At a Glance
The Bruce 3 is the top model in the Bruce line up from German direct sellers Rose. Designed for 'brave deeds' and the 'best moments in life' it's a bike that certainly promises a lot. The small frame and massive diameter tubes suggest a very stiff and strong chassis, and combined with 26-inch wheels (shock horror!) give an air of indestructibility.Buy Hard Tails on
Rock Shox Pike DJs take the sting out of the front end with 100mm of travel and all the usual damping technology we would expect from a standard Pike. Transmission is via a single speed drivetrain with a lovely Gusset Slink chain, but with adjustable dropouts and a mech hanger, there is scope to add some gears as and when required. The single rear brake is handled by a SRAM Guide unit, with enough spare hose to bar spin your way to glory. All other contact points are solid looking affairs from Gusset. All in all, this is a bike that looks like you could throw it under a truck and ride it away with only a few scratches.
On The Trail
Now I'm not going to pretend I am some sort of dirt jump legend, far from it in fact. I am a mountain biker who likes to play on a bike and find some fun in every ride. A miss-spent youth riding BMX and trials has left me with a few skills that rarely see the light of day, but with the Bruce I was hoping to dig them out and re-learn a few things!
The Bruce represents many things that modern mountain biking is not. In a world of more gears, more travel, longer and lower and slacker geometry the Bruce is a very different beast. That is not to say it is old fashioned and outdated, but it does have 26-inch wheels! The question burning in my mind was this; do I need another bike? And do I need a jump bike?
With mountain bikes being so capable, is there really a need for something as niche as a jump bike or pump track bike. Hopping on board, I was immediately taken back to the sort of bikes I used to ride in the 90's. Very small mountain bike frames with slammed seats and either none or terribly small amounts of travel. This small, light and above all short little machine immediately screamed at me to start doing daft things. 180, why not? 360? Well, I can try...lying in the gravel in an appropriate amount of pain released immense feelings of nostalgia, and I was hooked.
With my standard test tracks out of scope for such a bike, I relied on my Christmas migration visiting family to provide me with the facilities needed for getting rad (I'm probably too old for that term). BMX tracks, skate parks and pump tracks would be my test ground, and I was far too excited.
Having been banging on about longer, lower and slacker geometry for years, I had a revelation. I was reminded why someone might build a short and relatively steep bike. Having wallowed my way round pump tracks on my MTB recently I was immediately propelled to warp speed and felt I could pump the life out of the smallest ripple on the trail. On the BMX track the super stiff frame allowed for awesome boost from jumps, but the shortness meant I had to be less lazy than on a long mountain bike.
Land anything a bit wonky and the Pikes did a good job of taking the sting out and remaining stiff, but they weren't going to get you out of trouble if you over or under cooked a jump. You have to deal with the consequences with a bike like this, and harsh and unrelenting feedback is doled out with every bad landing. The 26-inch wheels felt well, like wheels. They're not square; they work like any other, just a little bit smaller, and for a bike like this they were perfect. The tyres are typical dirt jump affairs with minimal tread which gave me some excitement trying to ride some trails in the damp conditions that were my only options. The SRAM rear brake was a little spongy once again, which seems to be a recurring theme for me at the moment, but when they work well, all is good.
As you can imagine with a bike like this, components are designed for a hard life and as such needed very little looking after. Other than a spongy brake everything has worked flawlessly, and it's a real pleasure just to grab a bike which I know will work every time. The Bruce has pushed me to try new things and develop new skills which I have immediately seen the benefit from on the trails.
Perhaps for a mess-around jump bike, this version of the Bruce is a bit pricey, but there are two lower specced options for a more budget friendly purchase. While mountain bikers keep getting more and more bikes with only a small degree of separation from each other, why aren't we considering machines which really will expand horizons? A bike like this will always have a place in my garage, something to just grab and go to the pump track, simple and effective. If you are considering an extra bike for the ever-growing quiver, the Bruce could be a great place to start.Buy Hard Tails on
This review was in Issue 40 of IMB.For more information visit Rose Bikes
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.