The Italian supermodel. Renowned worldwide for her superior style, sassy edge and a reputation for working hard while partying even harder. Sharing many a common trait with supermodels of Italian heritage, the lush looking King XS sits at the top end of Italian manufacturer De Rosa’s road bike range.
Thanks to the guys at Bike Swanky I was given the opportunity to take out this Italian supermodel for a week-long love affair demo ride.
Imagine if you will, a bike designed by flamboyant Italians for flamboyant Italians and you’d not be far off the De Rosa King XS Dura Ace in vivid pink. If you’re a shy and retiring type, this colour scheme is not for you (others are availaible). It’s pearlescent violet gleam is impossible to do justice in a photograph. You simply have to see it in the flesh. Turning up to the club ride on this machine is guaranteed to turn more heads than Britney Spears at a bachelor party! It’s bold, it’s brash, it’s brilliantly beautiful.
Adorned with stylish Prologo and 3T finishing kit plus Dura Ace running gear the King XS performs almost effortlessly whether cruising to the cafe or dropping the hammer along your favourite Strava segment. The Fulcrum Racing 3’s supplied on my test bike are a great wheelset, but feel a little under-specced on a bike of this price.
The King XS is a performer – although during the ride you may not notice. It’s one fast ride but does it all without you even realising it, which is the King XS’s blessing and also it’s curse. Comfortable, light, agile and very responsive, the King XS will have you ticking off Strava PB’s with ease and it does all of this without breaking a sweat. Personally I’d like to feel a bit more excitement from this Italian steed. It’s like a Ferrari without that signature exhaust note; still just as much the supercar but not quite the same.
Where you will notice the difference is when you point it up a smooth, winding gradient. Every last drop of power you push through the pedals is transferred directly to the rear wheel, propelling you forwards with ease. I found myself tapping through a few extra cogs on the 11-speed Dura Ace on my way to a PB up the famous Box Hill Zig Zag, even after sitting on the front of the club ride all the way to Dorking.
Coming down the hill on the other hand is not quite as awe inspiring. The rest of the groupset may be top end but the brakes are Tektro, a real let-down on an otherwise full Dura Ace equipped bike. They just don’t have the stopping power you’d expect for a bike of this calibre. It’s akin to making your supermodel girlfriend wear shoes from Tesco, except those shoes increase the risk of hitting an errant squirrel darting across the road in front of you.
Apart from the braking issue (easily resolved) the King XS is a superb bike. This is the sort of machine that an Italian playboy would load into his Maserati before heading out for a café tour through the Dolomites. You can picture it parked outside a champagne bar in Monaco at 10am in the morning, while it’s proud owner sips an exquisitely crafted espresso. It really is every bit the “supercar” that it looks.
It does come with a “supercar” price tag to match though. Retailing at around £4800 it’s not a cheap purchase. At this price point I’d like to see it fitted with Dura Ace brakes to match the rest of the groupset and a set of 3T Accelero 40 wheels.
Apart from those points the King XS is hard to criticise. It does everything exceptionally well (except braking) and without you even realising how good it is, but for me it lacked a bit of character. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s one hell of a bike and had me smashing it around the Surrey Hills in style.
Sure she has her faults, but what supermodel doesn’t? And just like any supermodel worth her salt, the more I rode her, the more I fell in love.