BIKE TEST: ROCA ROJA LEGENDARY SINGLE-SPEED

Roca Roja Bicycles was created by Daryl Roberts, a custom bicycle craftsman who is no stranger to building high-quality titanium frames. These frames are named after some of the Sedona-area trails as adopted by the U.S. Forest Service. Roca Roja sought to create a bike designed to withstand the rigors of the Red Rock Country of the Yavapai and Coconino Forests in Arizona, where the brand was founded.

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WHO IS IT MADE FOR?

The Legendary is a purpose-built hardtail meant to satisfy the needs of trail riders. These bikes were conceived on the rugged and technical terrain of Sedona’s red dirt and rock trails, and while the bike is lightweight and capable of entering a cross-country race, that isn’t what it was designed for. The geometry is quick handling yet forgiving on technical terrain. The feel is stiff and efficient where it needs to be, but not so much so that it beats the rider to death. This is a trail bike for the rider who wants a simple solution to a complex problem.

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WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?

The Roca Roja is made from a combination of 3/2.5 and 6/4 titanium blends throughout. The frame is designed with the trail rider in mind, sporting a geometry that’s optimized for a 5.5- to 5.7-inch- travel fork. Cable routing is set up for 1x systems exclusively, with no mount for a front derailleur. The dropouts also have a unique “slider” system that allows the rider to custom-tune chainstay length or, as in this test, set the bike up as a single-speed without the use of a tensioner. The frame has other trail-friendly features, like an option for a Stealth-routed dropper post and clearance for up to 2.4-inch-wide tires.

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WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?

The Legendary comes stock with a slider dropout that’s outfitted with a derailleur hanger. The tubes have the cable routing to run this bike single-speed, like we did, or fully geared with just a few component changes. This bike is built to be the chameleon of your quiver, and the versatility of the frame design is the standout here.

Our bike also came equipped with Magura’s new MT7 disc brakes, which are seriously powerful stoppers. The brakes deliver tons of modulation and power with- out the on/off feel of some other high-end brake sets. While these brakes are overkill for most any hardtail, we can’t wait to test a set on an aggressive trail or enduro platform.

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HOW DOES IT PERFORM?

Setup: It is as simple as it gets. Our Legendary’s single-speed build meant we simply had to make sure the chain tension was tight, the tires were pumped up and the Magura fork was set to our desired 25-percent sag. Then we hit the trails.

IMGL0108Pedaling and climbing: Don’t let the single gear scare you, because this bike has the option to run gears with just a few quick and easy component changes. That said, though, nothing climbs better than a hardtail. This bike begs the rider to push harder to get that “one more” pedal stroke to get to the top of the hill. We typically found ourselves shooting past our riding buddies on the bike, picking better lines than we typically would simply because you can’t lose speed without tipping over. This bike’s climbing ability is only limited by the mettle of the pilot.

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Descending: The geometry of the Roca Roja inspires confidence on the descents, but don’t expect it to do the dirty work for you. The titanium tubes do an excellent job of absorbing the high-frequency vibrations that can rattle the fillings out of a rider on a comparably priced carbon hardtail. The frame is incredibly compliant over terrain that’s typically reserved for full-suspension trail bikes.

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Braking: Magura’s MT7 brakes feature four pistons and four separate pads for each caliper. This translates to huge power on the trail. And while the brakes might seem like overkill for a lightweight hardtail, Magura has done an excellent job building in plenty of modulation to keep the power in reserve for times the rider really needs it.

Cornering: The handling is stable and confidence-inspiring at speed, but still feels nimble in tight switchbacks and slow-speed technical terrain. The bike is most at home on moderately technical terrain, thanks to the dialed geometry.

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TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?

The single-speed drivetrain is the most efficient out there. Sure, it won’t get you to the top of the steepest climbs unless you possess superhuman quads and a razor-sharp eye for the best lines. And no, it’s not going to get you to the front of the pack as you spin out trying to catch your buddies. But, this bike can shapeshift from a single-speed fun bike into a cross-country race bike in a matter of minutes. All it takes is a shifter, cassette and derailleur and you’re in business with a fully geared machine. This frame is ready to suit your needs, even if single-speeding isn’t your thing.

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BUYING ADVICE

More often than not, riders overlook “custom” handmade bikes simply because they think twice about the high price. The Roca Roja offers the craftsmanship and custom details of a handmade bike at a price that’s much easier to swallow. The simple and clean aesthetics of the Legendary, coupled with its high-performance options make it a front runner for any rider looking for a hardtail that can do it all. ❏

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