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The endurance road bike segment is booming these days and the GF Xeon Team GF-3100 (say that in a hurry) is Rose's attempt to muscle their way into the action. The bike makes use of an aluminium frame which combines a short and tall position with a slightly elongated wheelbase to provide stability and comfort for long rides, and pairs it with an outstanding component spec for the money. If you're on a budget and prefer a more upright riding style, this Rose looks to have you covered.
At the heart of the GF-3100 is an aluminium frame – unfashionable in these days of black plastic dominance, but closer inspection reveals a number of rare, perhaps even unique features. Foremost among those is the rear brake placement at the bottom bracket, which has allowed Rose to dispense with a seatstay brake bridge altogether. A number of brands have used this design for their top-tier carbon frames, but I can't recall ever seeing it done on a more budget-orientated aluminium frame (I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm wrong).
Liberated from having to support braking forces, the seat stays are slender things and have a distinct kink in them at tyre level, presumably to provide some of that all-important compliance.
Also neat is the seat clamp which is integrated into the top tube and makes for an uninterrupted, clean look to the frame as a whole. The down tube is suitably oversized and morphs into a PF86 (pressfit for 24mm axle spindles) bottom bracket. Up front, a beefy head tube houses a full carbon fork with a tapered steerer tube in order to improve stiffness in this key area.
In another nod to stiffness and perhaps aesthetics, the GF forgoes traditional headset spacers for aluminium spacers that screw into the head tube below the upper headset bearing. These are available in either 2cm or 4cm heights – any finer adjustment must be made with normal spacers.
As mentionedo earlier, the GF's position is much shorter than Rose's or most other brands' race bikes. The 57cm test bike for instance, only has a top tube length of 55.5cm which is combined with a large-but-not-excessively-so 18.5cm head tube. I think most people will be able to achieve their desired handlebar height quite easily – slammed stem for the more aggressive, screw-in spacers for the back afflicted – but the reach is quite limiting in my opinion.
Rose lets you choose stem length up to 140mm at no extra cost (and with a swap policy for up to a month from purchase), but this change also affects handling significantly. I suspect most owners will have to increase their stem length by at least 10mm when swapping onto the GF, which will in turn slow down the steering response.
That said, as someone who has ridden and raced bikes with 140mm stems for the past two seasons, I didn't find the GF's handling with said length stem to be adversely affected (more on this below). For those used to shorter stems though, it is an issue worth taking into consideration.
The direct to consumer sales model seems to be making big inroads into the traditional sales path and with good reason: the specification you get for your money is often unbeatable. Rose is one such brand that sells directly through their website and the GF-3100 comes with a full Ultegra Di2 6800 groupset (that's the 11 speed version), Ritchey WCS finishing kit and some rather nice DT Swiss R23 Spline wheels. For a bike with a sub-£1800 asking price (including the £27.20 shipping cost), this is impressive indeed.
When going through the buying process online, there are plenty of options for certain components too: you can specify whatever cassette and chainrings ratios you want, and handlebar width, stem length and saddle are also customisable. And those are only the changes that can be made without extra charges. Feel like upgrading the wheels, or indeed, any other component? No problem, here's a selection. In some ways, you get a lot more choice than you ever would if you went to your local bike shop.
Whether due to those slender, kinked seat stays, or the Ritchey Flexlogic seat post, or the 25mm Conti GP4000S tyres (hurray, decent tyres on a stock bike!), the GF-3100 is a smooth ride that seems to surf over tarmac irregularities. In practise, trying to attribute a ride characteristic to a single component is a pointless exercise as it's the whole package that matters out on the road. As a whole then, the GF lives well up to its sportive/endurance bike billing as a machine that's ideally suited for longer days on the bike, or even for just exploring those smaller country roads of dubious road surface that you'd usually shy away from.
Credit should also go to the fork and Ritchey WCS bars (which feature a comfortable back sweep on the tops) for reducing the road buzz transmitted to the hands and balancing the bike out nicely. Hitting a rough section of road, you can just plough on without having to make any changes to your position to reduce pressure on your bum or hands. As a result, the GF feels planted and ready to tackle whatever the road throws at it.
The bike's stability and sure-footedness translates well to descending. You feel like you can really commit to aggressive lines around corners and feel confident dropping into them. Going back to the point about the short reach perhaps requiring a longer than normal stem, the steering response could feel slower than many riders are used to, but personally, I find this to be a positive thing, especially given the type of rider the bike is designed for.
Efficiency is a combination of not only bump compliance, but stiffness with respect to pedalling inputs too. In this regard, there's really not much to say beyond the fact that, stepping straight off my high end carbon race bike that I've used all season, it didn't feel like I was getting any flex out of the frame when really going for it.
Throw away your preconceptions about aluminium frames; when done right, they can be every bit as good to ride as carbon frames, particularly in this price range which is generally the crossover point between frame materials.
