Inside Rose Bikes

Jan 27, 2016
by Matt Wragg  



If you took a map of northern Europe and stuck a pin in the places where you think mountain bike companies would be based, Bocholt wouldn't even be on that map. Sitting about halfway up Germany, on the Dutch border, the landscape certainly isn't alpine. If you want to find 100m or so of vertical hillside for some trails then you are in for an hours' drive across the border - the area is so flat that they have to head to the Netherlands for altitude.

Yet here in Bocholt is one of Europe's oldest bike companies - Rose Bikes. While they may not be a huge name on the left-hand side of the Atlantic, in Europe they are strong and a growing brand eking out a niche for themselves by offering their customers a pretty unique combination of value and choice. Founded in 1907 theirs is a story of evolution, a company that has continually changed with the times. For decades, they were a traditional local bike shop, yet as the communication revolution in the second half of the Twentieth Century took hold they embraced the new challenges and today they are at the forefront of the direct sales market as both a bike company and an online shop. We visited their headquarters to see how deep the bike shop DNA still runs through the business.



Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
At the heart of any business like this are logistics - everything that Rose sells comes in and out of this building. That means it all has to be processed on arrival, warehoused, then sent back out again when the time is right. That may sound like common sense, but when you throw the thousands of bikes that Rose sell every year, plus their online bike shop, you start to understand the scale of the task at hand.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Rose use something called chaotic warehousing - the items stored are kept in no particular order, but are meticulously tagged for their computer system to remember where each part is kept. When it comes times to fulfill an order the computer then plots the most efficient route to collect the parts on the order. Yet fittingly for Rose, it is a system that relies on people, rather than processes and machines.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
The warehouse is split in two - one side is for the online shop, the other is for the components that will go on to form their complete bikes. Unlike any other bike company, Rose do not have stock builds, the customer can specify the spec they want on their bike. That means they keep some seriously niche parts in stock - there aren't many bike companies who offer builds from the factory with Tune's ultra-rare and expensive hubs, for instance.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Busy as it may be, the assembly area in Rose doesn't feel like a factory, more like a giant-scale version of the workshop in your local bike shop.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
When it comes time to start assembling a bike the first step is quality control. As the frame is pulled from the inventory it is meticulously checked by a technician. This is a theme that will follow the bike throughout its assembly - at each stage there are people involved, checking and rechecking.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
At the first assembly station the cable outers and hoses are run through the frame and the hardware like headset cups, shocks, and seat post clamps are mounted.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.

The one part of production that does feel like a factory is the wheel building section. All of Rose's custom wheels are built here in house - they are very proud of the tolerances, claiming their wheels are true to a tolerance of just 0.2mm.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
The wheels and the frame are joined at the next stage - along with the majority of the components and it begins to truly take shape as a bicycle rather than a collection of parts.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Final assembly is done by a highly trained team. To be allowed to finish a bike unsupervised you need to pass a formal qualification to become a master mechanic, which takes two years of study to attain. While mechanics are studying for the qualification they are allowed to work assembling the bikes, but all of their work is then checked by one of the qualified master mechanics. This is also where customers bikes come when they are sent back for service and repairs. This is where the bike shop DNA is most apparent, with the personalized workstations, the lack of a structured production line and meticulous attention to detail at every stage, it does not feel like mass-production. For the people working here, the experience is clearly very different too - it is about people who understand bikes assembling them for their customer, rather than a series of processes which is what you find in most large scale bike manufacturers.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Once it is assembled there is one final check before the bike is sent out, a final quality control - every aspect of the bike is inspected, then signed off and sent to the customer.

Bocholt Germany. Photo by Matt Wragg.
Hubert is the final step - virtually every bike that leaves the Rose factory is packed and shipped by him alone.

