By Colin Dennis
RRP: £2999.99 (£3699.99 for Di2)
Size tested: 54.5cm
From every angle, the De Rosa Idol Ultegra Disc is a good looking bike, but with only a penny change from £3k it might seem like a lot of money at first. Putting it into perspective though, the Idol frameset alone will set you back £2399.99. So, as a complete bike the Idol Disc looks terrific value for your money
Better still, the Idol proves to be no false god either as it's a sure-footed and comfortable bike that tracks along the road with ease to provide a reassuringly forgiving ride.
'The harder I rode the Idol the more I appreciated its forgiveness towards my riding. The bike not only soaked up the punishment that I was trying to dish out, but seemed to relish in it - the Idol won in the end so I simply sat back and enjoyed the ride.'
The De Rosa website states that - the IDOL was a must in the De Rosa production in the past but returns via a new project that encompasses the De Rosa experience and new road cycling trends. Its design, geometries and the materials utilised are optimised for use with a disc brake. The IDOL frame is made from SUPER HI-MODULUS carbon fibre with a blend of 70 % T1000 and 30% T800, thereby guaranteeing structural rigidity, absorption capacity and lightness to their maximum. And to be honest - I don't think they're too far off the mark ...
... To be even more honest, you haven't got to look too far to see who's won what on the fabled Italian De Rosa brand, but in amongst the many stars over the years you'll find no-less than the brightest star of all: Eddy Merckx was one of the most devoted users of De Rosa bikes during his illustrious career, especially with Molteni.
But today's Idols are made from carbon fibre rather than the more traditional tubes of Columbus steel and in the latest incarnation the De Rosa Idol is constructed using a Super Hi-Modulus frameset that has enough gorgeous curves to satisfy the most ardent admirers of frame design.
Aside from the straight bladed forks, the gently curving lines of the toptube and seatstays take on the appearance of an archers bow, but thankfully, the Idol isn't as highly strung as some Italians and the ride quality is surprisingly forgiving.
As you would expect from De Rosa, the frameset itself is a work of art and is available separately should you wish to custom-build your bike. As a disc frameset the Idol only comes in matte black as shown, and although the frame surface and graphics are really tough and scratch resistant, I can't help but wish it was available in one of the alternate colour schemes too.
The quality of the frameset is excellent and the angular tubes flow together seamlessly. Other than the seat tube, there aren't any 'round' tubes to be found on the Idol Disc - not that I think that matters, but it's all a question of taste, of course. The toptube is flattened in its central section and is channelled, quite deeply towards the seat post to a degree I've not seen too often.
The deep-section, triangular downtube balances out nicely with the bottom bracket and headtube to keep things aethetically pleasing, while a pair of beautifully slim and flattened seatstays arch slightly outwards to soak up even the worst tarmac surfaces. The only true 'round' tube is the seat tube and that flows neatly through the frame at the point where the toptube and seatstays blend together. The cables from the handlebars run short and clean as they enter the frame and forks - there's no excess here, everything is stripped back and clean looking.
Re-introduced into the De Rosa stable in 2014, the Idol had been completely redesigned from its former incarnations and is clearly aimed at endurance and sportive riders. But as you throw your leg over the saddle for the first time and reach for the bars, you are reminded of its race heritage somewhat. The top tube on the 54.5 test bike measures in at 56cm and comes with a 110mm 3T Pro stem. This is just enough to get low and long without pulling your back out of joint.
Out on the local roads my first impressions were how quietly the Idol rolled along. This is an almost noiseless bike with only the gentle hum of the Conti tyres as passengers to remind me I'm on tarmac. The 25mm Continental Grandprix tyres come as standard and I initially ran them at 100 psi. Comfy as the first run was I was keen to see how the bike would ride if I pumped them up to their max of 120 psi. I expected a harsher ride but was pleasantly surprised to how little difference it made to the overall comfort of the ride. I used the same stretch of road for a level playing field, but I think it's down to the frame qualities as much as anything else that gives the Idol such a comfortable ride.
As skinny as the the seatstays look, there's no denying how well they resist any sideways movement, there's not a great deal of room between tyre and the chainstays so there's no room for error. All that rigidity and compliance - it doesn't quite make sense. I'm not going to dwell on it but what more could a rider wish for? It possibly shows how well the Shimano RX31 wheels stand up to the abuse too. The chainstays flatten and flare out at he bottom out like a pair of 70s trousers, but the bow-effect of the stays add another dimension to the overall look and indeed - the ride quality of the Idol Disc.
Ok, I was half-expecting the bike to set my riding world alight, and initially I felt a little disappointed that it didn't quite do that. I stopped, carefully rested the bike against a wall and stepped back. The answer came to me fairly quickly though - I was being unfair to the bike. The last De Rosa I rode was a King RS laced with Campagnolo Record and a wheelset so light they skipped along the road, you don't forget bikes like that in a hurry. I jumped on-board the Idol once more and reassessed my thoughts process.
In summary: the more I rode the De Rosa Idol Disc the more I appreciated its forgiveness towards my riding. Thanks to the lack of up-keep to many of the roads around the New Forest they can often put Belgian Pave to shame, so if a bike behaves well here then it's going to feel good anywhere. The Idol Disc simply soaked up the punishment and demanded more.
Pros: Superbly comfy and forgiving ride, fantastic heritage, top-notch framset, full Shimano Ultegra groupset, comes fitted with a set of perfect winter training wheels, bargain as a complete bike, Di2 compatible
Cons: Wheelset on the heavy side
Hot off the Press! The De Rosa Idol gets a Fulcrum Racing Sport Disc wheelset upgrade for 2016. RRP remains the same as does the rest of the bike