Rose Bikes might fly under the radar outside of Germany but the company operates the same direct-sales business model as Canyon and YT which means very competitively priced bikes. But it goes a step further than those two brands with a custom bike configurator allowing you to change any of the parts on the bike to suit your budget or personal requirements.
The Root Miller is the company’s 140mm travel bike and it’s been completely updated this year, with more modern geometry putting it firmly in the same space as other top picks in this category. You have a choice of 27.5 Plus or the 29er wheels too – I opted for the later in the top-end Root Miller 3 build comprising a Fox 34 fork and Float FIT FPS shock and a SRAM XO1 drivetrain with DT Swiss wheels and RaceFace SixC carbon bars costing £3,726.20 plus £46 shipping.
Rose Root Miller 3
• Intended use: xc / trail / all-mountain
• Rear wheel travel: 140mm
• Fork travel: 140mm
• Wheel size: 29’'
• 67º head angle
• Aluminium frame
• Boost spacing front and rear
• Sizes: S, M, L
• Weight: 28.19lb / 12.79kg (size L)
• MSRP: €4,199 / £3,726.20 + £46 shipping
• Contact: Rose Bikes
It’s worth stating right off the top that you won’t find any carbon fibre frame options in the Rose mountain bike range, for now, they only deal in aluminium. That’s clearly a good call on the price front; less money in the frame material means more for the build kit. And there’s nothing at all clunky looking about the frame, Rose has really worked the tube shapes to inject some style into the frame, with a kinked top tube amping up the standover clearance and the curved downtube simultaneously providing fork crown and plenty of space for a full-size water bottle. And the welds are all smoothly finished. Common on carbon frames, Rose has added a plastic downtube guard to protect against rock strikes.
While it’s not my place to comment on the aesthetics, German brands have sometimes lagged behind their slick US counterparts when it comes to the visual appearance, but Rose has worked hard to shake off those preconceptions. This is a great looking bike. The all-black finish with reserved graphics gives an understated and purposeful look. I like it. If you prefer a bit more colour, there’s a bright blue frame option as well.
Rose has embraced Boost, as most bike brands are now, with the wider axle not only allowing a stiffer rear wheel but also allowing the designers to increase the spacing of the main pivot bearings for extra frame stiffness. The bike is also compatible with up to 29in x 2.6in and 27.5in x 3.0in tyres, and indeed it even offers the choice at the point of purchase.
One detail that will get the thumbs up from everyone who has suffered the groan of a press-fit bottom bracket is a traditional external threaded bottom bracket. All cables are internally routed with near bolt-on ports where the cable outer enters and exits the frame, and there’s stealth routing for the dropper post. Though the test bike had a 1x11 drivetrain, there is the provision to fit a front mech and go 2x if you wish.Suspension
The Root Miller uses a four-bar suspension layout with a Horst Link chainstay pivot to deliver 140mm of travel. A compact two-piece aluminium rocker connected to a Fox Float DPS Metric shock while cartridge bearings keeping things working smoothly. The main pivot bearings have been spaced more widely apart thanks to the transition to a Boost rear axle, with the main pivot sitting right over the bottom bracket. To increase swingarm stiffness Rose has added a brace at the top of the seat stays, and there’s also a stiffening tube where the rocker meets the top of the stays.Geometry
For 2017 the Root Miller has been completely redesigned and guess what, it’s longer and slacker than the previous version. But then you probably already guessed that, because that’s the theme of pretty much every new bike release at the moment.
The changes amount to a head tube that is 1.5-degree slacker and the reach is 15mm longer than the previous version. The Root Miller is available in three sizes (small, medium, and large) with the same 447mm chainstay length across the size, instead of size-specific chainstay lengths as with the Norco Sight. A 67-degree head angle, 74.5-degree seat angle, and a reach of 453mm for a size large are modern numbers and put the Root Miller in good company with the likes of the Trek Fuel EX, Santa Cruz Hightower, and Norco Sight.
