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De Rosa is one of those names almost guaranteed to make cyclists of a certain age get a little weak-kneed and nostalgic.
Yet despite having heritage as rich as an oligarch, the Italian brand has occasionally struggled to find its feet in today’s fast-paced carbon-everything landscape.
Supercar design pedigree
But fast-paced is precisely what De Rosa is aiming at with its new SK Pininfarina. This abbreviates the Super King name, and shares the limelight with the Pininfarina design house (think Ferrari, Alfa Romeo…).
We'd have to say though, we were initially expecting the bike to cost much more than it does. De Rosa is hardly giving it away, but the only unticked box here is electronic shifting, and the frame has universal routing for either system.
The frameset combines 60, 24, 40 and 30-ton carbon in ascending quantities. It mixes swoopy curves with straight lines and familiar aero features such as lowered seatstays, split fairing in front of the rear wheel and hourglass head-tube.
The forward-facing tubes have rounded Kamm tail profiles. But despite epic expanses of carbon, it’s not overly aggressive-looking.
A road aero frame, integrated cockpit and 80mm-deep Vision Metron rims equals hard and fast, right?
A Teflon don of a bike
Wrong. Somehow the SK is as smooth as Teflon-coated silk with a ride quality like a high quality endurance bike. If that wasn’t enough, it still has the raw speed to embarrass TT machines, and classy road bike manners – an aero road bike that doesn’t demand weekly physio appointments to get the best from it.
Your watts are channelled directly to the rear wheel, where they’re converted into relentless speed. From the saddle it was easy to forget how deep those wheels were, as they never made their presence felt in a way that was anything less than positive. Laterally stiff, accelerative, and useful on punchy or power climbs, along with supple and grippy tyres, they only enhanced the ride.
Then there’s Campagnolo’s precise-shifting Super Record groupset. Although Campag’s new direct mount calipers were fitted to some show bikes, ours had De Rosa-branded units, which don’t offer such crisp feel or fine adjustment, but with Vision’s SwissStop pads, never lacked power.
The SK is what we want an aero bike to be – engaging, awesome-looking, fast everywhere, and with no comfort compromises. We’re off to squeeze in another ride before it goes back.