The Sea Otter Classic is a launchpad for all manner of bikes and gear, and one of the most exciting projects unveiled at this year's event is a new company called Open Cycle. A collaboration between Gerard Vroomen, the co-founder of Cervélo bikes, and Andy Kessler, ex-CEO of Swiss bike powerhouse BMC, the venture is compelling on reputation alone. And the company model is just as interesting: Open debuted with just one bike, a high-end 29-inch racer called the Hardtail O-1.0 that comes as a bare frame or in just two premium build options.
Neither of the men have a strong background in mountain biking (though Kessler raced downhill in the early '90s), but they argue that their lack of preconcieved notions has helped them create something unique. “We’re outliers when it comes to mountain bikes, but in this case I think that’s an advantage,” says Vroomen. “We didn’t do anything in the process of designing these bikes just because it’s always been done that way. We’ve thought about every single feature to make it better.”
Open says the O-1.0 is the lightest 29-inch hardtail on the market, with a claimed weight of just 900 grams (that's sub two pounds) for a size large frame. But while weight was one key objective, the bike is also said to be exceedingly stiff and is decked in the latest in mountain bike engineering and finery. The Hardtail O-1.0 features a BBright bottom bracket, a tapered head tube, ultra-thin seat stays (reminiscent of Cervélo's designs) for a bit more vertical compliance, and some of the most beautiful internal cable routings we've ever seen.
The bike will come in two packages: Unlimited, with SRAM XO parts and a DTSwiss X1600 Spline wheelset, and Limited, with Acros hydraulic shifters and ENVE carbon wheels. Vroomen says that Open is all about creating the best bike possible through design and engineering, and at $2,700 for the frame alone, $6,500 for the Limited, and $12,000 for the Unlimited, the prices reflect that high-minded objective. Limited sizes will begin to ship in May, with a full run available starting in June. The company is launching in the U.S. and selling exclusively through Competitive Cyclist.