Rose Beefcake FR SL8 £2899

Customisable downhill demon

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

Rose bikes come directly from Germany. This means there’s no way of going into a shop and having a play with a Rose before you buy, but they do take demo bikes to most of Britain's national races and they also offer a clever feature on their website called the Bike Configurator, which lets you get the spec exactly as you want it.

The configurator is one of the things that attracted us to the Beefcake. After speaking to Rose UK, a bike was specced-up appropriately and soon arrived for us to razz. The Rose feels more like a downhill race bike than it does an all-day play machine, but that’s not to say it won’t excel at that as well. It’s well balanced in the air and thanks to its light weight, is happy to get the wheels off the ground. The high seat tube was a little offputting when airborne, but the rest of the bike is more than up to it.

Ride & handling: Well balanced and happy to get the wheels off the ground

Thanks to its slack head angle, long top tube and low bottom bracket, the Rose has a real downhill bike feel, which we were slightly dubious of when it came to getting on the pedals. It pedals surprisingly well though, partly thanks to the 38 to 36 low gear, but the suspension bob’s also pretty minimal and doesn’t give you any really noticeable pedal feedback. The option of building the Beefcake as a long-travel gravity enduro bike really wouldn’t be out of the question.

Tipping the bike downhill was when the real feel came out. The Fox Van R shock does everything it should without any nasty characteristics. Big square-edged hits did seem to slow the bike down slightly more than we would have liked, but that didn’t seem to decrease damping control at all, and was always predictable and easy to handle. The fork sat further into the travel than we would have liked and didn't provide a huge amount of support in turns. However, a spring swap is an option from new, and if you’re not really hammering into steep tight turns, it would probably be best to keep the fork as it is to help with small bump smoothness.

On the really fast stuff, the 65-degree head angle, along with the long wheelbase, really shines, keeping the Beefcake super stable and predictable, but not so long that it can’t make the tight stuff. The low bottom bracket gives the bike a ‘turning on rails’ feel, and we also felt the front end was a little too high, mainly because of the rise on the stem, but once we were riding steeper tracks we didn’t really feel the need to make any changes.

The high seat tube can get in the way slightly when it comes to moving around on the bike, but once you get used to it you can work it to your advantage, by shifting the back end of the bike from your hips with the saddle on the tight stuff.

Frame: Slack head angle and low bottom bracket give a real downhill feel

The Beefcake SL’s frame is pretty light, helping towards the overall light weight of the bike. There’s no adjustability, but neat touches are everywhere, such as internal cable routing, a 12 x 135mm Maxle rear end, ISCG and E-type front mech mount, and captive nuts in the shock hardware, so any stripping threads won’t cost you a fortune. There’s even a tapered head tube to keep the front end stiff and pointing where you want it to.

When it comes to dimensions, the Rose has a 65-degree head angle, a 1,160mm wheelbase, and a 585mm top tube. It also has a low bottom bracket at 340mm. Suspension-wise, there are 7in of travel, a four-bar linkage and 2.75in-stroke shock. This keeps things light.

Equipment: Well-specced for the price

SRAM X0 cranks are matched to a 38-tooth single ring and e*thirteen chainguide, running 10-speed through an X0 long cage mech and wide range 11-36 cassette. There’s a Fox Van R rear shock and 36 Van RC2 FIT fork on suspension duty. Low-rise Renthal 780mm bars help get the front end low, although the Syncros stem has some rise to it. The carbon Syncros seatpost and AM saddle are really nice touches. Formula The One brakes, some of our favourites, take care of the stopping, with 203 and 180mm rotors.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine.

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