Rotor's Uno hydraulic groupset is officially launched in Spain – here's our gallery with the lowdown on development, specs, weight and price
In early April, Rotor put on a huge event amidst the mountains above Madrid to officially launch Uno, the brand's eagerly awaited hydraulic groupset. The Uno project is representative of everything Rotor has striven for since its beginnings: improving the experience of riders.
Due later this summer, Uno features hydraulic shift / brake levers; rim and disc brake options; a super-light cassette; and a custom KMC chain. The exclusive group is expected to cost £2,200.
With Uno, Rotor is aiming to take the best of mechanical and electronic shifting systems to create something completely different yet practical. Borrowing from the electronic side, Uno has been designed to have very direct, precise shifting, smooth activation and smart cabling that's resistant to bends and friction. Rotor's engineers were also keen to ensure a more tactile, mechanical touch to the shifting and maintain a low weight while also adding disc and hydraulic rim brake options – things they've achieved with Uno.
First shown publicly at Eurobike 2015, the Uno groupset has actually been six years in the making and one of Rotor's biggest ever projects. Rotor's experience in making and selling over 1-million cross-brand compatible chainrings has seen the company gain a wealth of experience in shifting performance while the brand has teamed up with Magura for its braking systems, a company with a century of hydraulics expertise.
Because the Uno's development and manufacturing has been completely in-house, it's been easy for the company's engineers to make subtle changes to the product during the production process. This has been key for Rotor, who furnished pro squads Team Dimension Data and Cervelo-Bigla with Uno groupsets last November. With typical insensitivity to the tech on their bikes – and those who've created it – the team riders pushed Uno hard and their feedback has meant more tweaks to the groupset over the first three months of 2016 than the entire year previously.
The result is ultra-smooth and precise shifting partnered with incredible braking modulation and stopping power across both rim and disc brake options, each of which now has a specific lever rather than a work-for-both, cross-compatible, compromise.
The levers for rim and disc brakes look identical, with chunky, highly grippy rubber hoods requested by pro riders. As the hydraulic mechanism itself is very small, Rotor says lower volume thermoplastic shells – which give the hoods their shape – will be available in the future to increase comfort for those with smaller hands.
The shifting system itself uses a single paddle lever positioned behind the brake lever. For the rear derailleur, one short click takes you down a cog while a longer throw takes you up one to four cogs depending on the adjustment of a screw on the derailleur's underside. Rotor recommends starting out with one cog shifting to get used to the feel of the system – the set-up that was requested by professional sprinters, for whom a rogue upshift could mean the difference between a win and slipping off the podium.
All the indexing takes place within the rear derailleur's 'clockwork' mechanism, actuated by the reinforced 3mm hydraulic line, which is the same diameter as a Di2 cable, making Uno compatible with existing frames. These are filled with a Glycol solution that's thinner than mineral oil for faster, more precise shifting, and no temperature issues unless you're riding below -15°C or above 88°C! Set-up of the lines is simple for anyone who's ever bled a disc brake and once set, there's no loss of performance as with cables.
The rear derailleur also has a return to origin function; a nob on the top that bypasses the ratchet to drop the chain to the smallest cog for quick wheel changes. Then a tap of the button and the indexing is back, regardless of which cog the rider left the bike in via the lever.
Uno's rear derailleur also has pre-set positions for different cassette ratios, a grub-type screw allowing selection of cassettes up to 30T without any B-limit screw fiddling. Just line up the cage with the first cog and you're done. Rotor has also included a system called Secure Shift, which means that if the lever is pressed past the point of a downshift, but not all the way to an upshift, then released, the chain won't slip down a cog as with some other systems.
The front derailleur uses the same lever action, although there is a double-trim function allowing you to adjust the position of the front derailleur's cage to make use of more gears without chain rub. It's another simple set-up here; one bolt adjustment ensures perfect shifting. Uno also comes with a KMC chain with DLC coating for less wear and increased shifting performance.
On the braking side, Rotor is touting the superior modulation of its hydraulic rim and disc brakes, giving road riders more control and less arm fatigue while riding to increase confidence while descending. Both types use standard Magura 5mm lines filled with Magura Royal Blood natural mineral oil, which isn't hydrostatic, ensuring water won't contaminate the system. Once it's set up, there shouldn't be any need to ever touch it again.
For the calipers themselves, Rotor has selected Magura's lightest MT8 system, which is both flat- and post-mount compatible and has been specifically designed for heat dissipation. The pads are held in place with Magura's magnetiXchange magnets rather than a spring, backed by a retention pin for extra security. No maintenance is needed, just replacement of the pads once they're worn. The 160mm Rotors give ample stopping power regardless of bike or rider weight.
The rim brakes are based on Magura's RT8 design, first seen on the Cervelo P5 and feature a barrel adjuster and quick release for easy adjustment and wheel changes. The brakes feature 14mm of throw to ensure compatibility over all rim widths – even if you swap from a wider rim to thinner, neutral service model.
As part of the ultra-light goal, Rotor has also developed a completely new cassette, which uses two steel domes for the first nine gears while the two biggest cogs are aluminium. Initially available in 11-28t, its sub 150g weight will make it a big-selling upgrade item in its own right.
Uno's lightness was critical for Rotor, with engineers employing judicious use of carbon in key places such as the rear derailleur cage, levers and lever band on clamp to lower overall weight. At the launch, Rotor published weights for each item in the group, which totals at 1,604g – over 410g lighter than Shimano's Dura-Ace Di2 disc group and 99g lighter than SRAM eTap with cabled brakes. The levers come in at 333g per pair with the disc brakes coming in at 413g. The rear derailleur weighs 212g, the front, a scant 114g despite its extra tall rear plate. The cassette is 149g, the chain 237g and all the lines etc weigh 146g.
Pricing and availability
The Initial release of Uno will be in very limited numbers – less than 20 groups in each international region – with greater availability rolling out towards the end of the year. Uno, which comes with levers, derailleurs, cassette, chain and hydraulics kit, is expected to cost £2,200.
If you are interested in becoming a Rotor dealer, please get in touch with your local area sales representative:
South West and Ireland – Oli Hunter – 07917 462225 – firstname.lastname@example.org
South East – Justin Hoy – 07917 462224 – email@example.com
The North – Michael Fish – 07917 462223 – firstname.lastname@example.org