Written by Joseph Bonacci, on April 12, 2024

Only a few brands are as integral to Contender Bicycles as OPEN Cycles. While this small Swiss frame manufacturer is not on many people’s radar, they are one of our favorite brands for gravel and road bikes. Founded by Gerard Vroomen and Andy Kessler, the pair set out to make a bike for the everyday rider. Even though you may not know their names, you know their bikes; Kessler is the former CEO who brought BMC to the mainstream, and Vroomen is the co-founder of Cervelo. 

The pair wanted to design bikes they wanted to ride rather than the ultra-racing-focused bikes that both had been involved with throughout their prior careers. Over time, a hardtail mountain bike and three drop bar bikes were born out of this approach: a road bike called the MIN.D., a bike meant to blend the lines between road and gravel called the U.P., and the main focus here with the full-send, gravel WI.DE. We have been carrying the OPEN line-up for many years now, and we are proud to be one of, if not the biggest, OPEN dealers in the world. 

Since OPENs are almost always delivered as a frameset, we have been lucky enough to build up a small armada of these throughout the years. We have seen many iterations and custom builds on the Wide’s, some unique special editions, and even a fair bit of custom-painted OPENs. The WIDE is still on a strong run at the shop as a rugged gravel bike because of its capability and simplicity. See some of our favorite iterations of the WIDE from the last couple of years. 

Open WIDE at contender bicycles steps


When two of the shop's favorite brands joined together to build a limited-edition paint job with the ENVE Adventure fork, we knew the sky was the limit. The beautiful green, topo-themed paint job stands out against the usual basic two-color OPEN paint job. Of the many we've build, the one that stands out used the ENVE fork as a backup option, with the rider opting for a more rugged build featuring a Fox Factory Tapercast suspension fork.  A front shock can be a great addition to a rigid bike, especially if the route includes singletrack or rough, chunky roads. 

The OPEN WIDE is a 1x-only bike, losing the front derailleur option adds tire clearance and improves performance in the mud. Because of this, most people opt for a mullet setup, such as the SRAM Force/XX1 Eagle AXS groupset found on this specific build. The other component borrowed by this build from the mountain bike world is the RockShox AXS dropper seatpost.  With SRAM's 1x AXS shifters, actuating the dropper is as easy as tapping both shift buttons concurrently. A dropper post makes a big difference on a bike as it helps get your weight further back while riding technical descents. The ‘shorter’ drop found on these posts is optimal for a gravel bike because it allows the rider to easily shift their weight backwards while leaving the saddle in a position where the rider can still use it for stability.

OPEN ENVE Frameset at Contender Bicycles

Option "B" for this rider was to mount up the ENVE Adventure fork for the rides that prioritize being efficient and lightweight.  For the loaded-down rides, the Adventure fork has touring mounts for panniers, bottle cages, or whatever else the rider might want to attach to the front end of their bike.  In the end, with the two fork options, this bike can be optimized for long gravel days or rougher, grind-out routes making it stand out as an ultimate gravel bike. 

OPEN WIDE Turquoise with Ultradynamico

A standout piece of turquoise

Few stock colors stand out as much or have been as popular as the turquoise OPEN WIDE. This rider wanted to keep the build simple, but make sure that all the important touch points were specked to exactly what they wanted. 

The first thing that catches most people's eye is the Ultradynamico ROSÉ Race tires. These tires, while not all that common, have a loyal following with riders frequently preaching a "never-go-back" experience.   On a build previously featured, this rider described his first set of Ultradynamico tires with one word, “butter.” The soft casing emulates tubular cross tires, where low pressure is used to get a better grip on loose sand, mud, and gravel. While the tires do add to the bike's aesthetic, they were chosen for performance above all else.

GRX Di2 At contender bicycles

Finished off with a Shimano GRX Di2 system, this bike's setup straddles the line between performance and comfort. GRX is largely praised in the gravel community for both its durability and its ergonomics. Specifically, the shift/brake levers have a unique shape allowing your hands to be as comfortable as possible over rough terrain and on descents with extended periods of braking. Recognizing that comfort is subjective, most riders find these levers to be a fantastic option for long days on the gravel bike. 

Chris King Ultra Violet Open Wide


Similarly to the OPEN ENVE Edition, OPEN partnered with Chris King to make a special-edition frameset to announce the return to production of Chris King's 3D Violet colorway. This was an incredibly limited frameset with only fifteen units being produced worldwide. Starting with the WIDE's legendary chassis, each frame was hand-painted in Italy and then dressed up with Chris King's Inset 5 headset info 3D Violet. King is famous for their heat-treated steel bearings which are incredibly durable and easy to service.  

Contrary to the more aggressive ENVE edition build mentioned earlier, this build stays more within the lines of a "standard gravel bike". The Force/XX1 Eagle AXS mullet gives this bike the gear range to go anywhere, climb anything. Utilizing SRAM's updated Force D2 levers, this build offers improved ergonomics on top of the easiest-to-master shifting system out there.  

OPEN Chris King Collaboration WIDE Bike OPEN UP

Keeping with a theme focused on getting off the road, offering superb comfort and not diminishing performance, the bike was built with an ENVE handlebar, wheelset and seatpost. 


Starting with an OPEN WI.DE frameset, a build has nearly endless directions in which it might go.  Whether it is to be a gravel racer, an all-day adventurer, a something more like a rigid mountain bike, or even just a gravel bike to build confidence and explore trails, the WIDE can literally do it all. At Contender, we love to help guide cyclists through this process. Visit us in-store or on our website to get any needed information or to even start planning the next build. 


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