Rose’s 2019 Pro SL 105 is actually much the same as last year’s model, bar a change of logo, a striking new colour-scheme, different tyres and the move to 7000 series Shimano 105 in its entirety.
- Shimano 105 R7000 groupset — everything you need to know
- Best road bikes 2019: how to choose the right one for you
- The Rose Pro SL 105 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019 and has been crowned best road bike under £1,000 for the second year running. 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.
Is that a problem? No. Especially because one of the things that’s unchanged — at least as I’m writing this before any potential political and economic ructions in Europe – is that the Rose Pro SL 105 is yours for a tad less than £1,000 in the UK.
Rose’s bikes rarely win out for design subtlety, and this is no different. For Rose, big very definitely is beautiful. The beating heart of this Rose is a super-chunky triple-butted aluminium frame with a bulbous-looking, purposeful head-tube that houses the all-carbon fork’s 1 1/8-1 1/2in steerer.
The frame’s most obvious feature is the massive down tube that’s more or less square at the head tube before ovalising along its length and flaring out to over 70mm wide — virtually the whole width of the bottom bracket shell.
The frame, with a claimed weight of just 1,280g, is as light as you’ll find at this price, making the Pro SL eminently upgradable if aluminium is still your thing. You won’t be surprised to hear that such an oversized aluminium frame is stiff, too, resulting in fantastic power transfer and instant acceleration.
The front end and stiff fork deliver precise handling and control, while the bike’s low weight makes it a great climber, out of the saddle or seated, where the ever more common 32t sprocket comes to your aid. Thumbs up, Shimano.
It’s no featherbed of a ride, and if cushioned comfort is your thing then something such as Boardman’s carbon SLR 8.9, Specialized’s Allez Elite or the Giant Contend SL1 offer more plushness. But Rose has softened the ride somewhat compared with the first models we tested a decade or so ago.
The down tube and chainstays are still substantial affairs, but the top tube has slimmed down a little, while the seatstays are dramatically narrower than in earlier models, which helps to take off the ride’s harshest edge.
Tyres are wider too. My Rose Pro comes with the now standard 25mm width rather than 23mm, with clearance for 28mm rubber if you want — which is what I’d go for every time, representing a huge difference in air volume and allowing you to run tyres at a lower pressure. It’s a win, win.
Aside from stiff frames, a lot of German bikes also come with flattened handlebar tops, and this Rose is no exception, with Ritchey’s excellent Comp Road Streem II bar.
Its wing-shaped tops are designed for an aerodynamic advantage, but it also provides a very comfortable handhold when you’re riding on the tops, which is further aided by their slight, 4.7-degree, backward sweep and the excellent gel-backed bar tape. This creates a lower-back-friendly cruising position. The short reach and shallow drop allow you to get to the drops quickly when you want to up the ante and this is when the Rose really shines.
Rose Pro SL 105 ride impressions
The ride is an absolute stormer. It romps along like very few other bikes at this price, and is zippy, nippy, rip-roaring fun, an absolute blast.
Sprint against your friends, climb with panache, throw yourself into corners with the best of them. This will do all of it and more thanks to its low weight, racy geometry and quality components.
What most companies strive for on bikes at this price is a largely 105 setup. What Rose achieves, thanks to its online-only model, is a complete raft of the newest, 7000 series 105. This gives it a unified look (no down-graded chainset for example) and just about the best rim brakes you’ll find at this price. Only discs are likely to beat these. Shifting is similarly impressive.
The wheelset is also at the top end of what you’d expect for £1,000, pairing Mavic’s durable Aksiums with Vittoria’s graphene-infused Zaffiro Pro tyres. It’s a very good combination, but as with some of the bikes we rode in last year’s Bike of the Year test, the Aksiums’ rim welds weren’t totally smooth and there was a click when you braked, more noticeable in the front than rear.
This goes away in time and had virtually disappeared at the rear by the time I’d finished testing, but it’s still disappointing on one of the wheelsets that’s a market leader at this price. There’s also a very tiny colour mismatch between the red of the frame and the fork.
You will need to wield a hex key when this arrives in a box and, unusually, a Torx key too because the bottle cage mounts are T25s. That said, this was all well set-up on its arrival and was being ridden within minutes.
The Rose Pro SL 105 is also available in an impressive nine sizes from 45–66cm, with the smallest two frames fitted 650b wheels, which is a very sensible call.
It’s hard not to love this red, red Rose, which takes our Bike of the Year best bike under £1,000 category for the second year running. It’s big, ballsy, brash, well equipped, attractively priced, light, flies along and, most of all, is great fun to ride, which is what cycling is all about.
Rose Pro SL 105 overall impressions
Overall it’s a superb value lightweight flyer with a beguiling blend of power and speed, great handling and reasonable comfort
Rose Pro SL 105 specifications
- Weight: 8.53kg (55cm)
- Frame: 7005 triple-butted aluminium
- Fork: Full-carbon tapered
- Shifters: Shimano 105
- Mech: Shimano 105
- Crankset: Shimano 105 50/34
- Cassette: Shimano 105, 11-32
- Brakes: Shimano 105
- Wheels: Mavic Aksium
- Tyres: 25mm Zaffiro Pro IV Graphene
- Stem: Ritchey
- Bar: Comp Road Streem II
- Seatpost: Ritchey 2B
- Saddle: Selle Italia X3 Flow Fec
|Name||Pro SL 105|
|Cassette||Shimano 105, 11-32|
|Cranks||Shimano 105 50/34|
|Frame Material||7005 triple-butted aluminium|
|Front Tyre||25mm Zaffiro Pro IV Graphene|
|Handlebar||Comp Road Streem II|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano 105|
|Rear Tyre||25mm Zaffiro Pro IV Graphene|
|Saddle||X3 Flow Fec|
|Frame size tested||55cm|