With the BACKROAD AL GRX RX600 1X11, ROSE promise an attractive gravel bike at a fair price. We let the olive green gravel bike with aluminium frame and Shimano GRX RX600 groupset compete against the big names of the gravel cosmos to find out what it’s capable of.
A quick overview of this group test: The best gravel bike 2021
ROSE are offering the BACKROAD AL GRX RX600 1X11 for the competitive price of € 1,799 and it seems to be selling like hotcakes if you try to purchase it from German direct to consumer brand. The aluminium frame of the ROSE is difficult to distinguish from its carbon counterpart with its smooth welds and it has all the mounting points that you could ever need: four sets of bottle cage bosses as well as mounting points for mudguards and even a side stand. It’s compatible with a front derailleur too. Despite the entry-level price, the workmanship and finish are top-notch. In addition to fully integrated cable routing, which enters the frame via the headset cover, the seat clamp is also neatly integrated into the frame. With no less than 9 sizes from 46 to 64, the platform covers a huge spectrum of potential buyers. The two smaller sizes, 46 and 49, roll on 650B wheels. Further highlights include maximum clearances for up to 700 x 45C or 650 x 50B tires and a Shimano direct mount derailleur hanger. The triple cage mounts and looks of the carbon fork have been carried over from the fork of the ROSE BACKROAD FORCE ETAP AXS LIMITED, though it’s been specially adapted for the BACKROAD AL. Not only does it feature internal routing for the brake line but also the power cable of a dynamo if fitted.
ROSE BACKROAD AL GRX RX600 1X11
Seatpost ROSE Race Attack SP-63 XL 25 mm
Brakes Shimano GRX RX400 160/160 mm
Drivetrain Shimano GRX RX600/RX812 40 (11–42)
Stem Ritchey WCS Toyon 100 mm
Handlebar Ritchey WCS Butano 420 mm
Wheelset DT Swiss P1850
Tires Schwalbe G-One Bite 40C
Size 46 49 51 53 55 57 59 61 64
Weight 9.74 kg
650B wheels in size 46 and 49
Bolting points for mudguards, luggage rack and a kickstand
Mounting points on top of the top tube and on bottom of the down tube
Mounting points on fork; 3 per fork side
|Seat tube||420 mm||450 mm||475 mm||490 mm||500 mm||510 mm||530 mm||555 mm||605 mm|
|Top tube||495 mm||506 mm||519 mm||531 mm||543 mm||560 mm||570 mm||586 mm||606 mm|
|Head tube||110 mm||118 mm||128 mm||142 mm||158 mm||175 mm||190 mm||205 mm||228 mm|
|Chainstays||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm||430 mm|
|BB Drop||72 mm||72 mm||70 mm||70 mm||70 mm||70 mm||65 mm||65 mm||65 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,002 mm||1,009 mm||1,016 mm||1,022 mm||1,032 mm||1,042 mm||1,052 mm||1,063 mm||1,075 mm|
|Reach||352 mm||356 mm||364 mm||369 mm||374 mm||383 mm||389 mm||398 mm||408 mm|
|Stack||535 mm||542 mm||552 mm||567 mm||582 mm||600 mm||610 mm||626 mm||650 mm|
One of the most cleverly designed frame platforms in the entry-level segment. The ROSE accommodates a very wide range of applications and a huge range of rider sizes.
Our test bike came equipped with a 1×11 Shimano GRX RX600 crank, Shimano GRX RX812 rear derailleur, Shimano SLX CS-M7000 11–42 t cassette and Shimano GRX RX400 brakes with 160 mm rotors front and rear. You also get a DT Swiss P1850 wheelset with 700 x 40C Schwalbe G-One Bite tires. At this price point, we were pleasantly surprised by the smart groupset configuration and the high-quality cockpit consisting of a Ritchey WCS Butano handlebar and Ritchey WCS Toyon stem. In size 57, the BACKROAD AL weighs 9.74 kg.
