This plucky London-based shop have campaigned hard to deliver interesting and unique products, and consistently punches above their weight with a range of tasteful products and cleverly designed bicycles, in a choice of frame only or as complete bikes.
- Highs: All-round multi-use capability
- Lows: Some – manageable – toe overlap
- Buy if: You want a good value, traditional looking steel bike
Case in point is the latest Wide Open, which is available as a complete bike, or as a frame and fork for an amazing £475. Made from a blend of Columbus Zona and chromoly steel tubing, it features smooth fillet-brazed joints, along with other details normally only found on pricier custom builds, such as a detachable gear hanger, semi-enclosed dropouts and a finely detailed seat cluster.
If you were looking to downsize your growing and unruly stable of bikes to just one machine, the Wide Open could just be the keeper. Its classic racing green and gold paint appeals to both newbies and old-timers, while up-to-date geometry and a stylish mix of tried and true components, courtesy of Japan and Italy, mean performance and good looks in abundance.
The bike has breezer style dropouts with an alloy mech hanger
A short 98cm wheelbase combined with approximately 72.5 head and 73.5-degree seat angles provide lively handling, although did result in a small but manageable amount of toe overlap. Fitted with handbuilt Ambrosio wheels featuring stainless spokes and sealed cartridge hubs, this nimble machine never felt unstable, and as speeds ramped up and the gyroscopic effect of the wheels began to impose itself, we found ourselves carving corners with confidence.
It really is a do-all bike. You’ll have no trouble mixing it up in the pack on a chain gang ride, and yet a full set of eyelets lets you install mudguards or a rack for touring or commuting.
While Shimano’s 105 shifters and compact drivetrain were reliable as always, stomping on the pedals produced a slight amount of brake rub at the back. This is a small price to pay for a little extra comfort, which combined with a Brooks Swift leather saddle, did just the job at protecting our backsides from credit crunch-cratered roads.
To paraphrase a famous president, you can try to please some of the people some of the time, but can you please most people most of the time? Well, the Wide Open tries hard, and just about succeeds. It gets our vote.