Rove – ‘a journey, especially one with no specific destination; to travel around an area’. This Reynolds steel offering from Spa Cycles, the Rove couldn’t have a more apt name. It’s a bike you just want to get on and keep pedalling. The position is comfortable and its geometry just works, regardless of whether you are travelling light or fully kitted up for an adventure.
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Spa Cycles Rove 725 - Technical details
So, as I’ve mentioned the tubing comes from Reynolds and it’s the 725 grade which is a heat-treated chrome-moly steel. It’s a material used by many frame manufacturers at this price point and above, for its well-known ride quality but also durability.
For the style of riding the Rove is pitched at, I could forgive an agricultural, over-engineered finish to the welding, but you don’t get any of that at all here. The welds are neat and tidy throughout and the paint used is up to the job of coping with the abuse the bike is likely to see – it is also ED-coated for added corrosion resistance.
There are three colour options available with Gloss Black and Sunburnt Orange sitting alongside this Khaki offering.
In terms of versatility, you get loads of mounting points throughout the frame and it’s also got routing for a dropper post. Alongside that, there are plenty of options for gearing thanks to sliding rear dropouts, so the bike can run traditional derailleur-operated shifting or a classic single-speed setup.
Both the frame and the included steel fork accommodate mudguards, although if you have the carbon-fibre fork upgrade like our test bike, you won’t find any mounting positions for them. You do still get three bolt positions on each leg though for attaching cages.
As you’d expect on a frame of this style, all of the cable and hose routing is run externally and the neat guides keep everything in place and out of the way. It also means that maintenance is easy. A gear cable change out in the wilderness for instance is a ten-minute job rather than spending ages trying to run a replacement blindly through the inside of the frame.
For the bottom bracket Spa has gone down the BSA threaded route which should give reliable running and longevity. Replacement parts are also relatively cheap and easy to swap over with basic tools.
Sizing wise there are five options ranging from XS to XL, or 14” to 22”. The smallest of which comes with 27.5-inch wheels, while all of the others are 29-inch.
Thru-axles are used for wheel retention with Boost 15 x 110mm for the rear and Boost 12 x 148mm for the fork. The maximum rotor size for both the frame and the fork is 180mm.
The medium (18”) pictured here has a stack and reach figure of 628mm and 403mm, respectively. Those are brought about by an effective top tube length of 595mm, head tube height of 110mm and a fork length of 490mm, with a rake of 51mm. The bottom bracket drop is 65mm. The chainstays are 450mm in length and contribute to an overall wheelbase length of 1,102mm. The head angle is 70.5-degrees while the seat angle is a steeper 73-degrees.
Spa Cycles Rove 725 - Components
Spa Cycles is flexible when it comes to speccing the Rove. You can go simple and choose a frame only or opt for one of Spa's specified built kits.
A frameset with the steel fork will set you back £725 and if you purchase the headset at the same time, the builder will fit it for you before shipping. The carbon-fibre fork pictured here is an optional upgrade for £80.
The build that we have is the 2 x 10speed built around a Deore groupset and hydraulic disc brakes which retails for £1,695 with the steel fork, or £1,775 with the carbon version fork.
Other builds start with the same groupset as ours with cable-operated discs for £1,595 or £2,395 for a 1 x 12speed Deore XT groupset.
The Rove is also available in titanium with prices starting at £1,600 for the frameset including the carbon fork.
The standard build should come with a FC-M4100 crankset but due to availability, we have an upgrade to the FC-M6000. The ratios remain the same though, so we have an easy spinning 36/26T chainring setup mated to an 11-36T cassette.
The overall shifting quality is good, coping well with wet and muddy conditions while the ergonomics of the shifter position and feel are ideal. It’s the same with the brake levers. They work powerfully enough with two-finger operation even with the bike loaded up and modulation is good, too.
For the finishing kit, Spa has specced FSA components with a V-Drive handlebar, Omega stem and Gossamer seatpost. For the money, it’s all decent kit.
The saddle you’d normally get is Spa’s own Navigator but ours came with Brooks C17 Cambium which has loads of flex to increase comfort. I found it a little too soft but saddles are a very personal thing.
As standard, you get handbuilt wheels with Kinlin TL-29 32h rims with a mixture of Sapim Race or Strong spokes. These are laced to Bitex hubs. In use, I found it to be a great wheelset, rolling impressively well in a quiet and smooth manner. Durability hasn’t been an issue and I have taken in some tough rocky gravel trails over the review period.
An upgrade to Hope’s Pro5 hubs will cost you an extra £190, but they come in a range of colours for pimping your ride.
In terms of rubber, the rims are wrapped in 29 x 2.3in Teravail Ehline. They have a supple feel to them which I found to give a good ride quality even at firmer pressures. The tread pattern isn’t too deep on the central section, so they rolled well on hardpack surfaces as well as looser terrain, and sort mud was fine, too. Even on road sections, they didn’t feel sluggish.
For cornering you do get some tread which offers plenty of bite and that gives you the confidence to carry plenty of speed through the bends.
Spa Cycles Rove 725 - Ride impressions
Whether you want a simplistic approach to mountain biking or a flat-barred alternative to a gravel machine the Rove will suit your plans. It offers the comfort you want for longer rides, but it still has the fun factor to allow you to get out for a blast in the woods.
I’ll admit I think the reason I like the Rove so much is that it reminds me of the mountain bikes I was riding back in my teens before suspension forks were a thing – so it’s a little bit old school but with the modern benefits of large tyre clearances and hydraulic discs. The Reynolds 725 steel frame gives the Rove character as well as providing an excellent ride quality.
The key thing for me is just how easy the Rove is to live with. Firstly, it’s not as heavy as its looks would have you believe nudging the scales just over 12kg. This means that it’s controllable at low speeds, even when loaded up with bikepacking kit and feels nippy and surprisingly nimble when on technical sections of track or trail.
It also means it is no slouch on the climbs either, especially when backed up by the low ratios of the gearing provided.
The geometry also puts you as a rider in a position that feels natural and relaxing if you like. I had enough drop to the handlebar that I could get a bit of aero going on for descending or if I wanted to lower my centre of gravity for technical sections but, when sitting upright, I found the position to be comfortable.
In fact, after a few hours of riding solely in the saddle, I had no lower back pain (something I normally suffer with on road and gravel bikes) and I felt as fresh as I had when I set off. Something you want if you are going to be in the saddle for long stints at a time.
The front-end height also lends itself to being used with aero tribars should you be planning on covering a lot of miles in a flat environment.
From a ride point of view, I’d say that the Rove is very confidence-inspiring. It’s the perfect machine for an off-road adventure or just getting out in your local countryside to enjoy the scenery and get some fresh air. The fact that it is so easy to ride also lends itself well to those who are venturing into the off-road market, with no specific discipline in mind.
Spa Cycles Rove 725 - Verdict
Overall, I think the Rove is a hugely versatile bike for everything from full-on adventure touring to gravel rides of just a few hours. The fact that it doesn’t weigh a huge amount means that it is fun to ride, too, and that’s also what gives it its versatility.
I’d quite often head out for a quick blast on the trails with the kids or just to clear my head for an hour, and while it’s nowhere near as fast as a lightweight carbon machine, it doesn’t feel like it is lumbering around either. The biggest bonus for me though is the price. At just over seventeen hundred quid with the carbon fork, you are getting a lot of bike for the money.