Roux Etape 250 (2013)  £699.99

8/10

One of the few disc brake equipped heavy duty tourers on the market at this price. A superbly balanced and super-confident ride, loaded or bare

Weight 13800g   Contact  www.rouxbikes.co.uk

by Steve Worland   May 5, 2013  

The Roux Etape 250 is a thoughtfully specced steel framed tourer that snubs adverse thoughts about its heft with its modest price tag and comfortable confident ride.

If you're the sort of rider who frets about bike weight you're probably not going to be interested in a steel framed load hauling workhorse that nudges the scales up to 13.8kg (32.4lb). There's no getting away from the fact that the Roux is a bit of a lump to lift, or that there are plenty of sub 30lb touring bikes around, but the good news is that this is one of those bikes that allows you to completely forget about its weight, and its very reasonable £700 price tag, once you're up to speed. The price includes full mudguards and a decent quality rack.

Roux is a UK based brand, launched fairly recently by the distributor of Land Rover and Shogun bikes.

The finish of the Etape 250 frame and fork is excellent. The welds are tidy, all the cable routing takes the most efficient lines and the slimline tubeset mixes round centres with slightly ovalised ends where extra joint strength is needed. The head tube is long, providing a comfortably upright handlebar position, but a stack of washers and a flippable stem obviously provide plenty of adjustment. There's lots of toe clearance behind the front wheel, even with full mudguards sitting well away from the tyre, and the long wheelbase and relaxed geometry (69 at the head, 71 at the seat) make for an incredibly stable ride feel, with a noticeable comfort boost from the double butted chromoly steel construction.

There aren't many thoroughbred steel touring bikes available with disc brakes at present, at least not around the £700 mark, but I'd be happy to speculate that this will become a fast growing trend. I've been on long MTB tours, in the mountains, with Avid mechanical (cable pull) disc brakes and can vouch for their reliability and ease of adjustment: lever pull and pad clearance are easy to fine-tune and the pads are easy and relatively cheap to replace. The pads take a few harsh stopping sessions to bed in and reach maximum efficiency but they're durable and there's no hydraulic fluid to overheat on big descents. Don't touch the rotors after long descents though: I know riders with branding burnt into their calves from disc brake rotors.

There are nine models in the Roux Bikes range: three purist road bikes, two cross bikes, a fast Audax style tourer, two heavier duty tourers with racks and an unusually equipped Nexus hub geared hybrid. None of the bikes cost over £1000, so it almost goes without saying that the main emphasis at Roux is on good value for regular everyday riders rather than high performance or status for the more competitively inclined.

The Etape 250 is the more expensive of the two heavy duty tourers. It boasts a Shimano 3 x 8 drivetrain (50/39/30 up front, 12-27 out back), Sora STI shifters and well built 32 spoke wheels shod with Continental Sport Contact 32mm tyres. There's comfortable room under the mudguards for bigger treads, we'd say up around 38mm.

The 'guards and rack are good quality items and the handlebar, stem, saddle and seatpost are all plain but functional items, with a strong emphasis on casually comfortable.

If you're looking for a more traditionally equipped tourer, the cheaper (£480) Etape 150 has a 50/34 double crankset, cantilever brakes and a (presumably lighter) aluminium frame. Both bikes bear most of the hallmarks of classic big journey tourers but would be just as suitable for everyday use as load bearing workhorse commuters.

There are just three sizes available, 52, 55 and 58 cm (the test bike had a 55cm seat tube and a 57cm horizontal top tube reach) but there's plenty of seat post length and about 40mm of back and forth adjustability in the saddle rails: the saddle is well padded and fairly comfy.

There are three pairs of bottle cage bosses (one under the down tube) plus bosses for a low rider rack on the 'high carbon ferrous alloy' fork. The rack bosses on the rear are well placed to accommodate disc brake usage and the sturdy rack comes with elastic straps, is adjustable for height preferences and tiltage and has a couple of pump pegs for a (approx 220mm) mini pump.

