The price on the Rose website is the one you pay, as it includes both the VAT and additional shipping costs. Arriving in a full-size bike box, you need only to straighten the stem, fit your pedals and you’re off.
Something of a stalwart in the Rose family, the 150mm-travel Granite Chief gets a few tweaks for 2012. Namely, a slacker head angle and 142x12mm rear dropouts. It also has line guides for a dropper remote but, strangely, there are still no ISCG tabs on the BB for fitting a chain device. Worse still, the Press Fit bottom bracket shell with threaded reducer cups for the Shimano BB means you can’t even sandwich a back plate between the BB cup and the shell.
Oversized round tubes on the Granite Chief are a breath of fresh air in a world where bike companies hydroform every tube just for the sake of it. If you’re not down with the white/poo-brown two-tone finish — and who could blame you — it’s also available in anodised black.
Rose offers two air can options on the RP23 shock. Recommending the XV (extra volume) air can for lighter riders and the regular one for… er, regular riders. With hindsight, we’d probably have preferred the plusher feel of the XV air can, as we ran the shock fully open and the rear suspension still felt a bit harsh.
Up front, the threshold adjuster knob of the Albert Plus Select damper on the Magura Thor fork is sharp and incredibly stiff to turn. Call us soft southerners, but we ended up using soft jaw pliers to adjust it. Then, on only the third ride out, after being upside down in the back of the van for a couple of hours, oil started leaking from the very same adjuster.
The DT Swiss M1700 Tricon wheelset gets a fully sealed tubeless rim bed, eliminating the need for rim strips. The custom hubs and open crowfoot lacing maximise bearing life and wheel stiffness, but the biggest advantage here is the associated weight saving.
It’s a close call between the SRAM X0 gear on the Canyon and the Shimano XT/XTR mix adorning the Rose, and, given the choice, we’d happily run either.
Braking is care of Magura MT6 brakes. With a 203mm rotor up front there’s no shortage of stopping power and even though the lever feel is pretty firm, there’s plenty of modulation. Our only real gripe with the brakes is that the lever blade is quite square and digs into your pinkies on longer descents.
With a generous 750mm Syncros bar and sensible 70mm stem, the cockpit on the Rose is sorted straight out of the box. It’s got a nice comfortable saddle as standard too, which is a real bonus when all of the other bikes on test come with skimpy, rock-hard perches. The forward-facing seatpost QR is also a particularly nice touch and its smooth action means you can use it on the hoof.
Without a shadow of doubt, the Rose Granite Chief has the best sizing and geometry of any 150mm travel trail bike we’ve tested. As a result, it offers the best riding position here by quite some way. Combine that with the lightest build and it’s easily the best climber, too. But it’s not without its faults. The Magura Thor fork is very pressure sensitive, feeling firm in the initial part of the stroke and having a tendency to dive. But by far, our biggest issue with the Rose is that the front and rear suspension lacks grip, which in turn badly undermines the confidence that the slack head angle and rangy riding position inspire.
The Granite Chief is brimming with potential. Geometry-wise, it’s up there with the best 150mm trail bikes with its long, low layout, inspiring confidence even on the most challenging terrain. Unfortunately, the lacklustre response of the suspension undermines the Granite Chief’s go-for-it attitude.
Using Rose’s online ‘configurator’, to spec a Fox 32 Talas FIT fork would have bumped the price up by £94, but it’s an investment worth making. And combined with the XV air can on the RP23 rear shock it may have been enough to instantly catapult the Granite Chief 6 into pole position.
Mbr rating: 7