At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is the Pinarello KOBH ridden by Team Sky last year. In fact, the ROKH is the Italian company’s entry-level carbon fibre machine. As well as having an equally odd name it shares the KOBH’s Century Ride geometry. This suggests a sportive style bike on the relaxed side of things, but this really isn’t the case.
The spec sheet shows 72.5° seat and 73° head angles, our 57cm bike having a 57cm seat tube and 58.5cm top tube. All fairly standard. It’s the unique looking Onda fork and the wheelbase – over a metre long – that account for its wonderfully stable ride. and yes, you could say ROKH by name, rock solid handling by nature. But it’s a balanced ride, and this is a bike you can push closer to the edge through tight bends and technical descents.
The KOBH – now renamed the DogmaK – may be built from higher grade, lighter weight carbon, but the ROKH’s high-modulus carbon, asymmetric rear end and deeply curved seatstays offer a ride every bit as good as its professional-level stablemate. The solid, assured handling through the front end is down to the stout fork and oversized head tube, tapering from 1-1/8in to a massive 1-1/2in lower stack.
The frame is a bit hefty at around 1,300g, but we’re very impressed with the smooth, solid ride and the workmanship and design that’s gone into it. The Shimano 105 drivetrain and own-brand parts are solid performers, and the Most Ocelot saddle – slim but well shaped – is one of the best original equipment saddles we’ve tried.
Where the ROKH falls down is with the wheel package. There’s nothing wrong with Shimano’s R500s – they’re good, well built, solid performers – but they’re £130 wheels on a £2,500 bike and at nearly 1,900g the pair, they’re weighty. Add budget tyres from Most and this really hampers the ROKH’s exceptional ride.
Switching to Zipp 303s made the ROKH sing. Yes, wheels the standard of Zipps flatter any bike, but we really believe the ROKH has the ability to be a baby KOBH. Think of this as a Boxster to Porsche’s 911 – all the same handling and comfort, just with a little less oomph.
The ROKH combines confident, exciting handling and a comfortable ride; it would make a great base for upgrading to a brilliant sportive bike. Thanks to a frame that successfully damps out road buzz, this should be on the radar of any long-distance rider, though do factor in that it really deserves a better set of tyres at the least.
The ﬂuting on the down tube improves the aerodynamics: www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.