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Coming in at 7.5kg (16.6lb), the Rose Xeon CDX-4400 has an impressive weight for a disc brake-equipped road bike and that is reflected in the ride. It's quick, easy to live with and delivers a lot of fun miles. Chuck in the fact that it's only just over two grand and you've got a cracker of a machine ready to be ridden flat out or cruising the lanes.
With this 57cm model coming with a short 55.5cm top tube and an 18.5cm head tube, it fits squarely in the endurance camp. That doesn't mean it's a slouch, though – steep seat and head angles make for a spirited ride, and while the position isn't the most aerodynamic, the Xeon's super-stiff frame allows you to make up for it with brute force through the pedals.
The whole bike is a bit of a contrast, to be fair. The steering is quick – way quicker than the similarly sized Canyon Endurace – and it has a much, much stiffer front end, which makes it feel like a full-on race bike.
That stiffness continues through the massive down tube, bottom bracket and seat stay junction. Acceleration is brisk if not exactly blistering, but the Xeon likes to be ridden hard; you get plenty of response from stamping on the pedals without feeling a waste of power anywhere.
The rear end is like your favourite armchair in comparison. The slender seat stays are curved to promote flex and they are slender in profile. With the Xeon using discs, Rose have removed the rear brake bridge allowing even more flex there – in fact you can squeeze the seat stays together with just your finger and thumb.
The integrated seat clamp is designed to allow for more seatpost showing above the frame and when that seatpost just happens to be the Ritchey Flexlogic, which is designed to offer more deflection than most posts, you end up with a very bum-cosseting ride. The Selle Italia SLS Monolink saddle helps too, thanks to a decent amount of firm padding.
As a whole it works, the fast steering and stiff front end allowing you to put the bike exactly where you want it, while the metre-long wheelbase and shock absorbing rear keep everything planted and smooth, especially when the road surface is broken or rough.
On rolling terrain you can knock out mile after mile at a decent pace without having to push yourself into the red. The compact chainset and wide range 11-speed cassette let you stay seated on climbs and develop a rhythm unless things get really steep.
The overall weight makes a big difference compared with most disc bikes of this type when in the hills. Climbs can be attacked or ridden at a tempo, with the CDX responding well to both, that stiff bottom end coming into play here again.
When going the other way, that quick steering means you can have some fun through the bends, especially if the road surface is smooth. Like a lot of stiff, lightweight carbon frames the Xeon becomes 'buzzy' when the asphalt is on the rough side; there is a lot of resonance and vibration at the front end which cancels out a fair bit of the feedback so you can't quite feel what the front wheel is doing beneath you.
The handling is pretty direct and shouldn't see you get into too much trouble, though it just lacks the precision of Mason's Resolution and Definition plus that of the De Rosa Idol Disc recently tested. They all feel a little less skittish too. I think the issue here is that the Xeon's high front end and short body just don't let you get enough weight over the front end for high speed descending.
Overall, though, the CDX offers a very confident ride ideally suited for its designed purpose, namely, covering those miles quickly in relative comfort – as long as the surface is smooth enough, as the harsh front end can become tiresome on rough roads.
The CDX is based on the Xeon Team CGF, sharing the same geometry and the majority of the same construction. Adding disc brakes brings with it a few changes, though, so there have been a few tweaks to the carbon layup and the inclusion of thru-axles on the frame and fork. Thru-axles are a hollow tube in a range of outer diameters, 15mm here for the front and 10mm at the rear, with what looks like a standard quick release handle on one end, threaded externally at the other. The tube literally passes through the wheel hub and screws into the thread on the frame or fork dropout, with the idea being that it better resists the braking forces from discs than a standard QR.
As I mentioned briefly above, the geometry is short and tall to give a quite upright position. This 57cm model has a reach (the horizontal distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) of 387mm and stack (vertical distance between those points) of 583mm, so it's quite a compact frameset. To compensate for the short reach, I had to run the saddle pretty far back, though another option would be to run a slightly longer stem – worth bearing in mind when you're ordering.