In terms of ride feel, it's not easy to find anything on the Etape to moan about. Obviously a 32.4lb bike is hard work on the ups and in initial acceleration, but fast rolling tyres and very stable handling characteristics mean that once you are up to speed you rarely think about the weight.

It's a bike that bowls along without a care in world, taking both smooth roads and the occasional dose of rougher terrain in its stride and carving its way down long fast twisty descents with more confidence than most race bikes. The big plastic trouser guard on the crankset visually betrays its modest budget, but shifting (front and rear) is constantly smooth and precise and after the first couple of rides the braking performance is superb.

In short, it's a good value go-anywhere machine that can shoulder burdens without flinching and should quickly become a dependable companion to riders more concerned with practicality than pure speed.

Verdict

One of the few disc brake equipped heavy duty tourers on the market at this price. A superbly balanced and super-confident ride, loaded or bare.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Roux Etape 250 (2013)

Size tested: 55cm

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Double butted chromoly steel. Shimano Acera based gears 3 x 9 with Sora shifters. 32 spoke no-name wheels, Continental Sort Contact 33mm tyres, No-name handlebar, stem and seat post, DDK Sport Sense saddle, Avid cable disc brakes (160mm rotors). Rack, Mudguards.

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?

It's a heavy duty load hauling touring bike that doubles up as a workhorse commuter and everyday machine.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
7/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Excellent build quality using a quality tubeset. Well thought-through detailing.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Chromoly double butted steel.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

69 head, 71 seat. Long wheelbase (43in/1095mm). 55cm seat tube, 57cm horizontal top tube.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Well stretched for a 55cm frame (Medium of three sizes). Tall head tube (170mm) but lots of stem adjustment.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Very comfortable, even on moderately rough trails and back roads. Plenty of room for bigger tyres too.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Yes. Stiff but with the slight compliance that typifies a decent chromoly steel frame.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

No. Lots of room behind mudguards.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Completely neutral.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

Very confident at both high and low speeds.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

No changes initially necessary. Rough roads tourists might prefer bigger tyres but the ones fitted are great fast rolling all-rounders.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?

Well adjusted disc brakes are a welcome advance on the old style centre pull cantilvers often fitted to touring bikes, and better modulated than V type rim brakes.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
4/10

The weight goes against it until you're up to speed.

Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
4/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10

Super, with or without panniers.

Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10

Totally stable cornering at all times.

Rate the bike for climbing:
 
5/10

Confident but inevitably the weight goes against it.

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

The trouser guard on the crankset gives away the modest budget but shifting is as good as on any other sub £1000 bike.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
7/10

No branding on the rims and hubs so hard to comment on long term durability but the build is strong

Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
6/10

Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?

Tyres are a good compromise, medium sized for comfort, fast rolling but tough enough to handle rough roads and trails.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
6/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
7/10

Lots of adjustability.

Rate the controls for value:
 
6/10

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

Some riders would probably prefer shallower drops.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.

Would you consider buying the bike? I haven't ridden a better long haul tourer for much under £1000.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
9/10

Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?

Fully equipped long haul touring bikes with disc brakes are a rare breed at this price. If this is anything to go by, there'll be a lot more of them about soon.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 58  Height: 181  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Merlin Ti  My best bike is: Ibis Silk SL

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,

 

11 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

That's quite an achievement to build a bike that weighs over 13 kilos, I didn't think it was still possible. 4 of these is basically the same as 1 Alberto Contador.

posted by Nick T [817 posts]
5th May 2013 - 21:44

12 Likes

those dropouts are sooooo pretty. pffft

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
6th May 2013 - 22:01

13 Likes

The bit under the headline says 16000g. That's 35kg. Nerd

At 35kg, I'd look for a full length front mudguard, protecting the shoes and drivetrain, not one stopping at 3/9 o clock.

posted by vbvb [253 posts]
8th May 2013 - 0:41

12 Likes

vbvb wrote:
The bit under the headline says 16000g. That's 35kg. Nerd

OK so it's been a while since I was at school, but surely 16000g = 16kg?

