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The Tifosi Rostra Disc Hydraulic Tiagra fills the gap between the road bike and gravel bike market, 'the perfect all-season bike that is capable of handling year-round British weather' according to Tifosi. I found it a pleasing bike to ride, and versatile enough to take on a range of surfaces.
Tifosi says the Rostra takes its inspiration from the 'ever popular CK7', its aluminium alloy all-season machine, loved by commuters, winter riders and audaxers alike for its ability to take decent tyre sizes and full mudguards.
The main difference is that on the Rostra the tyre clearance has increased by around 5mm overall.
Coming with a set of knobbly tyres fitted, it's easy to look at our test model and think that the Rostra is a gravel bike, but it's not. The geometry is very much road inspired, with a slightly steeper front end than you'd find on a gravel bike and a shorter wheelbase.
Also, for a gravel bike a maximum tyre size of 35mm would be small, but for a road bike that brings versatility. This makes the Rostra an ideal choice for the roadie who wants the option to venture off-road without the expense of a full gravel bike.
It also has the capability of running full mudguards (with all of the mounting points sat in the traditional place to make fitting easier), a rear rack and three bottle cages, the one on the top of the down tube having three bolt positions to enable you to move your cage to fit a large frame bag for instance.
Fitting full guards does drop the maximum tyre size down to 32mm, though.
The geometry of the Rostra is very much like an endurance road bike, so the steering is relatively quick without being as fast or as razor sharp as a full race bike, which makes it very easy to ride without feeling in any way sedate or lacking in the fun department.
At 10.6kg it's no lightweight, although it is in the same sort of ballpark as many aluminium alloy framed bikes for this sort of money.
A fair chunk of the weight is in the Vision Team 30 wheels and Schwalbe tyres, so occasionally it can feel a little sluggish off the line or on steeper climbs, but once you're rolling things are pretty good.
With a chunky looking bottom bracket shell and X44 tapered head tube (most tapered headsets are 1 1/8in at the top and 1 1/4in at the bottom; X44 goes from 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in, or 44mm, which is why it's known as X44) there is plenty of stiffness going on. The Rostra certainly feels tight under hard acceleration, and the front end has a positive feel when you are pushing hard into bends or under heavy braking.
The geometry also works well. This medium model has a 556mm top tube alongside a relatively short 155mm head tube. This meant I could get quite a low-slung position on the Tifosi which really helped on the flat or when tackling a headwind.
On the tarmac with smooth road tyres fitted it behaves very well, the steering is direct, and the alloy frame gives plenty of feedback while the 1,011mm wheelbase adds to the stability.
If I was in the market for a commuter, winter trainer or just a bike to tap out the miles on I'd be giving the Rostra some serious consideration.
All of the stability and 'safe' feel makes it a winner on wet or slippery road surfaces, and the front end remains unfazed when faced with broken sections of road.
This is what makes the Tifosi work away from the road too.
The 35mm maximum tyres do limit you primarily to hardpacked surfaces such as canal paths, gravel tracks, and some bridleways, but in the dry it'll cope with pretty much anything like mud and grass. It's only on deep, small aggregate that you'll struggle a bit as tyres this thin tend to sink compared with rubber of 40mm plus.
The Rostra's stability and capable handling mean it's not out of its depth on loose surfaces, and its predictable handling means it's easy to control when reacting to slides or the surface moving under the tyres.
It's a comfortable ride, too, even on the road with the tyres pumped up hard. For what is essentially quite a cheap frameset it has a forgiving ride quality. While not as buzz-taming as a steel, titanium or quality carbon frame, there is certainly no harshness here and I covered many miles on three and four-hour rides without any discomfort.
At its heart the Rostra has a 6061-T6 aluminium frame and a full uni-directional carbon fibre fork, including the tapered steerer.
The frame itself looks to be left raw, as in brushed aluminium with a clear coat lacquer over the top of it and the decals. I like it, and while the welding isn't the neatest I've ever seen on a bike, its style ties in nicely with the finish of the frame.
Tifosi hasn't gone with internal cable/hose routing anywhere on the frame or fork, which does look a little outdated, if simple to work on. And should you want to switch to a 1x or electronic system at a later date you will be left with some redundant cable guides.