A 73-degree head tube angle and 74-degree seat tube produce a pretty racy setup, highlighting the fact that Rose understand wanting to go long doesn't mean not wanting to go fast.
The frame is constructed from T30 and T40 high modulus carbon fibre, giving a claimed weight of 1080g (2.83lb), which is impressive for a bike of this type especially as adding disc mounts and the like has only increased it by 70g over the standard version. The full-carbon fork complements this at 380g.
The tube shapes evolve throughout the frame, with each bringing its own aspect and characteristics to the overall build. As we see on the majority of road bikes these days, the upper half is all about comfort with the lower bringing stiffness and power transfer.
The head tube is tapered with a 1 1/8in upper increasing to 1 1/4in lower race, increasing front end stiffness and responsiveness both in terms of handling and braking.
Down at the bottom bracket area the junction is massive to resist the twisting forces from your pedalling. Rose have gone down the press-fit route allowing for more width of the BB shell without affecting the overall Q factor, the width between the pedals. During testing the Xeon saw plenty of wet miles with never the slightest hint of creaking from the BB cups.
Full internal cable routing keeps the aesthetics clean, and it's mechanical and electronic ready, finished off with a nice mix of paint and lacquered naked carbon fibre. The frame is also one of the first to accept Shimano's new Flat Mount disc brake standard, which SRAM have used for their 2016 model callipers.
The CDX-4400 comes with a SRAM Force 22 hydraulic groupset, DT Swiss wheels and Ritchey finishing kit. Since we ran our 'just in' piece there has been a bit of a price increase with this model currently sitting at £1986.09 plus delivery cost, though for the level of finish, weight and kit it's still a relative bargain.
The build is fully customisable at the point of order too, so you can tweak everything to get the exact bike you want within reason. There are the usual set up choices like stem and crank length right through to wheel upgrades and so on before your bike is picked and assembled.
SRAM Force 22 has a superfast shift, which suits the spirited nature of the Xeon's ride though it's not without its little foibles. It may be fast but it's clunky too and can easily get flustered when you try to change gear with a bit of gusto. You need to learn some finesse.
After initial problems with their road hydraulic disc brake setup, SRAM have relaunched it and it's a cracker. The feel at the levers offers loads of modulation and you really know what the brakes are up to. I personally feel that 160mm rotors on a road bike are overkill, especially on the rear; grabbing a handful of front brake shoves so much weight forward that the rear locks up in an instant, though it's easily controlled, admittedly, by just backing off the power a touch.
The hoods are a comfortable shape, meaning long rides are never an issue even without gloves. They're tall because they contain the hydraulic reservoir on top of the shifting mechanism, although Shimano have managed to get theirs much smaller.
The rest of the setup works well too. The compact 50/34 chainset has carbon fibre cranks which are very stiff. Pair this to the 11-28 cassette and you've got plenty of gears for climbing and top end speed. This is customisable too at the point of order.
The Ritchey finishing kit matches the gloss look of the frame and is just as stiff. The bar is a compact shape, which gives plenty of hand options for everyone, although even in the drops you won't be getting that low considering the length of the head tube.
The seatpost and saddle use a Monolink system designed by Selle Italia. Instead of traditional rails, the saddle has a single central one with a groove running through that allows the saddle to slide fore and aft. It's never really taken off, which is a shame as it creates one hell of a lightweight setup.
Wheel-wise Rose have specced the R23s from DT Swiss's Spline range. We tested the R24s a few weeks ago and were very impressed with their ride and build quality, and the same goes here. The rim is lighter, though, knocking around 100g off the weight to give a claimed figure of 1655g.
The Continental GP4000 S II tyres have a lovely balance of grip and comfort plus they're hardwearing too. Rose spec 25mm tyres on the base build, but the frame should take 28s without any issue. The gap between the rear wheel and seat tube would be the defining factor rather than the width of the chainstays.
The Rose Xeon CDX is definitely at the sportier end of the whole endurance thing, with its quick handling and impressive response to the rider's effort. The frame feels tight and stiff, with the lightweight build responding well in the hills. And with Rose's direct to consumer retailing they can offer the Xeon at a cracking price for the build.
