Open MIN.D. California

Designed in Switzerland. Made in California USA.

Rc5a 5

Probably the rarest bike on the planet.

"This is a project that wouldn't have happened in a rational company but who cares?"

Gerard Vroomen

Open MIN.D. California

If you have read Cyclefit newsletters and Journals, you will know that we are generally supporters at Cyclefit, where possible, of homegrown production. Seven is in Boston and make their bikes in the city walls. Passoni is in Milan and make their bikes in that city. You get the picture. We are also realists and accept that bicycle production is a fraught and painstaking business and domestic production is often prohibitively expensive.
And so we were extremely excited when we heard from Andy Kessler (Open CEO) that Gerard Vroomen (Open chief designer) was once again working with California-based engineer Don Guichard. Dan and Gerard last collaborated on the iconic and influential Cervelo R5Ca and the RCa.

The R5Ca and RCa were truly ground-breaking - frame weights of 600-700 grams over a decade ago and bikes that built up south of 6kg but north of £11k. Guichard and Vroomen alchemised pure magic in their Los Angeles laboratory. The inherently limiting factor of the project was the tiny output inherent in fabricating every part of the frame locally by skilled hand. Worthy but expensive.

Rc5a 6
Rc5a 13

Designed in Switzerland. Handmade in California

Rc5a 12

Every frame is by definition limited edition

MIN.D. California

The existing Open MIN.D. was a perfect starting point - a bike we loved at first contact at Cyclefit - both for its guiding ethos and astonishing ride.
The Californian model includes revisions to the tubing shapes, as well as a completely new carbon layup, special carbon materials, and ground-up Californian precision molds. This is an entirely different bike made on a different continent.

Rc5a 11

Only two frames made per week. Painstaking work.

""To be honest, it really didn’t need stiffer at all, but engineers will be engineers"

Andy Kessler (Open CEO)
MINDCA5

Same 25mm Integrated seat-mast

MINDCA3

Paired-back factory performance.

Numbers on The MIN.D.

  • The MIN.D. California is around 80 grams lighter than the standard MIN.D. But at the same time is rotationally stiffer in the critical bottom-bracket area.
    Andy Kessler (Open CEO) comments:

    "to be honest, it really didn’t need that at all, but engineers will be engineers!"

  • Incredibly, the California MIN.D. also offers even more vertical compliance through the proprietary Open seattube/seatmast, than the standard bike.
  • Only two frames per week will be made in the Los Angeles laboratory.
  • Weight for size L is 775 grams including integrated seatmast, which equals well under 700 grams for equivalent 'normal frame' that needs a seatpost
  • The Open MIN.D. California costs The frameset (frame, fork, headset) is EUR 7,500 (including sales tax but excluding shipping and duty).
  • Price is £7799.00 - May 2024
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Gerard Vroomen Essay on Open MIN.D. California

"After the U.P. defined the performance gravel category and the WI.DE. took that to the extreme, many people were surprised to see the MIN.D. - a "classic" road bike with high-tech DNA - as our next project.

The model we introduce now may surprise even more. This project has taken such a convoluted route that it's hard - even for Andy and I - to figure out how we got here.

There was my good friend Don Guichard who I have worked with when I was the co-founder/owner of Cervélo. Don ran the Project California R&D lab/factory that created and built the crazy light & stiff Cervélo R5CA and RCA. After the frame projects stopped, he continued with other parts such as carbon fiber prosthetics but he really wanted to make a frame again.

All of this led to Andy, Don and I saying "hey, why don't we make a super light version of the MIN.D. at the Project California facility?
Turns out there are many reason why not, but none of those came to mind at the time! As simple a that decision was, it turned out to be excruciatingly difficult to get this project across the finish line. When you work on the edge, you tend to fall over a lot. But this time we were determined to make it a success and the advantage (or some would say disadvantage) of our OPEN structure is that Andy and I don't really have to justify any of our investments and expenses to anybody. So we simply kept this Californian MIN.D. going until it was done, despite the commercial sense of it evaporating along the way.

I know that may sound a bit crazy or even arrogant, but it's not that we enjoy spending too much on a project, it's just that we really wanted to finish it and we are in the fortunate position that we can. After endless testing, rethinking, retesting, redesign, new custom tools and new processes, here we are. One thing on the name, you would think that with a project taking this long, we'd have had enough time to come up with something catchy. But no. There were some neat options (like MIN.D-less, offered up by our key SRAM contact) but for one reason or another, everything got shot down. In the end, to simply celebrate the connection between Don's Project California and the OPEN MIN.D., the will be known and the MIN.D. California."

First off, what is the MIN.D. California exactly? Like the original MIN.D., it is a road frame with an old-school aesthetic but high-tech DNA, offering racing performance combined with extra-ordinary comfort thanks to its continuous seattube, unique geometry and beefed up tire clearance.
The California-made version takes this but uses a completely new layup, new production tools, and a whole bag of different tricks to eke every last bit of performance out of the frame.
Every gram of carbon represents at least one headache in developing this frame.
The end result is a lighter, stiffer version of the regular MIN.D. To be exact, the RAW MIN.D. California is 775g including the full seatmast. Obviously that's also the weight if you leave it RAW. To add a finish, you could add as little as 30g but of course depending on your desired paint scheme, it can also be more.
As for the stiffness, we perform a lot of different stiffness tests, not just BB and headtube stiffness as is the standard, but what you will notice most from the way the California's stiffness increase is distributed over the frame is its handling. The way it climbs and corners just has a different feel to it than you're used to (and I don't like saying that as it's such a cliché and in many cases, it's very tough to feel the difference in layup between frames. But here you really can). I'm not a poet so I can't really put it into words, it's just very different from the original (which I like anyway)."

Gerard Vroomen

Related Reading

Open MIN.D. Review

Gerard Vroomen took his design influences for the MIN.D. not from a wind-tunnel but from the welding torch of Dario Pegoretti

Continue Reading

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