You do get full cable outers for the front and rear mech, though, so they should keep running smoothly should you ride in the wet or mud a lot.
Another plus is the use of a T47 bottom bracket. If you haven't come across it before, T47 is sort of an amalgamation of a standard BSA threaded BB and a press-fit option.
If your bike uses a threaded BSA BB shell, odds on you'll have bearing cups screwed into the frame with the bearings sitting outboard of the BB shell, whereas press-fit BBs, as the name suggests, means the bearing cups press inside the frame.
Placing the bearings inside the frame means the bottom bracket shell can be wider without affecting the Q-factor (the distance between the cranks) which in turn allows for wider chainstays, down tube and seat tube, bringing increased stiffness to the frame under pedaling loads. The downside is that if the tolerances between the bearing cup and the frame aren't closely matched, water and dirt can get in the gap, resulting in noise and premature wear.
T47 places the bearings inside the frame, but they are screwed in, meaning that tolerances aren't so critical while still maintaining the benefits of that larger BB shell.
As you'd expect on a modern disc brake-equipped bike, the Rostra uses flat mounts for the callipers and 12mm thru-axles for wheel retention.
It comes in four sizes from small through to extra-large, which according to Tifosi should suit riders from 162cm tall to 185+ cm.
The medium, as I mentioned, has a 556mm effective top tube, 155mm head tube and a 520mm seat tube. The head angle is 72 degrees, and the seat angle is 73 degrees. Stack and reach figures are 575mm and 381mm respectively.
The Rostra is available in a couple of builds and as a frameset only, but this one is based around the majority of a hydraulic Shimano Tiagra groupset.
The gearing is road-centric with a 50/34T FSA Omega MX chainset and a 10-speed 11-34T cassette. For me it's an ideal setup for the majority of road riding, with the 50x11 gear giving enough top end for pedalling downhill and the 34x34 a low enough ratio for even the steepest of climbs.
If you are going to be spending a lot of time off-road, though, you might want something lower. Many gravel bikes come with a 48/32T chainset for instance, or even 46/30T.
To my mind it's not a massive deal – the first bike I got serious about riding gravel on was the 2017 GT Grade and that came with a 52/36T chainset paired with an 11-32T cassette, and I completed the 200km Dirty Reiver on it (just...).
Tiagra is a great groupset, virtually (but not quite) mimicking the performance of its big brother 105 while having one sprocket less.
The shifting is quick and largely unflustered even under load, and there is plenty of feedback through the levers so you can feel when the shift has been made.
Tifosi has gone for a 160mm brake rotor on the front, and a 140mm on the rear, which provides enough power for all kinds of road riding and your detours off-road.
Early hydraulic braking at Tiagra level wasn't great, a lot of that down to the ergonomics of the levers, but this latest version, which closely matches the mechanical STI units, is much improved. The braking is powerful and with loads of feedback you can modulate it depending on the surface or conditions.
Apart from the Selle Italia Model X saddle, which is pleasant enough, everything else is Tifosi branded.
It's basic stuff but works okay, although I would like a bit more girth on the tops of the handlebar. The central 31.8mm diameter section tapers off quite quickly either side of the alloy stem, which means space is limited for fitting lights, computers and so on.
The bar does come with about a 12-degree flare each side which gives you a wider stance for control and does help when descending even on the road.
The Vision Team 30 wheels aren't light but they are durable, and that's what you want on a versatile bike like this. I spent about a third of the time riding the Tifosi on the local gravel tracks and they never missed a beat.
They stayed true throughout testing and I had no issues with spoke tension. Stiffness is good as well, and on the climbs I couldn't feel any lateral movement.
They are tubeless ready too, should you want to go down that route.
On the spec list this model should come with 35mm Impac CrossPac tyres, but with parts, especially tyres, being hard to find at the moment it's no surprise to see something different fitted to our test bike, Schwalbe's CX Comp in a 35mm width.
I had a set of these on that GT Grade I mentioned earlier and covered thousands of miles on them. Off-road they offer decent amounts of grip, with cornering helped by the raised tread pattern.
On the road they roll surprisingly well and grip isn't bad either, considering the tread. They've held up well, too: no issues with punctures or damage throughout the review period.
At £1,499, this model of the Rostra compares well with rivals.
