Rose X-Lite CWX 8800 review

Hydraulic brakes and aerodynamics in a striking package

BikeRadar score4/5

German online retailer Rose has previous for producing well-specced, great value bikes – and it’s pulled out all the stops in the CWX 8800. This is an eye-catching machine that brings sculpted aero tube profiles to the world of disc brakes. You reckon that discs are only for gravel or endurance machines? Think again.

The CWX 8800 doesn’t whisper aero road bike so much as scream it, from the horizontal time trial-style junction of top-tube and bladed seat-tube – complete with rear wheel-hugging cutaway – to the near-vertical seatpost. The huge down-tube and bulbous head-tube may look weighty, but aren’t.

The high-modulus carbon frame has a claimed weight of just 990g including fittings, with the overall weight within a few grams of the advertised figure. The fork is skinny in comparison, but features aero profiles right down to the tips with the thru-axle fittings. 

The geometry is aggressive, with the frame’s steep head- and seat-tube angles further emphasised by the downward slope of the 17-degree Profile Aeria stem. It forms a fine cockpit paired with Profile’s carbon Canta bar and its comfortable aero handholds, though the stem’s hidden bolts are a faff to access, tucked behind a nest of cables for aerodynamic reasons.

The CWX’s aggressive nature is married to impressive road manners

This bike rides exactly how it looks: fast. Take the CWX out on a flat, straight road - you’ll want clip-on bars to exploit it fully - and it maintains its speed beautifully. On rolling terrain you can hammer the Rose downhill while its low weight helps on the climbs. The front’s smoothness means on-the-hoods climbing efforts are comfortable, while the steep seat angle puts you directly over the cranks for an efficient pedalling action. The only downside is that this Rose doesn’t really get relaxed riding.

The CWX’s aggressive nature is married to impressive road manners, with the front end feeling particularly compliant. The rear is noticeably stiffer, which is great for efficiency, but its upright seatpost means you are going to feel any bumps. Thankfully, Selle Italia’s Monolink saddle has plenty of shock-absorbing padding, even with its slim nose.

Selle Italia saddle softens bump impacts that the upright post doesn’t absorb
Selle Italia saddle softens bump impacts that the upright post doesn’t absorb

The SRAM Red 22 HRD groupset oozes quality. Shifting is smooth and accurate, it’s lighter than Dura-Ace and SRAM’s disc brakes are truly impressive. There has been a move to 140mm rotors on the road, but these 160mm versions offer much more lever feel, they’re more progressive and are less prone to noise. Smaller rotors will save a few grams but if you’re heavier we’d go for the larger 160s and enjoy the benefits. 

Top-end SRAM Red gears take care of shifting
Top-end SRAM Red gears take care of shifting

The DT Swiss carbon wheels with 38mm-deep rims are an equally classy choice, and they’re shod with Continental’s quick and hardwearing GP4000s II tyres, their 25mm width taking the edge off of the poorest road surfaces.

True, this is an expensive bike, but in Rose’s usual fashion it still represents great value. For a tad over four grand – including delivery – you get a sophisticated frame, a classy set of wheels and SRAM’s top groupset and hydraulic brakes, which would be £5000 or US$6500 from most brands. Our final criticism is a slight one: we’d prefer tool-free lever-operated thru-axles to Rose’s bolted setup. Don’t forget your multitool…

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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