwise your bike will suffer the bends! With the subsequent application of the bar tape along the handlebars, the cables would barely be visible.


Opting for a one by chainring system keeps things simple, so by routing the Di2 cabling within the handle bars and then shrink wrapping it with the brake hose, using Martin’s hairdryer to seal it all tightly together, all worked to great effect and served to de-clutter the usual spaghetti junction of wires at the drivers end.  Then the big bits of engineering.  With carbon grease applied and a special tool designed for its one purpose in life, the bottom bracket squeezed satisfyingly into place, with care not to disturb our hidden cabling.  The crank arms were fitted with appropriate spacers and the single front 42 toothed chainring from Easton which sounds very scary was secured into place with a suitably sized torque wrench to deliver the 40 Nm pressure required.  Job done they turned with silky efficiency.  At the back the XTR cassette 11/40 went together beautifully and locked into place onto my Mavic carbon wheels, which with their 40mm deep rims looked the part.

Simplicity of design is of course the key to all things beautiful.  All Danish furniture for instance, the Apple Mac desktop, the Gibson Les Paul, Pink Floyds DSOTM album cover and the Shimano Ice Tech Freeza Rotors!  Accordingly the Upper frame is designed to take flat mount brakes, sleek, powerful and elegant which don’t overheat in a crisis and I wish more of us were like these rotors.  So with the callipers bolted simply onto the frame and brake pads inserted, the super slick Mavic wheels dropped neatly into place and tightened up with through fit 12 mm carbon titanium axles.  The seatpost dropped into place with a little persuasion, the bar tape made me angry, and the invisiframe also fitted bubble free.  All done with pedals attached the bike weighs in at 6.7kg. or about 9% of me!  A reliable parameter for the future of bike design.

The road test to the top of Kirkstone pass was a pleasure, just the right ratios so I didn’t have to stand on the pedals, perfectly positioned brakes that fit neatly into the palms of your hand for a confident and comfortable riding position. Downhill I tested the brakes several times almost to a standstill before letting go, the action was smooth, well balanced and consistent under pressure.  Martin had ironed out an irritating squeak with brake disk cleaner and they were now quietly and efficiently going about their job and I was ready to commit to a full blast downhill as fast as I dare….

The bike felt great at speed holding its line confidently around the corners with large 30mm tyres feeling grippy.  The combination of frame and wheels absorbed the bumbs without a fuss and it was certainly quick enough for me.  I love the way you can keep the changer pressed in and the gears flip neatly through the cassette; the right shifter takes me down the gears and the left up the gears; so simple.  The added beauty of being able to plug your bike into the computer to up load the latest software and set the changers as you like is awesome.


The last job before the bike is set for the road involves setting all the various bolts to their required torque and as I careered past the blur of the Queens Head pub the slightly concerning thought that I had actually checked all these bolts myself was for a moment a little disconcerting!  That moment gone I started to feel at one with my machine breezing hands free to the bottom.  God I missed the pub, what was I thinking!  I’ll get it serviced soon, I think, until then I have some bonding to do.


  • Full Build Sheet on This Bike:
  • Open Upper Frameset
  • Approximately 2 days of Ali’s life at Fat Creations painting it with the most complicated and expensive job we could have chosen it turns out!
  • Shimano Dura Ace Di2 Shifters / Brakes
  • Easton Chainset
  • Shimano XTR Di2 Rear to give a bigger range
  • Mavic Cosmic Carbon Wheelset for Road
  • Mavic Allroad Wheels for Gravel / Cross
  • Easton Carbon Flarred Bar and Custom Painted matching post and stem
  • Fizik Saddle and Bar Tape
  • Schwalbe G One Tyres
  • Weight 6.7kg with pedals on the scales of truth