De Rosa R838 Series Athena Veloce 2012 Review

De Rosa have been designing and developing road racing bikes since the 1960’s, their passion for creating pioneering designs means that many professional and amateur cyclists around the world still turn to this established brand for their new bike each year. Since their founding in the late 1960’s this prominent Italian manufacturer has released a range of high performance bikes designed for cyclists who only want the very best, in recent years however this famed manufacturer has begun to design an exciting new range of entry level road bikes for the more novice riders who still expect the very best, like the De Rosa Milanino now in its second year.

De Rosa’s 2012 entry level sees the return of their award winning De Rosa R838 model, which won the Cycling Weekly’s Race Bike of the Year in 2010, with a staggering 93% overall rating. This hotly anticipated bike is available with either an Athena groupset or a Veloce groupset, ensuring that cyclists can choose a grouping more suitable for their needs. De Rosa have announced that the 2012 R838 is ‘more than an entry level bike’, a fact many cyclists would agree once they view the specifications of the De Rosa R838.

Both models of the R838 possess a sleek look with a dazzling white gloss finish with clean, simple graphics, as well as colour coordinated hoods and cables. More importantly, both De Rosa R838’s have high quality monocoque carbon frames. Although De Rosa have specified that the Athena model has a segment frame construction compared to it more inexpensive Veloce. This is a small construction difference however as De Rosa explains both models of the R838 have an extremely strong, rigid carbon frame that is extremely light in weight. Both De Rosa R838 models possess a careful frame design, in particular De Rosa’s broad top tube which effectively stands firm against any lateral twist when cornering at high speeds. While both models also feature a teardrop-profiled down tube which is carefully connected to the bulky bottom bracket ensuring the R838 remains taut even under intensive pedalling and continues to effectively transfer a riders power to the road.

The frames careful design, lightweight material and pioneering construction is a similarity every cyclist can look forward to when choosing either R838 model. But while there are some similarities there are a number of differences between De Rosa’s R838 bikes, in particular the Veloce is fitted with De Rosa’s standard carbon fork. Although this simpler carbon fork still performs flawlessly and provides riders with responsive cornering. The Athena however is fitted with a Mizuno carbon fork, created using leading design techniques the Athena is fitted with one of the lightest and strongest forks to date. Fitted to the De Rosa R838 riders can expect impeccable handling as well as an increased level of comfort.

The other stark difference between the 2012 De Rosa R838 models is the groupset. The Athena is fitted with Campagnolo Athena 11 speed groupset, a groupset that Campagnolo consider to be one of the best they have ever produced; the De Rosa R838 is fitted with Athena 11 carbon compact shifters, derailleurs, cassette and Athena 11 front and rear carbon brakes. This high quality groupset ensures that riders are able to enjoy accurate, fast shifting as well as comfy grips and brakes that are reactive in all weather conditions. In contrast, the alternative De Rosa R838 has been fitted with the more reasonably priced Campagnolo Veloce groupset. But while this lowers the overall price of the Veloce R838 riders can expect a groupset that is light, offers smooth shifts through all of the ratios and reassuring braking.

There is no doubt that De Rosa have created a unique bike in the De Rosa R838, the premium components, high quality material and meticulous design make the R838 more than just an entry level bike and is definitely the bike to watch in 2012.

De Rosa R838

Rating by Adam Samuel: 4.0 stars £££

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