Update July 24th 2015: I’ve just attended the 2016 Rose road bikes launch and you can read about the latest models here: http://girodilento.com/2016-rose-bikes-new-road-models-and-updates/
Last week, I was lucky enough to spend 3 days in Austria with Rose Bikes learning about and riding their new 2015 bikes. Since I began this blog I’ve been fortunate enough to review two different Rose bikes and have been impressed with both. So the opportunity to attend their press camp for 2015 to learn about and get some early riding done on their new bikes was something I couldn’t miss.
Rose announced 5 key product updates for 2015 and also talked about their new soon to be launched Munich Biketown (concept store) which will be 300 square metres and feature a configurator iPad next to each new bike, enabling customers to choose every component on their bike as well as then potentially showing the finished bike as a visual on a video wall. That’s one of the key things about buying from Rose, the customisation that’s possible. You can tweak or change virtually every component, simply paying the extra when you choose dearer components. When you add to that the value that buying direct brings – Rose have a strong offer and across Europe it’s this individually configured build process that customers seek out as well as strong pricing and service. Rose already have one “mega” concept store in their home town of Bocholt which is over 6,000sq m and includes a wind machine for testing jackets in store!
Rose also announced the end of their monster catalog and that it’ll now be replaced by a customer magazine published in English and German both online and off. They’ll still keep publishing their excellent bike catalog though.
But onto the bikes …. As I mentioned there were 5 new road products announced.
At the top of the range is the new flagship race bike: 2015 Xeon X-Lite Team. This is a completely new frame design, taking design cues and tube shapes from the 2014 Team CGF but bringing, more stiffness, more comfort and a much lighter weight for this flagship model. Rose told us that the new X-Lite Team has a frame weight of 800gms for a size 57cm frame. Combined with the new frame is a completely new fork design that I’ll come back to but in this context the fork weight is 315gm which is very competitive. Both the fork and the frame are designed to be able to run 25mm tyres.
Along side the new X-Lite Team is a new X-Lite CRS that is the same design but built with slight more affordable carbon and this will weigh in at 1,000gms and is built using the same mould so has exactly the same tube shapes.
The X-Lite CRS uses the same 315gm fork and both models feature a new integrated seat clamp design inspired by the one from this year’s Team CGF.
The new fork is one of the 5 key new road products for the 2015 model year and is an important part of how the new bikes ride. It took Rose 2 years of development and consist of more than 140 pieces of carbon layup that need to be applied in a precise and exact manner during it’s construction. Rose say the end result of the specific laminate schedule they use is a light fork with an outstanding stiffness to comfort to weight ratio.
The initial design and prototypes for the new fork were constructed by hand in Germany working with experts in carbon technology and construction and each sample took a full day to build, which was obviously too long for mass manufacturing. These prototypes though came in at only 265gms each. Rose then looked for a supplier in the Far East who could make the fork. The company they choose had to change the way the manufactured to build the Rose design and the production weight grew a little to 315gms.
The next new product is the brand new Xeon RS aluminium race frame that weighs in at a scant 1050gm in a size 57cm, meaning that if you are to buy one of the smallest frames you might well be buying an aluminium frame weighing less than a kilogramme! Very impressive but in fairness, it’s only impressive if it also rides well.
Again the Xeon RS like the X-Lite models is designed as a race bike. The Xeon RS also features the new flagship 315gm fork (with a 1 1/8 to 1.5 taper on this model), a more sloping top tube, a new aluminium 6066 alloy which has allowed Rose to slim their triple butted tubes down to a 0.2mm thickness as the new metal gave better stiffness so they could use less. The new Xeon RS also features super slim seat stays and is available in a big range of sizes from 49cm (the one under 1,000gms) to a massive 66cm and there is no weight limit on any size.
Impressive. Rose also said that they’d needed to use different tubes for each size of this frame to get a good balance between stiffness, comfort and ride quality. Interestingly we were told that they couldn’t use hydroforming on this frame as it was too heavy.
