Last year Canyon's Ultimate Al rode away with a bike of the year gong, and the RS-3000 from German compatriots Rose is a cracking bike too. You can get a carbon bike for this kind of money but this is a ready-to-race weight and spec; just slap some pedals on and you can mix it straight out of the box. Aluminium is well and truly back, folks.
The ride: stiff and direct, but surprisingly forgiving at the rear
Let's dive straight in with what it's like to pilot. The RS-3000 is great fun to ride. First impressions as you roll off the drive for a first outing is that it's a bike designed to go after it, and that's how it's best enjoyed. The alloy frame and full carbon fork deliver plenty of ride feel and it's an engaging bike to be astride, although it's happy enough to cruise along too and the neutral handling means it's not too mentally taxing.
Aluminium we associate with stiffness, and the Rose has a hatful of that. The huge downtube, flared seat tube and deep chainstays give a really solid junction for handling the power of the rider; flex is not an issue. Similarly at the front, a 1.5" crown race stiffens the front end, and also creates a slightly larger weld area for the down tube, which takes full advantage. Point the Rose at the apex of a bend and that's where you'll end up. the steering is precise, but not twitchy, with plenty of feedback.
Comfort isn't necessarily something we associate with alloy frames. So it might surprise you to know that the Rose is a pretty comfy ride. Okay it wouldn't be your first choice for Roubaix but it's not a boneshaker. Those seatstays have been thinned and shaped such that they're reminiscent of Cervelo R5, and with the same aim in mind: to introduce a bit of the fabled vertical compliance. And it works. How much of it is down to the stays and how much the Ritchey carbon seatpost soaks up – and, indeed, the saddle, tyres and wheels – is difficult to pin down. But it's more forgiving over rough surfaces than you expect an alloy bike to be.
Point it at striated and tired B-road tarmac and the quality of the ride is similar to a stiff carbon frame. I slung it round the lanes too and dropped it into the odd pothole (not on purpose) and it coped admirably. Given that this is a race bike and more likely to stick to the faster routes I'd say the comfort levels are well-judged. Take the RS-3000 somewhere with proper roads, or onto the circuit, and it would be a joy.
Climbing isn't a problem for the Rose. Either seated or standing, it's efficient and responds well to your input. I like to mix it up, and anyway the non-compact gearing had me out of the saddle on the steep stuff; the bike kicks forward like a stiff frame should, the tyres sometimes scrabbling a bit for grip if you really put the power down. There's never any flex though, nor any hint of brake rub at the rear.
Coming down again the RS-300 is an assured descender. That direct front end makes picking a line easy, and there's enough feel through the bars to judge the road. The front is a bit harsher than the rear, something that a simple change of bar tape would go a long way to fix; no-one that tried the bike was a fan of the shiny black Fizik tape, on looks or performance.
Frame and forks: light and stiff, and well balanced
Rose list the weight of the RS-3000 frame as 1190g. That's some way off the lightest carbon frames, but it's a straightforward job to build a 1,200g frame into a UCI-limit-bothering bike with stock parts. Ours came built up with Ultegra and a Ksyrium Elite wheelset, that's solid privateer kit rather than anything showy, and even then our large bike (Rose call it 61cm but it's more like a 58cm) tipped the scales at 7.57kg.
The massive down tube and slightly triangular section top tube (with a flatter face on the top, a trend we're seeing among carbon bikes too) are triple butted and meet at an asymmetric head tube (1.125" to 1.5") where they're mated with a straight blade full carbon fork. The triple butted seat tube is heavily flared at the bottom to add stiffness to the bottom bracket, and the large square section chainstays are counterposed with pencil-thin, ovalised chainstays for added ride comfort. The whole thing is very tidiliy finished; ours was an anodised black frame and there's three other colour schemes (matt white/grey, shiny black/red, matt black/yellow) if stealth isn't your thing.
In many places the design cues are taken from carbon, and with processes for working aluminium being ever improved bike designers are more able to use forms developed for carbon in a metal frame. If you smoothed the welds and painted this frame, you'd be hard pressed to tell it wasn't carbon without hitting it with something. As it is, the welds are visible under the anodised finish and it looks like a well-proportioned Aluminium frame instead, which is just as good.