It took some time to get the rear suspension dialled into my liking. Initially, while very plush and smooth on small to medium-sized impacts, I found the suspension was too soft on harder impacts with a harsh bottom out noticeable off big landings and I had to resort to adding more air. The solution was simple: adding a large volume reducer spacer to the Fox shock, an easy tool-free 5-minute job. It vastly improved the suspension performance with greater bottom out resistance and I was able to run lower pressures to keep it supple and ensure the rear wheel followed the smallest contours of the trail. Climbing
With a weight of just over 28lb the Root Miller behaves impeccably when the trail points up or you want to cover ground quickly. For sure it's not as rapid as the lighter carbon fibre Cube I tested before getting onto the Rose, but for long trail or cross-country rides with a view to covering miles of terrain, the Root Miller is very well suited. It's flattering on the steeper gradients with reasonably good stiffness from the frame and swingarm to ensure you're not wasting energy flexing the frame rather than going forward.
Once adjusted to my liking, the suspension provides ample support for climbing. There’s a tolerable amount of pedal bob on very steep climbs even in the open mode, but the middle compression setting was the best all-around mode for everything but the fun descents. I found few occasions to flick the compression lever to the firmest setting, but it's useful should you have to pedal along the road for a bit. The high bottom bracket comes into its own when tackling tricky rooty trails and dealing with ruts and holes, with few pedal strikes compared to my old Specialized Stumpjumper. The steep seat angle also puts you in a really efficient position for climbing, and it was right at home on long grinds to the summit.
A highlight of the Root Miller was how it performed on one of my favourite trails. This one undulates along the edge of a huge escarpment, dipping in and out of copses and bomb holes, full of short poppy rises and sweeping corners. A bike that picks up speed quickly and maintains good momentum makes this trail really come alive. The Root Miller has all of the necessary qualities. Get it up to speed and it just flies along. I was impressed. I wasn't so impressed with the Mountain King tyres in dealing with a wide range of trail conditions, but that's something that is easy to change at the point of purchase. Descending
That the Root Miller was a competent climber was no surprise, there aren’t many 140mm travel 29ers that are slow on the ups. But there’s a huge variation in the ability of bikes in this category when it comes to descending prowess, and getting straight to the crunch, the Root Miller isn’t the best in class.
The updated geometry does bring the Root Miller plenty of improved ability compared to its predecessor. The slacker 67-degree endows the Rose with a good level of stability and lets you attack the descents with plenty of gusto and commitment. The 453mm reach means a reasonably roomy cockpit without feeling unwieldy, and the 800mm bar and 50mm stem provide plenty of control for muscling the Root Miller between the trees.
While the changes to the geometry, for the most part, result in a positive experience on the trail, the high bottom bracket and long chainstays do counteract the good. While good ground clearance is a boon in some situations, the Root Miller never really felt as planted through the corners, especially fast bermed turns, as other bikes in this category, like the Trek Fuel EX.
The long chainstays also reduce the nimbleness of the bike in really tight and twisty technical sections, it doesn’t turn with the agility that I’d like when the direction changes are needed quickly. However, things improve when the speed increases on very fast trails, so it’s not all bad. I just found it to lack the engaging and playful handling of other bikes with similar numbers, I wanted more reward from the climbing prowess it displayed on the way to the top of the hills. Instead, it was competent in getting through the twisting trails but it wasn’t as much fun as it ought to have been. And for me, that's a bit of a deal breaker. But I don't feel the Root Miller is that far away from being nearly perfect, a few more changes here and there would take it from okay to great.
The down tube protector is a smart addition but the seat stay bridge limits mud clearance at the back.Component Check • Race Face SixC 800mm bar and Turbine 35mm stem:
Sticking an 800mm handlebar on the bike is a smart choice, and it’s easy to chop down to your preferred width. There’s absolutely no flex from the bar and stem setup, and the shape of the bars puts your hands in a comfortable position.• Fox 34 FIT fork:
The Fox 34 has an excellent feel in all trail conditions and a wide range of adjustment making it easy to get a good tune to suit your preferences and riding style. • Continental Mountain King Tires:
Tires are a personal choice and what works best on your local trails, and while they are a fast rolling and efficient tyres, I just found the Mountain Kings lacked dependable traction on wet and slippery tracks, with more than a few sketchy slides until I swapped them out.• SDG Circuit MTN Saddle:
I just didn’t get on with this saddle. The shape was too flat and the padding simply too firm for my tastes, so I swapped it out for another saddle during the test. The Rose online bike configurator does allow you to choose from a wide range of saddles though.Pinkbike's Take
About the Reviewer David Arthur is a freelance mountain biker writer based in the UK. Stats:
Age: 36 • Height: 5'11" • Weight: 155lb • Industry affiliations / sponsors: None