Rose Granite Chief 8£2,799.00

Lightweight long-travel rig

BikeRadar score2.5/5

Rose’s Granite Chief offers low weight and high spec for the money, but the unsatisfactory rear suspension undermines control on more radical terrain.

Ride & handling: Potentially a bargain, but unsatisfactory suspension feel

At just under 27lb for a 150mm-travel (5.9in) bike, the Rose will get a lot of interest from fast, long-distance trail riders looking for extra ‘emergency’ travel – and it definitely deserves it. The low weight and the light, tight wheels give it a massive edge over other bikes at this price in terms of acceleration and speed on smooth terrain.

They also make it easy to flick and flare around in tighter technical situations, and the Granite Chief will happily mix it up with shorter-travel bikes on fast singletrack sessions. The angles all work well too, with plenty of weight forward on the wide bar and relaxed head for a naturally balanced poise without cramping breathing space.

The Kind Shock dropper seatpost adds easy weight movement potential when the trail gets seriously steep or technical. In chassis terms, the Rose is very stiff and accurate too. There’s a bit of twang at the tips of the Fox fork, but the 142x12mm screw-through back end is solid, despite very generous rear tyre room.

Control from the fork is excellent, with full tuning low-speed compression, lockout threshold and rebound adjustment potential. Unfortunately the FSR-style four-bar rear end isn’t nearly as composed, or as consistently tunable. A high level of low-speed compression damping in the shock, plus the stroke dynamics created by the steeply backswept linkage, means it sits tall and insensitive over small stuff for solid pedalling manners but then blows through its travel suddenly over even medium-sized hits.

The rebound is even less predictable, hanging up over square edges or bouncing us off big landings at potentially lethal speeds, and hours of tweaking couldn’t find a sweet spot where it felt like we had anything like control rather than 6in of random movement either. Add bar flex and skittery high volume Schwalbe tyres and we had far more of our fair share of near-misses on radical trails. The tight start, trapdoor mid-stroke behaviour also seriously undermines traction on more technical trails.

Frame & equipment: Great kit package adds up to low weight for the price

The updated Granite Chief chassis gains an extra 10mm of travel for 2011 – 150mm (6in) in total. It has a tapered head tube, big main tubes, internal cable routing, plenty of standover clearance, a PressFit BB30 bottom bracket and a 142x12mm screw-through axle rear end. It’s stiff too, with plenty of mud room.

While Rose are fully supported by a dedicated UK service centre, buying direct from Germany rather than from your local shop gets you a light, well equipped bike for your euro. If you want something different from the spec listed here, Rose run a custom componentry option too.

Formula brakes and a BB30 bottom-bracketed SRAM X0 chainset and gears provide a premium stop-go package, and the DT Swiss Trigon wheels and Syncros carbon cockpit kit are all pretty light. The bar and short stem lack stiffness when you start really slamming the bike around, though, although they are well shaped.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine.

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