The handling of the BACKROAD AL is good-natured and intuitive from the get-go. Its excellent straight-line stability makes it the ideal companion for beginners and anyone who simply wants to enjoy relaxed rides away from busy roads. However, the front is too tall for gravel racers, leading to understeer during aggressive manoeuvers that you have to counteract by actively shifting your weight forward. Nonetheless, everyone else will benefit from the balanced handling with the agility of the front matching the rear.
The tall front end makes for a pleasantly upright riding position, allowing you to stay comfortable enough to easily take on longer rides. Compared to the test field, the comfort offered by the ROSE is limited, though it’s acceptable for an aluminium frame. If you want a more comfortable ride, you can improve things with small upgrades such as a carbon seat post. The common dimension of 27.2 mm gives you a very wide range of alternatives to choose from. For even more comfort and better off-road performance, you could change to a 650B wheelset and tires that fully utilise the generous clearances. The BACKROAD prefers taking it easy when you step on the pedals. The main reasons for this are its weight and relatively high rotating mass of the DT Swiss P1850 wheelset. The ROSE isn’t a sporty, lively bike but a relaxed cruiser for any occasion. It carries its momentum well on the descents and its tall front end instils you with confidence when things get steep. Here, too, competitive riders will want a lower cockpit so that there is more weight on the front wheel to increase the handling precision. The excellent stopping power of the Shimano GRX brakes is easy to modulate and contributes to a feeling of confidence on the bike.
Tuning-tip: 650B wheelset and tires that make full use of the maximum tire clearance for more comfort and better off-road performance
The ROSE BACKROAD AL GRX RX600 1X11 is an ideal gravel bike for beginners and multi-sport athletes who want to take a dip into gravel riding. Even commuters and trekking riders on a budget will find a well-thought-out platform with clever features, which, due to its low price, lends itself well to upgrading components as you go. If you can overlook the limited comfort and tall front end, you will find a great bike that is ready to go out of the box for a very fair price. Our 2021 gravel Best Buy!
- intuitive handling
- confidence-inspiring in most situations
- value for money
- high quality finish with lots of attention to detail
- overly tall front end for aggressive riders
- limited comfort
Not sure which gravel bike you should buy? This guide will help you for sure: gravel bike buyers guide.
You wonder what tires to put on your gravel machine? We recently tested the best gravel tires against each other in our gravel tire group test.
More information here: rosebikes.co.uk
Get an overview of this group test: The best gravel-bike 2021 – 13 models on review
All bikes on review: 3T Exploro Race EKAR 1X13 (Click for review) | ARC8 Eero (Click for review) | BMC URS 01 ONE (Click for review) | Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 3 (Click for review) | Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 eTap (Click for review) | Fustle Causeway GRX600 (Click for review) | OPEN WI.DE. (Click for review) | Ridley Kanzo Fast (Click for review) | Ritte Satyr (Click for review) | ROSE BACKROAD FORCE ETAP AXS LIMITED (Click for review) | ROSE BACKROAD AL GRX RX600 1X11 | Specialized S-Works Diverge (Click for review) | Trek Checkpoint (Click for review)
No, it’s not about perfect race tracks, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along high-speed passages need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret “Smooth tarmac” bikes as follows: Hard efforts at high speeds with a maximum efficient bike on a consistently well-paved road. Effort-joy ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
… also known as bike riding. Broken-up roads in the hinterland, deadlocked gravel roads, loose surfaces – sometimes muddy, sometimes bone-dry. For this, it takes bikes with super all-round, handling and wearing qualities uphill and downhill. Effort-joy ratio: 50:50↩
If you want to use your bike almost every day, you usually do not need an extremely tuned racing machine. Solid components, which are able to cope with the rigours of continuous usage in any kind of weather, are part of the basic equipment. At the same time, the bike should have practicable details: integrated fenders/assembly options, luggage racks/attachment points and a light system or at least the option of installing bike lights. The position on the bike should be rather relaxed, the overall comfort high, so that the Afterwork Ride becomes a cure and not a curse. Effort-joy ratio: 30:70↩
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Words: Photos: Valentin Rühl