ROSE have announced their 2020 BACKROAD gravel bike with a brand new frame and design. It’s designed to be a true gravel all-rounder and even turn its hand to moderate trails. We’ve been ragging the BACKROAD across all the gravel we can find to test it for you.
The ROSE engineers have set themselves a challenging goal for 2020: follow the success of the now sold out ROSE BACKROAD with a worthy successor. An all-rounder, that can also venture off the tarmac and charge on trails for those looking for adventure. We tested the GTX RX810 Di2 version of the BACKROAD (€ 3,499) on our home trails around Stuttgart and on a bikepacking trip in the Black Forest.
ROSE BACKROAD 2020 in detail
To increase its offroad versatility, ROSE have developed a new carbon frame for the BACKROAD. Nonetheless, there are some striking similarities to the recently announced ROSE REVEAL (click for review). Elements of the design, as well as the cockpit and integration of the seatpost clamp have been adopted here as well. However, there are some significant changes to geometry, with the wheelbase longer than that of the first ROSE BACKROAD (click for review) and tire clearances increased to fit up to 700 x 47C rubber without mudguards. These changes are supposed to simultaneously increase stability and security on off-road terrain. A highlight of the frame is the special seat tube, designed with a cut-out at the back. Combined with the dropped seat stays, compliance is increased in order to improve comfort.
The cockpit has also been completely redesigned. The fully integrated cables underline the tidy look and make mounting gravel accessories to the bars all that much easier. All cables pass through a special spacer underneath the stem, where they then enter the frame. Even with that tidy solution, neither the bars nor stem are proprietary and can easily be changed for any alternative, standard model. Like its predecessor, ROSE have finished the BACKROAD in a quality matte paint for an elegant hint of understated luxury. In combination with the clean lines and new design language, this results in a clean looking build and the purple and green options are a breath of fresh air amongst the all too common dark or even black gravel bikes. Both frame and fork are equipped with multiple mounting points to attach bags and luggage, as well as mudguards, which still leave you with space for up to 700 x 40C tires.
From July, you’ll be able to choose the D-shaped carbon seatpost with either 8 mm or 25 mm offset. Its construction is designed to offer maximum comfort in a variety of riding positions. The fully integrated seatpost clamp also contributes to the clean look and is hidden under a rubber cover above the seat stays. ROSE even offer the option to route cabling internally through the fork legs if you want to use a dynamo. Both brake callipers are mounted directly to the frame without adapters. While this means the frame is only compatible with 160 mm rotors, in our view, that’s completely appropriate as the larger size increases braking performance significantly and smaller 140 mm rotors are under dimensioned for gravel riding. ROSE use standard 12 x 100 and 12 x 142 mm thru-axles, along with a BB86 bottom bracket.
ROSE BACKROAD components and geometry
The new BACKROAD is available only as a carbon frame and offered in eight different builds. The six standard builds come in the Deepest Purple or Evil Pepper Green finish, while the two limited versions with carbon wheels come in special Midnight Laser Grey. The ROSE BACKROAD GRX RX810 Di2 we tested costs € 3,499 and in size 57, with tubeless WTB Riddler 700 x 45C tires, weighs 8.48 kg.
Groupset Shimano GRX RX810 Di2, 1 x 11, 40T
Cassette Shimano XT CS-M800 11–42T
Brakes Shimano GRX RX810 160/160 mm
Wheelset ROSE R-Thirty Disc Lite
Tires WTB Riddler TCS, 700 x 45C (custom option)
Seatpost ROSE D-Shape Carbon, 8 mm offset (custom option)
Bars Ritchey WCS Butano, 440 mm
Stem Ritchey WCS Toyon, 90 mm (custom option, series model comes with 80 mm stem)
Weight 8.48 kg in size 57
Price € 3,499
Availability can be ordered now at rosebikes.com
Entry into the BACKROAD world can be bought for € 2,499, which gets you the GRX RX600. If you prefer a mechanical groupset for your bikepacking trips, then this package offers great value for money. Are 11 gears and 45 mm tires not enough for you? Then the Mullet build for € 3,699 might be perfect. It’s equipped with a 1×12 groupset and rolls on wide 650 x 47B tires, taking the fear out of even the steepest gravel climbs. If you don’t want to lose the front derailleur and prefer smaller gear steps, then the € 3,799 Force eTAP AXS 2×11 BACKROAD is there for you. However, it’s a pity that ROSE aren’t offering a cheaper model with 2×11 mechanical shifting. The two Limited models are only available in restricted numbers and come with ROSE carbon wheels and electronic 1x or 2x groupsets, with a price of up to € 4,949.
|Seat tube||450 mm||480 mm||500 mm||520 mm||540 mm||575 mm|
|Top tube||515 mm||534 mm||550 mm||568 mm||582 mm||602 mm|
|Head tube||100 mm||120 mm||135 mm||150 mm||165 mm||188 mm|
|Chainstays||427 mm||427 mm||427 mm||434 mm||434 mm||434 mm|
|BB Drop||76 mm||76 mm||76 mm||76 mm||76 mm||76 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,000 mm||1,012 mm||1,021 mm||1,039 mm||1,051 mm||1,072 mm|
|Reach||371 mm||380 mm||386 mm||395 mm||404 mm||417 mm|
|Stack||536 mm||555 mm||570 mm||586 mm||601 mm||623 mm|
Look at the geometry numbers more closely and the combination of long chainstays (434 mm for our size 57 test bike) together with a short stem and relatively short 150 mm head tube stand out. How does this combination impact the handling?
