The previous generation Rose Pro SL was one of our favourite affordable aluminium road bikes in both its rim and disc brake variants.
Rose has updated the bike for 2020, with changes to the frame, slicker cable routing, a very tidy integrated seat clamp and a new and improved fork.
The new bike retains all of the likeable qualities of the original, with the changes largely impacting the aesthetics rather than the ride.
Prices have crept up slightly, but it remains a top choice among affordable road bikes.
Rose Pro SL Disc frameset: carbon-like and robustly red
The Pro SL pulls the neat trick of fooling you into thinking it has a carbon frame thanks to nicely smoothed welds and slick, glossy paint. A more sombre grey colour is available too, but I love the assertive red option.
The Pro SL Disc has a genuinely handsome frameset that strikes a nice balance between a conventional overall shape and distinctive Rose styling cues, such as the subtle kink in the underside of the top tube, near the front end.
The seatstays are dropped as they are on so many bikes (the usual justifications being rear-end comfort and lateral stiffness), but less so than they were on the previous model, making for more elegant lines.
The most noticeable update is at the front end, where Rose has moved to almost fully internal cabling, with hoses and cables entering the headset area via a port in a plastic cover that sits above profiled headset spacers.
These spacers split in two, meaning you can move the cockpit up and down without major surgery. They aren’t designed to sit above the stem, however, so if you want to lower the bars without chopping the steerer, as I have here, you’ll need to supply your own standard round spacer(s).
A further consequence of this design is you’ll need to disconnect the cables and hoses if you have to replace the upper headset bearing. This won’t trouble you in the early days of ownership, but it’s something to consider, particularly if you like to work on your own bikes.
The updated fork is claimed to be lighter and comfier than the old one, and the most noticeable visual difference is that the flat-mount brake caliper bolts now pass right through the fork leg, doing away with the need for an adaptor and an extra set of bolts.
Incidentally, the new bike has 12mm thru-axles both front and rear, where the last generation still had a quick-release at the back.
Tyre clearances are generous, with loads of room around the 28s fitted as standard. Rose says you can fit up to a 32, but I reckon you might be able to push things even further.
The new integrated seat clamp is a very tidy piece of design that feels like a genuine upgrade over a conventional collar. It’s positioned on the non-driveside of the seat cluster such that access with standard multitools is easy.
Regrettably, Rose still hasn’t given us mudguard (fender) mounts, a real shame because, with them, this might be the perfect wet weather bike.
Rose claims frame weights start at 1,350g, the same as the outgoing model – a decent if unremarkable figure.
The Pro SL’s geometry is classic endurance bike but not toweringly tall. My 55cm (medium) test machine has 384mm of reach and 563mm of stack.
Compared to the old model, the new bike has a few extra millimetres of stack with the precise amount varying according to size.
The two smallest sizes – 45cm and 48cm – are designed around smaller 650b (27.5in) wheels to keep handling consistent across the range. Sizes 51 and below also get the short reach R7025 version of Shimano’s levers.
Rose Pro SL Disc build: full Shimano 105 hydraulic, no real misses
The Pro SL Disc comes in two models of which this is the cheaper, with a full Shimano 105 hydraulic groupset (R7020), DT Swiss P1850 Spline 23 wheels fitted with 28mm Continental Ultra Sport tyres, Ritchey finishing kit and a reasonably roadie Selle Italia saddle.
The saddle, incidentally, is the one component you can specify. The Pro SL is a unisex bike, but you can opt for a women’s-specific saddle at purchase if you prefer.
There is little to fault here and the bike looks so much better for the move away from the unlovely RS505 non-series levers of old.
The stock tyres aren’t tubeless-ready, but the wheels are, so the option is there if you want to upgrade down the line.
The rims are 18mm wide internally and while wider would be nice, they’re perfectly adequate for the tyres this bike will take.
The Pro SL Disc 105 weighs 9.4kg without pedals for a 55 – not exactly light, but reasonable for its class.
Riding the Rose Pro SL Disc
I’m delighted to report that the new Pro SL Disc is every bit the likeable all-rounder that won us over in previous tests.
There is an underlying edge to the ride that reminds you it’s a metal frame, but with appropriate tyre pressures the bike is a delight on the road.
I don’t love the side view of the new headset setup, but the rider’s view of the cockpit is pleasingly uncluttered, and it’s nice not having great loops of cable outer emerging from the head tube. I also appreciate the subtle sweep of the Ritchey bars, which eases wrist strain.
The Pro SL Disc is smooth and composed with ride quality that’s balanced well front to rear, and with the excellent 105 brakes and comfortable lever shape, it’s a bike that feels safe and unruffled on fast, bumpy descents.
If you really get on the pedals and crank the bike hard from side to side in a sprint, some flex through the frame or wheels (or both) is detectable, but it’s not enough to detract from the experience.
Rose specs the bike with a compact 50/34 crank and a wide-range 11-32 cassette, which is perfect for tough climbs and a smart choice given that this is likely to be many riders’ first bike.
As well as riding on tarmac, I took the Rose onto some favourite local sections of gravel.
Naturally, 28mm tyres aren’t ideal here, but the bike acquitted itself well and didn’t batter me to bits. The more washboarded tracks were a little wearing (on the rider, not the bike), but it demonstrated the bike’s versatility.
Out of the box, the build is pretty spot on, but if there were one change I’d make it would be an upgrade to posher tyres, which would let me go tubeless at the same time.
With a set of squishy 32s at properly low pressure, the Rose would make a half decent all-roader, although of course there are dedicated gravel bikes even better suited to that role.
Verdict: still a great bike, still needs mudguard mounts
Rose has done it again, making a great all-round road bike with a lovely looking frameset and a solid spec that needs no upgrades out of the box.
Prices have crept up a little since we last reviewed a Pro SL Disc, but it remains very good value for money against the competition.
For less than £300 more, you could even opt for the Ultegra version of the bike, although it’s debatable whether the difference will be worth it – in performance terms, there’ll be nothing in it.
You could also save some cash by going for the rim brake version of the bike, which past experience suggests will be a great buy.
It’s almost £400 cheaper for the equivalent model, so well worth considering, particularly if you’re more of a fair-weather rider (or a lighter one) who will see less of a benefit to going disc.
Saying that, you will lose out a bit on tyre clearance – Rose officially says the rim brake model only takes 25s, although I suspect that’s slightly conservative.
The Pro SL’s key rival has long been Canyon’s Endurace AL, which hasn’t seen a major update for some years.
At the time of writing, the Endurace AL Disc 7.0 is roughly £50 more expensive for a spec that’s almost identical to the Rose, although the tyres are very slightly higher-spec Continentals. I’d love to put these bikes head-to-head again, and I’m confident it would be a close run thing.
In any case, while I’m very disappointed Rose has once again failed to provide mudguard mounts, in every other respect the new Pro SL Disc will be a great buy for beginners and experienced riders alike.