Different, but not new. The 2023 ROSE BACKROAD AL+ is obviously based on the German brand’s popular aluminium gravel bike, though it’s undergone a few changes. The biggest difference is the MAHLE X35 hub motor. But what else has changed, how does the bike ride, and why is it so affordable?

Currently, the gravel community is divided into racers, adventurers, and long-distance riders. Accordingly, brands are launching different gravel bikes for these applications. There has also been a lot of movement in the brands’ portfolios when it comes to e-gravel bikes. However, ROSE have held back on going into specialised gravel bike categories, simply offering one carbon, one aluminium, and one e-gravel bike. The fact that ROSE know what they’re doing when it comes to gravel bikes was proven by the BACKROAD and the BACKROAD AL. ROSE have also proven that they know a thing or two about e-gravel bikes with the ROSE BACKROAD+. What was missing was an entry-level e-gravel bike made of aluminium. The new ROSE BACKROAD AL+ closes the gap and should blend seamlessly into the ROSE gravel bike range. Speaking of which, the MAHLE X35 hub motor also integrates seamlessly into the BACKROAD AL+, thereby giving the gravel bike wings. Or is the electric motor more of a hindrance than a help?

ROSE BACKROAD AL PLUS | Mahle X35/250 Wh |
13.6 kg in size 53 | € 3.499 | Manufacturer’s website

ROSE BACKROAD AL+ 2023 – What’s behind the plus?

In the ROSE portfolio, the models with the PLUS or + suffix come equipped with an electric motor. Thus, the BACKROAD AL plus the MAHLE X35 hub motor equals ROSE BACKROAD AL+. Apart from the motor and a few small details, the analogue BACKROAD AL and electric BACKROAD AL+ look very similar. Both have very neat aluminium frames, with the weld seams ground down and smoothed out, paired with a carbon fork. The design language of both bikes is characterised by the angular and oversized tubes, which results in a robust and brawny, yet harmonious, look. The bike’s off-road going intentions are evident from details like the down tube protector and chain guide. A wealth of eyelets and bosses – six on the fork alone – make both the analogue and electric ROSE BACKROAD AL versatile enough for commuting and bikepacking, too, allowing you to fit mudguards, anything cages, and the like. Another thing they have in common, and certainly one of the most striking aspects of the ROSE BACKROAD AL family, is the affordable and very competitive price point. Depending on the build, the analogue bike starts at € 1,999, and the new electric ROSE BACKROAD AL+ can be yours for as little as € 3,399.

Despite the many similarities between the analogue and electric version, there are a few differences on the ROSE BACKROAD AL+: first and foremost, of course, is the MAHLE X35 hub motor. The integrated 250 Wh battery results in a slightly fatter down tube, though this is only noticeable when you compare the gravel bikes side by side. The bottom bracket has also been beefed up noticeably. Furthermore, the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ is available in two completely different colours: the discreet Sandy Taco, which is one of ROSE’s signature colours, as featured on the ROSE BONERO, and a wild Seafoam Green. Replacing the mounting points on the top tube of the e-gravel bike is a button to control the motor, framed in a contrasting colour. You’ll also notice the externally routed cables on the chainstay, connecting the battery to the motor. There are just two builds available, instead of ten, like you get with the analogue version. We would like to see ROSE add at least one variant with electronic shifting. Finally, of course, there is a big difference in the weight. Tipping the scales at 13.6 kg, the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ weighs almost exactly 4 kg more.

From a distance, you’ll be hard pressed to recognise that the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ is an ebike.
Even if you take a closer look, spotting the motor depends on the angle from which you view it.

Why go for this hub motor on the new 2023 ROSE BACKROAD AL+?

In general, there are two possible options when it comes to electric motors on gravel bikes: a hub motor or a mid-mounted motor. ROSE rely on the mid-mounted Shimano EP8 motor for the BACKROAD+ made of carbon. The new ROSE BACKROAD AL+, on the other hand, comes specced with the MAHLE X35 hub motor. ROSE use the same motor on the SNEAK PLUS, their city commuter. Just like us, you might be wondering why the new BACKROAD AL+ doesn’t get the same powerful mid-mounted motor as it’s carbon counterpart, or the newer and lighter MAHLE X20 hub motor – as featured on the 2023 ROSE REVEAL PLUS. It could be that this approach allowed ROSE to add a completely different e-gravel bike to their range, alongside the BACKROAD+. The MAHLE X35 hub motor makes the BACKROAD AL+ both more affordable and lighter in comparison to a mid-mounted motor. The size 53 on test weighs just 13.6 kg, which is a full 1.3 kg less than the BACKROAD+. The price difference between the two entry-level aluminium and carbon models is a whopping € 1,200. Undoubtedly, the fact that it’s simpler to integrate a hub motor into an existing frame platform will also have played a role. The MAHLE X35 hub motor requires significantly fewer changes to the frame than a mid-mounted motor would, like a completely redesigned bottom bracket, among other things.

