The all-aluminium Rose was called in for the Cycling Plus Bike of the Year test, but exchange rate fluctuations caused it to break the price limit. Even at this higher cost, though, few competitors can match Rose when it comes to bang for your bucks. And while some might think aluminium dated in the age of carbon, we disagree, and reckon lightweight triple-butted aluminium is still an excellent material.
The Rose’s frame has a tapered head tube and a carbon fork for rigidity, with a substantial top tube and down tube. The bottom bracket flows into broad chainstays, but the seatstays are incredibly slender, designed to add a degree of give. But it’s the equipment that really shines.
To start with, the all-carbon Ritchey WCS EvoCurve bar is one of the best around, and alone retails for £260. Its compact 131mm drop is complemented by a top section that sweeps gently backwards, giving you both an aggressive position in the drops and a shorter, more relaxed ride on the tops. The Ritchey WCS 4 Axis stem is light, stiff in all the right places and retails for £80.
It’s a similar situation at the back, where a full carbon WCS Monolink seatpost is paired with Selle Italia’s slender, carbon-railed SLS Monolink saddle. A seating arrangement of this calibre matches the cockpit for both price and performance.
Yksion tyres and Ksyrium S rims are light and stiff
Mavic’s Ksyrium Elite S/Yksion wheel/tyre pairing is impressive at this price, combining low mass with bags of stiffness. But even that’s not the jewel in the Xeon’s crown – that’s an accolade that belongs to Shimano’s electronic Ultegra Di2 groupset. We’ve said plenty about the merits of UDi2 and that all holds true here: it’s consistent, smooth, easy to maintain and we’re convinced it’s the future of shifting.
Rose have specified a decent range too, combining a 50/34 compact with an 11-28T cassette – useful for all conditions. Bought separately, a full UDi2 group wouldn’t leave you with much change from two grand. So that’s a £2,000 groupset, nearly £600 of carbon hardware and a £525 wheelset – on a £2,200 bike!
Value, however, is meaningless if the bike doesn’t ride as it should, but the Xeon performs well. The lightweight wheels, good gearing and impressive overall weight make the Rose a brilliant little climber. The stiff frame helps transfer all of your power into the business of going forward. Its geometry is racy, with steep 73/73.5-degree head and seat angles, a short 98cm wheelbase and little fork offset. This adds up to a long, low position with rapid steering response and a nimble character. Get on board and you’ll want to go – fast.
If it’s comfort you’re looking for, the Xeon isn’t the bike for you. The classy carbon bar and seatpost do an excellent job of reducing road buzz, but the stiff frame and short wheelbase make for a chattery ride, especially on weather-damaged surfaces. The Rose can never quite settle; it pings and skips across the surface, and over longer distances this can be wearing.
On smooth roads, though, the Rose really blooms, with rapid steering response, shifting and pedalling. Its accuracy through smooth corners is ideally suited to the would-be racer, and aluminium’s toughness is a bonus in the cut-and-thrust of crit-style combat too. If you want unparalleled value and you’re lucky enough to be well served by decent road surfaces, the Rose should be a serious consideration.