Rose is certainly a unique company. The fact that as a consumer you can spec your bike precisely how you want it, yet still pay factory prices is a lot to get your head around. As far as we know, there is no other company out there who offer the same kind of flexibility to get your bike specced just how you want it, yet keeping the price competitive with mainstream brands. It is here you can see clearly the bike shop DNA - that is the kind of service you get from your local shop, but on a grander scale. Then seeing the assembly it is clear that they based their ideas on their bike shop roots - from the way the processes run, to the way the people work in their day-to-day jobs. Rose surely must raise some questions from local bike shops who are worried about the rise of direct sales companies, because Rose started from the same point they did but evolved their business as the world changed. And Rose clearly don't see the idea of a brick and mortar shop as defunct - in fact, they still maintain an impressive bike shop near the factory and if their customers want that human relationship they can come to the shop and collect their purchase, try bikes or drop of their kit for service...


MENTIONS: @ROSEBikes




166 Comments

  • + 289
 It would be so fun to be a box and get to goo down that spiral
  • + 225
 I did ask them if they had tried, they said it would be dangerous. But thinking back, I'm not sure they said they hadn't...
  • - 17
flag viatch (Jan 26, 2016 at 23:38) (Below Threshold)
 i dont think its possible, with only that much shoulder to stop you flinging off
  • + 14
 haha! that's awesome. Arms up - Weee!!!!
  • + 18
 www.spiralveyor.com it says. I need this in my tower when I grow up and get a house with a tower.
  • - 9
flag abzillah (Jan 27, 2016 at 2:23) (Below Threshold)
 Looks like Rose bike's assembler is having a hard time with the internal cable routing.
  • + 4
 .. in the box
  • + 2
 @mattwragg , what are you doing in Spain?
  • - 17
flag rustyrobbie (Jan 27, 2016 at 10:29) (Below Threshold)
 i like to sing about ass. i also eat ass
  • + 2
 That was the first thought of mine when I read the article - that Spiroveyor looks awesome!
  • + 6
 @megatryn - I want a house with a tower too. Also a moat with alligators and a draw bridge to keep the peasants away from my pump track!
  • - 10
flag norcal77 (Jan 27, 2016 at 22:51) (Below Threshold)
 if i see someone on a Rose near where i live im gonna shit in the freakin cereal. This whole concept is gonna kill biking.
  • + 16
 @norcal77 You mean the concept of a small local quality minded bikeshop growing steadily over 100years and two world wars to become a global company?
  • + 1
 i bet Kopanka rode that spiralveyor.
  • + 1
 @megatryn you say that, but you ride a Turner.
  • + 1
 @norcal77 Building up a Intense M16c now. But, also ride a Vipera, Norco and a Trek.
  • + 1
 where are you buying them from? direct sales or a bike shop?
  • + 1
 Both.
  • + 58
 Enjoying this latest theme of rad write ups about German bike companies on pinkbike lately. kind of sheds light on a section of the market that US customers aren't normally exposed to. Nicolai and YT next on the list please?
  • + 9
 YT and Canyon will be next. Thats what PB said before
  • + 22
 Bergamont, Last-Bikes and Alutech would be nice to see as well!
  • + 8
 For Nicolai check out this video and pretend you understand German:
videos.mtb-news.de/40983/nicolai_hausbesuch_auf_der_hausmesse
  • + 5
 Weird how every such video makes you wanna own one
  • + 7
 And not to forget Propain!
  • + 14
 Liteville, please!
  • + 1
 Dirtmag had a great article on the German mtb industry a couple of years ago that also visited Nicolai. Might be worth to get your hands on.
  • + 5
 I'd love to see this about radon bikes!
  • - 1
 what other brands are based on germany? isn't liteville german? as far as I know, their frames are made in Asia, not that it matters to me.
  • + 1
 Poison bikes! Although they're more about the Pinion/Rohloff touring bikes...
  • + 2
 Yeah, Nicolai and Pinion!
  • + 4
 Nicolai, Liteville and Rotwild and it will be the first time I'll fap to a Pinkbike article...
  • + 1
 Nicolai did a video on the ION 18 - www.youtube.com/watch?v=PR8bqmOMitw
  • + 1
 6 years of study german language in school (stopped 7 years ago), and i can't even say a word. But I understand something, so happy Smile
  • + 1
 Last bikes would be amazing, an amazing company run by a brilliant group of guys!!
  • + 37
 It took 3 comments for somebody to mention gwin! God I'm sick of hearing about him now.
  • + 79
 who God or Gwin?
  • + 18
 Both
  • + 36
 Is it just me who doesn't care who he rides for?
  • + 18
 #GwinGate #TheDecision #MoMoneyMoProblems
  • + 7
 It's pretty clear anyway: YT Frames Alpinestar wear, Giro Footwear, TLD Helmets, ODI grips, Onza tires, SRAM drivetrain brakes and Fox suspension. We just don't know for: wheels (sram again?) and underwear.
  • + 2
 Haha
  • + 17
 Isn't Gwin really German? Used to be Gwinschtein before his parents changed their name back in 1949 :-)
  • + 15
 Oh really @headshot? And Minnaar used to be Meinschaft before Mandela came out of the prison? Smile
  • + 3
 @headshot You mean, Gwinschtein, the totally German name with the ever popular "scht", which can be found in almost every second German word? And on top the very typically German "Gw", a phoneme found reaaally often in any German-speaking area? (Not saying what you say about his roots is not true, just wondering about the name itself.)
  • + 3
 Gwin is Welsh isn't it?
  • + 8
 Is "Gwin" a word in Welsh language, going for "Why Tea?"
  • + 4
 You brought it up.
  • + 4
 Gwin is acutally going to be sponsored by Cube, Canyon and YT at the same time. He'll start each race on a different frame and switch over whenever he breaks something. Fresh bikes will be stashed along the track so he can just swap out as needed.
  • + 2
 Waki, Minnaar is a Dutch word. It means suitor or lover in Dutch and Afrikaans these days :-) Thats close enough to being German isn't it? As for Gwin, that was a shot in the dark :-) And some family members of mine who were German changed their name to sound less German when they came to live in SA after WW2 - that's a true story.
  • + 1
 Name changing is pretty common the world over. When I went to Taiwan i had to choose a name and literally made one up on the spot. My mate chose "big golden dragon" in Chinese.
Gwin hasn't changed his name though which proves he's practically British!
  • + 2
 @headshot - that was a light-hearted joke at what seemed to my manners-deprived self as a touchy subject Smile It came up in my sick mind as a flashback of a hilarious talk with my German work mate who emmigrated (literally... pfheeeehhhee) from South Africa after Mandela came to power. I know nothing about your country's history.

