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As a package the Rose Black Creek Deore Urban looks so good, with name brand kit from Shimano and Mavic in addition to Rose's frame-building expertise. But ultimately it's a heavy and unenthusiastic bike with a fairly stolid ride quality and only decent on-road stability and security. It comes well kitted out, though.
With a big aluminium frame and an all-up weight of 16kg, the Black Creek Deore Urban was never going to be a racing whippet or eager beaver. However, even with relatively low performance expectations, the overall ride experience is still disappointing. Getting up to speed is smooth but more of a chore than anticipated and any sniff of a climb leaves you wondering where all your power has disappeared to.
It's not that there's a lack of ideal gearing options. With a triple chainset and biggest sprocket of 34t at the back, you can get the Black Creek up anything approaching a sheer wall. (But who wants to lug 16kg over a sheer wall?) It's just that the huge bulk of the bike feels so unfulfilling to propel.
Comfort is a little better, although it's still not quite as good as I'd hoped. Again, that aluminium frame is most to blame. At the rear, road bumps, pot holes and ripples reach the rider, while at the front the rigid fork doesn't really insulate anything much.
Control and position is the Black Creek's most laudable quality. With a nice 'n' high seating position, you can command the road and spot problems ahead. Steering responsiveness is decent, too. It's not too flighty to scare away hesitant riders but quick enough to perform emergency avoidance measures with ease.
Taken as a whole, the Black Creek Deore Urban provides a sensible, solid ride rather than anything more energising.
At the heart of this uninspiring ride is actually a rather handsome triple butted 6061 'ultra-light' aluminium frame. On first impression, it seems huge, even with its semi-undersized rear triangle. The down tube is simply massive and every join looks engineered to the hilt. There's certainly no doubting its manufacturing quality: welds are beautifully smooth; cables are internally routed; the metallic grey finish is better the closer up you view it; and there's a general air of quality.
At the front, our test bike came with a rigid aluminium fork. The Black Creek Deore Urban's sibling, the Black Creek Deore Trekking, comes with a Suntour suspension fork which might help smooth out the ride a little.
The rigid fork looks classy, though, and features a tapered steerer, internal routing, a bolt-through hub, and mounting points for front racks. Like the rest of the frameset, it's no shrinking violet.
Despite its performance foibles, I said the frame has an air of quality and that's something that continues throughout the spec sheet. The Shimano Deore drivetrain might only be nominally mid-range, but it's smooth and fast enough for this kind of bike. There will be the occasional clunky gear change when under strain, but the triple chainset and 11-34t cassette combined have almost all bases covered.
This is very much a belt and braces bike, with all potential practical considerations covered and the Black Creek Deore Urban laden down with kit. The full length SKS chainguard fits this zeitgeist. It might keep your slacks free from oil marks for work, but on a sunny day when you just want to ride, it seems like overkill.
Before hopping aboard this bike, the choice of Shimano M446 disc brakes had me confident about taking on descents, whatever the rolling mass. The Black Creek Deore Urban shows that even respected Shimano discs have their limits, and although they scrubbed off speed fairly well, they seemed to struggle a little with such a big bike.
This certainly isn't caused by a lack of grip. Because of the overall slow nature of the bike, the Schwalbe Fat Frank K-Guard tyres felt every bit as wide as their stated 2in. As I tested this in summer and I suspected gaining and maintaining momentum might be a challenge, I pumped the tyres up towards their maximum inflation (65psi). A little less air might improve comfort, but there's no hope for more speed other than to fit skinnier rubber.
That said, these are good all-year tyres that will cope easily with wet conditions, so you can make the most of the full-length mudguards. The Mavic XM319 wheels are decent, too, although they don't really get the chance to shine here.
The Selle Royal Lookin 3D saddle is quite nice, although a little wide in the seat for my preferences.
The Herrmans lockable bar grips are, like the rest of the bike, a little on the firm side.
But the Rose flat pedals with their grip-tape-like surfaces are very good.
Because the Black Creek Deore Urban is actually specced like a typical continental trekking bike, Rose has thrown everything at it bar the kitchen sink. The Speedlifter steerer tube allows you to put the stem at the preferred height simply by undoing a quick release handle. It works fine but because the headset is set up underneath, it does seem a little unnerving to see no top cap and bolt. (That said, if thought about logically, even with a 'normal' headset setup you would lose steering control long before the bar and stem came off in your hands.)
There's also a Rose Pro Body Protector suspension seatpost, although it didn't seem to have any appreciable effect on ride quality.
And, because this is a trekking-style bike, there is a Racktime Eco 2.0 Tour rear rack…
…plus an Abus frame lock…
and a very good set of dynamo lights – Herrmans H-Black MR8 front…
and B+M Toplight 2C plus LineTec LED at the back.
Last year, I tested the B'Twin Hoprider 900 and the Cube Touring Pro, and both those bikes address largely the same kind of practical considerations as the Black Creek Deore Urban, but in a less heavy-handed way and – crucially – at far cheaper prices, the B'Twin £549.99, the Cube £649. Really, even with their lower quality builds, they offer more interesting and enjoyable ride experiences.
In theory, Rose has set this up to be an easy bike to live with. Want to raise your bar height? No problem. Want to lock it up? Easy. Want to carry stuff? Of course. Want dynamo-powered lighting? It's there. The range of practical considerations it addresses goes on and on. But unfortunately, more can mean less and while the package looks good value, it doesn't add up to a bike I actually enjoyed riding.
