Our First Open Custom Build–Gloss Brown with Ultegra

published by bktr on 13/07/2016 09:22:00


The first of our shop build Open UPs is already gracing the shop floor in Ambleside and will shortly have a couple brothers to sit alongside it too, but with a bike that offers unprecedented versatility both in terms of use but also in terms of the build it was difficult to know just where to start. With the intention to show case all possibilities so that you guys can really see how special these bikes are we set about picking three different builds that each had their own, clear definition. First however, the colour; it has to be discussed simply because it’s very much been the topic of discussion since we rolled it onto the shop floor. Chocolate brown, possibly one of the most ‘Marmite’ colours we’ve had in a while. But fear not, there’s a beautiful orange to follow next!


With that aside, I present you the ‘Gravel’ UP. A term that was most certainly born in the US a few years ago now and took some time to be understood this side of the water the gravel bike genre is growing rapidly. Like in the States we’re fortunate enough here in the Lake District to be blessed with a huge array of hard pack gravel tracks and cycle paths, (think Grizedale and Claiffe Heights to name a very small selection) and when connected up with the quiet, winding back lanes you can quite quickly rack up a huge number of miles that get you off the busy roads and away from the masses for some extremely fun, varied and rewarding riding.


With this terrain in mind we’ve put together a bike best suited to tackle such a grand day out while still being light and quick enough to use on the roads itself. Sarah has already taken you through the beauty of the UP frame design so I’m going to walk you right past that and look a little closer at the spec. The biggest player here is most definitely our wheelset of choice, the Mavic Ksyrium Pro Allroad which we’ve juiced up a little with a rather special set of tan walled Challenge Almanzo ‘open tubular’ tyres. For those of you that know Mavic well you’ll recognise a lot of the Ksyrium Allroad’s characteristics and in reality the wheelset is very much a mash-up of the best parts of the archetypal Ksyrium SL lightweight and fast rolling road wheels teamed with the strength and durability of the Crossmax SL mountain bike wheel’s design.


In simple terms; Light + Fast + Strong + Reliable = Ksyrium Pro Allroad! Another beauty of the wheelset is the rim design which is not only a fully sealed, tubeless ready design but also boast a nice wide profile that sits the tyre a little squarer than most giving a smoother, more forgiving ride and a little more traction in the corners. Now back to the tyres, where some of you will be puzzled by the mention of the word tubular. In the simplest term these tyres are a standard clincher design and will sit on any clincher rim but in truth they offer so much more than a normal clincher. The term ‘open tubular’ refers to a similar design process to a traditional tubular tyre where the rubber tread itself is glued onto a carcass. The reason for this is you can have a much lighter and much more subtle carcass for a smoother and faster roll and then only add the rubber (which is the heavier, stiffer part of a tyres make-up) in the treaded area itself. Having used various ‘open tubular’ tyres myself both on the road and for cyclocross they’re exceptionally good tyres and the Almanzo gravel tyre is not different, a must try if you ask me!


While a SRAM CX1 groupset is a very clean and simple option on a bike such as the Open UP (this is coming for the next build, don’t worry!) I was keen to offer the ‘Gravel’ build with a more traditional Shimano double setup simply because it offers a much better spread of gears across the range. While the top and bottom gears aren’t far out compared to a 1x 10-42T setup the 11-32T cassette we’ve fitted has much smaller jumps between them which gives smoother shifting and easier control of cadence on steadier terrain such as tarmac and gravel. Add to this the faultless Shimano hydraulic brakes and you’ll not be disappointed with the running gear. The final part of the build is some simple, but typically smart Ritchey finishing kit with a wide flared WCS Evo Max handlebar to offer a little more control and stability when descending. Oh and before you say it, no we’ve not intentionally finished it off with a mountain bike saddle, we’re waiting on a restock of our Fabric Scoop range for something nice to cushion your harris over all those rough miles.

So what build comes next you say? A very special one indeed and for now I’ll say no more but make sure you keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram over the next few weeks as it’s not one to miss!