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.
Cables are routed internallyDavid Caudery/Immediate Media
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.
Ritchey’s Comp Road Streem II alloy bar with WCS C220 alloy stemDavid Caudery/Immediate Media
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.
Shimano UltegraDavid Caudery/Immediate Media
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.
Schwalbe’s G-One All-Round tyres with their closely-spaced round tread blocksDavid Caudery/Immediate Media
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.
The bike’s 72-degree head angle makes the steering a little quicker than some of the competition, but the 1,025mm wheelbase helps stabilityDavid Caudery/Immediate Media
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.
Rose claims the tapered seatstays will take 42mm tyresDavid Caudery/Immediate Media
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.
Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm Freeza rotorsDavid Caudery/Immediate Media
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
Rose’s Backroad UltegraDavid Caudery/Immediate Media