A couple of months ago I visited the Netherlands and climbed the highest hill in south Holland. It's found in the Duinrell theme park, has a toboggan track on it, and takes about a minute to walk up. In a country where terrain like that is notable for its scarcity, the Black Creek Deore Urban makes sense. In the UK, where even cities tend to have a climb or two, it's a little less practical, despite – or even because of – the fact that it's covered in kit that should aid practicality.
So, the Black Creek is a fully loaded commuting/trekking bike that, owing to a combination of lifeless frame and excessive speccing, looks and feels more like an overloaded commuting/trekking bike. If your only expected uses are pan-flat rides to work and towpath tours, the Black Creek Deore Urban won't let you down even if it doesn't enhance the experience. But at this price, there are better options.
A fairly heavy and uninspiring bike that at least comes loaded with plenty of kit. One for flat rides only!
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rose Black Creek Urban
Size tested: 23in
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: 6061 T6 ultra-light aluminium, triple-butted
Fork: Black Creek 1 1/8in-1.5in, aluminium
Wheels: Rims: Mavic XM319
Tyres: Schwalbe Fat Frank K-Guard 2in
Cassette: Shimano HG-500 10-speed 11-34
Front derailleur: Shimano Deore FD-T6000 3/10
Rear derailleur: Shimano Dearo RD-T6000 SGS 10-speed Shadow
Chain: Shimano CN-HG54 10-speed 118 L
Shifters: Shimano Deore SL-T6000 triple/10-speed
Brakes: Shimano BL-T445 / BR-M446 / SMRT54 160mm/160mm
Handlebar: Level Nine Race 15mm rise, 640mm, 31.8mm
Grips: Herrmans Lockable Clik DD37B
Stem: Rose High Comfort 100mm
Saddle: Selle Royal Lookin 3D
Seatpost: Rose Pro Body Protector, 40mm travel, 30.9mm
Accessories: Mudguards; Racktime Eco 2.0 Tour rack; SKS Chainboard Black Series chain case; Herrmans H-Black MR8 front dynamo light; B+M Toplight 2C plus LineTec LED rear dynamo light; Abus Pro Shield 5850 frame lock
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 says: "The Black Creek Urban is our solution for the requirements of city cycling. Design meets superior functionality, stylish and reliable, for fashion-forward commuters and frequent riders. The lightweight urban bike in retro style impresses with a 6061 T6 ultra-light aluminium frame that stands out for efficiency, comfort and durability. The components have already proven their worth and practicability; an uncomplicated Shimano Deore derailleur system with ergonomic shifters and brake levers quickly changes gears. The Shimano Alivio Disc brakes are reliable and user-friendly thanks to Centerlock, as well as powerful whatever the weather. Another highlight can be found at the front: The Rose fork features not only an internally routed brake hose but also a thru axle – for additional stability and torsional stiffness. The Shutter Precision hub dynamo at the front is known for extremely high efficiency at a low weight. A Speedlifter allows you to adjust the height of the bar and thus change your riding position in no time."
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
The Deore version is the lower of the two-bike range, with a Black Creek XT Urban also available, as well as respective women-specific models.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Excellent build quality, very nicely put together.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Apparently the frame is made of "ultra-light" 6061 triple-butted aluminium. It doesn't feel so light.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's a semi-compact frame but with a high riding position.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Felt perfect in terms of reach and fit.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
It was no more than OK. I expected a more armchair ride.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
I would say, for this type of bike, it felt too stiff.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Despite the firm ride quality it didn't feel particularly efficient. Partly this is down to the weight, but it also just feels huge.
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? Steering felt pretty decent. Not too lively but definitely responsive enough.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Handling was very good. Felt stable at speed but also quick to change direction.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
There's no getting away from the aluminium frame – not sure what component choices could overcome its inherent stiffness.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Again, the frame.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
A change to skinnier tyres might inject a bit more urgency and pedalling efficiency.
Felt very ponderous to pedal.
Getting up to speed was marginally more fun than staying there.
Not a bike for sprinters.
Very good at speed, once you get there!
No problems with stability.
Stable and secure.
Not a very rewarding bike to use on the hills.
Everything worked as expected – no faults.
Shimano Deore should run and run if you look after it.
Not the lightest option, but fine for this kind of bike.
At £1,300+ you might expect something a little more exotic.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Shimano Deore kit rarely misses a beat and works well. Whether you'd be happy with Deore at this price is another question.
Wheels and tyres
Decent wheels, although not particularly exciting.
Should run well for a while.
Decent, but they couldn't mask the overall stiffness.
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
The wheels rolled fine and did their best, but they're no more than you'd expect at this price.
Pretty good year-round tyres although too wide and grippy for dry summer riding.
Quite heavy tyres.
They didn't do much for comfort when inflated to near max.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
I'd swap the tyres for something thinner in summer and use those supplied for winter riding.
The Speedlifter steerer/stem adds weight.
I found the grips a little too firm.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Brown/tan colour matching with saddle, grips and tyre sidewalls is a stylish touch.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Brakes were pretty good but didn't perform quite as well as I expected. I found the saddle too wide.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Nope
Would you consider buying the bike? No
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? No
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The B'Twin Hoprider 900 is £549.99 and the Cube Touring Pro £649. Both offer the same kinds of practical considerations as the Rose but in a less heavy-handed way.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Despite its quite impressive appearance, both in reality and on the spec sheet, the Rose Black Creek Deore Urban is disappointing to ride and too expensive.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure