The Winter Sale bargain in the test

Maximum power, minimum weight: the Rose Backroad Plus EQ Flatbar in test

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There has been a growing trend towards lightweight e-bikes with mid-drive motors recently. However, the portfolio of Rose features already such a bike since 2021, which also comes with a real Full Power drive from Shimano! Our test shows how well this whole system performs on the Rose Backroad Plus EQ Flatbar commuter bike!

Design

Aggressive looks, carbon frame and gravel-compatible tires — even though the Backroad Plus EQ Flatbar is a proper commuter bike, it can hardly deny its origins: Rose’s Backroad platform is actually designed for electric gravel bikes, but all models are based on the same platform. So it’s hardly surprising that this urban version of the bike also has a very sporty appearance!

This is mainly due to the carbon frame, which looks very bold with its matt black finish, high-gloss details and eye-catching Rose lettering. Other components such as the specially shaped carbon seatpost or the lettered DT Swiss rims also underline the aggressive look of the bike.

The down tube of the bike is a little bulkier due to the battery built into it, but blends harmoniously into the overall appearance of the frame. The same applies to the bike’s drive unit: Shimano’s EP8 mid-motor is clearly recognizable, but is not distracting. On the other hand, the drive unit display on the handlebars looks a little outdated, while the on/off switch is hidden almost invisibly on the underside of the top tube.

Components such as mudguards, pannier rack and lighting system are consistently kept in black like the frame — the only “splash of color” are the tires with their brown sidewalls.

Equipment

Instead of a Minimal Assist drive, Rose relies on a real Full Power motor for the Backroad Plus: the EP8 is the top model from Shimano and offers a maximum torque of 85 Nm! However, to keep the weight of the bike as low as possible, Rose relies on a battery permanently installed in the frame, which offers a rather moderate capacity of 360 Wh. The frame, fork and seat post are also made of lightweight carbon. The advantage of such a combination becomes apparent on the scales: the test bike in size L weighs 17.5 kg, which is an excellent figure considering the complete equipment!

The electric drive system is controlled via the SC-E5003 display on the handlebars, which has integrated buttons. On the other side of the handlebars you will find the trigger for the 11-speed derailleur, which on the test bike was from the Shimano XT series. Finally, the hydraulic brake system also comes from Shimano.

Typical for a commuter bike is equipment suitable for everyday use: the Backroad has sturdy aluminum mudguards and an equally sturdy rear rack. The lighting system consists of a tiny — but nevertheless bright — rear light from Busch+Müller, while at the front there is a Litemove SE-150 headlight with 150 lux.

The equipment is completed by a bell and a kickstand. The latter is installed as a center stand on the bottom bracket and can get in the way when maneuvering, and with its small design it also looks a bit tiny — somehow it doesn’t quite match the rest of the bike.

Operation

Switching on the bike’s electric drive requires some prior knowledge: the on/off switch on the underside of the top tube is invisible from above, but can be easily felt. Once activated, the display on the handlebars switches on and all subsequent settings can be made conveniently with the thumb using four buttons. Even if the control element looks a little old-fashioned, it leaves little to be desired in terms of functionality: the pressure point is good and the operation is logical and simple. You can switch between three riding modes, switch the lights on and off and display various riding information. Only the brightness of the display could be a little brighter — on sunny days the display looks a little dark.

As the battery is permanently installed in the bike, the entire bike must be connected to the charger for charging. This is done via a charging socket at the bottom of the motor, which is sealed with a solid rubber cap.

Riding impressions

If you couldn’t already see the sporty origins of the Backroad Plus from its appearance, you would immediately notice it within the first few meters at the latest: because this bike is made to be ridden fast!

While the first of the three riding modes still provides moderate support, the full potential of the powerful motor is already revealed in the second mode: this one is designed to be progressive and delivers more power as the rider’s effort increases — and does so in an impressive way! The 85 Nm of the drive have no problem with the low weight of the bike and push forward almost brute force.

The support also increases with increasing cadence: the faster you pedal, the more additional power the motor provides. Thanks to the 11-speed gear system, the gear ratio can be adjusted quickly and gears can also be engaged easily at full speed.

You could actually cruise at a relaxed pace on the Backroad Plus EQ Flatbar — but the bike always tempts you to push past the 25 km/h limit again. The fact that you can reach this speed quickly and frequently thanks to the fast acceleration also contributes to the bike’s surprisingly good range! After all, the electric drive switches off at 25 km/h, as required by pedelec guidelines — after that, propulsion is provided by pure muscle power, which of course does not use the battery. Then the Backroad Plus can be moved largely like an analog bike, which is supported by the low weight and the freewheel of the motor. Incidentally, the latter sometimes makes a slight rattling noise on bumpy surfaces such as cobblestones — but this is normal for this motor due to its design. The same applies to the normal operating noises of the drive, which are always perceptible. However, with a sonorous and somewhat grinding sound, these are not really disturbing, especially as the appearance and riding characteristics of the bike are not intended to be understated anyway.

The fact that the EP8 motor can provide an abundance of power is finally evident in the third mode: here the drive offers its full power without requiring any real effort on your part. The motor pushes you up steep inclines almost effortlessly!

In keeping with the agile drive system, the riding position on the Backroad Plus Flatbar is also sporty and stretched, although not as extreme as you might fear. The riding position on the test bike is adjusted to a body height of 1.85 m, and the saddle cant is minimal at most. The carbon frame with the corresponding fork and seat post made from the same material also show off their supple qualities, with the latter in particular even offering some suspension comfort thanks to its flex design.

The Continental Terra Speed ProTection tires with a width of 40 mm offer a good compromise between smooth running on the road and traction even on slightly loose surfaces such as gravel or dirt tracks. This means that the bike’s range of use is not limited to smooth asphalt, but is also suitable for gravel.

Rose Backroad Plus EQ Flatbar Test Review Commuter E Bike
The combination of powerful drive, light weight and extensive equipment makes the Backroad Plus EQ Flatbar quite unique!

Conclusion

The combination of a power drive system and its light weight makes the Rose Backroad Plus EQ Flatbar a truly exceptional bike that is certainly one of the strongest and fastest commuter bikes. With its sporty riding position, powerful motor and agile handling characteristics, it just begs to be ridden as fast as possible! This makes it all the more astonishing that the bike is nevertheless equipped with full commuter features that leave little to be desired in everyday use, making it a practical companion for everyday use. With this combination of features, the Backroad Plus EQ Flat is currently largely unrivaled.

While the regular price of the bike is quite high at € 4,399, it is currently available at an absolute bargain price as part of the Winter Sale: the Rose Backroad Plus EQ Flatbar is currently available for just € 2,999, which makes it even more attractive!

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