We put De Rosa's entry-level frame through its paces
There’s something about De Rosa bikes that has always appealed to me. Every keen cyclist yearns to have an Italian bike in the garage and when it comes to romantic back stories, a winning pedigree and passione, Ugo De Rosa’s eponymous brand truly has it all.
Needless to say, I was rather excited at the news that I was to spend a few weeks riding De Rosa’s new-for-2016 Vega, a carbon-fibre bike pitched as ‘entry level’.
Just how good could it be? Would it live up to my expectations?
The Vega sits at the bottom of De Rosa’s UK range. It’s very similar to the De Rosa Nick, which isn’t available in the UK, clearly thanks a right-minded member of the marketing team who realised no one in Britain would want to buy a bike called ‘Nick’.
As bikes of this price point go, the frame is fairly basic. The monocoque frame is made of 3K carbon-fibre and has internal cable routing, but apart from that there’s little more to say.
Something that should be celebrated, however, is the fact that De Rosa has kept with a traditional frame design, and has stuck steadfastly to tried and tested technology.
The brakes aren’t beneath the bottom bracket — putting them in the firing line of road crud and making them difficult to maintain — nor is there an integrated seat clamp with a bolt that will round out easily.
Just two examples of things certain other manufacturers do for the sake of change, and so often just end up causing problems. No, it’s fair to say De Rosa has kept things simple and reliable.
The highlight of this bike is the complete Shimano Ultegra groupset, which is exactly the sort of spec that you should expect for this price.
For those who haven’t been paying attention to these pages over the last couple of years, this is an exceptional groupset that offers pretty much the same performance as Dura-Ace, with the only difference being a slight weight penalty.
The only thing I might change on this particular bike is to add an 11-28t cassette, — a climbing aid you no longer need to be ashamed about adding as it is now the choice of most pro riders.
Watch: Wheels buyer’s guide
The Fulcrum Racing Quattro LG wheels are also a common sight on bikes around this price, and offer solid if slightly unspectacular performance.
They’re not the lightest wheels out there so are a bit sluggish uphill, but are comfortable, stand up well to the battering of British roads, and come tubeless-ready should you choose to make the transition.
If you’re paying more than £2,000 for a bike then you can expect big things — although one could conclude that the addition of an Italian name on the down tube adds cost as well as kudos.
The De Rosa Vega struggles to offer the sort of ride that rival manufacturers have managed to bestow on similarly-priced bikes.
When you want to really open the taps in a sprint or when attacking on a climb, the response is never quite what you’d hope for, and I never got the feeling that all of the effort I was putting through the pedals was making its way to the back wheel.
Better was the handling, which is probably the highlight of the bike, and after only a couple of rides on the Vega I felt as confident attacking descents as I would be on my own bike.
On paper the De Rosa Vega offers exactly what you would expect for £2,399: carbon-fibre frame, Ultegra groupset, and good if not exceptional wheels.
However, out on the road the ride just can’t quite match the price, and if you’re after the most excitement for your buck, then there are better bikes out there.
I had high hopes for the De Rosa Vega, and unfortunately it never quite managed to live up to my expectations. For £2,399 you can quite reasonably expect a bike that is exciting to ride with lively performance that is as much at home in a race situation as it is plodding around the lanes on a steady club run. The Vega is fine for the latter but disappoints when it comes to the former, and I consistently felt like the bike was holding me back in flat-out sprints and when I was chasing hard to close a gap that had opened on a climb. Points are clawed back for the bike’s excellent handling, which means it is much better on descents than it is on any other terrain, and the full Ultegra groupset is exactly what you would want from a bike at this price point