This article originally appeared on BikeRadar
I was recently invited to Rose's hometown of Bocholt, Germany for the launch of the updated X-Lite, the brand's top-end race platform.
Rose claims to have found "the golden ratio with the new X-Lite," striking the "perfect balance between aerodynamics, a lightweight design, stiffness and comfort." Bold words indeed. So how does the German direct-sale giant claim to have achieved this?
Rose X-Lite updates
Starting with the aero-conscious improvements, the area around the head tube and the seatstays has been slimmed down considerably compared to the previous generation of the X-Lite. The forks have also been redesigned to be more aerodynamic and lighter than before.
As is expected of any modern, slippery go-fast bike, the new X-Lite has its own nifty integrated seat clamp — unlike some other designs, this is actually very easy to access, with the 4mm head Allen-bolt sitting flush with the frame.
Rose claims that the new bike will require 63.5 of your precious watts to push it through the air, a claimed 11-watt saving over the previous generation of the X-Lite. The speed at which these tests were carried out was not specified, however.
The X-Lite 6 is the top-end layup option for the bike
In terms of weight loss, the new X-Lite 6 — the top-end layup option for the X-Lite — comes in as follows;
- Rim brake frame: 760g
- Rim brake fork: 325g
- Disc brake frame: 790g
- Disc brake fork: 365g
These figures are claimed weights and relate to a 55cm frame. The X-Lite 4 frameset — which uses a slightly less refined layup — comes in 100g heavier for both rim and disc bikes. The X-Lite 4 and 6 framesets share the same geometry.
It's good to finally see Shimano's heavily vented rotors in the wild
Rose is of the opinion that discs will inevitably become dominant in the future, but understands that the market still has a real appetite for rim brakes, hence why it is still offering the X-Lite in both flavours.
In a seriously German twist of events, stiffness values were actually quoted during the presentation for the bike (German bike magazines/websites are famously obsessed with stiffness values). No woolly statements about the bike being 'X percent stiffer', actual numbers. The claimed stiffness values and weights of each frame size can be seen in the table below:
Remarkably, Rose actually supplied claimed stiffness figures during the presentation for the new X-Lite
Of course these figures should still be taken with a pinch of salt, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.
Rose claims its updated fork is lighter than before and includes a kevlar weave in the steerer to improve stiffness and longevity
In a bid to improve stiffness and longevity, Rose has included also a kevlar inlay in the steerer of the new fork.
The concessions made towards comfort present nothing groundbreaking — a sloping top tube is employed to expose as much seatpost as possible and low-slung seatstays should improve rear end compliance.
The disc version of the bike has clearances for tyres up to 30mm wide and 28mm on the rim brake model.
In line with wider industry trends, Rose is in the process of developing its own integrated one-piece cockpit to accompany the X-Lite. There were no samples available for us to fondle, but I was assured that this has been in development in conjunction with Ritchey for the past year and a half and Rose expects to put it into production soon.
Rose X-Lite range overview
The range starts with the X-Lite 4 rim brake at €2,299. This Ultegra equipped bike comes in bang on the UCI weight limit at 6.8kg (claimed). The Ultegra disc version of this bike comes in at €2,799.
The very, very highest, tip-top-end bike, which is equipped with Dura-Ace Di2, a matching FC-9100-P power meter and Zipp 454 SW wheels comes in at a heady €9,066.
Rose's bikes are largely built to order, so the option to customise bar width, stem length, wheels, cassettes and other options is available.
The new X-Lite is expected to ship from Rose within the next 3–6 weeks.
- Rose X-Lite 6 disc Di2 Ultegra specs
- Frame: T40/60 UHM/HT carbon
- Fork: High performance disc carbon tapered
- Wheelset: Rose CWX-1550 carbon disc
- Tyres: Continental GP4000 S-II, 25mm
- Handlebar: Ritchey Superlogic Carbon Evo Curve
- Stem: Ritchey WCS C220
- Seatpost: Ritchey Superlogic Link 15 Flexlogic Carbon
- Saddle: Selle Italia SLR Lite Flow titanium
- Drivetrain: Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8070
- Price: €4,099
Rose X-Lite 6 disc first ride impressions
Our short test ride took in a very pleasant 45km loop on the bucolic flat landscape around Rose's hometown, Bocholt.
Our ride took us on a wet and windy loop on the flat roads around Bocholt
What the day was lacking in elevation gain was more than made up for in savage headwinds, grim weather and riding with a group of skinny cycling journalists that were keen to move fast and keep warm.
The bike felt plenty stiff under my middling power and weight
Spinning along at a fair old clip, the bike felt spritely and, during playful sprints to catch the photographer's car, sufficiently stiff under my middling power. Comfort is good for a race bike, with the carbon cockpit and skinny fork legs likely playing a part in improving compliance.
Rose earns serious brownie points for speccing appropriately reachy bars
On the subject of the cockpit, Rose earns a gold star for speccing the X-Lite with a set of relatively reachy Ritchey Superlogic bars — I like to have room to move around on a race bike and hate the way more compact handlebars smoosh your hands up when you're in the drops.
The longer reach also gives a much more comfortable platform for your palms to sit on when riding on the hoods.
The rest of the finishing kit also comes courtesy of Ritchey and I've no doubt the skinny 27.2mm carbon post plays a part in maximising rear-end comfort.
Changeable weather kept us on our toes
The route didn't offer many opportunities to go full 'knee down Moto GP', but on the wet and debris-strewn corners that we did encounter the bike's racy geometry, coupled with Continental's universally loved 25mm wide GP4000 S-II tyres, were a suitably confidence inspiring combination.
If I was ordering the bike for myself I'd definitely take full advantage of the X-Lite's generous clearances and squeeze a set of 28 or 30mm tyres in there to improve comfort, handling and speed.
The wheels felt perfectly fast and stiff, but suffered a little in cross winds
The bike is equipped with Rose's own mid-depth, tubeless-compatible carbon wheels. These felt plenty fast and stiff, but were definitely less stable in gusty side winds than wheels of a similar depth that I've used before — emerging from tree cover or from behind a building caused a relatively distracting 'tug' at the bars.
My test bike was built around an Ultegra Di2 drivetrain
I've spent a lot of time on Shimano's new-ish Ultegra R8000 groupset, but this was my first time riding on the Di2 version — unsurprisingly, the performance was flawless and I particularly appreciated the redesigned shifter paddles, which felt much better with my big winter gloves than the previous generation of the groupset.
Rose X-Lite 6 disc early verdict
I've only spent a short amount of time on the new X-Lite 6 and I'd want to ride in the hills before I draw any final conclusions about the bike, but early impressions are good — the build presents excellent value for money, the frameset is very nicely designed and it looks damn good.
We're hoping to get one of the new bikes in for test soon, so keep your eyes peeled for a full review in a few months' time!