The only issue I have is with that buzzing frame on rough road surfaces. The loss of feedback from the vibration takes a lot away from the ride; rather than feeling at one with your bike, being a part of it, you're left feeling very much sat on it.
If you can put up with that ride, though, and you're looking for a disc brake-equipped bike with endurance geometry but a racy ride, there isn't much that can compete on price and weight.
Fast endurance machine with race-like handling, but harsh front end is at odds with 'endurance' bike idea
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Make and model: Rose Xeon CDX-4400
Size tested: 57 - Black and red
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
*High Modulus Carbon Frame
*High Modulus Carbon Fork
*SRAM Force 22 Hydraulic Shifters
*160mm F/160mm R disc rotors
*SRAM Force Hydraulic Calipers
*SRAM Force 22 Compact Chainset 50/34t
*SRAM Force 22 Rear Mech
*SRAM Force 22 Front Mech
*SRAM Force 22 11/28 Cassette
*SRAM PC-1170 Chain
*Ritchey WCS Stream II Handlebars
*Ritchey WCS-220 Stem 110mm
*Ritchey Flexlogic Seatpost Monolink
*Selle Italia SLS Carbonio Saddle Monolink
*DT Swiss R23 Spline DB Wheelset
*Continental GP4000 S II 700x25c Tyres
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?
Rose call the Xeon a gran fondo racer, and the CDX has brought more control for wet weather riding with the inclusion of disc brakes. The CDX certainly has that style of ride in its design, offering speed and engaging handling, perfect for carving out those mountain descents in comfort. The discs bring an extra bit of control and modulation to the standard frame especially in wet weather. The frame can feel a little harsh on the UK's less than ideal rough roads.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The build quality and overall look of the frame is very good. Everything fits together as it should with tight tolerances for the seatpost and headset.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Both the frame and fork are manufactured from high modulus carbon fibre of the T30 and T40 grades.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
A short top tube and high front end create an upright position designed more for the long distance riders than racers. Steep head and seat angles create fast steering and a responsive ride.
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 very short for a bike of this size, so some adjustment to your position may be needed. The stack is the opposite, being large due to the length of the head tube.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The ride quality isn't bad but I found it on the harsh side for an endurance bike. The carbon frame can resonate quite a bit on rough road surfaces.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, the front end is tight, as is the bottom bracket area. There is quite a contrast in stiffness levels between front and rear.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
There is no loss of power through the bottom half of the bike as you stand on the pedals to climb or accelerate.
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? Lively for an endurance style of machine.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling is direct and makes the bike easy to set up for the corners, although there isn't the level of accuracy or surefootedness I expected. The frame can suffer from vibration on bad road surfaces which reduces feedback when descending at high speed.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The saddle and seatpost are wonderfully flexible to take the edge off the stiff ride.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
SRAM's Force 22 chainset felt really stiff thanks to those carbon arms, as does the alloy bar and stem combo from Ritchey.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The Continental tyres offer great rolling resistance, and while the DT Swiss wheels are good rollers too, that would be the only part of the bike I would say could do with upgrading in the long term.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The SRAM groupset works well as a whole, offering quick and crisp shifting for the majority of the time, though it doesn't like being rushed.
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?
The DT Swiss R23s are decent performers in terms of speed and durability. They are quite a bit more expensive than the R24s, though, for just a 100g weight saving. The Continental tyres are pretty much the best in their range with a grippy compound and good puncture resistance.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Ritchey stuff always impresses me; while not the most extravagant or flash looking, it always delivers in comfort and quality.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? No, it is a great deal but the short reach and resonating frame would put me off long term
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
I think the Xeon is a really good bike, mostly, considering the price and the overall low weight. For me, though, it doesn't quite sparkle enough to be truly exceptional, with the frame being on the harsh side for seriously long miles on British roads; while the quick handling is a joy on shorter rides, I found it becomes a distraction when fatigue kicks in.
Age: 36 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Kinesis T2 My best bike is: Mason Definition
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!