Red Rose Pro-200 women's bike £939

Entry-level build-your-own bike

BikeRadar score 4/5

German company Rose have 10 drop-barred road bikes designed specifically for women. Using their online bike builder it's possible to custom spec your bike to your own personal preferences.

With its Shimano 105 groupset, the Red Rose Pro-200 represents great value for money – in fact, taking into account the aftermarket cost of the kit, it's almost worth buying for the parts alone.

Ride & handling: Brilliant route to race confidence

There's something very nimble about the ride of the Rose. Every time we got on it, the bike took us by surprise, but five minutes down the road we were soon enjoying the quick response to changes of direction. Rose bill this as one of their entry-level road racing bikes and we'd agree with them.

The head tube is long (15cm) and the pesky adjustable stem on our test model (see 'Equipment', below) stopped us from getting our position as low as we like to, but with a standard stem the space is there to allow the bars to go lower.

This is a bike you can grow into, moving the bars down as your confidence grows. With the bars higher and a slightly more back-friendly position the Red Rose Pro-200 will easily lend itself to long weekend rides.

We like the short reach of the Xtreme WCR Lady handlebars – reducing the distance from the tops to the hoods – but we found the drop a little too deep, and some new riders trying to drop down for the first time might be put off by the distance their hands need to travel.

The Shimano 105 brakes were powerful and even a little grabby to start with but they soon settled in to give strong modulated stopping power. The compact chainset, with a top gear ratio of 50:12, is great for hilly areas.

For long descents or flat course races, more powerful riders may feel under-geared. If you're one of them we'd consider speccing a cassette with an 11-tooth sprocket or alternatively a standard double chainset with 53/39t gearing, which is mercifully simple to do thanks to the Rose ordering system.

Chassis: Quality aluminium frame and full-carbon fork

As one of Rose's entry-level racing bikes, the Pro-200 features a good quality 7005 T6 Ultralite triple-butted aluminium frame and carbon fibre fork. At 385g the fork has an impressively low weight and goes a long way to decrease the annoying buzz you can get from rough roads.

The massive down tube – the most striking visual feature of the bike – becomes rectangular near the bottom bracket, increasing the overall stiffness of the ride. The vertically flat but tall chainstays have a subtle curve to them and the straight seatstays have an almost triangular shape.

The head tube is tapered from 1.25in down to 1.125in – a trick more usually found on mountain bikes – reducing flex at the front end. We’re not convinced this is necessary,  but we certainly didn't find it detrimental to the ride.

The shiny metal seatpost clamp stands out prominently against the white frame and securely held the seatpost – though again this did seem a touch unnecessary.

Equipment: Custom options galore gives you plenty of choice; we'd swap the stem

Let's get the negative part out of the way first; we're not a big fan of the adjustable stem that came with our Rose, and not just on aesthetic grounds. Angle adjustment of the stem can be useful as a temporary measure to tune your position, but in this case we couldn't achieve as low a position as we'd have liked.

Normally you can lower the handlebars by swapping spacers from below to above the stem, but the design of this particular stem and cap prevents this, and means you'd have to cut the fork steerer instead.

However, that’s the beauty of the Rose ordering system: if you don’t like something then you can change it for any part in their catalogue (for upgrades you'll need to pay the extra). You can also specify handlebar width and stem length to suit your preferred position. (Don’t worry if we lost you at ‘specify’ – they’re happy to guide you through the options and help you find the right package.)

The Red Rose has an impressive kit list for the money: the latest 105 groupset, Shimano WH-RS10 wheels, Continental Grand Prix tyres and Fizik Vitesse Sport saddle (though if this doesn’t suit they offer a four-week saddle trial).

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