As to German language and Gwin... GEWINNER!!!
  • + 1
 Spyshot of Gwin's new "bike" www.pinkbike.com/photo/13112088
  • + 11
 Do inside, Banshee, Ragley and Hope please. MTB Insight did an episode on Hope and it was great. The inside *insert company name here* Pinkbike are doing are good
  • + 1
 Banshee are made by pacific cycles in Taiwan, they make a lot of frames for a lot of companies, it would be a big tour!
  • + 4
 Pacific Cycles is a very small factory, probably smaller than the the Rose facility. These guys are monsters in the industry, Banshee are a very very small focused and boutique company in comparison.
  • + 6
 PB had a great article on Hope a few weeks ago.
  • + 2
 Vital did a piece on Pacific a couple of years ago. Lots of banshee coverage.
  • + 5
 Interesting part about the banshee would be the visit to their office, as there are only like 5 people running the whole company Smile And they are based in Vancouver so PB please...
  • + 2
 there are a whole bunch of factory tour videos from hope on youtube. really good vids.
  • + 1
 If you get a chance watch the MTB Insight episode on Hope that was great.
  • + 5
 Does anyone know the story on those TUNE hubs? I've never heard of them, and why are they so rare?
  • + 8
 i want a inside story on Hubert and how he manages to pack all the bikes
  • + 2
 @NWuntilirest I've first heard about Tune more than 10 years ago as the ultimate hubs money can buy. Their weight at the time was unreal and they were known to be reliable (like bellow 300g dh hubs in the age of 20kg bikes). This was before the age of online shopping and getting them was really difficult, not to mention the price. I've just checked and they are still droll material, currrent 150x12 dh hub weights 230g for appx. 350€ :o
  • + 3
 I have bought Hope hubs instead of some chinese just because of the last video with hope people talking about hyb design
  • + 1
 @NWuntilirest Tune is a pretty small company in the south-west of Germany. I guess rare means, they are not really common outside of Germany. They have nice parts, especially the hubs. The Kong (and King in front Wink ) www.tune.de/en/produkt/disc-hubs/kong
  • + 1
 I had some on my trek fuel. They are super light and fast rolling.
  • + 9
 There's one other German company that offers fully customized bikes at competitive prices. They're called Propain Bikes (www.propain-bikes.com)...i know the name sounds weird, but they offer an even deeper level of customization than Rose.
  • + 5
 For all you english speakers, the website is www.propain-bikes.com/en
  • + 1
 Rage comp has a great spec. Just needs carbon cranks.
  • + 4
 propain's bikes are insane, as you can spec a top end enduro bike, and it's still cheaper than mid range bikes from specialized and trek, only issue i've found with them is the shock mount looks a little prone to collecting mud.
  • + 1
 Yeah, they offer a mud fender for the damper, that helps a bit.
  • + 9
 Really liking the new Rose all mountain frames, that Soulfire thing looks proper.
  • + 2
 They're also 26 for those who prefer that wheel size.
  • + 8
 That raw soul fire and uncle jimbo looks awesome !
  • + 0
 if you are looking for a soul fire: www.bikesale.de/fahrrad/569b67f7f7a47a612d223631 . only german though Frown
  • + 2
 @KrazyKraut I rode the Uncle Jimbo last autumn and really cannot call it dull or sluggish. However the old Granite Chiefs were indeed
  • + 3
 The new granite chief is a different beast altogether - I speak as an owner of one!
  • + 1
 Oh - an for comparisons sake, that's also coming from someone that used to ride a Cannondale prophet - a bike that's veeery far from being either dull or sluggish
  • + 1
 i've an older GC and now with a CCDB air and pike its lively yet still composed when things get really interesting
  • + 4
 Rose Bikes are getting prettier. However, their names remain stupid and their handling is usually described as stable but not very lively. Good but kinda boring (stereotypically German?). But they are improving, maybe in two years ...
  • + 1
 interesting as when I first got mine I thought the same, but this allowed me to take my riding to a whole new level and things got lively then
  • + 8
 I like that idea to spec the bike as you please with factory pricing.
  • + 5
 i´m really waiting for a nicolai inside story.imo one of the best german bike company,
truly made in germany,handmade frames,innovative products......
  • + 2
 PB had an article a year or so back if I am not mistaken???? Maybe someone can dig it up
?
  • + 3
 so when my favourite bike shops says that their main mechanic has been snatched up by a distributor this is the kind of place they go to?