New Rose Endurance Disc bikes:
Rose also announced two new disc bikes: A new carbon Xeon CDX frameset based on the already successful Xenon Team CGF but has now been engineered into a disc specific platform. The new disc fork weighs in at 380gms and is based on the new fork used in the non-disc bikes but re-engineered for discs. On the carbon frames the steerer tapers from 1 1/8 to 1 ¼ and the front brake cable feeds through the fork to keep the routing very clean. This new frameset is compatible with Shimano’s recently announced Flat Mount disc brakes giving you some comfort that it’s future proofed as much as possible for what’s a relatively new road technology. The Xeon CDX also features through axles front and rear but you can mount a quick release at the rear. The rear end also features 135mm hub spacing. This new frame is compatible with Shimano 140 or 160mm discs and SRAM discs and all cables are integrated. The new bike can run 28mm tyres and with wide rims 28mm tyres can run almost at 30mm wide which will fit. The Xeon CDX has a frame weight of 1080gms – only 80gms more than the non-disc version (the Team CGF)
New Xeon DX
For 2015 Rose will have a completely new Xeon DX, which in simple terms is a disc version of the 2014 Xeon GF. Again it features all of the new aspects of the CDX including the new fork (in this guise with a 1 1/8 to 1.5 steerer, compatibilities and integrated cabling etc.
What it also brings from the Team GF is the abilility to extend the headtube further using aluminium spacers that screw into the headtube – a little like Argon 18 offer on some models, allowing customers to raise the front of the bikes by an extra 20 or 40mm. It’s nicely done and could prove useful to people needing a specific fit. The important difference to note between the Current and the new Xeon DX is that whilst the current frameset is relatively racey, the new one is more endurance, so has a shorter top tube and a higher head tube. If you’d prefer a more aggressive geometry – it’s not too late to buy the old one, but once it’s gone, disc braked Rose bikes will only only come in endurance geometry as they feel that’s where disc bikes fit best. In fairness if you read my Trek World coverage, Trek has effectively made the same decision with Domane Disc bikes.
Rose also said that they’d redesigned the seatstays to make the bikes damp vibration more effectively and that they believe the seatpost they favour from Ritchey (with a monorail) also offers high comfort levels. In Jüergen Telahr, the road bike designer went so far as to say that a large proportion of any bikes ride comfort comes from the seatpost.
All these new bikes are Di2 compatible – both disc and non-disc frames. All of the frames have integrated cabling but neither endurance bike has mudguard/fender or rack mounts.
Interestingly Rose said that they felt that around 70% of their buyers would probably be happiest on the endurance geometry bikes suggested that few of us than we’d like to admit will find race bike positioning truly comfortable. We’ll come back to that.
Pricing is yet to be announced but Rose say it will be pretty close to current models that are being replaced – which is pretty exciting especially for the alloy options but it’ll make the carbon bikes very compelling too. On availability, Rose said a few 2015 model bikes have already hit their online store but most will arrive in stock by October time. They’ll be available as complete bikes only – no framesets for sale (which personally I think is a shame but I understand it commercially).
So how do they ride?
I managed to get a ride in on several of the new models. The only one I didn’t manage to get out on was the new Xeon CDX with Shimano’s new hydraulic brakes. That was a shame as I was very keen to try both the bike and those brakes.
My first ride of the Press Camp was nearly 40km on the new Xeon RS superlight aluminium frame. I choose an anodised black bike equipped with Ultegra 6800 and Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels. On my ebay scales of semi-truth that I’d packed for the trip, this bike weighed in at 7.2kgs which is really impressive for a bike that might retail for maybe a touch under £1500 from October.
The weight wasn’t the only thing that impressed me either – it rode extremely well. Light, lively, nimble with excellent comfort through the new fork and a bit more feedback from the rear end but talkative rather than uncomfortable. I liked this bike straight away – it was direct but smooth and a lot of fun to ride. For someone looking for a superlight race bike without spending a fortune and who wants performance and comfort – this seemed very good indeed. For me the anodised black finish was a real winner too. It looks great and the finish of the frame was very good. I also rode another Xeon RS with the new 11 speed 105 as well but I felt that Ultegra was better and I enjoyed the Ultegra version of the bike more. Interestingly the 105 version I rode had a striking Red, Black and white paint scheme and the painted frames are 80-100gms heavier than the anodised ones – so make a note of that if you want the lightest version.
The following morning after missing out on the disc bikes again (which were in high demand with the press) I consoled myself by going out for a ride on the new top of the range 800gm frame the X-Lite Team, shod with Ultegra Di2 and Mavic Ksyrium SLS wheels.
