De Rosa Protos Ultegra Complete Road Bike - 2016
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Whenever we're approached with the next great innovation in frame technology, we're often reminded of the old adage that — ahem — it's not the bike that matters, it's the engine. The down tube and bottom bracket of the De Rosa platform we chose for our in-house Protos Ultegra Complete Road Bike may finally give the lie to that axiom, though. Compared to your typical race machine, the Protos' gigantic drive spine affords a claimed 35% increase in stiffness-to-weight ratio, and we've chose to dress that increased efficiency in a full complement of Shimano's Ultegra 6800 kit — including the crankset, a spot where many manufacturers skimp on their factory builds. As much as we loved the revamped Ultegra, though, the Protos is the obvious star of this show.
Few frame manufacturers have the penchant for capturing the imagination of cycling romantics like De Rosa. Maybe it's the 50+ years of history behind the brand. Maybe it's the postcard-sized images of Merckx riding the frames we pinned to our walls as kids. Or maybe it's the online image searches for "Moser Roubaix," also on rebranded De Rosas, that we turn to while bored at work. Whatever the case, the brand's got pedigree. Despite that long-standing presence as a big, historical deal, though, the Protos' unconventional (to say the least) frameset design indicates that De Rosa's not afraid to push the limits — or blow them up to proportions approaching caricature.
As you might expect given its down tube, we believe that the Protos may be the stiffest road racing bike that we've ever rolled through our doors. Whether during sustained solo efforts or long, gradual climbs, the bike almost feels like it's pulling the pedals through the dead spot for you. Taking a quick glance through the other bikes we carry should give the reader a sense of the enormity of that statement, which is itself almost as impressive a claim as the Protos' oversized down tube is large. Almost. The oversized drive spine means that, when our legs are telling the Ultegra crank to up the pace, the Protos seems capable of jumping from the speed of noodle to full-on sprint almost as soon as the freehub engages. There's no hesitation or wind up — it just goes.
Even under riders in the 176lb/80kg range, the frame is virtually impervious to flex. That aggressive efficiency is mirrored in the Protos' geometry, which is low and predatory — perfect for diving through corners on the inside line. The head tube alone measures between 20 and 30mm shorter than on models that we'd typically considered slammed for crits or fast circuit races, definitely bucking the current industry trend toward upright "endurance" geometries in favor of undiluted racing aggression.
In addition to the tube shapes, the frame owes its effort-rewarding stiffness to three different carbon fibers. Half of the material used is TI 800, which is a modulus that we typically see as the stiffest part of a frame. Here, it's the "comfort" material, which goes some way toward explaining the Protos' obscene stiffness-to-weight ratio. Key areas of power transfer are made with the even stiffer TI 1000, and a final reinforcement of XN60 carbon adds the equivalent of rocket fuel to the Protos' titanic power transfer spine.
- Item #DER000D
- Q & A
full on race machine
- Familiarity: I've used it several times
If you know the De Rosa heritage it's easy to understand why this is such a race worthy bike. Sometimes larger size frames can be a little noodley but the Protos is not at all. If you are smaller, like myself at 5'7" the ride is very stiff almost to a fault so not perfect if you have back or shoulder issues, it's a race machine, not a gran fondo toy. I was fine with it even on the small size but I just think it may not be for everyone. I have frames that I can build up with any components as well so just get in touch with me for any customization firstname.lastname@example.org