The Backroad is Rose’s take on a go-anywhere road bike that takes in the gravel genre too. In typical online retail style, value for money is high, and the price is usually not a round number.
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- The Rose Backroad is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub page.
Using the Rose online bike configurator, you can personalise your bike build using a good range of equipment options, and often choose from more than one colour.
Although the attractive Teal colour wasn’t available when ordering mine, I decided on Shimano Ultegra, with cyclocross-sized chain rings, big cassette and Rose’s own wheelset with Schwalbe’s almost now ubiquitous G-One tyres. Other drivetrain options include Shimano 105, Ultegra Di2 and SRAM Force 1, to suit budget and intended use.
Rose claims that a 57cm frame, including the lower down tube impact guard, weighs 1,040g, and complete with its all-carbon fork and my chosen equipment, my 57cm test bike weighs an impressive 8.66kg.
Stepping aboard, my first impression is of being a little higher than expected, due to the 60mm bottom bracket drop, which is less than most equivalent bikes, and makes it 29cm from the ground with the tyres fitted. That meant no need for spacers above the 164mm head tube, but reduced standover height too.
The frame is neatly designed, with a wide bottom bracket shell that’s fully covered by the asymmetric seat tube on the left side, but more vertical on the right, allowing room for the front mech.
The inner chain ring sits inboard of the shell’s outer edge, so the chainstay’s anti-chainsuck plate is welcome. The chainstays are asymmetric, while the seatstays taper through a subtly bowed curve, and Rose says it’ll take 42mm tyres, but there’s no mention of 650b wheel compatibility. They’ll fit of course, but usable tyre width will need calculating.
The 40mm rubber fitted uses most of the available clearance, but there still looks to be room for full mudguards. The mounts for these are very well hidden and totally sealed up, as are the frame’s internal routing ports. It’s all impressively well finished, although the bottle cage bolts are very short and only just sufficient for most cages.
On the road, there’s an instant briskness to the ride, the Schwalbe G-One All-Round tyres with 40psi happily spinning up to a good cruising speed on Rose’s own 30mm tall aluminium rims. With hundreds of small, closely-spaced round tread blocks, the tyres are very tarmac-friendly, with an evenly rounded profile for predictable handling.
The Backroad has a stiff chassis with road bike-like stiffness and power delivery, and even with large tyres, a ride quality that’s firmer than most.
It does cover the ground between unmade roads and trails very efficiently, and handles rougher stuff pretty well too. Its 72-degree head angle makes it a little quicker steering than some of the competition, but the 1,025mm wheelbase helps stability.
You can choose your own gearing, but my 36/46 chainrings and 11-34 cassette seemed to suit the bike’s attributes, with lots of closely-spaced mid-range gears to keep things ticking along. It’s a keen climber, although the wheelset and tyre combination make sustaining a good climbing tempo hard, as gradient, gravity and duration tell. On shorter rises and sudden accelerations though, the Backroad is full of life.
On lumpy, compacted gravel, the bike’s relatively firm ride is hard to ignore, as it skips and kicks on the flat, and when descending at around 25mph, things got very choppy, bouncing me out of the saddle at times.
Even with its 27.2mm carbon seatpost, all-carbon frameset and 40mm tyres, the Backroad’s ride comfort and shock absorption is less than BMC’s aluminum Roadmachine X with aluminium seatpost and 34mm tyres.
Over grassland and drier trails, the Backroad handles crisply, and when things are fairly smooth underwheel, it is fun to ride.
With its tarmac-loving tendencies, it might be a good candidate for mudguards, lighter wheels and generally less aggressive route mixtures, maybe as a winter trainer that offers something more than your road bike. It is impressively light, and excellent value for money, and with Rose’s configurator, can be anything you choose.
Rose Backroad Ultegra specifications
- Sizes (*tested): 51, 54, 57*, 59, 62
- Weight: 8.66kg
- Frame: High Modulus Aerospace T30/40 carbon
- Fork: High performance disc, full carbon
- Chainset: Shimano Ultegra 46/36
- Bottom bracket: BB86
- Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 11-34
- Chain: Shimano HG701
- Derailleurs: Shimano Ultegra
- Gear levers: Shimano Ultegra hydraulic
- Wheelset: Rose R Thirty Disc
- Tyres: Schwalbe G-One All-Round V-Guard 40mm
- Stem: Ritchey WCS C220 alloy
- Handlebar: Ritchey Comp Road Streem II alloy
- Saddle: Selle Italia Novus
- Seatpost: Rose RC-170 Flex carbon
- Brakes: Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc, 160mm Freeza rotors
Rose Backroad Ultegra geometry
- Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
- Head angle: 72 degrees
- Chainstay: 42.5cm
- Seat tube: 54.3cm
- Top tube: 55.5cm
- Head tube: 16.4cm
- Bottom bracket drop: 6cm
- Stack: 57.7cm
- Reach: 38.4cm
|Available Sizes||51cm 54cm 57cm 59cm 62cm|
|Seatpost||Rose RC-170 Flex carbon|
|All measurements for frame size tested||57cm|
|Head Tube (cm)||16.4|
|Frame size tested||57cm|
|Top Tube (cm)||55.5|
|Seat Tube (cm)||54.3|
|Wheelset||Rose R Thirty Disc|
|Stem||Ritchey WCS C220 alloy|
|Shifters||Shimano Ultegra hydraulic|
|Saddle||Selle Italia Novus|
|Rear Tyre||Schwalbe G-One All-Round V-Guard 40mm|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano Ultegra|
|Handlebar||Ritchey Comp Road Streem II alloy|
|Front Tyre||Schwalbe G-One All-Round V-Guard 40mm|
|Frame Material||High Modulus Aerospace T30/40 carbon|
|Fork||High performance disc, full carbon|
|Cranks||Shimano Ultegra 46/36|
|Cassette||Shimano Ultegra 11-34|
|Brakes||Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc, 160mm Freeza rotors|
|Bottom-bracket drop (cm)||6|