The courier collected the Xeon DX yesterday for the return journey back to Rose. I managed to ride over 600km on the bike, certainly enough for a review that I’m happy with and funnily enough like a lot of bikes – after 600km, my views are still the same they were from the first couple of rides – this is a very good bike.
There’s been a lot of talk about discs on road bikes for the last year or so, so it’s been terrific to be able to spend quality time on a purpose designed road bike with discs. Of course there are cyclocross bikes out there too with discs but cyclocross bikes are typically designed to a different design brief and their geometry reflects that. This means that ‘cross bikes do ride differently on the road than a typical road bike and I know people who race cross who’re adamant they wouldn’t want to spend lots of time on them on the road. Horses for courses but something to bear in mind if you’re thinking about a disc bike.
I’ve been riding a size L bike, which for a lot of brands is around a 56cm size but not on this particular Rose as I found out the day it arrived. The sizing is bigger than normal and in fact a Medium would have been right for me but this was the only demo bike available. In fairness, most of the time, it’s not been a hindrance except on some of the faster rides I’ve attempted on it when it felt a bit big and slightly unwieldy against my friends on their lightest, fastest, and correctly sized carbon super bikes – but that’s no criticism of the Rose.
I have thoroughly enjoyed riding this bike. The frame rides really, really well. It’s comfortable (a big thing for me), has excellent ride quality, yet doesn’t seem to lack at all in stiffness.
The handling is good, and the classic 73 degree angles front and rear help with that. Rose describe the geometry as sporty yet comfortable and I’d say that’s a very fair description. The head tube lengths are a bit higher than a race bike but they work on the bike and Rose position it as for someone who rides a lot or rides long distances. I’ve ridden three 100km+ rides on the Xeon DX and it’s been a fine companion over the distance, so in my opinion Rose have delivered what they set out to.
The fork has a tapered steerer (1 1/8th at the top to 1 ½ at the bottom) and is very smooth considering the additional rigidity tapered steerers typically bring. Cables are internally routed which keeps things nice and neat and obviously as it’s running discs there are no brake calipers on either the fork or the rear seatstays. This keeps the frame looking clean. I’ve been riding the SRAM Force spec, but there are Ultegra and Ultegra Di2 options if you’d prefer these. Personally I’d also like to see a cheaper 105/Rival spec to make it more appealing as a winter trainer (it doesn’t have mudguard mounts though).
The frame and fork appear well made and come with Rose’s 10 year warranty. Given the business has been running for over a century, I think you’re pretty safe there. Rose list the frame weight as being 1310gms and the finish features very smooth welding around the headtube in particular, so much so that you could also mistake it for being carbon. There are postmount disc calipers to provide some protection for the brakes, a BB90 Press fit bottom bracket and 135mm rear wheel spacing.
Speaking of the wheels, the bike comes with a set of Rose Specific wheels called DX-1850 regardless of which spec you buy and they seem good but they do feature Rose’s Nine 2 Ten axle system which runs 10mm thick axles and the axles are big and heavy. The work well and they give good wheel stiffness (or seem to) but one of the only real differences I noticed in riding this bike over a normal caliper braked road bike was it feels like there is more weight lower down when you are riding. A weight distribution difference – not bad, but different. The wheels are shod with Continental GP4000s tyres in 25mm size and these are a perfect fit with the bike. A touch more comfort than 23mms but plenty of grip and speed, they’re a great choice. The wheels felt a bit heavy but they rode really well. No complaints at all and with the wheels you notice a real difference on the rims – they keep in so much better condition and are so much easier to keep clean.
Then there was the braking itself. I’ve never ridden a mountain bike or any bike with disc brakes, so I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest – I thought maybe the braking would be much better than my other road bikes but in a lot of respects it’s not a lot better. In fact the Avid BB7s mostly underwhelmed me. They work fine, they stop well and I noticed it a lot of steeper descents, I could brake more gently but stop earlier and in a more controlled manner. I never worried about running out of brakes and you can brake differently with the extra feel but not it’s not a night and day thing. In fact your riding seems to just adapt (and quickly) to the different characteristics/feel of the brakes. Unsurprisingly in the wet there is a much bigger difference. The discs get wet and don’t stop quite as well but they largely work as they do in the dry – certainly more than caliper brakes do (on alloy rims, let alone carbon, where the difference would be big) and you find yourself stopping just as confidently as you would in the dry (just with a bit longer braking distances). On the Shimano specced bikes, there are Shimano disc brake options but I can’t say how good or otherwise they are. There are certainly some other options for disc brakes out there and if it was my bike I’d be looking at upgrading the Avids before too long as they’re less competent than the rest of the build in my opinion as a first time disc brake rider.
The only thing I didn’t personally get on with at all was the Selle Italia saddle which was connected to a special carbon mono-rail seatpost. I swapped the saddle out for a a friends Fizik Arione attached to a basic Bontrager Alloy seat post I had in my garage. Even with a basic alloy post, the comfort of the bike was still excellent.
The complete bike in size L weighed 8.65 kgs even with the relatively weighty but bombproof chunky axles and wheels. With some lighter wheels, I reckon you could drop a bit more weight if you wanted to.
If you’d like a disc road bike but don’t want to spend the earth, yet still want a bike with good stiffness and comfort that’s a fine riding companion – definitely put the Rose Xeon DX on your shortlist. It’s a fine bike and good company for long brisk riding. It’s fairly light, rides well and handles well.
It’s also a good bike if you’d like to be an early adopter on road discs and would like to buy into a frame and fork that’s good enough to upgrade and evolve over time as components like road disc brakes inevitably improve (TRPs HY/RD as an example).
There are a good choice of specs and it’s a frame that would be worth upgrading as you go. It doesn’t have mudguard mounts though and I’m not sure you’d get bigger than 28mm tyres on it, so those maybe down sides depending on your needs. Running discs though did seem to make it easier to clean once it got dirty if that helps you. Buying direct from Rose, you’re getting strong value in terms of the components specced at the price point as well.
Having spent some quality time on the Xeon DX, I can absolutely see why we might all end up with a disc brake bike in our collections. There are lots of conditions where you might want to have disc brakes over caliper brakes. To me though, it wouldn’t be as my best bike but as a bike I spend lots of miles on in lots of weathers – for all those rides when I’m not out on my best and most expensive bike and the discs will definitely save wear and tear on your rims during the wetter months of the year. Road discs aren’t a night and day type of braking upgrade though – and good caliper brakes are still great.
However a bike like this does also make sense as an only bike, if you want a smooth but brisk riding disc braked bike for riding in all conditions. It’d go well on sportives as well as training rides and the colours grown on me too. It is a bike that would be a fine companion for most riding conditions perhaps only falling down for those flat out rides when you’re chasing your friends on their lightest fastest bikes. In those cases the Rose will make a good fist of it, but it’s not a superlight race bike.
For more photos of the bike and my initial thoughts – please see my earlier post on the Xeon DX: http://girodilento.com/first-ride-rose-xeon-dx-road-disc-bike-review/
For more information, please visit Rose’s website: http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/products/bikes/race/road-bikes/xeon-dx/
Thanks for reading