With the Pro SL Lady, Rose has constructed a great performing bike based around an alloy frame that boasts many of the benefits of pricier models.
The Rose Pro SL Lady 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.
The direct-sell company has made a big effort to ensure the alloy tubing is smooth and the welds are invisible, to the extent that you’d be forgiven for assuming it’s a carbon frame at first glimpse.
Add to that Shimano Ultegra gearing, quality rubber and a carbon handlebar, and you’ve got a nice little package. But best of all, it performs impressively too.
Rose Pro SL Lady frame
Carbon forks add a welcome compliance to the ride without losing stiffness, and despite the fact this is a lower-priced bike with an alloy frame, there’s little in the way of a weight penalty.
The size 53 bike and build is an impressive 8.03kg, comparable to other carbon-framed, Ultegra-equipped bikes at a significantly higher price point.
The Pro SL Lady also has a good range of sizes, right down to a 45cm frame and up to a 57cm frame.
Rose Pro SL Lady kit
Rose has combined a Shimano Ultegra that includes cranks but uses a cheaper 105 cassette, which together offers reliable, smooth shifting.
Despite the quality of the Ultegra rim brakes, I missed the stopping power of hydraulic disc brakes, particularly on wet-weather descents.
With an 11-32t cassette and 50/34t chainrings, the gearing sits towards the endurance end of the spectrum. There are plenty of low-gear options to make spinning up long or steep climbs a bit less fatiguing, and when combined with its impressively low weight (for an alloy-frame) means it climbs well.
Alloy handlebars and stem make up the cockpit, with Shimano Ultegra 11spd shifters David Caudery/Immediate Media
The Ritchey Comp Streem 400mm alloy handlebars have a short drop. A flattened profile on the tops makes for a more aerodynamic profile, but more noticeably it’s very comfortable on the hands if you ride in this position a lot.
On the flipside, Rose has opted to spec an alloy seatpost rather than a carbon one. While the frame design with its thin seatstays allows a degree of comfort-giving vertical compliance in the frame, a little more wouldn’t go amiss. Upgrading to a carbon post would be a good first move with this bike.
Own-brand Rose R30 wheels are alloy and the wide rims and design mean they’re tubeless ready. They’re paired with some quality rubber in the form of Schwalbe Pro One tyres with a 25mm width.
Interestingly, Rose has opted to spec the smallest frame sizes — 45cm and 48cm — with smaller 650b wheels rather than the more common 700c wheels as found on the majority of road bikes.
Rose claims this allows the bike to have similar geometry, and therefore ride feel, throughout the size range. Rose says compromises would have to be made to fit big wheels into a small frame.
It isn’t the only brand to do this — Canyon also specs 650b wheels on its 3XS and 2XS bikes in the Endurace and Ultimate WMN ranges.
Rose Pro SL Lady ride impressions
The chunky, tapered steerer provides a sure-footed feeling, with precise steering giving feelings of control and confidence.
Likewise, a chunkier downtube helps maintain stiffness through the frame, so when you put the power down it generates a pleasingly direct feeling of acceleration.
A women’s specific Selle Italia X1 Lady saddle is fitted to the seatpost David Caudery/Immediate Media
The top tube is finer than previous incarnations of this bike and combined with a thin chainstay that attaches to the seat tube below the junction with the top tube, means there are good levels of vertical compliance. However, there’s still some road chatter that makes its way up to the saddle, and swapping the alloy seatpost for a carbon one might help make the ride smoother.
Overall, the bike feels dynamic and efficient with secure cornering and feelings of stability while descending. Upgrading to hydraulic disc brakes would make it more proficient at descending.
Rose Pro SL Lady verdict
An accessible price and great ride feel make this bike a serious contender for those with a tighter budget.
The range of sizes available means riders from around 5ft (1.52m) up to 6ft (1.82m) can fit on this bike. The downside of the direct-to-consumer model does mean that you can’t easily take this for a spin.
The wide gearing plus precise handling and an exciting turn of speed make this a great choice if you’re looking for a versatile bike with top kit and aren’t too bothered about having a carbon frame.
Rose Pro SL Lady specifications
Sizes (*tested): 45, 48, 51, 53*, 55, 57
Frame: 7005 T6 ultra-light aluminium, triple-butted
Fork: PRO SL Modulus full carbon 1 1/8″-1.5″
Chainset: Shimano Ultegra FC-R8000 50/34 170mm
Cassette: Shimano 105 CS-R7000 11-speed 11-32
Chain: Shimano HG-6001 11-speed 118 links
Mech: Shimano Ultegra R8000
Shifters: Shimano Ultegra 8000 double/11-speed
Wheelset: Rose R Thirty Road black 28″
Tyres: Schwalbe Pro One HS462, TL Easy, One Star, 700x25C black 700x25C
Stem: Ritchey 4 Axis WTD black 90mm
Bar: Ritchey Comp Road Streem II matt black 40cm
Saddle: Selle Italia X1 Lady black/silver
Seatpost: Ritchey 2B, WTD black 27,2mm
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra 800
Rose Pro SL Lady geometry
Seat angle: 74.25 degrees
Head angle: 71.5 degrees
Seat tube: 49.5cm
Top tube: 53.3cm
Head tube: 14.7cm
Bottom bracket drop: 6.9cm
BikeRadar would like to thank Stolen Goat, Lazer, Northwave and Effetto Mariposa for their help and support during our Bike of the Year test.