Geometry-wise, the bike's not a chin-on-the-stem racer but nor is it a sitty-uppy sportive iron. Our 61cm frame has a 73.5° head tube angle, a 73° seat tube, 58cm effective top tube, a 19cm head tube, a stack of 60cm and a reach of 40cm. That's comparable to a Trek Madone in the less-racy H2 fit – although the Rose is a touch roomier from saddle to bars, – and lower and longer than many sportive bikes of a comparable size. It's not completely slammed, but it feels pretty purposeful. It's telling that the default spec is no headset spacers... ours had a couple thrown in.
Componentry: no-nonsense, high performance
Shimano's Ultegra transmission is one you'll find on the start line of races a long way up the ranks. It gives much of the performance of Dura-Ace but at a much more sensible price, the only trade-off being the weight.
Ours was more or less faultless throughout testing. One niggle noted by a couple of people who rode the bike was that the right hand STI was sensitive to contact on the brake lever if you were shifting down; even the slightest touch on the main lever could cause the small one to misfire. It's something that can happen with Dual Control levers because of the way the mechanisms engage, but it seemed particularly noticeable on this bike, maybe because it was below zero and we were all wearing our biggest and most cumbersome gloves. Since testing the Rose I've mostly been riding a 105-equipped bike, and although I can make it happen, it doesn't happen by accident in the course of riding.
Mavic's Ksyrium Elite wheels are, again, well-regarded privateer race hoops. They're well built and a good weight (just over 1,500g); given that they're normally held to be a pretty firm ride it highlights how well the bike deals with transmitted shock. They were entirely trouble-free throughout the test period, despite some altercations with potholes and a bit of riding on fairly unsuitable lanes.
Ritchey's WCS finishing kit does a sterling job, as ever. The combination of 4-Axis stem and Evo-Curve bars at the front felt just right for the bike, stiff and purposeful but with decent comfort levels on all hand positions. I've said my piece about the shiny black bar tape; the great thing about the Rose configurator on their website is that you can swap out components, often at no cost. Black cork-effect bar-tape is a no-cost option, as is a compact chainset, different bars, different spacer stacks... Some things aren't free though. Swapping the Ksyriums for Lighweight Meilensteins doubles the price of the bike in one fell swoop. Cosmic Elites are a free swap though, if you prefer a slightly more areo rim.
Overall: an excellent package and a great bike to ride
Look, I know that with the lion's share of two grand to spend most people will be eyeing up a carbon bike. But the Rose Xeon RS-3000 is a great bike to ride, with high quality kit and a competitive all-in weight. There's very little wrong with it. If you're looking for a light, stiff race perch and you're on a tight budget then there's no upgrades needed here, everything is race ready and nothing is compromised.
It's a well-considered package and the frame is available in both SRAM and Campag builds too, as well as Ultegra Di2, with prices topping out at £2,200. Like the Canyon Ultimate Al, which was our bike of the year last year, it really doesn't have a significant flaw. A great bike for the money.
Light, strong, good value: pick three. A great package and a great ride too
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rose Xeon RS 3000
Size tested: 60
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frames ROSE Xeon RS (2012/2013)
fork ROSE f. Xeon RS 2013
Wheels Mavic KSYRIUM ELITE S WTS
Tyres Kein Reifen 1
crankset SHIMANO Ultegra 34-50 FC-6750
rear derailleur SHIMANO Ultegra RD-6700
sprocket SHIMANO Ultegra 10-fach CS-6700
Shift brake levers SHIMANO ST-6700 Ultegra 10/2-fach
front derailleur SHIMANO Ultegra 10/2-fach FD-6700
rim brake SHIMANO Ultegra BR-6700
seat post Ritchey WCS Carbon Monolink Flex 300mm
saddle Selle Italia SLS Monolink XC
handlebar Ritchey Evo-Curve WCS 31,8mm
Handlebar tape fi�zi:k Microtex
stem Ritchey WCS 4-Axis 84/6D 31,8mm
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
They don't really say who it's aimed at but the spec, price and geometry suggest it'll go down well with privateer racers and people look for a fast, light roadgoing machine
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Very well built and finished.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Frame: triple butted Aluminium alloy
Fork: unidirectional carbon fibre
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
73.5° head tube angle
73° seat tube
58cm effective top tube
19cm head tube
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Fitted me very well.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, more so than I was expecting. Firm, but not harsh.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Very good balance.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
It feels super-efficient when you power up.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Stiff front end makes the steering very precise but it's not twitchy.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Bar tape isn't the greatest.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Everything worked well together
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Transmission and wheelset.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, very much
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
It's not all about carbon at this price. If you want something stiff and light to race on, or just to go fast, aluminium warrants some serious consideration. Especially if the frame is as good as this one.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track