A stylish bike at a low price, and with electric assistance too! Sounds like perfection, doesn’t it? That’s exactly what the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ promises, bringing a smile to the faces of all hobby adventurers. But can it keep up with the competition in our adventure gravel bike group test?
This bike was tested as part of our 2023 adventure gravel bike group test – you can find an overview of the group test and test field here:
The popular ROSE BACKROAD doesn’t just represent gravel performance for the masses, but above all good value for money. Likewise, the electric aluminium version promises to push gravel fans up the mountain alongside bikes that are twice the price. According to ROSE, the “high-end” build with a MAHLE motor makes the impossible possible, offering an undercover ebike that’s hard to beat. At just € 3,499, it blows the competition out the water in our adventure gravel bike group test when it comes to price. But can it keep up with considerably more expensive bikes, like the SCOTT Solace Gravel eRide?
Is it a bargain or do you get what you pay for? – The components of the ROSE BACKROAD AL+
Is it a bargain or do you get what you pay for? Looking at the design, both things are true. With smooth weld seams, a battery that’s neatly integrated into the down tube, and the inconspicuous MAHLE x35 hub motor, it takes more than just a quick glance to realise you’re looking at an ebike. The angular tubes, beefy but nicely integrated fork, and thick head tube don’t look quite as perfect as on the SCOTT, but it’s an appealing bike, nonetheless. The “Seafoam Green” colour, on the other hand, isn’t for everyone. Although it sounds epic and natural, it looks more like a poisonous mint lozenge. Even the tan walls of the WTB Raddler tires can’t save the look. In fact, they do the opposite. Fortunately, you can choose the earthy “Sandy Taco” colour instead.
The spec, on the other hand, is mostly excellent: the combination of 11-speed Shimano GRX components perform brilliantly. It’s not the latest generation, but this drivetrain definitely helps keep the price down. The in-house ROSE wheels are specially built for the BACKROAD AL+, because the rear rim is laced to a MAHLE X35 motor in place of a standard hub. It’s a cool solution, as it keeps the frame nice and slender for the perfect undercover ebike look. However, the integrated motor makes changing the wheels somewhat complicated in case of replacements or upgrades. The aforementioned 44 mm WTB Raddler tires are designed more for all-road use and, accordingly, they’re ok but don’t excel in any particular terrain.
The handlebar and the seat post, meanwhile, are not so satisfactory. They’re the product of a collaboration between ROSE and Ritchey, but their focus seems to have been on keeping production costs down. The handlebars are skinny, round, and have an uncomfortable bump in the drops, which doesn’t make them particularly ergonomic. The seatpost is nothing special either, and simply doesn’t suit the stiff frame, offering virtually zero compliance. Exactly what they were collaborating on, we’re not sure…
– replace the seatpost for more compliance
– different handlebar for better ergonomics
– wider tires for more grip and comfort. And swap to black sidewalls while you’re at it – we’re feeling queasy.
Rose Backroad AL Plus
Fork ridig fork
Seatpost Ritchey WTB
Brakes Shimano GRX 180/160 mm
Drivetrain Shimano GRX Mix 1x11
Stem Rose ALR 100 mm
Handlebar Rose x Ritchey 440 mm
Wheelset Rose G Thirty + Light
Tires WTB Raddler 28"
Size XS S M L XL
Weight 14,02 kg
MAHLE X35 drive system
Excellent value for the price
The ROSE BACKROAD AL+ vibrator
The gear ratios aren’t always that important on ebikes, and there’s nothing to complain about regarding the 11–42 t cassette and 40 t chainring on the ROSE BACKROAD AL+. The MAHLE X35 motor offers subtle yet powerful assistance, though only if it gets enough input from the rider.
The off-road handling is anything but subtle. Unfortunately, there’s a complete lack of compliance on the ROSE BACKROAD AL+. As soon as you hit rough gravel or slightly bumpy terrain, the BACKROAD AL+ stops being fun. Shocks are passed on to the rider unmitigated, resulting in a very jarring riding experience. The tires can’t compensate for this either, and the ROSE can’t go wider than 45 mm anyway. There certainly is room for improvement here. Ride quality aside, the bike is very balanced and well thought out. The handling is restrained, confidence inspiring, and suitable for a beginner’s gravel bike. The bike gives the same good-natured impression when accelerating, climbing, and on fast descents. But that all comes to an abrupt end when you head off road, due to the bike’s unforgiving stiffness. That said, the bike performs excellently on the road, even without electric assistance.
It’s incredibly well priced, but who picked this colour?
The perfect adventure with the ROSE BACKROAD AL+
The ROSE BACKROAD AL+ has a lot to offer, but not on rough gravel roads or trails, unfortunately. On the other hand, it’s perfect as a commuter, city bike, or lazy Sunday bike path cruiser. This isn’t just thanks to the sturdy aluminium frame, but also the MAHLE hub motor, and versatile Shimano GRX groupset. However, the aluminium BACKROAD AL+ is not suitable for spontaneous off-road adventures or excursions into the unknown.
Our conclusion on the ROSE BACKROAD AL+
As an affordable and solid bike, the ROSE BACKROAD AL+ has a lot to offer, though its solid feel is also its biggest weakness – we can’t recommend it for all gravel adventure riding due its lack of compliance. However, it’s an excellent choice for beginners and for areas with well-maintained bike paths. The ROSE will also serve commuters brilliantly. And who’s to say you can’t have adventures on your daily commute? Considering the low price of just € 3,499, it’s hard to go wrong.
- well-priced considering the components and performance
- a stealth looking ebike thanks to the cleverly concealed motor
- performs excellently even without the support of the motor
- WTC – What the colour?lack of comfort – too little compliance for off-road adventures
- handlebar ergonomics won’t suit everyone
For more information visit rosebikes.com
This bike was tested as part of our 2023 adventure gravel bike group test – you can find an overview of the group test and the test field here:
All bikes on review:Argon 18 Dark Matter | BMC URS 01 ONE | Cannondale Topstone Carbon 1 Lefty | Canyon Grizl CF SLX 8 Force AXS Trail | Falkenjagd ARISTOS TRAIL GRAVEL | Focus Atlas 8.8 | Ghost Asket Advanced | Giant Revolt X | Merida Silex 10k | Mondraker Dusty XR | Orbea Terra M21e Team Custom M | Ridley Kanzo Adventure | Rose Backroad AL Plus | Santa Cruz Stigmata | Scott Solace Gravel eRIDE 10 | Specialized Diverge STR Pro | Trek Checkpoint SL 7 AXS | Wilier Adlar | YT Industries Szepter Core 4
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Words: Calvin Zajac Photos: Mike Hunger