Test Lab Specialized Roubaix Comp
The Roubaix is a model that has stood the test of time. It has been and continues to be used by the world’s best road riders. In 2009 Tom Boonen rode a Roubaix to victory in the race from which the bike takes its name. Specialized bikes continue to be used by some of the world’s biggest pro road teams including Astana, Team Saxobank Sunguard, and HTC Highroad this past season. With the name attached to this bike, you are guaranteed to be using a product that has tons of technology and huge amounts of testing put into it during its development and production.
The Roubaix range has eight different models to choose from, varying mainly between component spec and the type of carbon weave used in the frame. The Roubaix Comp sits somewhere toward the middle, although this is a bit blurred due to the inclusion of the compact crank models. The Roubaix comp frame uses FACT 8 carbon and therefore has the same advanced technology and construction as the Specialized S-Works SL2 of 2009 and 2010. It has been designed as an endurance road bike, to handle the roughest of surfaces that you may come across on any long distance ride.
With the thought of ride quality and comfort in mind, the frame has been designed to flex vertically, while still remaining torsionally strong. Zertz inserts, a mainstay of the Roubaix range, have been added to both the fork and the rear stays to add to the comfort level of the bike. Specialized claim the inserts absorb some of the roughness from the road, reducing vibration and making this frame ideal for the cobblestone roads of the race it is named after. The Zertz inserts in no way take away from the strength or stiffness of the frame. They are simply inserted into gaps in the forks and rear stays.
The comfort level of this bike is outstanding. It has been the only bike I have ridden since my fall and I have appreciated the added plushness of the frame and the benefits of the heavier rubber Specialized have added to the package. After spending more than four hours on the bike during one ride, I was more than happy with the result. The comfortable saddle and extended carbon seatpost combined with the frame’s ability to flex vertically made for a good, comfortable ride for the duration of the test. The Toupe saddles that Specialized fits to some of their bikes have a reputation for a high level of comfort due to the huge number of sit bones measurements in the Specialized Body Geometry database.
Considering the larger tyres, which I won’t bang on about, the bike was very good to climb and sprint on. The lateral strength of the frame was very telling in both of these cases. The longer wheelbase and slacker head angle was a little noticeable during high-speed cornering and descending. It made the front of the bike feel a little light but was still able to be easily controlled once a little more weight was placed forward. The Roubaix cruised along very nicely over any kind of surface and as you’d expect, it was really at home on the dead and rough roads that you often find on longer training rides.
Specialized have tried to keep the price down on this model while maintaining quality in all the important areas. The frame design has all the latest Specialized technology, but has been fitted with various levels of components. The bike is equipped with both Shimano 105 and Ultegra drivetrain parts, and the fact that they have specced an 11-28T cassette shows that some real thought has been given to the kind of rider who is likely to purchase this bike.
With the exception of the top-shelf wheels, putting top-level, high priced components on this frame would only really change one thing greatly—the price. At 8.1kg, the bike comes in at a reasonable weight. But without spending large amounts of money, some extra weight could easily be saved—the most obvious component being the tyres.
The DT Axis 3.0 wheels are a good inclusion, being very durable and light compared to the heavier wheels on previous models. They are radially-spoked on the front, giving some good aerodynamics for the longer endurance training rides as well as being strong should you put it in the gutter during a stiff crosswind. The quality of these wheels is good enough for use in dead or rough road races just by simply upgrading the tyres.
The size tested was a large at 56.5 in length and seat tube height. The 172.5mm cranks are quite common for this size frame. Although many may say that particular length is quite sufficient, I felt that since the Roubaix is an endurance bike, a longer crank would add a little more comfort to the package. The handlebars have a great feel to them, with good quality gel bar tape attached, but also felt a little small at 42cm, although this is borderline considering the frame size. There seems to be a trend towards using wider bars than in previous years so it comes down to personal choice. A 57cm or 58cm would definitely need a wider pair. In keeping with the upright theme of the Roubaix these bars have quite a shallow drop which is good for riders with less flexibility.
Specialized have based a lot of their sizing and the components they include in their frames on bike fitting technology. They have heavily researched the BG Fit Bike fitting system when building up their frames. They take a lot of data and rider feedback then average it out to place the most common size required for each component and fit it to their frames.
Overall the bike fulfilled all the requirements it was designed and built for. It looks great and has a very good feel to it. If comfort and riding longer distances over all kinds of surfaces is important to you then this bike will tick the right boxes.
The design and technology of the Roubaix is first class. The bike does exactly what it is designed to do. The components are mid level to keep the price competitive, but still do their job well.
The Roubaix has been built up as an endurance road bike. Its comfort level is superb with a great combination of vertical compliance and lateral stiffness. The wider tyres help the comfort with a nod towards cobblestones, but are easily replaced if faster rubber is required.
When you buy a Specialized bike, you know its frame technology will be second to none. The bike may seem a little overpriced when looking at its components, but Specialized do add some great touches when it comes to having a bike designed and built specially for you. This model has stood the test of time and Specialized continue to build a broad choice of bikes in the Roubaix range.