Even if the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ is an e-gravel bike, you can still put in a lot of effort of your own.

The MAHLE X35 hub motor on the new 2023 ROSE BACKROAD AL+ in detail

So much for why, now let’s get to the question of what the heart of the 2023 ROSE BACKROAD AL+ is capable of. The hub motor has a maximum torque output of 40 Nm and is powered by 250 Wh battery. There’s an optional range extender that attaches to the bottle cage and increases the capacity by 208 Wh, bringing the total to 458 Wh. You can control the motor via the iWoc ONE button in the top tube, together with the My SmartBike smartphone app. The latter can be connected to the e-gravel bike via Bluetooth and gives you access to all the important data, including the battery level, total mileage, support modes, and how often they’re used. Compatible GPS bike computers can also be connected via ANT+.
For that added boost, there are four support modes to choose from: white means no support, while green, orange and red mean low, medium and maximum support, respectively. The battery level is also indicated via the colour LED ring around the button (white > 75%, green 75 to 50%, orange 50 to 25%, red < 25%, red flashing < 10%). In terms of range, MAHLE specify about 100 km, though this only serves as a rough guideline, dependent on countless real-world variables, such as your altitude, system weight, and distance ridden above the 25 km/h ebike support threshold. Our experience has shown that the maximum range is significantly shorter.

To the brewery seems right.
The MAHLE X35 motor will help you reach your destination faster and more relaxed.

The components of the 2023 ROSE BACKROAD AL+ in detail

The line-up of the 2023 ROSE BACKROAD AL+ includes just two different builds: the BACKROAD AL+ GRX RX810 1×11 for € 3,499 and the BACKROAD AL+ Apex 1×12 for € 3,399. For the remaining components, ROSE based the spec sheet on the carbon BACKROAD+. You get the in-house ROSE G-Thirty PLUS wheels with an ample 25 mm internal rim width. These are shod with WTB’s grippy 44mm Raddler tires. The handlebar and seat post are supplied by ROSE’s trusted Ritchey combination of a VentureMax Comp gravel handlebar and Ritchey Comp 2-Bolt seat post, measuring 350 mm in length and 27.2 mm in diameter.


€ 3,499


Motor MAHLE X35 40 Nm
Battery MAHLE X 35 250 Wh
Seatpost Ritchey 2B WTD 350 mm 27.2 mm
Brakes SHIMANO GRX RX810 180/160 mm
Drivetrain SHIMANO GRX810 1x11
Stem ROSE ALR 90 mm
Handlebar Ritchey Venture Max Com 420 mm
Tires WTB Raddler TCS 700 x 44C
Cranks Shimano FC-RX810 40 T
Cassette Shimano CS-M7000 11–42T

Technical Data

Size 50 53 56 59 61
Weight 13.6 kg

Specific Features

low price
nicely equipped
engine is well hidden

The flagship GRX 810 gravel groupset is somewhat surprising considering the affordable price point of the ROSE BACKROAD AL+, but it’s a great choice, and it’s a lot of fun.
The front brake is paired with a decently sized brake rotor. With a diameter of 180 mm, it helps keep the ebike’s added weight and speed in check.

The geometry of the 2023 ROSE BACKROAD AL+

Unsurprisingly, there’s no big difference between the geometry of the 2023 ROSE BACKROAD AL+ and the original BACKROAD AL it’s based on. However, ROSE have limited it to five frame sizes instead of nine, and the wheelbase has grown. Other than that, you get the same tall cockpit, relaxed riding position, and stable geometry.