now I'm stuck with some muppet who can't set gears properly (that was long ago, anything this side of a brake bleed I do myself now)
  • + 2
 Every bike company should build bikes like this. There's a few bikes that comes close to my ideal spec but there's always something I want to change. I buy my bikes based on the spec and price so being able to spec the bike I want from factory makes it very appealing.
  • + 1
 Nice write-ups on Cube and now Rose (and is YT next?) and I'm sure these are all great bikes, but these cut out your local bike shop, which is often the social and economic heart of a biking community in many small and mid-size towns. The LBS is often the hub for group rides and provides a handful of decent jobs in assembly, sale, repair. These shops will struggle to make ends meet if they lose bike sales profits and are demoted to mostly doing tune-ups on an increasing fleet of mail-ordered bikes assembled by people a continent away. Just sayin'
  • - 8
flag SteveDekker (Jan 27, 2016 at 9:05) (Below Threshold)
 Exactly. These companies are profiting from the sport; while having done nothing to advance the sport. Its not my continent but I would not support these companies (mostly because they make E-bikes), and because they seem to be working against us. All I'm seeing is a bunch of big cold warehouses and an assembly line.
  • + 1
 Check it! I've dreamed of a Santa Cruz since I've gotten back into biking after college. I suffer up climbs just to bomb the downhill. I.E. I hate climbing, but it's a necessary evil. I currently ride a 2011 Transition Blindside with a RS Totem up front. I love it and weirdly, this bike has saved my ass on many of poorly hit jumps.

