Rose is a German direct-seller, and is no back-bedroom effort. Its factory is fed by almost half a mile of conveyors for super-fast shipping. The Root Miller is its 130mm 29er, and supposedly offers ‘superior ease’ for downhills and something even better for the climbs.
“You are quickly going uphill, speed-oriented you lay on the deeper front,” says the Rose site, excited beyond translation. So does the bike itself make any more sense?
Frame and equipment: keeping options open
Rose offers three Root Millers (we've previously reviewed it in its cheaper 1 build), each with a handful of options for the drivetrain, rolling stock and finishing kit. The 3 features top-quality Fox bounce – the Factory-damped, Kashima-coated Float shock gives 130mm travel and easily-switched CTD damping via a bar remote, though it’s not linked to the 120mm Fox 32 CTD fork.
The first key observation is that it’s small. Rose’s size guides recommend Large for riders 6ft 2in and over, but the Medium’s 590mm top tube leaves even those around 6ft cramped, especially with the standard 60mm Race Face stem. Select a longer stem – 90mm, say – or, more sensibly, size up.
Ride and handling: gives a little too generously
Once rolling (with a 70mm stem) it’s nimble thanks to that short wheelbase and a 69.5-degree head angle, and it never feels too steep… both because of the 29in wheel and, unfortunately, the saggy rear end. It’s very eager to sit down through its travel, and even with little sag – 20 percent or less – it feels soggy and unsupportive. It’s mushy and only dully communicative while it does it too, which is odd given the excellent Fox damper. The upside is that it blurts through straight, rough lines by just swallowing the hits up.
Another big issue is flex at the rear. Those long, unbraced seatstays can do little to resist it, and you can pull the rear Mavic noticeably out of line just by cranking hard. Pump it into a berm and it steers from the rear like a forklift. Get excited on a tight, twisting trail and the Rose wilts, bends and ties itself in knots.
Ultimately, despite the big-tubed look, tough hoops and stubby stem, the Root Miller is more XC than trail – and very traditional XC at that. It’s short and steep, and against peers such as the Scott Spark 720 it looks positively old-fashioned – even before you factor in flex and sagginess.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.