I first rode a Specialized Roubaix 9 years ago and loved the genre changing bike so much I bought one. However a huge amount of progress has been made since then within the endurance bike category and so I was very intrigued to see what the latest model had to offer.
The Roubaix Comp Disc has a key detail missing from the frames of the past – no Zertz dampers. The progress in carbon fibre production and frame building enables Specialized to build a frame that mutes the road buzz, provides amazing levels of comfort yet is still a stiff frame for effective power transfer. The highlight is the new suspension in the headset which gives 20mm of movement. Dubbed “Future Shock” this system relies on a spring that can be changed quite easily to give three levels of movement (soft 13 pounds, medium 25 pounds and firm 40 pounds). The odd looking CG-R (Cobble Gobbler) carbon seatpost provides 18mm of vertical compliance which cushions the rider.
So does it all work?
I took the bike for two rides – a short sharp one with a 20% hill and a longer 2 hours plus ride with rolling terrain and very varied road surfaces. My initial impressions were of utter calmness from the ride no matter what the road surface was like. The idea of a limousine cradling the rider along seemed appropriate. All the holes and road buzz were taken away leaving a very smooth and stable experience. The geometry is intended for endurance with a more upright position than my usual full aggressive posture and combined with the slightly longer wheelbase the stability and handling were great – positive control with great stability. I was concerned that the plushness would mean poor climbing but I was pleasantly surprised that the huge chainstays and stiff rear triangle meant strong power transfer on steep gradients. Over the longer distance and awful roads the cushioning and position meant I finished in a state of comfort whilst having averaged a good pace and strong winds.
The other key feature is the superb hydraulic Shimano disc brakes with provided great modulation with massive stopping power. One finger braking on fast descents with complete control meant a relaxed pair of hands at ride end. Overall the build equipment was very good with classic high quality Ultegra shifting, huge gear range and a strong DT Swiss wheelset.
So would I recommend the bike?
Absolutely – for the right person. Long miles, poorly surfaced roads, big climbs and descents and all day epic rides would be the perfect match for the latest Roubaix models.