Rose has a habit of raising the specification bar almost out of sight, and the Xeon RS3000 is no exception. A full Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed groupset is impressive, and here it's paired with Mavic's Ksyrium Elite wheels and Ritchey kit to leave no spec stone unturned.
- HIGHS: Beautifully finished frame, incredible value for money
- LOWS: Are you brave enough to choose aluminium over carbon?
- BUY IF... You value specification and durability over absolute ride quality
With that level of kit and a carbon frame, we thought it'd be hard to beat, until we realised that this smooth-looking frame is in fact aluminium, which makes things far more interesting. But done well, aluminium still has plenty to offer, not least durability.
At first glance it's an easy mistake to make as the tube shapes resemble so many carbon frames and very few aluminium ones. Aside from the beautifully sculpted welds, the straight seatstays are notable for being flattened and exceptionally thin when viewed from the side, designed to add comforting flex to the metal frame.
Other modern features include full internal cable routing, the rear brake passing through the top tube, the gear cables entering on each side of the head-tube, with the rear mech cable exiting neatly behind the rear dropout. The chainstays are deep, rectangular and square-edged, also very untypical for aluminium, but together with the BB30 bottom bracket shell they add superb drivetrain rigidity.
Exceptionally thin seatstays add a bit of rear end comfort
The low weight – just 7.28kg – pays dividends, but the single biggest performance advantage comes from Mavic's Ksyrium Elite S wheels, which are taut, light and super-responsive, translating your inputs into instant acceleration via the stiff aluminium frame.
To make the most of the rigidity of the frame and wheels requires a slight adjustment in your riding style out of the saddle because the springiness present in many frames is cancelled out, and it can feel slightly inert because of it. The Rose is undeniably fast, and soaks up most road vibration very well, but we felt quite a kick through the saddle over bigger bumps.
The Ritchey finishing kit is excellent, the swept back carbon Evocurve bar proving very comfortable, although the glossy tape isn't as grippy as we'd like. The 27.2mm carbon seatpost supports a Monolink-mounted shiny-topped Selle Italia SLS saddle, and the slim post's compliance offsets the rigidity we often feel from the Monolink design.
We revelled in the Rose's luxurious kit, and on our varied test routes it handled crisply, cornered accurately and climbed swiftly. Its aluminium frame is beautifully built, tough, rides well and is really hard to fault beyond personal preference – but for us it just lacks a little urgency and refinement at the top end.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.