German brand Rose recently invited BikeRadar to Tyrol, Austria, where we took a look at their 2014 mountain bike range. Fresh produce came in the form of new freeride and downhill bikes, plus an all-new carbon cross-country race bike.
Elsewhere, Rose have made the switch to 650b hoops for certain 2014 models, meaning the firm now sell bikes in all three of the major wheel sizes. See our image gallery, right, for details on all the new bikes, and stay tuned for a story on Rose's 2014 road lineup.
The Unchained replaces the Rose Beef Cake DH as the company's downhill machine. The shock now mounts to the down tube (as opposed to the top tube of the older bike) and is driven by a large rocker arm and Horst link to deliver 200mm or 220mm of travel.
The leverage ratio is also entirely different to that on the previous bike, requiring a considerably lower spring rate than before, easing stress on the suspension hardware and damper itself.
The pivots at the Horst link and seatstay rocker now use two ball bearings per side, while the main chainstay pivot employs a hollow aluminium shaft, all of which adds up to increased stiffness.
Pre-production Rose The Unchained downhill bike
The use of a tapered head tube should mean no accuracy issues up front. The Unchained also gets adjustable chainstays, allowing owners to increase or reduce the wheelbase by 14mm (the longest setting being 444mm and the shortest 430mm).
Suspension travel adjustments are made by switching the shock between one of two positions at the rocker, the lower mount offering the full 220mm of travel and the higher mount reducing it to 200mm. The bottom bracket height also raises by 7mm in the higher setting, and the head angle steepens by 0.5 degrees.
The pre-production sample we saw had a raw finish, something you're unlikely to see on production models.
The Sky Fire is an all-new 185mm freeride machine from Rose. It gets the same Horst link rear end and beefy pivots as The Unchained downhill bike, but includes more modern and practical touches that hint at enduro capability.
In terms of geometry, Rose have increased the size of the front centre of the bike by extending the top tube to compensate for short modern stems. Cranks will rotate via a press-fit 30 bottom bracket, and front derailleurs (if used) will mount directly to the chainstay yoke.
Like The Unchained, the Sky Fire uses a tapered head tube – it actually uses an identical linkage ratio to the downhill bike. Cable routing is managed internally, with support for remote dropper posts.
Pre-production Rose Sky Fire
We were impressed with the bike's looks; the raw finish and large, neat welds are almost Intense-like. Unfortunately, as with The Unchained, the raw finish isn't likely to make production. We just hope Rose don't end up going for a bland colour scheme.
This year, the enduro-ready Uncle Jimbo gets an additional 5mm of suspension travel, now delivering 165mm from its Horst link rear end. It's also been slackened by one degree at the head tube, which itself has been reduced in size to offer a lower front end.
A new rocker has altered the linkage ratio, making it less progressive overall. This should improve small-bump sensitivity and allow you to run less air pressure in the rear shock compared to last year's bike. The head tube is tapered and internal cable routing is still supported, as is the use of direct-mount front derailleurs. It's staying with 26in wheels for 2014.
Rose Uncle Jimbo
Rose have joined the long list of manufacturers putting their weight behind 27.5in (650b) wheels for 2014. The 145mm Granite Chief has been redesigned to accommodate the hoop format, its geometry has been revised and its head tube has been shortened. As with the other 2014 bikes, the linkage ratio has also been tweaked.
The Granite Chief will be pitched against some stiff competition this year, its 650b, mid-travel formula pitching it head-to-head with the likes of the Santa Cruz Solo and new GT Force. Rose's immense buying power should give them the edge in value over the competition, though.
Rose Granite Chief 2014, complete with 650b wheels
Another advantage with going Rose is their excellent online configurator, which allows you to build an entirely custom bike easily. There's also a women's specific version of the Granite Chief; it's known as the Verdita Green.
New for 2014 is the Thrill Hill, a 115mm carbon frame designed around 27.5in wheels. Instead of a four-bar Horst link design, the Thrill Hill uses a linkage activated single pivot, but with a twist.
To help tune the suspension’s compression curve, the seatstays have an inherent flex similar to that of a leaf spring – something we've seen previously on bikes from Canyon. That makes sense, seeing as the Thrill Hill is built in the same factory as Canyon's Flex Pivot bikes.
Rose say it removes the need for a pivot, saving weight and increasing stiffness. Of course, it means there's a couple less bearings to worry about in terms of durability.
Rose Thrill Hill
The frame mounts the shock directly to the chainstay rather than at the end of the swing link. Keeping things bang up to date, Rose have opted to use a press-fit 30 bottom bracket, while a tapered head tube and 12x142mm thru axle rear end should add further stiffness.
Jabba Wood and other bikes
The Jabba Wood is Rose's 26in-wheeled, 120mm bike. It dodges the change to 27.5in wheels for 2014 and remains largely unchanged. There's now a tapered head tube, and front derailleurs will mount directly to the seat tube.
Rose Jabba Wood 2014
Elsewhere, Rose's Count Solo aluminium hardtail has shifted to 650b for 2014 – a women's specific version is also now available, and goes by the name of The Duchess.
Both the Root Miller and Dr. Z 29ers will remain. They've been subject to the same facelift as many of the other bikes – tapered head tubes and direct-mount front derailleurs are now standard.
In order to avoid the confusion of having too many variants of one model, Rose have chosen to offer each bike in three configurations – 1, 2 and 3, with 1 being a good build and 3 being the best. We've yet to receive pricing information but will update you when we do.