Having complimented the frame, the bits hanging off it aren't all that bad either. Indeed, there's nothing really negative that can be said about any of the components.
Ultegra Di2, which we've reviewed separately so I won't go into too much detail, is superb and its flawless performance and ergonomics ensure that you simply stop noticing it at all when riding. It just does its job.
Some of the new technologies this groupset brings to the table have even been incorporated into the frame design. The GF's bottom bracket rear brake location, for example, makes use of Shimano's new direct mount standard which mounts using two bolts instead of the usual one. Bottom bracket brakes can often feel mushy, a feeling which only gets worse when the brakes inevitably get caked in muck, but that's not at all the case in this instance. The direct mount brakes are, in my opinion, the best brakes on the market and provide all the power and modulation you could ever want, in addition to improving tyre clearance so that you can easily fit 28mm tyres in there if you want.
The bottom bracket position does make them a bit harder to adjust, but their dual mount design means that they can't ever be knocked off centre, and Rose have included an inline quick release on the cable so that the calliper can quickly be opened up for wheel changes. If I were to truly pick nits, it would have been better for this quick release to be positioned in front of the handlebars instead of on the stretch of cable between the exit port on the down tube and the brakes.
The battery is integrated into the seatpost, keeping it out of harm's way and improving the bike's overall appearance.
The wheels, often an area of disappointment when it comes to bike specs, are DT Swiss' excellent R23 Splines. At 1600g they are decently light and their solid construction make them ideal training wheels that won't slow you down any on the hills. I had a small issue with the plastic rim tape on the front wheel being off centre, leading to punctures, but that was easily fixed using the engineer's best friend: gaffa tape.
Overall, the GF-3100 is an impressive addition to the endurance bike market on Rose's part. The frame features a number of details which you don't usually find on aluminium frames, or even many frames at this price, and performs well on the road too. The very short top tube is one area which needs to be taken into consideration by any prospective buyer and I suspect many will have to increase stem length to compensate.
The spec in general is outstanding for the money, with the Ultegra Di2 in particular being the perfect companion for the frame and its intended usage. Once set up correctly, it continues to perform come rain or shine, such that you can forget about it completely and focus on actually enjoying your ride. It's unusual to encounter a stock bike where there isn't at least one component which begs to be swapped out immediately, but that's the case here.
Terrific frame and excellent spec; a great choice for anyone who likes a more upright position
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Make and model: Rose Xeon Team GF-3100
Size tested: 56
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: 7005 T6 Aluminium
Fork: Full carbon fibre with tapered steerer tube
Groupset: Ultegra di2 6800 w/ direct mount rear brake and full choice of gear ratios
Wheels: DT Swiss R23 Spline
Tyres: Continental GP4000S 25mm
Stem: Ritchey WCS 4 axis
Handlebar: Ritchey WCS Streem II
Seatpost: Ritchey WCS Carbon Flexlogic (27.2mm)
Saddle: Fizik Antares MG
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?
The GF-3100 is probably best described as an endurance road bike; that is, it provides a more relaxed position and a more comfortable ride quality for getting the miles in.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The combination of unusual tube shaping and smoothed over welds means that the Xeon can easily be confused for a carbon frame. All of the frame details from cable routing to the seat post clamp seem very well thought out and executed.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
High quality aluminium is an under appreciated frame material these days, but Rose have made a strong case for it with this bike. The carbon fork nicely balances the performance of the frame in its compliance and ability to dull road buzz.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The GF's handling tends towards the more stable end of the spectrum, which is a good thing in this case.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The reach is quite short for the stated size and I suspect many will have to compensate with a longer stem.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Very smooth over the rough stuff with a nice balance of feedback between the hands and the bum.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
No noticeable difference in stiffness under power between this and my usual race bike. You couldn't really ask for a more direct response to pedaling input.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Excellent, see above.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Unusually for me, this wasn't an issue.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? On the stable side of things.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Very surefooted when descending and attacking roads of dubious surface quality. This is a bike that enjoys being thrashed around country lanes.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Difficult to isolate a single component: the wider 25mm tyres, seatpost and seat stay design all contribute to comfort.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The frame's front triangle is beefy and takes the credit for this.
As good as most race bikes.
Some issues with wrist clearance when in the drops depending on how you ride.
The high front end doesn't put you in the best position for the very steep climbs.
I had some issues with punctures due to incorrectly installed rim tape.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
Age: 22 Height: 190cm Weight: 69kg
I usually ride: Canondale EVO Red My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, mtb,
For 5 years, racing was my life and I went all the way from a newbie bonking after 40 miles, to a full-timer plying my trade on the Belgian kermesse scene. Unfortunately, the pro dream wasn't meant to be and these days, you're more likely to find me bimbling about country lanes and sleeping in a bush on the side of the road.