I think you mean 35lbs

posted by stuartp [61 posts]
9th May 2013 - 8:30

10 Likes

Love these comment bits at the bottom of every review..... It's the same people bitching over and over ha ha.
You have to remember the price of each bike when you comment.
I can't find a better touring bike than this for the money and the shops I've been to seem to really rate this bike. I was told by some guy from the CTC to check out this range as they had seen them at some show and really liked them.
Queue more bitching Wink

posted by Sneeky [2 posts]
9th May 2013 - 9:17

11 Likes

vbvb wrote:
The bit under the headline says 16000g. That's 35kg. Nerd

yup, that's now been amended. just a mistake, we make those.

vbvb wrote:
At 35kg, I'd look for a full length front mudguard, protecting the shoes and drivetrain, not one stopping at 3/9 o clock.

people seem to be focusing on the weight a lot, when they really should be focusing on the price. no it's not perfect, and yes the dropouts are a bit basic, but this is a lot of bike for the money. it's well-considered equipment-wise and it rides very nicely. Saying it's heavy is kind of moot, really. it's not really designed to be light.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7430 posts]
9th May 2013 - 9:25

15 Likes

I agree - doing some legwork has uncovered the fact that a Dawes Galaxy Cross at approx £600 comes in at over 16kg...
Surprise

Dick Dastardly's picture

posted by Dick Dastardly [2 posts]
9th May 2013 - 13:16

11 Likes

stuartp wrote:
vbvb wrote:
The bit under the headline says 16000g. That's 35kg. Nerd

OK so it's been a while since I was at school, but surely 16000g = 16kg?

I think you mean 35lbs

Ha, yes quite right stuartp, well spotted.

posted by vbvb [253 posts]
11th May 2013 - 20:54

11 Likes

Dave Atkinson wrote:
vbvb wrote:
The bit under the headline says 16000g. That's 35kg. Nerd

yup, that's now been amended. just a mistake, we make those.

Right enough, Dave, only human, no offence intended. Re weight listing errors, 13.8kg = 30.4lb, not 32.4, as article states.

Quote:
people seem to be focusing on the weight a lot
Yes, weight is a factor. 16kg, very heavy. 32.4 lbs, not so bad. And 30.4lbs, if that's the settled weight, I agree is quite reasonable given it's a medium size steel frame, looks pretty heavyweight (as in solid fork etc) with pedals, with all these fittings.

posted by vbvb [253 posts]
11th May 2013 - 21:39

12 Likes

Sneeky wrote:
I can't find a better touring bike than this for the money... was told by some guy.. they had seen them at some show.. Queue more bitching Wink
Queue? Try the EBC Explorer. You may recognise the dropouts and the rest of the frame, and most of the spec list. I'd guess they come from the same source, these two bikes. EBC did go for branded tubes (reynolds 525), different paint colour, and a better set of touring gear ratios. Slightly dearer drivetrain too, despite the bike being £20 cheaper at rrp.

posted by vbvb [253 posts]
11th May 2013 - 23:25

11 Likes

Unlike most of those commenting above I actually bought one. I work for CTC and saw it at a show so maybe I'm the bloke referred to above?

Anyway I'll echo most of what the review says. Best things for me are:

It feels really good to ride, comfy and responsive
It handles superbly, really good going dead slow and really stable and predictable on fast descents
The brakes are so much better than on the Claud Butler I had been riding
At the price it is great value

What have I changed:

Bulletproof but slower and bigger Panaracer TourGuard Plus tyres (500 miles and not a nick or mark on them!!)
Put my Brooks saddle on it
The wheels were not well built but a session to re-tension and they are better than new

After about 600 miles on a whole range of surfaces I feel that I got really good value for my money and I expect to be using this bike for a very long time.

Shay

posted by shay cycles [233 posts]
21st June 2013 - 22:47

18 Likes

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