Rose's direct sales model has allowed them to take advantage of reduced overheads to offer a lightweight race bike with the latest electronic shifting from Shimano and a smattering of high quality finishing kit. All of this costs less than £2,000 and that’s a price that high street brands just can’t match.
The Xeon’s multi-butted aluminium frame features a tapered head tube and press-fit bottom bracket, along with deep chainstays matched to super-skinny, shaped seatstays. The frame’s weight is no greater than any carbon bike at the same price and combines with high level kit to make the bike weigh in at just over 7.5kg (16.5lb). With the build offering no real compromises at the price, the Xeon has the potential to be one hell of a package.
For the most part it doesn’t disappoint. The chassis has a lively feel – none of the harsh stiffness that aluminium bikes have been criticised for in the past. With the likes of Cannondale, Canyon and Rose now producing alu frames with a real quality ride we’d suggest that when you’re looking for a bike between £1,500 and £2,000 you widen your focus to include these metal wonders.
The Rose’s underpinnings – the tapered head tube mated to the large oversized down tube, substantial bottom bracket and deep chainstays – all add up to a rock solid response to pedal inputs. There’s no flex or chatter, just a superbly smooth transfer of pedal input to speed. Above this solid structure the German company have chosen a slimmer top tube and ultra-skinny seatstays, topped with a carbon seatpost with an offset clamp. This combines to isolate you from the coarse vibrations of uneven road surfaces.
Add into this mix a combination of a build at least the equal to anything else in the price range and you’ve got a bike with great potential for all-round use. The overall low weight combined with light wheels and a compact-equipped Di2 groupset makes the Rose an accomplished climber. Hit the hills on the Xeon and its responsive nature and comfortable bar and saddle make long in-the-saddle grinds less of a slog. Short sharp uphills can be attacked with vigour out of the saddle with the bike never being anything less than super-composed.
On fast blasts downhill it feels generally assured, though we did have a moment on a fast descent where the Ksyriums’ bladed aero spokes were chopped about by a side wind, making us back off for a moment as the front became a little unbalanced. That’s not down to the frame, in our opinion, more the wheels’ reaction to a freaky bout of high gusts.
The tyre combo of Continental’s Force and Attack is an excellent choice – fast rolling with good grip, and the siped tread copes well with wet weather and greasy surfaces. Rose have fitted thin lightweight racing inner tubes, and we suffered a couple of punctures from flints on our test rides. We’d have taken the hit on a couple of extras grams and fitted something more substantial. If our only gripe with a £2,000 bike that combines brilliant kit, a great frame and arguable the best value high performance groupset on the market right now is a couple of butyl tubes, then that’s quite an achievement!
Rose also offer an upgrade over the standard Xeon: for around £250 more you can have the same frame, fork and finishing kit but with one significant upgrade – a set of colour coded Mavic Cosmic Carbone clinchers, complete with colour matched Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres. That’s simply amazing value, when you consider the extra couple of hundred quid gets you a £1,000 wheelset and tyres that would set you back a further £80 in-store. Should your budget be able to stretch that bit extra we’d recommend you give it serious consideration.
This bike was tested as part of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2012 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 260, on sale Friday 2 March.