First ride: Rose Xeon RS (2014)

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Undoubtedly, carbon rules the bicycle industry, and is probably to keep on doing so for the coming years, at least in what concerns the upper categories of bike ranges. So, how come top-notch alloy models, like the Rose Xeon RS, manage to threaten carbon’s supremacy?

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The concept on which Rose bets with this new iteration of the Xeon RS isn’t at all a first. Carbon has its setbacks, and of these, the price of quality will most likely slow you on your way to buy the high-end bicycle of your dreams. The fact is, even if shops are littered with frames built out of all walks of carbon, only the superior, high-end (and very pricy sometimes) carbon fibers deliver the performance that made this material famous. However, quality aluminum, substantially cheaper, reaches the weight and handling performances of mid-level carbon. So, when putting these coordinates together, a new path reveals itself: manufacturing frames out of high-quality alloy that can match their more costly carbon counterparts in terms of on-road performances. Also, it’s worth mentioning that, frequently, this high-tech alloy doesn’t lag too far behind high-end carbon. So, are we in for a metal revolution? Not as long as only a handful of manufacturers adhere to this concept, we dare say.

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Rose’s development team studied the alloy matter carefully, and opted for a less common solution for the new Xeon RS. Leaving aside the slimmer profile, the frame employs triple butted 6066 alloy tubing. That’s right, Rose scrapped the seasoned 7005 alloy, used by so many brands, including themselves (until this year, that is), and went for the 6066 alloy, that features a greater stiffness-to-weight ratio, which helped shave off serious grams thanks to the thinner walls of the tubes. A size 57 frame, unpainted and no hardware included, tips the scale at 1.050 grams, which means a smaller size falls way below the 1-kilogram barrier. Weight is also kept under control by using a full-carbon fork, developed from scratch by Rose, which weighs 315 grams.

Rose also cleverly planned Xeon RS’s role within its market strategy, for the German brand not only sells directly to its consumers via its website, but also allows full customization of the bicycles. Therefore, with the mention that the new Xeon RS frame will probably have a price revolving around 700 euros, the alloy contender can embody as many performance levels as you wish. It can be a high-end road bike, when its equipped with a corresponding groupset and wheelset, or it can be a budget model when the specifications chart includes lower-tier components.

As for on-road performances, the model I tested, equipped with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset, Ritchey components, and Mavic Ksyrium Elite S (1.520 grams) wheels makes itself noticed through its stiffness. The power you put into pedalling goes straight where it should, and you can really notice that flexing doesn’t have any place in the Xeon RS picture. However, stiffness comes with a price in the case of alloy bikes, so expect to feel each and every bump, crack or minute obstacle that you cross over. Further solace will be provided by the weight figure, the configuration ridden by me tipping the scale at 6,9 kilograms, a value that should ring a bell regarding the bike’s potential, even more so considering the Ksyrium wheels weren’t the lightest form their family. So, do not be surprised if we’re going to witness aluminum’s return!

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