Size 50 53 56 59 61
Top tube 515 mm 535 mm 555 mm 577 mm 590 mm
Seat tube 470 mm 490 mm 508 mm 535 mm 560 mm
Head tube 125 mm 146 mm 170 mm 186 mm 205 mm
Head angle 70° 70.5° 71° 71.5° 71.5°
Seat angle 74.25° 74° 73.5° 73.5° 73.5°
Chainstays 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm
BB Drop 65 mm 68 mm 72 mm 76 mm 76 mm
Wheelbase 1,011 mm 1,024 mm 1,033 mm 1,048 mm 1,062 mm
Standover height 765 mm 780 mm 799 mm 829 mm 845 mm
Reach 362 mm 372 mm 378 mm 394 mm 402 mm
Stack 545 mm 569 mm 598 mm 619 mm 637 mm
The relaxed geometry and tall front end of the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ invites you to cruise along the fields.

2023 ROSE BACKROAD AL+ first ride review

Before riding an ebike, you’ll want to charge it, which isn’t necessarily easy with the ROSE BACKROAD AL+. The position of the charging port makes plugging in the cable somewhat unwieldy. Aligning the plug with the slot also requires a little practice. Fortunately, connecting the MAHLE X35 system with your smartphone is much easier. Adjusting the saddle height is just as easy thanks to the beautifully integrated seat post clamp on the side of the frame, though it’s a bit obtrusive in terms of looks. The design should hide the function. Once aboard the bike and rolling along, you’ll immediately notice the very upright riding position. The wealth of spacers under the stem make it feel more like a touring bike than a gravel shredder. What also struck us on the first few kilometres is the bike’s high level of composure. This is due to the wide tires, as well as the geometry, and the added weight of the battery and motor. Thus, the handling is generally very stable and never feels nervous – even on fast descents. In terms of compliance, the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ is more of a midfield contender. While it does absorb and mitigate some impacts, it’s not the most comfortable bike we’ve ridden. What can get uncomfortable on longer rides, however, is the weight on your hands. The tops of the handlebar and the bar tape both are rather thin, creating pressure points on your palms, especially when you go off-road.

Tuning tip: Fit a handlebar with a wider diameter and thicker bar tape for more comfort.

And it’s off-road where the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ feels most at home – away from paved roads. The WTB Raddler tires provide loads of grip on gravel and forest loam, and the bike’s 13.6 kg heft pushes it through every gravel puddle. The e-gravel bike responds willingly when you get on the pedals, but there is no denying its weight. With the support switched off on the straights and descents, however, you’ll hardly notice that you’re riding an ebike. It’s only on longer and steeper climbs that the added weight of the battery and motor makes itself felt. The first level of support really offers minimal assistance. It’s enough to provide a little relief on long rides. The second mode up is a lot more noticeable: the motor takes a decent amount of the load off and provides sufficient assistance on the climbs. The third and highest support mode pushes the BACKROAD AL+ forward. It lets you tackle 13% inclines and more with ease, requiring moderate rider input. However, the highest support mode is also the loudest. The cut-out at over 25 km/h and the engagement of the motor ranges from smooth to direct, depending on the support mode. Using the button on the top tube to select the support mode requires a little practice. To switch from the battery indicator to the support mode, you must push the button once. Changing the support mode requires a second push of the button. You’ve got to cycle through each level, so to get from level 2 to 1, you must push the button four times.

The ROSE BACKROAD AL+ can be fun to ride even without support.
Fat tires, big knobs…
… and a few other features, like the chain guide, make the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ extremely capable off-road.

Who is the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ for?

Of course, at this price, with these components, the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ is ideal for those who want an affordable e-gravel bike that offers great value for money. This also makes it the perfect candidate for those who want to see if e-gravel riding is right for them. Since the bike rides well without the support of the motor in many situations, the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ is equally feasible for riders who want to switch off the motor from time to time. Furthermore, the wealth of mounting points and the robust design make it an interesting option for commuters who prefer a good-natured e-gravel bike instead of an aggressive racing machine.

Conclusion on the 2023 ROSE BACKROAD AL+

The small, light, yet effective, MAHLE X35 hub motor makes perfect sense on the ROSE BACKROAD AL+, resulting in an affordable and balanced package, especially interesting for (e-)gravel newcomers. Rounding it off is the composed and good-natured handling combined with a relaxed riding position. With the motor hidden between angular tubes and an attractive design, it’s only at second glance that you’ll recognise the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ as an ebike. The convenient eyelets and bosses also make it versatile.


  • affordable e-gravel bike considering the components
  • composed and beginner-friendly handling with a relaxed riding position
  • can also be ridden with the motor switched off


  • only two build variants to choose from
  • not available in a more discreet colour

For more infos visit rosebikes.com

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Words: Martin Staffa Photos: Martin Staffa