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Gerard Vroomen - 27-Aug-2014
Finally the main Eurobike show has started after a few interesting days. On the weekend, Andy was at the Assos launch for their mountain bike apparel. To accomodate all the journalists on their rides, Andy built up more than a dozen OPEN bikes.

Of course on the day, it was rainy and therefore muddy, so all the brand new bikes looked pretty used at the end of the day. He then drove back home to Basel just in time to pick me up from the airport. We were both pretty knackered when we finally hit the pillow just after midnight, and feeling pretty much the same when the alarm went off five hours later.

A smooth three hour drive to within a kilometer of the Eurobike demo day and another hour to bridge the last k and it was time to send people out on bikes again. Of course Andy brought the foul weather with him so rain greeted us again. The only plus was that there was no point in wasting time on cleaning the bikes from the day before.

The demo day is always a great day for us, it's an easy way to convince people of OPEN. We can talk until we're blue in the face, but it's much more effective to let people ride the bike. While Andy continued helping people on their test rides, I had a chance to pop inside to look at the booth for the main show. 

Like last year, component maker AX Lightness graciously gave us a section of their booth to display our bikes. With a new bike design and very nifty stands, it was starting to look quite slick. Your main question after the last two blog entries is probably WHAT we were going to display on those stands. The bad news is, no full-suspension and no pathfinder bike.

Some of you have asked why we started talking about these bikes before we knew for sure if we would display it, and if it wouldn't have been easier to say nothing until the day of the show. Of course it would have, but the reason I wrote about those models was not as a sort of "pre-release", but rather to do what we promised from the start; to show the inner workings of the company. 

Many bike companies go through similar situations, but you'd never know from the outside. When we promised to tell the story "warts and all", this was part of it. Not that these warts are that huge, Eurobike for us is mostly about meeting up with our retailers, suppliers and other relations, not about launching product. We can do that any time of the year.

Since I wrote "the bad news is ..." just before, there must be good news too. And there is. Although we don't have the fully, we have made some breakthroughs in understanding how it should be made. So the project is on the right track, although there will no doubt be some more unexpected turns before we get to the final product.

When I included the drawing of the frame, some remarked that it looked a bit like the Liteville 301. Well, that's no coincidence. When Andy and I started working on the full-suspension, we were looking for two different directions. For the one, focused on marathon/cross country with approximately 5" of travel, we reviewed all possible kinematics and came to the conclusion that we liked the Liteville very much.

Simply put, we think their kinematics are the best we've seen, both for the behavior during climbing & descending but also in the way it is packaged (the stresses on the frame) and how clear it leaves the front triangle (space for two water bottles for longer events). So we asked our friends at Liteville if we could use their kinematics, and although they had until that point refused to license their patented design, they liked what we are doing with OPEN and the quality of our products enough to allow us to use it.

Of course we made some adjustments based on the exact use and travel that we envision for our frame, which is a bit different than what the average 301 is used for, and making it in carbon meant we also changed the packaging to best make use of the material. Key to that is our central rocker design which I showed a snapshot of two weeks ago and which is quite a departure from Liteville's approach. 

Over the next weeks we'll write more about the details of both the full-suspension and the pathfinder bike, but first we have to try and survive the next few days at Eurobike.

If you're interested in either of the two bikes, you can use the form at the top right of this page to put your name on our waiting list and stay informed.

Talk soon, Gerard.
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