The Xeon Team GF is a bit of a departure for Rose. Up until now race-bred geometry has dominated the German online retailer’s range. But the GF – for ‘gran fondo’ – is all about endurance.
Our 57cm test model had a long top tube, but its tallish 185mm head-tube and relaxed head angle suggest a pretty sedate ride with an easy riding position. Yet the tightish 1m-long wheelbase means it keeps its sharpness.
Highs: Comfort blended with exciting handling and Rose’s usual stunning value
Lows: Rim tape issues, and we’d probably go for lower gears too
Buy If: You’re looking for a great sportive machine, with superb kit and a state-of-the-art groupset
Whereas many British riders won’t consider anything that isn’t carbon, German consumers still take alloy seriously. Cannondale sells a lot of CAAD bikes, Canyon’s Ultimate AL is a highly evolved machine and Storck’s Vision is very popular. A major market like Germany also means big sales rewards. This all means that alloy is still being developed, and the GF has some serious design work on display.
The seatstays meet the top tube in front of the seat tube: Robert Smith
The seatstays meet the top tube in front of the seat tube
This is most obvious at the rear. By using Shimano’s direct-mount brake, fitted under the bottom bracket, Rose can do away with the brake bridge, keep the seatstays slender and kink them to maximise their length – which offers some comfort-increasing flex. The seatstays meet the top tube in front of the seat tube, and though there is a rubber insert between this and the main frame, it’s only a seal and isn’t there to offer Trek Domane-like cushioning.
The seatpost also majors on comfort. The carbon Ritchey Flexlogic Link post is claimed to be 15 percent more (yep, you guessed it) ‘vertically compliant’ than a standard post, and it also houses Shimano’s internal Di2 battery. This all adds up to a buttery-smooth rear end.
The head tube is significantly taller than on Rose’s other Xeon models, while the superb fork both nulls vibration and tracks perfectly. It’s a good companion to the Ritchey WCS Streem bar, which has a rearward sweep and very comfortable wing-profile tops.
The xeon team majors in comfort: Robert Smith
The Xeon Team majors in comfort
The drivetrain is as faultless as we’ve come to expect from Ultegra D12 – swift, smooth, and reliable. The compact 50/34 chainset is ideal for sportive riders, though you might consider a friendlier cassette than the 11-25 our bike had (Rose offers five options from a super-aggressive 11-23 to an amiable 11-32).
The DT Swiss Spline R23 wheels are well put together with super-smooth hubs and they’re paired with Continental’s excellent GP4000s in a welcome 25mm width. We expected great things. Sadly on our early rides we were plagued by punctures. The quick release for the rear brake is under the bottom bracket, so it meant turning the bike upside down to change the wheel. The problem wasn’t the Contis or the Schwalbe tubes, but ill-fitting plastic rim tapes that shifted as you rode, causing pinch punctures. It’s easy to sort – and most people buying online will probably be able to do so – but it’s annoying on a bike at this price and you can’t take it back to the shop.
Note: Although not available in the US or Australia, Rose does ship its bikes internationally. Check the website for costs.