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According to, the suffix "-er" is "used in forming nouns designating persons from the object of their occupation or labor, or from their place of origin or abode, or designating either persons or things from some special characteristic or circumstance (six-footer; three-master; teetotaler; fiver; tenner)." We're mostly concerned with that last usage when it comes to the Open Cycle UPPER, the ever-capable UP's "special edition" sibling.

The UPPER inherits the UP's original geometry, sizing, and mold, but gets four new notable features. One, it drops a whopping 220g from the original frame weight, taking it into sub-900g territory, an area typically only inhabited by WorldTour climbing machines. Two, it gets a new, slimmer (and lighter) fork with a road-standard 12mm Thru-Axle that Open is calling "U-Turn". And finally, it gets new brake mounts, the stiffer flat mount. And finally, it receives a new finish in any color you like, as long as it's flat black. Everything else? Just about the same. It's the same road-racer-turned-dirt-hooligan geometry. It uses the same dropped-chainstay design to clear huge (42mm x 700 or 2.1" x 27.5") tires without making the back end of the bike longer than a stretch limo. It still offers as much freedom as we want to chow down on, but with complete bike weights testing the UCI-mandated 6.8kg/15lb weight limit.

The UPPER uses a slack seattube angle designed around a zero-offset post for proper setback, and we've had best luck setting up the bike with a 1x11 drivetrain setup. Unfortunately, we can't recommend building the UPPER with SRAM eTap, as the front derailleur will interfere with most larger (34mm+) tires. Like the UP, the UPPER is compatible with dropper seatposts, and includes Carbon-Ti thru-axles.

A versatile weapon capable of tackling nearly any terrain, the UPPER is arguably the premier bike for racing - and winning - gravel and mixed-terrain events.