Test Rose Backroad Ekar Limited: The striking gravel bike from Bocholt has been on the market in this version for almost two years. In view of the convincing frame geometry, the large variety of models and attractive special models such as the "Ekar Limited" with Campagnolo parts, one wishes the bike a long model cycle, because everything is really right here.
The original Backroad that Rose sent to the Velomotion test in 2020 was still a cyclocross bike with modified equipment. A year later came the new Backroad, which immediately impressed with maximum propulsion, playful handling and low weight. Its modern geometry comes with a long reach, combined with a short stem and a rather long wheelbase - a recipe that combines smooth running at high speeds with pleasant manoeuvrability. We don't expect any changes to this framework in the near future - it works so well that it's hard to imagine improvement at this time, and it's also quite flexible. Rose currently offers the Backroad Carbon in ten equipment variants, plus three special models such as the Rose Backroad Ekar Limited with a subtle to extraordinary metallic finish, depending on the incidence of light.
Large variety of models
The spectrum of models ranges from the Backroad Mullet with 650B wheels and MTB-like gear ratio to the GRX-Di2 model for fast tours. There are also six "Backroad AL" models with an aluminum frame, where the seat geometry is a little more comfortable. Even the cheapest Backroad AL for 1.999 euros is equipped with cables routed through the stem, and the frame has details such as an integrated seat clamp and various mounting options.
Many attachment options up to the dynamo
The carbon version is also exemplary in this respect: Luggage holders can be mounted on the fork, three bottle holders and a "bento box" on the top tube, as well as mudguards, for which a mudguard bridge is attached at the rear. A dynamo cable can also be pulled through the fork and then routed backwards through the down tube. This makes the sporty Backroad suitable for bikepacking all round.
With a fairly large tire clearance, you can of course also go into demanding terrain. Rose releases the Backroad for 45 mm tire width at 28 inches and for 50 mm at 27,5 inches; but the space should also be enough for 622-50 tires. Thick padding on the chainstay and under the down tube protect against chain slaps and stone chips; a metal sheet prevents damage from chain jamming.
Comparatively sporty seating position with the Rose Backroad Ekar Limited
All of these are good prerequisites for gravel tours of all kinds, so get on the Rose and let's go. The 55 test bike has a rather sporty cut in terms of stack and reach; the steep seat angle positions the rider further forward toward the bottom bracket. With the 90 mm long stem you don't sit too compact. Which frame size you choose for the Rose depends not least on the maximum extension of the seat post. If you want to choose a smaller frame with a lower stack, you should first check the maximum inseam length that the respective frame size allows - the 55 is 87 cm.
D-shaped support with extra flex
A special feature of the Backroad is the seat clamp, which is not at the top of the top tube, but a few centimeters lower on the seat stays. Above these, the seat tube is open to the rear; a plastic cap covers this area. This allows the D-shaped post to flex rearward for a greater length, making the Backroad feel exceptionally comfortable at the rear, but without a tendency to teeter at high cadence.
Like last year's model with a different set-up, the Rose pleases with a lot of propulsion and handy steering - handling characteristics that are nothing to complain about. The equipment with Campagnolo Ekar 1×13 and the light Shamal wheels from the Italian manufacturer is consistent (more on that later). With six jumps in the fast range, the 9-42 cassette is closely spaced where it counts, together with the 40 chainring results in a long geared overdrive and a gear reduction for steep climbs.
The gearbox works quickly and precisely; the typical Campagnolo thumb button for shifting up is hook-shaped on the Ekar and is therefore even easier to reach from the lower link. However, the shift paddle could be larger - when operating it, you tend to get your shift finger caught on the brake lever. The brakes are extremely easy to modulate, and the carbon cranks have plastic protectors in case you touch down.
Rose also goes to great lengths when it comes to the wheels, specifying a set that fits the Ekar group better than any other. A few years ago, Campagnolo tuned its legendary Shamal wheels with wider rims for all-road use: 21 mm internal width is not only ideal for wider road bike tires, but also helps on gravel bikes for a good tire fit. In addition, a closed rim bed is used, which makes the gluing of (tubeless) rim tape superfluous. The wheel set with the unmistakable spoke pattern is also relatively light at almost 1.600 grams.
Rose Backroad Ekar Limited is a lightweight with Italo parts
Last but not least, the Campagnolo group and wheel set, together with the frame that weighs a good one kilogram, ensure that the Backroad is extremely light. As shown, it weighs 8,4 kilos; The tubeless conversion has savings potential. But what makes the Backroad even more attractive is a drastic price reduction across the Rose brand portfolio that took place at the beginning of November. In the specification presented - Campagnolo Ekar + Shamal, special paintwork - the gravel bike now only costs 4.499 euros, which means that the price has dropped by almost 20%. The cheapest model with standard paintwork now costs only 1 euros with Shimano GRX 11×2 or 11×2.499 instead of the previous 3.149 euros; with the SRAM Rival eTap 1×12 you are now getting rid of 3.299 euros (previously 3.799 euros). The large variety of models is one of the advantages of the Rose-Graveller - it is rather rare for a wheel manufacturer to build groupsets from all three suppliers. So the Rose Backroad should continue to find many friends.