This bike weighed in at 6.65kg on my scales in a size 57cm and there were some tangible differences in how it rode from the Xeon RS. Obviously the X-Lite felt lighter again than the aluminium bike and it also felt smoother but still easily stiff enough for my spindly power output. I reviewed a 2011 X-Lite a few years back and really enjoyed it but this feels like a much more sophisticated frameset – light, fast, comfortable, smooth, nimble. The only ever so picky negative I had was that compared to the Xeon RS it felt a touch muted and wasn’t as talkative thanks to the higher smoothness perhaps. A very nice bike though and whilst I didn’t get to try the more affordable X-Lite CRS, Warren Rossiter from Cycling Plus did and he told me he was impressed by it and that it was a good step forward over the previous model. Seeing the finalised pricing for these bikes will be very interesting. An aside for those of you concerned about a light bike – the Dura Ace 9000 version of the same bike weighed in 300 gms lighter at 6.35kg, so if you want lighter choice Dura Ace mechanical over Ultegra Di2.
The next bike I rode was the 2015 Xeon Team CGF which is the frameset that the endurance geometry and the new tube shaping and seat clamp design all launched on in 2014. Rose also said that it had been a very successful model for them. I rode the Ultegra 11 speed version which is already on sale for just over £1,600 here : http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/bike/rose-xeon-team-cgf-3000-2015/aid:746444. My scales weighed the bike in at 7.22kgs which is very light for an “endurance” bike at that price. Foolishly I let Dave Arthur from Road.cc talk me into riding this bike up Austria’s hardest climb (which is the hardest ride I’ve ever done on a bike) so I had a real opportunity to bond with this bike. Considering on the 57cm frame that it has quite a high headtube length of 185mm combined with a top tube length of 55cm, I expected to feel quite upright. But I didn’t. Actually I felt very happy with the geometry. It certainly isn’t quite as nimble or pointy as the race frames but it handled well, felt very dependable and confidence inspiring. It was also smooth and comfortable across a range of surfaces (including gravel). With a nearly 8km descent (at 15%) I had a good opportunity to test the braking where the rear caliper is under the bottom bracket and I didn’t have any issues even after a lot of braking to get round a series of hairpin bends. The DT Swiss wheels also road very nicely and the bike comes standard with Continental GP4000S II tyres in 25mm width. Again I really enjoyed this bike – in fact I enjoyed it more than I had expected as I tend to favour race bikes over endurance bikes just for the fun factor and I really like that the Rose ones are also smooth and comfortable as well as fast and nimble.
The final bike I rode on the morning we left was the new Xeon DX aluminium bike which should retail for a little less than the carbon version. I spend 600km on last years model and enjoyed the experience (http://girodilento.com/rose-xeon-dx-review/) so I was keen to try the completely new version. Also the one I test ran SRAM Force with Avid BB7 brakes and the new model had new 11 speed SRAM Force and SRAM’s new disc brakes. I only rode this bike about 10 miles but Dave Arthur had ridden it on our adventure the day before and had told me that he thought it had ridden really well. My short loop incorporated gravel, smooth and broken tarmac, potholes, climbs and descents. Here’s the thing…. I liked the aluminium one more than the carbon frame I’d ridden the day before. Why? Well to me the aluminium frameset just felt a bit more lively and talkative than the carbon frame – it wasn’t quite as smooth but it was still very comfortable and a bike I’d happily ride all day on but the upside was it just seemed give you more feedback and feel a bit more animated as you rode it. I thought it has a terrific combination of stiffness, comfort, smoothness and feedback and although it was only a very short ride, I was quite smitten. As much as I personally enjoyed the more race like geometry of the 2014 model, I think the new Xeon DX is even better. Given is compatibility with future Shimano disc brakes systems and with both mechanical and electronic groupsets – I think it might appeal to a lot of people who are keen to jump to disc brakes in a package that won’t break the bank but has a strong warranty, is well engineered (not to mention customisable) and can be upgraded over time. The new Xeon DX was a terrific final surprise before I got on the plane home.
At the beginning of this trip, I’d been saying to people that I’ve never ridden a Rose bike I didn’t like. I’ve now ridden 5 more bikes (to a total of 7) and I can still make the same claim.
Rose deserve to sell a lot more bikes in the UK based on the quality and how they ride and these new models should certainly see them continue to grow here.
So those are my thoughts on the new 2015 Rose Road Range – please leave me a comment if you have any questions and thanks for reading. Thanks also to Rose for the invitation, which I’m very grateful for.
You can visit Rose here: http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/