OPEN Riders Open up!


Written by Alison Littlefield, on February 05, 2024

At Contender, we believe that OPEN simply makes remarkable gravel bikes that have broadened horizons and "OPENed UP" countless adventures for multitudes of riders. For OPEN riders, as well as us here at Contender, the bikes are more than just a simple product selection. OPEN bikes embody an ethos of reliable simplicity, capability and character. 

Friends of the shop, Nick and Julie, began their adventure with OPEN bikes in 2020 after setting up and building out a van to travel the country with their bikes. With riding determined by their camp location and those locations often being on or around gravel and dirt roads, it became apparent that road bikes were limiting their riding adventures. After talking with Ryan, Nick and Julie started to research gravel bikes (or as OPEN likes to call them "all-road" bikes) and settled on OPEN UPs for both the off-road capabilities and their remarkable efficiency on the road. To quote Nick: "After one ride on the UP, I was sold. The bike combines stable, confident off-road manners with surprising efficiency on the road (I completed a road century on mine when my other bike was in the shop). Larger tires and a less aggressive riding position make the UP comfortable all day. The Open UP is the perfect compliment to our traveling/biking lifestyle."

Nick and Julie's van at a campground

Nick and Julie's OPEN UPs have continued to broaden their cycling options while traveling the country and close to home as well. From their initial gravel adventures on the Route of the Hiawatha in northern Idaho to a 50-mile paved section of the Trail of the Cour d’Alenes close by, the OPEN UP gravel grinder highlighted its ability to safely and efficiently ride on virtually any surface. Closer to home, Nick and Julie ride popular canyons that are connected via gravel roads and trails. Nick states, "By utilizing these connectors, we have discovered new rides around our home, which is wonderful because we have ridden nearly the same rides around our house for the last 25 years." Another similar scenario on a trip up the West Coast of the U.S. saw them ride their UPs on roads down to the beach, then ride up the beach itself for miles, connecting the loop. That's something a traditional road bike is just not capable of doing.

Open UP at the beach

Nick and Julie feel that OPEN UP has introduced "a level of spontaneity and creativity into our rides. In the past when we would set out on a road ride or a mountain bike ride, we seemed locked into whichever we chose at the start. With gravel riding, no side road is off limits, no gravel road or trail snaking off into the unknown has to be passed up. We now can confidently follow whatever path is presented to us and live to tell the tale."

Nick and Julie are also now exploring bikepacking, particularly longer rail trails like the Mickelson Rail Trail in South Dakota and others. They believe that the experience they are gaining will help give them the confidence to tackle longer challenges. Riding the entire West Coast of the U.S. is something they have in their sights. 

OPEN Up bike on the beach

2024 will see Nick and Julie on an extended tour of the West Coast on their OPEN UPs. Additionally, they're planning to complete the entire Trail of the Cour d’Alenes as well as an extensive tour through Glacier National Park. Time permitting, they'll also ride the many roads around Banff that are closed to traffic in the springtime (Nick cautions to "bring your bear spray"). More generally, their OPENs will accompany them on half a dozen van trips as far away from their Utah home base as New York.

open up bicycle

Big thank you to Nick and Julie for sharing their OPEN experience. Has your OPEN changed how you ride? We'd love to hear about it! Drop us a line and let us know. 

open up bicycles


1 comment

  • Interesting enough, we have the same colors as Nick and Julie. We bought our OPEN bikes in the Fall of 2020. They have been absolutely amazing. They have given us the opportunity to explore all types of trails, terran, and locations. We have big plans for 2024. If you’re not riding an OPEN, get to Contender, OPEN up your wallet and buy one or two. You will have a new perspective on exploring and adventure while riding a bike.

    TPeck on

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published