Making the most of the online-only company’s lower overheads, Rose delivers maximum value for money with the GF-4400. SRAM’s Force 22 groupset isn’t normally offered on a bike at the is price point, let alone a hydraulic version.
This Rose not only has a drivetrain that’s arguably a notch above Shimano’s Ultegra; it’s also one of the only bikes we’ve tested with SRAM’s HRR hydraulic road rim brakes.
Highs: Beautiul frame, superb Force components and hydraulic rim brakes
Lows: Enlarged hoods and hydraulics won’t appeal to everyone
Buy if: You want a rapid, comfortable ride with supreme shifting and effortless braking
With the front brake sited in the usual spot, and the rear beneath the chainstays, the GF-4400 has a very clean look, helped by both gear cables and the rear brake hose all being internally routed via the head tube. The rear hose exits again in front of the bottom bracket, permitting easy maintenance, but such fine detail on an alloy frame is impressive.
SRAM’s hydraulic rim brakes offer great feel and force:
SRAM’s hydraulic rim brakes offer great feel and force
A pair of DT Swiss R23 Spline wheels ensures lively performance, with Continental GP4000S II tyres providing excellent grip and road feel. Ritchey WCS finishing kit adds great quality, with comfort and ergonomics aplenty, especially from the 27.2mm carbon seatpost, and ergo shaped bar. Fizik’s Antares saddle is svelte and classy too, and the bike’s overall presentation is excellent.
Out on the road, the groupset is just exemplary. Swift snicks up and down the gears mix SRAM’s no nonsense shifting with watchmaker precision for great refinement.
The Double Tap action is lighter and faster than before, and the hoods maintain their generous grips. It’s only when you shift your handhold to the horns of the levers that the difference becomes more apparent, as the enlarged shape that houses the master hydraulic cylinder presents a whole new grip option.
Braking feel from the hydraulics is smooth and light, and braking force is easily controllable. It’s easy to forget you have hydraulics fitted until you need to anchor on extremely hard, when the effort required is so much less than with conventional cables.
On a long and technical descent, hydraulic brakes could save you from arm pump and aching hands caused by constant braking. Otherwise, the calipers can be adjusted and used like a normal brake, except you won’t need to worry about cable stretch or contamination.
Mounting the back brake under the chainstay allows the rear triangle to flex for comfort:
Mounting the back brake under the chainstay allows the rear triangle to flex for comfort
The frame’s finish is wonderfully smooth, the tube junctions only recognisable as welds at the rear dropouts and bottom bracket shell. A neat recessed seat clamp is integrated within the seat tube/top tube junction, maintaining the frame’s clean lines, which continue through the bridgeless seat stays. These are flattened, with a pronounced kink above the wheel that incites vertical flex for added rear comfort.
Those active stays produce a surprisingly compliant rear end. Its comfort isn’t quite matched by the front though, possibly due to the added effect of the lengthy slim carbon seatpost necessary because of the compact frame dimensions.
The Gran Fondo frames come up quite small, with less reach than a conventional road machine, but the head tube can be effectively extended – as ours was – with additional, semi-integrated matching 10mm spacers, giving far greater rigidity than normal slim steerer tube spacers. Our 55cm frame had a seat tube measuring 49.5cm from centre to top, with a 54cm top tube and 17cm head tube, plus another 20mm of spacers.
In keeping with the Team name, the Rose offers the sort of position that will look after you as the hours roll by. It’s an engaging, fun ride that entertains with its stability, comfort and responsiveness.