Ribble's CGR range is a similar sort of design to the Rostra, offering good tyre clearance and geometry that works both on and off the road. Its aluminium option is available with a Tiagra groupset and Mavic Aksium wheels for £1,199. That version comes with mechanical cable operated brakes, though; if you want hydraulic (you do) then you'll be looking at the GRX400, Shimano 105 or SRAM Apex 1x builds, all £100 more than the Rostra.
Giant's Contend is described as an all-rounder and can take up to 38mm tyres. Rob was impressed when he rode the SL1 version last year, although the AR 2 is closer in spec to the Rostra with a Tiagra groupset and hydraulic brakes and costs £1,399.
I really wasn't sure what to expect from the Tifosi Rostra. Would it be a bike trying too hard to be good at everything, with all of the sacrifices that tends to bring?
No, is the answer. This is a very good road bike at this price point for all kinds of riding, and it offers a great balance of speed and comfort.
Using that maximum tyre clearance to fit something knobbly and you can enjoy the local tracks and trails. It's not as capable as a full-on gravel bike on the dirt roads, but it's good enough to bring an extra dimension to your weekend rides.
Very good versatile bike whose tyre clearance and geometry mean it isn't just limited to the road
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Tifosi Rostra Disc Tiagra
Size tested: M, 55.6cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Components: Shimano Tiagra 10x
Chainset: FSA Omega MX Chainset 34/50T
Disc Brakes: Shimano Tiagra Hydraulic
Cassette Shimano Tiagra 10x 11/34T
Chain: KMC 10x
Saddle: Selle Italia Model X
Bar: Tifosi Gravel
Stem/Seatpost: Tifosi Alloy
Wheelset: Vision Team 30 TLR Disc
Tyres: Impac CrossPac 700x35c
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Tifosi says, "The new Rostra Disc is the evolution of Tifosi's ever popular CK7.
It is the perfect aluminium all-season bike that is capable of handling year round British weather, long commutes and fun weekend rides.
A Lightweight 6061 T6 aluminium frame ensures excellent ride characteristics and durability alongside comfort-oriented geometry, while the unidirectional fork with 1-1/8" to 1-1/2" tapered carbon steerer gives precise steering but with the additional comfort that carbon fork blades give.
The X44 headtube works with most modern tapered forks and aids handling, future-proofing the bike for years to come. Disc fitment is flat mount standard for hydraulic or mechanical and 12mm thru-axles keep everything stiff and secure.
Without mudguards the bike can take up to 35mm tyres, when fitted, tyre clearance allows for up to 32mm.
The Rostra Disc also has additional mounts for pannier racks if required."
The Rostra is a very good all-season bike with sensible geometry that enables it to be quick and controllable in all kinds of conditions.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
For the same money you can get a Campagnolo Centaur build with mechanical disc brakes, or a flat bar Tiagra build for £1,249.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The overall quality is very good and I like the look of the raw finish.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame is 6061 T6 aluminium, the fork full carbon UD.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is based on an endurance road bike with a well-balanced front end and wheelbase length that contribute to its stability and ease of riding.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The stack and reach figures are mentioned in the review; there is nothing out of the ordinary in terms of the measurements.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes it's comfortable, and the overall ride quality is good.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness is boosted by the size of the T47 bottom bracket shell.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is good thanks to the stiff frame.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It handles well. The geometry gives you relatively quick steering without any twitchiness regardless of the terrain.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I'd like a handlebar with a thicker top section for more comfort.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Wheel stiffness is good.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
If you spend a lot of time off-road on byways and the like you might want some smaller chainrings.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The setup all works well together and I wouldn't change a thing, though as I said above, if you spend a lot of time off-road you might want smaller chainrings.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
A bit heavy, but typical of the type of wheels found on bikes at this price. They are durable though, and suitable for riding on and off the road.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
They roll okay on the road and are capable of coping with most surfaces away from it.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
It's basic kit but does the job, and the flared handlebar helps descending off-road.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The price is competitive, comparing well with Ribble's CGR range (£100 less than the equivalent build) and Giant's Contend (£100 more than the equivalent).
Use this box to explain your overall score
A quality all-round road bike that comes with plenty of mounts and decent tyre clearances to allow you to play away from the tarmac. The Rostra comes with a decent spec list for the money, and it is a fun bike to ride. Overall, it's very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!