At A Glance
For 2017 Rose have updated two of their classic trail bikes, the Root Miller 29er and the Granite Chief in smaller 650b wheels. The geometry has been modernised and brought up to date to do battle in the fiercely competitive and difficult-to-define Trail category.Buy Trail Bikes on
The Granite Chief is based around a 150mm Horst link frame and matched up front with a RockShox Pike also delivering the same 150mm. The frame sees an increased reach over the previous model, and some trimmed down chainstays, while the head angle is relaxed slightly to 66.6 degrees. Standover is kept nice and low and seat tube lengths have been shortened to allow long-drop posts.
Other modern touches include a move to Boost spacing for the hubs, which is pretty much expected now on new bikes. Internal routing is neat and simple and the overall finish of the frame is excellent, especially the contrast coloured pivot bolts and cable clamps.
Talking about the spec of a Rose can be tricky given the ability to customise a bike to your exact specification. That said, they offer three different stock models that can then be altered to suit the individual. This model is the Granite Chief 2 and is based on a RockShox Pike Solo Air Fork and a Monarch Deluxe RT3 rear shock. The build is more of a central European style with a front mech and a 60mm stem and 760mm bars, but these can be changed easily before purchase online.
The build is very high quality for the price with DT Swiss covering the wheels, Magura brakes, Shimano drivetrain and a 170mm RockShox Reverb dropper post combining to take some of the best bits from all the brands. Even the finishing kit is from SDG, Ergon and Race Face. Impressive - particularly given the €3000 EUR price tag.
On The Trail
Having received a stock build of the Granite Chief 2, I was unable to take advantage of certain tweaks I would have liked. Both the cockpit and the double chainring set up were not what I would personally choose as a consumer, however the ability to modify everything to your specific desires before purchase is obviously a great advantage.
Initial impressions were of a bike that I could do some distance on. Comfortable, with a high front end, but roomy in the top tube and all the gears to go as far as I could dream. I had to park my initial urge to change bars and stem and give it a chance in the stock mode.
Pedalling up steady climbs, the bike is neutral and easy to spin out, feeling like it could go all day. The back end is predictable and firm if not super sensitive, and it pedalled extremely well with very little bobbing or need to calm the shock down with the easy to reach switch.
Finding climbs steep enough to warrant the 26T chainring was difficult, but with an 11-42 cassette the small ring was needed to find something very easy to pedal in. When things got technical, the high front end needed some weight to keep it on track, but the stable nature of the ride and infinite gears made short work of steep sections. I did find the little gears made me a touch lazy with always an option for something less demanding on the legs – not always a bad thing of course!
On to some more exciting riding and the Granite Chief showed that it wasn't just an Alpine 'touring' machine for gravel roads. The well-balanced suspension gives plenty of energy and 'pop' on the trail, the steering lively enough even with a 60mm stem. Pick up speed and the whole ride seems to become more confident and reminds you that 150mm is plenty of travel and the Chief can suck up more than I gave it credit for.
This is not a burly bruiser of a bike, but an engaging and lively ride with plenty of travel to back you up if needed, rather than ploughing on and hoping the bike will eat it up. A shorter and wider cockpit would push confidence further, yet stability will still be there in the frame and fork.
Given the flexibility in the build options, the real strength in the Granite Chief is its flexibility to become whatever a rider needs. I can image it as both a long legged endurance machine as well as an aggressive trail bike depending on the kit.
Although I want to avoid turning every bike into a slacked out enduro rig, the head angle could happily be reduced by half a degree or so to open out some more potential, lower the front slightly and give a little more grunt on the descents.
Having a 170mm dropper is fantastic and kudos to Rose for keeping seat tubes short - long drop posts are awesome. All round the kit on the bike proved to be excellent, however the Magura MT5s have the power, but not the lever shape or feel that works for me (just personal preference). Also, combining all the brands in a pick and mix on the handlebars is possible, but not always elegant in their compatibility.
Tyres can be a very individual choice, and again these can be changed before purchase to suit your terrain. Nobby Nics are a capable all-rounder, but the Granite Chief probably deserves something stronger if you fancy pushing its limits.
Given the endless options available to customise your ride with Rose, it seems only fair to draw conclusions on the frame of the Granite Chief. Having revised the numbers Rose have brought it up to date, with capacity for long droppers and sizing that is based on length rather than height. With well-thought-out geometry and a well-composed suspension design that allows for excellent pedalling with a plushness for descending, the Granite Chief is a fantastic all-rounder, ready to be built into whatever type of weapon you need.
This review was in Issue 48 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.