Rose X-Lite Four review£2,659.00

Chorus-equipped, wind tunnel-developed online-only flyer

BikeRadar score4.5/5

This Campagnolo-equipped X-Lite Four has loads going for it. Namely, Chorus 11-speed with a carbon bar and seatpost from Ritchey, DT Swiss wheels and top-notch 25mm Continental Grand Prix 4000S IIs tyres. And that’s even before I get to the grey and fluorescent lime aero-influenced compact frame at its heart, featuring a down-tube with rear wheel cutaway and dropped slimline seatstays.

We’re big fans of the Campagnolo Chorus gearing
We’re big fans of the Campagnolo Chorus gearing

Rose X-Lite Four ride frame and kit

This bike's X-Lite name is apt, as my test version weighs just under 7kg, which is impressive for the price.

That sub-7kg weight is noticeable when you lift it up, and with this wind-tunnel-tested model claiming to be 11 watts more efficient than its X-Lite Team predecessor, you’ve got aerodynamics on your side. 

While science says aerodynamics trumps low weight pretty much every time, when I was crawling up double-digit-degree climbs at little more than walking pace, I appreciated the Rose’s low weight.

It also comes with claims for a super-stiff head-tube (100Nm) and 60Nm bottom bracket stiffness — a rigidity that’s evident whenever you put your foot down. 

Typically for Rose, this also translates into an efficiency you can feel through the seat of your Lycra, super-sharp acceleration and extremely honed front-end handling. This isn’t a bike for the daydreaming dawdler, this is for those who like speed.

This does mean the ride is firm rather than cushioned, but Rose has factored in some comfort. The compact frame means a lot of the carbon seatpost is exposed, while the seatstays are narrow, both adding a little plushness on a frame with racy geometry. 

The gently swept and ovalised Ritchey WCS Carbon Evocurve bar (RRP £240) and Fizik tape do the same job at the front. The X-Lite will take 28mm tyres for more comfort if you find the ride overly aggressive.

The X-Lite climbs superbly, whether you’re in the saddle or out of the saddle and cranking
The X-Lite climbs superbly, whether you’re in the saddle or out of the saddle and cranking

Rose X-Lite Four ride experience

The X-Lite climbs superbly, whether you’re sitting in the saddle and spinning or out of the saddle and cranking. It descends even better, instantly responsive to all of your input, allowing you to bomb down quickly and confidently.

The Campagnolo Chorus gearing worked impeccably, delivering crisp, accurate shifting with loads of feedback and excellent braking. If the 52/36 chainset and 12-29 cassette pairing isn’t low enough for you, the same bike/wheel/cockpit combination is available with Shimano Ultegra, which offers a 50/34 chainset and 11-34 cassette option.

Rose X-Lite Four verdict

Apart from having to set the bike up yourself, there are very few negatives with Rose’s bargain-priced flyer. The ride is firm, but not absurdly so and the under-seat-tube clamp bolt is slightly awkward to access, though well placed to prevent water ingress.

If you want a light, lively, fast, fun-filled ride to challenge your personal best, with the option to spec its kit to your needs and budget, this is about as impressive as you’ll find for the money.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Simon has been cycling for as long as he can remember, and more seriously since his time at university in the Dark Ages (the 1980s). This has taken in time trialling, duathlon and triathlon and he has toured extensively in Asia and Australasia, including riding solo 2900km from Cairns to Melbourne. He now mainly rides as a long-distance commuter and leisure/fitness rider. He has been testing bikes and working for Cycling Plus in various capacities for nearly 20 years.
  • Age: 53
  • Height: 175cm / 5'9
  • Weight: 75kg /165lb
  • Waist: 33in
  • Discipline: Road, touring, commuting
  • Current Bikes: Rose SL3000, Hewitt steel tourer
  • Beer of Choice: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Location: Bath, UK

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