Rose will be a new name to many mountain bikers but, with an established reputation in Germany and a range that offers something for everyone, we’ve got a feeling they’ll be making their presence felt out on the trails.
The Dr Z 6 sits near the top of the company’s cross-country race full-suspension (or ‘fully’, to use the German expression) line-up. Blending low weight and race-speciﬁc component choices with some unusual design touches, it’s an intriguing bike that refuses to be pigeonholed as easily as you might think.
Quirky as it is, we’re quite taken with Rose’s unconventional approach to the Dr Z 6. If you can live with the limited gear range of its 2x9 setup and fancy a genuinely fast bike that’s a break from the usual race clones, it’s worthy of investigation.
Ride & handling: Fast and more fun on the descents than a 100mm bike has any right to be
At 26lb (11.8kg) it’s not the lightest bike in its class – although it's far from the heaviest – but the Dr Z’s stretched top tube and light, fast-rolling wheels give it plenty of instant get up and go.
The 2x9 gear setup takes some getting used to, but it works surprisingly well once you’ve got your head round the need for occasional triple shifts at the rear when swapping rings up front. With fewer gear choices and a taller low gear ratio at the bottom, there’s little choice but to get on with the business of propelling the Rose Dr Z forward – something that receives with plenty of enthusiasm.
On the suspension front, there’s nothing to get excited about, although it all works well enough. Small bump compliance is only average thanks to the bob-inhibiting dropped chainstay pivot, but most will be happy with the compromise.
Climbing performance is limited only by the 2x9 setup’s low gear and limited tyre grip, while high speed hits are handled as well as you’d expect from a 100mm-travel bike, aided and abetted right up to the bike’s limits by surefooted handling and a torsionally rigid steering setup.
Ah, yes. That wide, high front end and 15mm through-axle – the combined source of the Dr Z 6’s split personality. Racers may baulk at the aesthetics or the weight penalty of all that extra aluminium, but it makes a lot of sense out on the trail: this is a fast bike that’ll hold a line in the rough far better than most of its race-derived peers.
The roomy top tube combined with a short stem gives plenty of room to get the power down, while the burly front end provides a quick-to-react and stable platform that’ll go precisely where you point it, exactly when you want it to. It’s a potent combination that works much better out in the real world than you’d expect.
Frame & equipment: Surprising mix of race and all-mountain kit; 2x9 setup limits climbing ability
There’s nothing new in the Dr Z’s suspension setup, although the dropped chainstay pivots go some way to minimising the pedal-induced bobbing that can otherwise plague simple four-bar designs. What’s left of any unwanted sogginess can be mopped up by switching on the Fox Float RP2 shock’s ProPedal compression damping, although we didn’t really feel the need to use it during our test.
The details are as thoroughly thought out as you’d expect from a German-engineered bike. The main pivot uses needle bearings for smoothness and longevity, while hydroformed top and down tubes add bulk and weight where these contribute to strength and reduce them where they don’t. In addition, 10mm slotless rear dropouts help stiffen and strengthen the rear end. Topping it off are aesthetic touches such as smoothed welds and internal cable routing.
So far, so 100mm-travel race bike; it’s on the spec front that the Dr Z 6 gets intriguing. While a Shimano XT-based transmission and FSA double chainset are the kind of cross-country race trinkets we’d expect to see at this price, the Fox fork’s 15mm through-axle and the high, wide Syncros riser bars almost seem like intruders from a longer-travel machine’s spec.