We've only just walked through the door of the CORE Bike show and what's this? An £11,000 bike, that's what. De Rosa have been tesing us with sneak peek pics of their new frame but this is the first opportunity we've had to stroke its curves in the flesh. It's called the Protos, and was launched last week on Ugo de Rosa's birthday. Now it's on its way.
Italian bikes tend to veer towards one of two design aesthetics. There's the more-is-more approach espoused by the likes of Colnago and Pinarello, but De Rosa tend to go for less-is-more and it certainly makes for a striking bike in this case. The Protos is the new top-end race frame and it's decked out in stealthy black with fluorescent red highlights. It certainly looks fast, and the hunkered-down geometry and massive bottom bracket are all about one thing: speed.
This bike isn't the first time that De Rosa have used then name; the Protos was was in use back in 2006 too, for a bike derived from Stefano Garzelli's prototype racing frames. That bike was lauded by De Rosa as "The best expression of Carbon Fibre that we have", but things have come a long way in six years. That frame weighed 950 grams, whereas the new one, despite its beefier tube profiles, tips the scales at under 800. Certainly the tap-test reveals that the down tube is paper thin, with the material – a blend of high and ultra-high modulus Carbon – going only where it's needed.
There's some interesting design touches to the frame. the lines are quite angular, but with swopping accents to the tube shapes which with the red highlights give a pretty pleasing overall look. It's certainly hefty in the right places, but doesn't look bulky.
The fork has a flat front face, with sharp corners to the tapering rear. Whereas many Carbon tube profiles these days are a truncated airfoil, with the tapering rear section cut off, this profile is sort of the opposite with the rounded front section missing. We're not quite sure what the thinking is behind that as the bike's description is probably enigmatic even in Italian, and a lot more so when roughly translated into English.
"Ugo De Rosa went upstream when he decided to use the flat face fork in the steel bikes, but he saw far in this choice. Because the lightness he aimed to, he had always to guarantee stability and only the composition of the materials supported him in recahing this goal; it was the right way to go", we learn. We'll take that to mean that De Rosa have been playin with the profile for a long time but it's only made sense to produce it now that Carbon can give the profile the requisite strength. We'll wait to hear what its particular benefits are.
If you want the bike in this build, with Campag Super Record EPS (it's also Di2 compatible), you'll need £11,000 in your pocket. Mechanical Super Record and Dura Ace are the other two options. Eight sizes will be available off the peg, with custom frames also an option if you feel that eleven grand just isn't enough...
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.