OPEN MIND California - OPEN's Best Road Bike, En-lighten-ed
We praised OPEN's first dedicated road bike, the MIND, for being a no-nonsense approach to the road bike. Rather than the increasingly-similar aero tube shapes found across the road bike market, the MIND was all smooth curves, seemingly-simple shapes, and a focus on building the best riding road bike that OPEN could. While the MIND doesn’t redefine the road bike, it is a genuinely fantastic choice for those who value low weight, high stiffness, and above else, excellent ride quality.
But what if you wanted something even lighter? Something that promised an even-better balance of communicative ride feel and smoothness, made for people who just want to get out and ride? Better yet, what if you wanted a bike made in California to be the pinnacle of OPEN’s interpretation of a modern road bike? Then you would choose the new OPEN MIND California.
We are proud to be one of the few dealers in the world with the OPEN MIND California. Contact us today to find yours as a frameset or complete build.
A California State of MIND
Road bike design has always seemed to latch onto trends of some sort. Recent history shows that the first carbon fiber road bikes sought low weight and stiffness above else. Frames become lighter and lighter, easily beating the UCI 6.8 kg (14.99 lbs) weight minimums. Eventually, bicycle manufacturers sought other gains, and, led by companies like Cervelo, aerodynamic efficiency quickly stood at the forefront of road bike performance. More gains were found at the margins. As long as you could still meet that UCI weight minimum while gaining efficiency elsewhere, then there were no weaknesses. Theoretically, at least.
At the same time, there were corners of the cycling world that preached about the importance of ride quality in a road bike.
The idea of ride quality itself is fairly esoteric. We see ride quality not only to be how well a bike smooths out the road and dampens vibrations and bumps. Rather it is the idea of how a bike dynamically interacts with your body’s inputs and the road. Does the bike feel settled or jumpy going through a corner? How does the bike interact with a bout of unexpectedly coarse road? How much vibration are you feeling, and how much of that vibration is what you want to feel versus what you don’t need to feel? Does the bike feel smoother the faster you push it? All of these things, when balanced properly, can make the difference between a bike feeling wooden and a bike feeling refined and willing to work with the rider.
The most memorable moments we have riding a bike aren't from the data we’ve gathered along the way, but how we felt while riding. In our eyes, the best road bikes amplify those good feelings and sensory-driven memories through refined ride quality.
If you agree with those feelings, then the OPEN MIND California is the bike you’re likely going to start yearning for. But first, a bit of backstory to the MIND California, starting with something called Cervelo Project California.
Cervelo Project California was a research and development facility for Cervelo where the company tested and produced their most impressive bikes. First was the Cervelo R5CA, which came in at a featherweight 675g for a size 54cm with hardware, truly ultralight for any time frame, much less 2010. Then came the Cervelo Rca three years later. The Rca matched its weight at 667g in size 54cm while optimizing the bike for the demands of the Garmin-Sharp team, namely in stiffness to weight and aero performance. You could probably find something lighter, but you’d lose the aero efficiency or stiffness of those bikes. Even today, they are some of the most advanced frames you’ll find.
What people don’t really know is that the research facility that housed Cervelo’s California exploits continues today, building prosthetics and prototyping all manner carbon parts for bicycles or otherwise. And considering the connections that still exist between Cervelo co-founder (and current OPEN co-founder) Gerard Vroomen and the head of the R&D facility Don Guichard, it became a natural pairing to build another frame together. This time would be different, however. The bike would be an optimized version of the MIND, but it wouldn’t be engineered for pro racers. Rather, it would be engineered and optimized for normal, everyday road cyclists. People like us, and cyclists like you.
Imagine all of that technological know-how, applied to a bike that skews its balance of ride quality and performance more to how it makes a rider feel, rather than how it performs in a database. That is what OPEN sought to do with the MIND California.
What Makes This Different
As one might imagine, the MIND California uses the MIND as a starting spot. That means it shares the same continuous seattube and integrated seatmast OPEN designed in an effort to maximize comfort without using elastomers, bushings, or suspension. It also utilizes the same geometry as the MIND. The trail numbers promote agile turn-in, while bottom bracket heights bring stability as you carve your favorite mountain switchbacks. The fit measurements are a bit more on the moderate side of the spectrum in an effort to keep the drops of the handlebars within easy reach for us mere mortals. It is by all accounts an excellent base from which to start.
But, of course, there is the made in California aspect of this frameset. This starts with a completely different carbon layup. A size large frame weighs in at 775g with hardware and seatmast. Considering an ENVE 27.2mm zero-offset seatpost weighs in at 168g, this vaults the MIND California to the top of the list for those who value weight savings. At the same time, OPEN also claims the MIND California is stiffer in the bottom bracket area but offers even more riding compliance through the seatmast than the standard MIND. This is done through a completely new layup, special materials, and even more precise frame molds. Every gram that could be spared was spared, so long as it didn’t detract from how the bike rode.
OPEN has chosen to show off the MIND California in a raw carbon finish for the first frames out of production. Alongside that is a matte black, ready to paint fork. We think this frameset will look best with a minimalistic tint and a contrasting logo so the OPEN gravel bike in the garage knows that the new bike is part of the family.
As one might imagine, this kind of production doesn’t come without flaws. Perhaps the big flaw here is that production is very limited due to how labor-intensive the frame is. This makes it extremely limited, as OPEN claims they can build a max of two frames per week. Small batch projects like this are often hard to justify, but we are happy to see this come to fruition.
The OPEN MIND California is an exciting bike. It isn’t exciting for all of the data improvements it promises or even the super low weight figures, though those are rather exciting. Rather, the excitement comes from a dedication to providing the best feeling bike OPEN could possibly make. Those feelings won’t show up in wind tunnel testing, power data, or Strava segment leaderboards. Rather, it’ll show up in the grin on your face while riding the bike.