ROSE BACKROAD GRX RX810 Di2 first ride review
The BACKROAD climbs effectively and happily maintains its speed, with the front only rearing up when it gets excessively steep. The bike has two satellite shifters mounted on the tops of the bars – small individual switches that allow you to shift gears when you’re riding on the tops. They are definitely a nice feature for the climbs, but can make attaching a bar bag trickier. In many cases, the straps of your bag will be in exactly the area where the shifters are located, but thankfully, we just about managed to squeeze ours in. If you mainly want to use your bike for bikepacking and will be loading up your cockpit with gear, then just take the satellite shifters off. You’ll likely get more from a nice bar bag if you can swap or sell them.
The BACKROAD accelerates nimbly on both asphalt roads and gravel and is a good all-rounder in terms of speed. Power is transmitted efficiently and the bike is easy to keep at speed. That’s no doubt helped by the combination of ROSE R-Thirty Disc Lite wheels and the easy-rolling WTB Riddler TSC 700 x 45C tires. The Riddler continues to make a convincing impression, as it did in our gravel tire group test (click for review) but unfortunately doesn’t come fitted as standard. Instead, the BACKROAD comes with 700 x 40C WTB Venture Road TCS tires. These roll efficiently but have less grip and being slightly narrower, offer a little less comfort.
The BACKROAD elicits a huge grin on winding roads, where it reveals itself to be a cornering demon, reacting sensitively and directly to steering input. As soon as you arrive at your destination, the lively and playful handling will immediately encourage you to ride back to the top of the valley, just to experience the descent all over again.
Turn off the tarmac and onto forest paths and the BACKROAD will prove its off-road credentials, flying along happily. Here, the bike is also quick to accelerate and happy to cruise on easy singletrails with its stable ride. As terrain becomes more demanding, with larger rocks, chopped up terrain or roots, the bike reaches its limits. If you want to ride more aggressively with more pressure on the front wheel, you’ll notice a steel fork-esque flex under heavy braking, with a resulting imbalance in agility between the front and rear. It’s particularly here where the unusual geometry with the long chainstays and the short stem makes a negative impression.
The lack of noise, even on the roughest terrain, is impressive. The BACKROAD is silent in all scenarios. During our testing, we couldn’t elicit a single rattle, creak or other sound from it, making it one of the quietest bikes that we’ve ever tested.
Enjoy nature, the journey and your ride without any disturbing noise from your bike – that’s how we imagine travelling!
The design of the newly developed seat tube and seatpost combination comes together nicely. The BACKROAD convinces with a good level of overall comfort, with the front and rear offering balanced compliance. It should be noted that the standard spec comes with 40C tires instead of the 45C ones that we have fitted, meaning they will offer just a little less comfort. While bikepacking and fully loaded with saddle, frame and bar bags, we actually found that a little bit of luggage is good for the handling of the bike, aiding it in its straight line stability. The total weight limit for the BACKROAD is 130 kg.
How is the new BACKROAD different to its predecessors?
The new BACKROAD has learnt a lot compared to its predecessors. It’s more manoeuvrable, more playful and a lot more sprightly in acceleration. ROSE’s promise of more secure handling holds true in most situations. On gravel, the bike is significantly easier to get up to speed and to slow down again, making it the better all-rounder in terms of speed. With the new seatpost and increased tire clearances, the 2020 frameset offers more comfort, better expedition capabilities and more compliance. For bikepackers, the increased number of mounting points is a great upgrade. The BACKROAD has transformed from a stiff and direct all-road bike into ROSE’s first true gravel bike that still continues to offer excellent value for money.
ROSE BACKROAD summary
The brand new ROSE BACKROAD makes a convincing impression whether it’s to be used for commuting or gravelling. The playful handling offers great performance on winding terrain but very aggressive riders will reach the bike’s limits on singletrails. ROSE present a brilliant all-rounder at a great price with a clean and tidy look, as a versatile gravel option.
- nimble acceleration
- well-balanced comfort
- good all-rounder
- lots of mounts for luggage and mudguards
- overwhelmed when riding trails aggressively
You can find more information about the ROSE BACKROAD at rosebikes.com
Want to find out more about alternative options for a gravel bike? Then take a look at our big gravel bike group test!
Words & Photos: Philipp Schwab