Alan, our director was very lucky to go to the launch of the Specialized Roubaix and gives us his review below.
“I was lucky enough to attend the recent launch of the new Specialized Roubaix. Fittingly, the launch took place on the Belgium / French border in the area and race from which the bike took it’s name and inspiration.
It’s hard to believe that the Roubaix was launched 15 years ago. At the time, it was a game changer and subsequently clocked up an unprecedented 6 Roubaix victories. The ‘old’ Roubaix was a great bike. How does the new bike stack up?
Specialized never sit long on their laurels. Key platforms, such as the Roubaix, are revisited periodically and updated. (Innovate or die!) The new model is a complete redesign of the old bike.
What’s new –
The strap line the new Roubaix is ‘Smoother is Faster’. Through their purchase of Retul (one of the largest bike fitting systems in the world), Specialized has access to vast amounts of rider and ergonomic data. This allows them to make hugely significant design changes and decisions based of real, practical information. They have therefore taken the principal of ‘suspend the rider, not the bike’ and made serious steps forward. The new model contains an updated version of the Future Shock ‘suspension’ system (on certain models) which now has ‘on the fly’ dampening (as trialled by Peter Sagan on last years Paris-Roubaix). They have completely redesigned the old CG-R seat post and the new version will now appear on all models. The new Pave post (apart from looking beautiful) provides super compliance and aerodynamics.
The frame has been rebuilt from the ground up. The new design is lighter than a Venge and more areo than a Tarmac. The new model is 170g lighter than previous! Each frame size is designed & engineered individually (as opposed to applying the average to the smaller / larger sizes) for the same stiffness, results and performance. All the new design advantages are realised in all size options – no compromise. And, for the purists, all models have threaded bottom brackets! (Yeh!)
The aesthetic has been completely overhauled. The ‘turkey neck’ Future Shock boot, has been give the boot! The plastic bucket jammed in the frame is also gone! In addition to the aero seatpost, the ‘cockpit’ (stem, etc.) has been redesigned to match. The bike is stunning.
Finally, Specialized has taken a ‘beyond gender’ approach to design. On the back of their Retul rider data they believe that separating bikes into male & female is ‘arbitrary & outdated’. The Ruby (womens specific Roubaix) is now gone and they have introduced 11 frame sizes to accommodate everyone.
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How does it ride?
I rode the bike over 2 days & 240 km including 175 km of the Paris Roubaix course (with 50 km of brutal pave). While it’s the inspiration and playground for the bike it is also the ultimate testing ground.
On road, with the Future Shock locked out, the bike handled beautifully. Great cornering. Comfortable in descents. Responsive to climbing. It was fast. It was comfortable. It actually put a smile on my face!
When, however, the bike was taken on to the pave it came into it’s own. The combination of the Future Shock & new seat pin provided a level of ‘comfort’ and ‘smoothness’ that others could only dream of! Compliance, compliance, compliance. While other riders, on more traditional rigs, winced, grimaced & cried their way around, I floated across the surface. While others had to stop and massage life back into their battered hands and shoulders after each secteur I was ready for more!
The bike is the real deal. The complete package. Okay, we don’t all ride Flemish pave every day but our roads are not what they could be, should be or what they once were. Removing (or addressing) every day road harshness and noise is a very, very good thing! After all smoother is faster!
After riding the Paris – Roubaix Challenge the pros took it to a different level the next day. What they do is not even in the same universe. What do you know; the new Roubaix positioned first, third & fourth. The count of wins is therefore now up to 7. Remarkable.”