I'm ready to upgrade. The N4 nomad sounds delicious, but shisnet its expensive and it does look like a bad high school shop project. Part of me says, it's rad, just throw down. But reading all your comments, makes me wa t to look at something else in this bikes cohort. So, here's a similar bike for much less.

www.rosebikes.com/products/bikes/mtb/freeride/soul-fire

Which bike would you buy?
  • + 1
 How can this company be SO massive, yet I've never even heard of them before????

Everything looks super cool... Like a combo of Specialized and Rocky.

The suspension should work, it's just a matter of angles, build kits, and support from there!
  • + 1
 Looks like Daewoo entered the bike market. That soulfire frame being photoed has horrible linkage. That chain stay alone is catalog suspension probably being sold in Taiwan for 10 bucks. I see those on kona coilers from ten years ago. Rose is just selling parts. Kinda wondering why pinkbike even put up this article. Kinda like reading peoples magazine.
  • + 1
 I have a rose granite chief and I must say it performs way above my expecations, which were quite big. Great spec (of my choice), clean finishing and sturdy frame. Geometry spot on for me, needing an allround bike with serious descent capabilities. And problem free ordering process with great support when having questions about how to spec the bike optimally for the price limit I had
  • + 2
 I find it funny how all of these people have no filth on their hands, compared to seeing Cube's employees. Something tells me that Rose are either better prepared for this visit, or they simply do a cleaner job than Cube.
  • + 3
 or the cube article was photographed as they were working and the rose one was posed for.
  • + 1
 True, that might be a possibility. I think it would seem more professional to seem like they are all clean, and not dirty.
  • + 1
 Hubert has an easy job since Rose don't pack their bikes with any padding whatsoever! All Hubert does is put a complete bike in a large box and then tapes it up ready for DHL to do their worst to it. The condition my Uncle Jimbo arrived in makes all that "quality control" pretty pointless.
  • + 4
 I just got an Uncle Jimbo last month. I have to say that the ordering process to delivery was painless and pleasant!
  • + 2
 Heard that before.
  • + 1
 It was so good that I bought it over the Canyon.
  • + 1
 Cool article. nice to see the behind the sense of what the companies are doing. Feel sorry for the guy working on the road bike, bad hair day. Nobody told him PB was coming.
  • + 1
 I have one of their roadbikes and it is serious quality with a very high spec groupset. I'm not a fan of the look of their mtb's though. There's something very agricultural about them.
  • + 2
 So, looks like nothing more than a big warehouse. Is there any design and engineering going on, or is it just a catalog bike? Don't see any soul here.
  • + 5
 Today's bike market is just assembling Asian frames with a different logo on them.
  • + 1
 It sure seems that way. Look at Pathogen, straight up TR450 basically. Unfortunately there is nothing new for the most part. Although i like what Commencal is doing with their DH rig and i like what we are doing.
  • + 3
 I must be living under a rock, never heard really noticed this brand before.Good article.
  • + 4
 Hubert looks like a cool guy.
  • + 1
 great article Wink I have one question, maybe someone have the answer. I have seen the workstands which show in some photos and looks grand. Someone know the brand?? or maybe it's home made by Rose?
  • + 3
 Just think of the poor bloke who has to spend all day every day threading internal cables through the frames
  • + 1
 It's not that hard. And if it is, use the Park IR-1 (attaches a line to the cable and then you drag a magnet over the frame and pull the line and cable through).
  • + 1
 with no bb or fork steerer fitted, not to bad a job
  • + 1
 Until a bike is allowed to bear the ROSE logo, it has to go through a lot of stages.
We’ll show you how our engineers become artists: www.rosebikes.com/blog/show/blog_id:1/post_id:1675
  • + 4
 Where is the R&D and all the other offices?
  • + 4
 I've never even heard of Rose Bikes. Thanks PB!
  • + 2
 Rose bikes BDS...If only there was worldwide coverage for every DH series...I'd be in heaven.
  • + 2
 They actually have boxes here Smile

