Having ridden road bikes since 2003, I decided it was time to change things up. In 2020 I traded in my road bike for something more modern and a little bit more versatile. With a more relaxed geometry than a traditional road bike, the ability to fit wider tires and plenty of braze-ons for mounting bike racks, cargo cages, and water bottles, I would soon be crushing gravel trails and floating across all the rough roads Quebec could throw at me.
Opus Horizon Adventure Bike
With a long history as a reliable Canadian bike brand building road, city and trail bikes, Opus has entered the adventure market with the design and release of the Horizon. The aluminum frame version with a Claris groupset would cost only $1150, while the carbon fiber GRX 800 model would set someone back roughly $4300 Canadian dollars. With 2020 being the last year of production for the carbon fiber model and me being a huge fan of carbon bikes, I decided to splurge and treat myself to an amazing 40th birthday present, or should we say, the perfect mid-life crisis gift.
The ability to handle wider tires than a traditional road bike means that the Horizon provides a real cushy ride on pavement, all the while absorbing the usual shock one would feel from cracks, potholes, etc. When hitting gravel roads, the Horizon really excels, crushing the gravel and allowing for a good amount of power transfer. The wider tires also allow for greater control when descending on gravel roads, minimizing the chances of losing control. Finally, the Horizon is also able to take on some light singletrack and leave the rider with a huge grin on their face. With the ability to mount a wide range of racks and bags, it’s the ideal bike to get out and about for the weekend…or longer.
My Opus Horizon Stealth Black came with a carbon frame and full GRX-RX810 2×11 groupset with a 11-34 cassette, 48-31 chainrings and hydraulic disk brakes. The bike comes stock with Kenda Booster Pro 700×40 GCT gravel tires mounted on some sweet Alex VXD4 Tubeless Ready Anti Bite rims, the RedShift Shockstop suspension stem, and X-Race Aero handlebars with a 16° flare. The bars are wrapped with Velo VexGel Diamond bar-tape, which is surprisingly comfortable to hold on to, even for 10 hours a day.
What I like about this bike
I bought the bike with the plan to take part in some ultra-distance race events in Europe. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, all races were cancelled, and I was left with a bike setup for ultra-distance racing, and a very empty summer schedule. In addition to the stock components, I added Profile Design aerobars set on 110mm risers, a RedShift Dual-Position Seatpost, a Brooks B17 saddle and a full bikepacking setup by Blackburn Designs, using their top-of-the-line Outpost Elite series. After a short 800km ride from Ottawa to Shawinigan and back, I made some final adjustments and was ready to hit the road for a summer of adventure.
When I first landed in Vancouver, I had the chance to ride the Triple Crown with a long-time listener of the podcast. At 110km and 2500m of elevation, this day’s ride summits Mt. Seymour, Grouse Mountain, and Cyprus Mountain, three mountains which line the horizon of North and West Vancouver. On July 6th, after putting all my bags back on the bike and doing some groceries I was ready to take on the mountains and head north until Whitehorse, Yukon, at which point I would turn east and ride back as far as possible towards Ontario before August 15th, when I promised my wife I would be back.
One thing I noticed right from the start is that this bike is fast and doesn’t give too much when hammering down onto the pedals. The GRX drivetrain is responsive, shifting is seamless, and the hydraulic brakes engage so quickly that I’m not really sure how I ever survived with regular caliper brakes. Furthermore, the combination of 32mm tubeless tires, the RedShift Shockstop suspension stem and my Brooks saddle kept my body feeling fresh even after hours in the saddle with little to no rest. Throughout the 29 days of riding, I covered 5500km and averaged 190km per day, spending between 7-10 hours per day in the saddle. The Opus Horizon helped level out the impact of the worst roads, potholes and curbs Canada had to offer. While a Brooks saddle typically sits pretty high in the front, making it nearly impossible to use aerobars, paired with the RedShift Dual Position seatpost, I was able to maintain the proper seating position even when riding aero.
What could be better?
All-in-all, I really like the Opus Horizon adventure bike and there is not a whole lot to complain about. One of my only gripes about the bike is that the X-Race Aero handlebars are only 40cm wide, which is awfully narrow for a bikepacking setup, and I struggled daily to fit my Blackburn Outpost Elite Handlebar Roll between the handlebars. When I first ordered the bike, I asked for a wider bar but was told this is not possible. I feel that Opus should consider selling their bikes with at least a 44cm wide bar. On a couple occasions I had issues with chain drop which caused some gouges in the carbon fiber of the bottom bracket. I feel that a solid 1x system would be more suitable to an adventure bike.
Overall, the Opus Horizon was rigid and stable throughout the entire tour, providing quick acceleration on climbs, and precision control during high-speed descents, putting a massive smile on my face. Throughout the adventure, I covered 5500km, averaging 190km per day. The carbon frame provided just enough give so as to keep my back feeling fresh every day, while also providing enough lateral stiffness so as to not lose too much power on the climbs. After getting back home in Chelsea, Quebec, I’ve had the chance to hit some of the trails in the Gatineau Park and the Horizon does not disappoint, providing plenty of ground clearance, a light bike to rocket up the climbs and phenomenal brakes to provide traction and control on all the descents.
If you are looking for a well-made adventure bike, look no further than the Opus Horizon. You can most certainly find something that fits your budget and needs.