Specialized Roubaix Comp road bike

The Specialized Roubaix set the blueprint for the endurance market. Now it has FutureShock suspension...

Back in the day, and yes, we’re going back a good few years now, Specialized effectively gave genesis to the whole endurance bike market with the launch of the original Roubaix. By positioning the rider more upright, in a more forgiving position, and introducing apparently ride-enhancing tech in the form of Zertz gel inserts inside the seat stays, the whole concept of comfort suddenly took centre stage.

Since then, the market has flourished, with bikes offering differing degrees of comfort and stiffness, each with different levels of success. At RCUK we’re largely of the opinion that each endurance bike has a perfect rider, and vice-versa. Some might prefer a plusher ride, while others may like something more akin to race bike without the harshness. Equally, a bike may naturally respond better to an aggressive touch, or indeed be most at home with deft and gentle inputs. It’s all degrees, and, frankly, totally subjective.

The bike responsible for the whole segment though has recently received an update, and it’s quite a step too. As we reported when the new Roubaix was launched, the new FutureShock suspension was undoubtedly the standout feature because Specialized claimed a 4,538 per cent improvement in front-end smoothness. We couldn’t quite believe it then, either.

Essentially what FutureShock is, is a suspension unit placed in between the rider and the bike. So, instead of the mountain bike-esque bobbing that can occur as your weight engages and disengages on the suspension, now the flex point is atop the bike itself, allowing the bike to retain its effective stiffness and handling qualities beneath the rider.

There’s a visible protrusion at the top of the head tube, but the spring actually sits within the head tube itself, and allows a full 20mm of travel. Ideally, it’s adjustable too, so you can dial out a little of the travel if the road doesn’t warrant the full travel, or have it set to full ‘Paris-Roubaix’ if you wish.

The frame itself benefits from input from McLaren Applied technologies, an offshoot from the Formula One team, who developed the Rolling Efficiency Simulator in order to help Specialized understand the dynamics of compliance on overall efficiency. The bottom line is, as we explained in our launch story, they discovered two distinct kinds of compliance, splay and axial, with axial (essentially vertical compliance, rather than later compliance) the least-maximised yet most beneficial form of compliance in terms of power delivery.

All this highlights why Specialized have focussed on improving comfort at the front of the bike; namely, that too much rear comfort can have an impact on rear triangle stiffness, and therefore the power delivery. After all, this is a bike ridden by Tom Boonen and co at the Classics – and power is important.

This means there’s no suspension at the rear, but the American brand has gone ahead and reprofiled the rear triangle, dropping the seatpost clamp to slightly offset the junction at the seatstays, with the idea to maximise seatpost-sourced compliance without losing stiffness in this key area. That seatpost is another interpretation of compliance-maximising tech, too – Specialized call it the CG-R seatpost, with a moulded juncture at the saddle designed to absorb even more road buzz.

RCUK100 - Specialized Roubaix road bike
RCUK100 - Specialized Roubaix road bike
RCUK100 - Specialized Roubaix road bike
RCUK100 - Specialized Roubaix road bike

Specialized Roubaix Comp

The geometry has also been slightly altered by lowering the stack to bring the Roubaix slightly more in line with the Tarmac, which means it’s not about sitting up and begging. The good thing is there are a number of headset top covers and riser handlebar options, so a super-relaxed position is just an option away if you’re set on it.

The Roubaix range is all-disc too, with this Comp version featuring Shimano’s BR805 hydraulic disc brake system with 12mm thru axles front and rear, partnered with a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain. It rolls on quality DT Swiss R460 hoops, too, along with Specialized’s own Turbo Pro 26c tyres.

The frame itself can accommodate up to 32c tyres, and if you chose to go down this route then the Roubaix is a seriously potent long distance cruiser, giving just about as luxurious and smooth ride as it’s possible to get this side of a great rival: Trek’s Domane SLR Disc.



Selected for The RCUK 100 2017

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