Rapha likes its collaborations, and the latest one is with Open, manufacturers of the stunning and highly capable U.P. (Unbeaten Path) adventure and gravel bike. The release coincides with the unveiling of Rapha’s expanded Brevet clothing range. More details on that soon, but for now, here’s a closer look at the bike.
The Rapha + Open U.P. will be sold as a frame and fork for £2,230 (the same as the regular U.P. frame in case you’re wondering) and available exclusively to Rapha Cycling Club members. The standard U.P. frame comes in a bright orange, Rapha’s version will be finished in a black paint job with very subtle decals, just a Rapha logo in white on the top tube and OPEN’s logo on the down tube, and a flash of colour around the lower head tube.
The Open U.P. is a really interesting bike and the GravelPlus tag the company gives it alludes to the fact the bike can be used for road riding and gravel racing, and every sort of adventure you want in between. One of its defining features is the massive 55mm tyre clearance and the ability to take regular road wheels with cyclocross tyres, 29er mountain bike wheelset with 2.1in tyres, or the currently fashionable 650b road plus tyres. I saw several of these bikes with mountain bike treads at the Dirty Reiver 200km gravel race back in April and they looked right at home on the rough gravel roads around Kielder Forest.
The frame is the work of Andy Kessler and Gerard Vroomen, previously of Cervélo fame, and they’ve worked together, combining their engineering expertise to create a frame absolutely packed with smart details. The standout feature, visually speaking, is the driveside chainstay, it drops dramatically to provide chainring and tyre clearance, and keep the Q-factor relatively close to that of a road bike.
But there’s so much more to it than that. The frame is made from carbon fibre with skinny seatstays designed to provide some vertical compliance, while the downtube has a flat outside face profile that allows it to provide maximum stiffness. The frame accommodates a 27.2mm seatpost for further compliance, and the company intends a zero-setback post to be used because it has instead offset the seat tube, an approach that saves a bit of weight.
All cables are routed internally with MultiStop design easily accommodating any groupset configuration, from Di2 to 1x and double chainrings. Thru-axles feature on the frame and fork, but it has developed a ThruThread 12mm design that saves some weight by using the same threads that hold the thru-axle to also lock the derailleur hanger into the frame.
The frame is available in four sizes with a size large weighing a claimed 1,150g and supplied with a 3T Luteus II Team fork with 15mm thru-axle.
It’s a bike you could build for any sort of riding, from mainly road cycling with 28 or 30mm slicks, or sling some mountain bike wheels and decent knobbly tyres and use to tackle the most inhospitable terrain. Add some bikepacking bags to turn a ride into an adventure and explore beyond the horizon.
Says Open: “U.P. combines a performance-oriented cross/road geometry & parts with clearance for mountain bike tires. So you can ride anywhere, and ride fast.”
Find out more, as well as an interview with Open's founder Andy Kessler, at the Rapha website here http://pages.rapha.cc/feature/rapha-open
David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes.