First ride: Rose Xeon DX road disc bike review

Rose Xeon DX SRAM Force

Rose Xeon DX SRAM Force

With all the talk in the cycling press this week from Eurobike about new road disc bikes being released by a lot of manufacturers, it’s been perfect timing for this bike to arrive: The Rose Xeon DX.

Obviously there is lots and ongoing debate on do you need discs on a road bike, what benefits they bring, who are they best for, how do they ride …etc, etc.

IMG_5749From my point of view, I’m far from sold on the idea and not having been a mountain bike rider, I’ve never, ever ridden a bike with discs before – so I was genuinely interested, excited and curious when the box arrived from the good people at Rose bikes.

The Xeon DX is a new bike for the 2013 model year and recent press announcements show it carries over unchanged into 2014 (http://road.cc/content/news/89368-rose-2014-new-endurance-bikes-and-more-disc-options)

Features for the bike include: Internal cable routing, tapered steerer (1 1/8” -1.5” top to bottom), 135mm rear stays, disc protection with a postmount rear brake caliper inside the frame triangle, smooth welds and a full carbon fork with postmount disc fitting and managed cable routing.

Rose Xeon DX SRAM Force front view

Rose Xeon DX SRAM Force front view

The frame itself is made of 7005 T6 Ultralight, triple butted aluminium and out of some chunky looking tube profiles (the previous Rose I tested had similarly chunky tube profiles). Frame weight is 1310gms according to Rose’s bike brochure but I’m not sure what size that is (Small or Medium I’m guessing). According to the Rose specs, a complete bike in size M in the SRAM Force build I have is 7.8kgs. I have the same bike in a size L and on my ebay scales of semi-truth, it weighed 8.45kg out of the box, which is still a decent weight. My Kinesis GF_Ti build for example is 8.65kgs and my Stoemper Taylör is 7.8kgs.

Avid BB7 front disc brake and 160mm rotor

Avid BB7 front disc brake and 160mm rotor

The SRAM Force build comes complete with Avid BB7 Road mechanical disc brakes and 160mm rotors. The seatpost is Ritchey WCS carbon and the bars and stem are Ritchey WCS aluminium.

Avid BB7 Road disc rear installation

Avid BB7 Road disc rear installation

The wheels are Rose’s own XEON DX-1850 featuring own brand hubs and mid depth rim, shod with Continental GP4000s in 25mm width.

IMG_5748The SRAM build that I have retails for £1686.76 to be precise (a Euro conversion of €1,945) and includes VAT but not shipping. However with Rose Bikes you can configure your own build – so you can tweak the build and the budget as you need to. The bike I’m riding has good old 53/39 and 12/25 race gearing – not something I’ve ridden for a couple of years (being a compact and dinner plate cassette devotee).

IMG_5780Now the colours – well they’re bold shall we say. Actually in all fairness the bike colour scheme does work in person – but you’re not going to lose it in a crowd. I have a feeling it’s one that you’ll grow to feel very fond of. Maybe. Actually the Lava Red/Black is already growing on me a bit and the white/black version looks ok. It’s nice to be different afterall.

The bike I’ve been kindly loaned is a size L so it’s a bit big for me but I reckon I’ll make it work for the purposes of testing.

IMG_5778Rose describe the bike as “a racer with snappy disc brakes” also that “it has been developed to meet the demands of frequent riders and ultra-distance riders – with a sporty yet comfortable geometry. They also go on to say “its lateral stiffness is record breaking” which sounds good!

The headtube is definitely higher than on more traditional race bikes but the top tube appears a touch longer too, as does the wheelbase and chainstay length.

I may run a shorter stem (the bike came with 110mm stem) to reduce my reach a bit and I’ve swapped out the saddle and seatpost as the first ride proved we weren’t going to hit it off.

On the subject of a first ride, I have to confess I know so little about disc brakes that I had to ask how to take the wheels off (you just undo the quick release – no brake caliper opening up tweaks needed) – they just pop right out. Nice.

I put around 75km on the bike on Saturday and about 900m of climbing with my regular speedy riding buddy Warren. It’s been a long week or so on the bike for me so my legs weren’t the freshest, yet the Xeon DX impressed.

IMG_5770One ride is far from enough but I found that it was very comfortable, felt light and nimble on the move. It handled well and the discs brakes just worked and I found that I just got on with the job of chasing Warren’s rear wheel. There were a few personal achievements on the ride and apart from the saddle, I found myself feeling very comfortable on the bike quite quickly even given it’s too big for me. The bike seemed willing to climb and it had a nice feel on the road. A touch relaxed but not in a bad way, comfortable, sufficiently nimble and quick. I had fun. It could be in my head but it did feel a bit different having discs.

Even from a first ride, disc brakes definitely work fine – they might be a bit heavier but I can’t help but wonder if they’re not a smart move for winter with none of that grinding your rims down in filthy weather. If it rains while I have it – I’ll get out and see how they go. Certainly in the sun yesterday I belted down a descent I know well with a T junction at the bottom and the Xeon DX stopped what felt like more comfortably than my normal bike but one descent far from representative. I did also wonder about potential upgrades to the brakes such as the fantastic sounding TRP Hy/Rd which got a great review from Road.cc recently: http://road.cc/content/review/85499-trp-hyrd-mechanical-interface-hydraulic-disc-brakes

Today I’ve changed the saddle over and tweaked the shifting and I’m already looking forward to riding it again. I hope to be out clocking up more miles over the next couple of weeks and will write a fuller review then. If you have any questions, or anything you’d like me to investigate for you, please leave a comment.

In summary, it’s been a really positive first ride and I’m looking forward to riding the Xeon DX a great deal more.

If you’d like to find out more, visit Rose Bikes at: http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/

Here’s a link to the bike: http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/bike/rose-xeon-dx-4400/aid:632568?bikevariantchanged=1