We've just spent two days in Livigno, Italy getting down and dirty with Rose's 2010 mountain bike range.
A massive presence in the German cycling world, Rose started out as an internet-based mail order company and now design their own bikes and gear as well as distributing kit throughout Europe.
For 2010 the company have added some new women's models as well as improving their existing range of mountain bikes. Rose cover everything from cross-country hardtails to full-on downhill race machines, so there's likely to be something to suit every rider.
We've been checking out their cross-country, all-mountain and enduro machines on some of the world's sweetest singletrack in the mountain bike heaven that is Lavigno, as well as hitting the resort's Kona-Approved Bike Park, dodging cattle and eating lots of cheese.
Rose also have a new full-carbon all-mountain bike dubbed The Janitor, details of which we'll bring you from the Eurobike show next week. For now, here's a look at the bikes we saw in Livigno (prices available after Eurobike).
The Uncle Jimbo is an 'enduro' bike, and much like the cows on the hills of the Alps, this beast can climb and descend with the best of them. We rode miles of tight singletrack, bombed through rocky passes and climbed for hours and this thing was a blast.
The tried and tested Fox RP23 rear shock has been customised to work in sync with the frame designed by Rose's in-house geometry guru and designer Andi Heimerdinger, and when paired up with the adjustable Fox 36 Talas FIT 160mm fork up front with bolt-through axle, you point this thing down, smile and go.
We particularly liked the internal cable routing used on all of Rose's bikes which, as well as looking neat, should protect cables from mud and grime.
Other kit highlights on the Uncle Jimbo we rode (top-spec) include FSA's super-stiff and reliable Afterburner chainset along with faultless SRAM X0 shifting. The Syncros finishing kit adds a nice touch, as does a Crank Brothers Joplin adjustable seatpost.
Matthew Cole mid-way through an Alpine epic ride on board the Rose Granite Chief
The Granite Chief is Uncle Jimbo's smaller all-mountain brother (or nephew, whatever) with a lighter, less burly frame. It uses Fox's 32 Talas 140mm fork, which is more suited to your everyday cross-country blast with plenty of climbing and descending. It certainly left us smiling like wild baboons in heat and was sublime on a 50-mile epic through, across and around the Alps.
If it's freeride/downhill action you're looking for, look no further than the Beefcake. US downhiller/freerider Bobby Root (world record-holder for fastest wheelie) has just finished his first season as Rose's sponsored rider, and it's the Beefcake frame that he's been riding.
While Root has his frame set up with dual crown Fox 40s we rode a Beefcake built for white-knuckle freeride action. RockShox Totem forks take care of bounce up front with a Fox DHX air shock out back, both with 180mm of travel.
Bobby Root getting air time on the Beefcake
The Lavigno Bike Park was the perfect territory to ride the Beefcake hard and long, festooned with jumps, berms, drop-offs, wooden features and all sorts of other freeride porn.
The 2010 Beefcake (left) with its 2009 brother on the right
The Beefcake is a FUN bike. We had a blast chucking it down the track where it ate up everything we threw at it, and saved our arse on a few sections through the woods where the rooted switchbacks threatened to chuck us face first into the dirt like a fly to the windscreen.
The Beefcake didn't shy away from a bit of uphill pedalling either, which was surprising given its hefty appearance.
Dr Z is a 100mm full-suspension marathon race bike which has a Fox fork and Float RP23 shock, Syncros finishing kit, SRAM X0 gearing and DT Swiss wheels.
The Duchess, Crystal Stoke and Verdita Green bikes are all new models in the 2010 Rose lineup, and all women-specific machines. The Duchess (isn't that what Jimmy Saville called his late mother?) is a race hardtail with FSA K-Force Light chainset, SRAM X0 gearing, DT Swiss race edition rims and Syncros finishing kit.
The Duchess women's aluminium hardtail
The Crystal Stoke, a 120mm cross-country machine, sports a great-looking paint job along with a Fox F series fork and RP23 shock, Syncros seatpost/carbon bar/stem, SRAM X0 gearing, FSA K-Force light chainset and Formula R1 brakes.
Verdita Green is the all-mountain offering for the females with Syncros finishing kit, FSA K-Force chainset, SRAM X0, Fox 32 Talas fork and RP23 shock.
We're looking forward to doing some more extensive testing of the 2010 Rose bikes range – it's just a shame every test ride can't be done in the awesome Alps.