Rose Pro SL 105 review

Our best road bike under £1,000 in our annual Bike of the Year awards is a sharp-riding internet-only purchase

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
GBP £998.00 RRP

Our review

The lightweight frame, quality groupset and wheels serve up a fast, fun-filled feast
Buy if, You want one of the lightest, best-equipped bikes with a racy edge available at this price and are prepared to buy online
Pros: Lively, super-dynamic ride, striking lightweight frame and great kit
Cons: Slightly raised welds on the wheel rims and little else apart from Torq bolts for the bottle cages
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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.

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  • 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 Rose Pro SL comes with Ritchey’s excellent Comp Road Streem II bar
The Rose Pro SL comes with Ritchey’s excellent Comp Road Streem II bar
David Caudery/Immediate Media

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.

Rose achieves a complete raft of the newest, 7000 series 105
Rose achieves a complete raft of the newest, 7000 series 105
David Caudery/Immediate Media

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.

The X3 Flow Fec saddle sits on a Ritchey post
The X3 Flow Fec saddle sits on a Ritchey post
David Caudery/Immediate Media

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.

Overall it’s a superb value lightweight flyer with a beguiling blend of power and speed, great handling and reasonable comfort

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

The frame, with a claimed weight of just 1,280g, is as light as you’ll find at this price
The frame, with a claimed weight of just 1,280g, is as light as you’ll find at this price
David Caudery/Immediate Media
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  • 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

BikeRadar would like to thank Stolen Goat, Lazer, Northwave and Effetto Mariposa for their help and support during our Bike of the Year test.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Pro SL 105
Brand Rose

Brakes Shimano 105
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-32
Cranks Shimano 105 50/34
Fork Full-carbon tapered
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
Seatpost 2D
Shifters Shimano 105
Stem Ritchey
Weight (kg) 8.53
Wheelset Mavic Aksium
Frame size tested 55cm