Back to being serious, great articles Pinkbike!! tup
  • + 1
 I think it's a 50/50 chance on whether your bike is usable when it arrives.

Mine bike must have missed the meticulous quality control!
  • + 2
 Good article, i have mail ordered parts off rose a couple of times, there reliable and fast.
  • + 2
 Nice Article. Brand I never looked at for some reason ... Orbea let you change component specs to a certain extend too.
  • + 1
 As do Commencal
  • + 2
 It is funny how German guy is holding that frame on 2nd picture Wink It is not a gun bro! Wink
  • + 3
 My bike is a gun! Everytime I am happy when I can bomb some hills Big Grin
  • + 1
 Does a logistics warehouse could be considered as a bike company? Do those guys develop anything, or it is just an assembly line? Wasn't very clear in this article.
  • + 2
 Are you going to visit Orbea factory facility?
  • + 1
 damn! this makes me want to buy a rose! D: the gray bike with green wheels, stem & handlebars looks so nice! :o
  • + 1
 You see, now that it's Rose bikes, nobody is complaining about "marketing" like they were on the Cube article.. Amazing.
  • + 2
 The name is so lame for a bike.
  • + 2
 The name is the step i cant get over.....
  • + 1
 These guys really pull their balls out and go hard. Good job, Rose. I will be buying one in the future
  • + 1
 Well, rumour has it that Rose already have in their line the bike Gwin will ride. It's called The Unchained 2
  • + 2
 Rose granite chief best bike I ever owned.
  • + 2
 interesting, I never heard of Rose before, what a nice operation!!
  • + 1
 rose bikes should come to canada
  • + 1
 Veero.......I don't care either !!
  • - 1
 Building wheels to within .2mm gives no indication of the quality of build. Good company though, have used them a few times.
  • + 1
 Looks like another company using the horst link.. Show me something new.
  • + 2
 it works
  • + 1
 Hard to get away from it. I almost bought a Canyon Strive since it can change geometries, but after they took MONTHS to just keep pushing the order back, I went back to the drawing board. Ended up getting a Rohloff/Gates touring bike because all the mountain bikes out there are just like my current enduro bike.
  • - 2
 i would just expect more from these innovative German companies. Anyone can copy an established design.
  • + 1
 Rose uncle jimbo cool frame!
  • + 1
 there is a 9spd xt hub in one of the pics, i think. never mind.
  • + 1
 the rose jester is so hot
  • - 1
 Hey pinkbike, what about an article showcasing direct to consumer bike companies like this one? would love to see from whom i can choose from!
  • + 4
 canyon, rose, yt-industries, propain, bike-discount (radon bikes), bikester (votec), vitus and nukeproof (chainreaction), production privee, bionicon,
  • + 1
 Sweeeet
  • + 0
 Ze german Übermacht. ????
  • + 1
 Do they ship to the US?
  • + 1
 Yes - but according to their website it's pretty damn expensive when you include VAT.
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