Rose X-Lite CW-4000 first ride review

Aggressive aero speed machine

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine

The Rose X-Lite CW 4000's frame is a no-nonsense racing rig. With aggressive geometry and wind tunnel-derived shaping, it combines a head-down, long-flat-backed riding position with tube shapes that are designed to give you an advantage.

Rose X-Lite CW-4000 spec overview

Frame: 990g (57cm tested
Fork: X-LITE CW High Performance
Crankset: Shimano Dura-Ace FC-R9100 52/36
Cogset: Shimano Dura-Ace CS-R9100 11-speed
Rear/front derailleur: Shimano Dura-Ace R9100 11-speed
Wheels: Mavic Cosmic Pro WTS (700x25)
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR Lite Flow
Handlebar: Profile Canta Ergo Drop UD BK Carbon

Rose X-Lite CW-4000 frame and equipment

The frame weighs 990g, which is impressive for an aero bike. Its core mould is shared with Rose's other aero-disc bike, so despite this one having an under-chainstay direct-mount Shimano Dura-Ace unit it still retains a disc flat mount at the rear of the non-driveside chainstay, but not thru-axle dropouts.

The geometry features a steep 74-degree seat angle and sharp 73.25 degrees up front, plus the 400mm reach (horizontal distance between bottom bracket and head-tube) on our 57cm test bike mated to the 563mm stack height (vertical distance) making this the very definition of an aggressive race bike. The mechanical Dura-Ace drivetrain is as impressive as you would expect, and the focused-on-fast- but-still-usable 52/36, 11-28 combination makes the 4000 a great companion whatever the terrain.

Rose X-Lite CW-4000 ride impression

On the flat the CW is brutally rapid; we would put it up there with the likes of Trek's Madone, Scott's Foil and Specialized's Venge Vias in the speed stakes.

The sharpness of the turn-in makes short work of quick direction changes — the CW-4000 is one nimble bike and a willing companion through technical, twisty descents. We're seriously impressed with the Rose's chassis and if you get the build right it's a cost-effective entry into the very best that modern aero-road bikes can offer.

Sadly, however, our test model is hampered in quite a major way. Although Mavic's Cosmic wheels have received a new Exalith brake surface and a few improvements here and there, they are still left wanting compared to wheels with comparable depth rims from the likes of ENVE, Zipp and Reynolds.

The rims' tapered triangular shape doesn't cope well with crosswinds and the narrow rim makes the 23mm tyres fitted come up narrow too. That has a negative effect when you're riding over poor road surfaces where the CW skits, bounces and transmits plenty of noise to your hands and rear, which can be wearing.

We also had an issue with the stiffness at the rear; on out-of-the-saddle climbs where the CW should excel, and in its disc version does, the flex in the rear rim meant every pedal stroke was met with a screech as the brake pad hit the Exalith-patterned brake surface, a material that's designed to improve braking without increasing brake pad wear.

We do appreciate the power that Exalith adds to braking and after around 100km of riding the brakes do 'bed-in', but the initial feel is firm and then grabs and is met with an anti-social level of screeching. Once bedded in it's quieter. Well, that is until you go out on a wet ride and then the noise returns.

If the wheels were hugely impressive elsewhere we could forgive them, but their average performance, aside from the fact that they're light, negates that. The good news is that you can switch the wheels on Rose's website when you're ordering, and for an extra £60 you could have DT Swiss's impressive RC55 Splines or for various extra prices Zipp, Mavic's Ksyrium, Reynolds, Vision and more. We suggest you do…

Early verdict

Five-star chassis and components running on two-star wheels.

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