May 22, 2017

By Evan

Specialized is known for pushing the boundaries and taking a non-conventional approach when it comes to designing new bicycles, and recently they have again redefined the endurance segment of the road market with the all new future shock equipped Roubaix. When Specialized updates a bike they start from the ground up and the new Roubaix got the full treatment with a completely redesigned frame and fork paired to their revolutionary new damping technology dubbed Future Shock aimed at smoothing out the roughest of roads.

THE DETAILS

  • Future Shock road damping technology
  • Fact 10r carbon frame with SWAT
  • S-Works CG-R FACT Carbon, single bolt, 27.2mm
  • Specialized Pro SL 100mm alloy stem
  • Specialized Hover Expert alloy drop bars (420mm width, 15mm rise, 125mm drop, 75mm reach)
  • Specialized 143mm Phenom Expert GT saddle w/ adaptive edge design, hollow titanium rails
  • Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 speed drivetrain w/ ST-RS685 levers and hydraulic disc brakes
  • Shimano Ultegra 110bcd crankset w/ 50/34 compact gearing
  • Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassette with long cage RD & braze on FD
  • DT Swiss R470 tubeless ready disc wheelset w/ DT Swiss 350 hubs
  • Front and rear thru-axle (100mm fork/142mm rear)
  • 700c x 26mm (60tpi) Specialized Turbo Pro tires w/ Black Belt protection
  • Size: 56 (tested)

 

THE BIKE

Specialized went and completely redesigned frame and cockpit for the 2017 Roubaix and in doing so they inadvertently went and redefined the entire endurance genre. Not only is the new frame the lightest and stiffest Specialized has ever produced, the new future shock headset finally addresses the long-standing issue of evening out pitted and uneven roads and dirt without sacrificing performance. As with all of their bikes Specialized offers multiple levels of carbon frames and build kits featuring economical entry level builds all the way up to pro level Dura Ace Di2 and SRAM Red eTAP wireless kits, which include Roval carbon wheels and S-Works carbon bar, stem and seat posts.

For this review we rode the Expert level build, featuring Shimano’s workhorse Ultegra 6800 11 speed groupset paired with DT Swiss R470 disc wheels laced to DT Swiss 350 hubs. The model we tested also features Specialized’s SWAT storage at the seat tube/bb/downtube junction which is another unique feature of the new Roubaix that helps to set it apart from the other bikes in the endurance category.

THE RIDE

For the riding tests an even mix of terrain was thrown at the Roubaix with some hard-packed dirt and loose gravel sections at Marston Lake providing the perfect place to get started. I am typically a pure road rider and usually stick to the smoothest surfaces I can find only occasionally venturing onto hard-pack sections of road if I absolutely have to but the Roubaix put my worries to rest after only a short time. The bike was confidence inspiring and the future shock did what it was designed to do, smoothing out harsh bumps and vibration from larger chunks of gravel. After a few laps off-road we then headed to Bear Creek Lake Park for some testing on paved sectors to see how the Roubaix stacks up against your average road bike when it comes to a downright performance comparison. Surprisingly, the Roubaix performed extremely well on the road but let’s get it straight, despite the stiffest and lightest frame claims, this is not a replacement for the Tarmac. If you are interested in a lightning fast bike with blistering performance then the Roubaix may not be for you. That being said, the Roubaix absolutely outperforms most of the other bikes in the endurance category that I have had the pleasure of riding and is nearly on par with your typical entry level race bike.

 

CLIMBING

This is the area where most of my original skepticism rested when I first laid eyes on the newly redesigned Roubaix. How would that spring react to standing efforts and would it outperform its older Zertz equipped counterpart? Endurance bikes aren’t built to be climbers and the new Roubaix is no exception to the rule. However, it is adequately stiff and accommodates long, out of the saddle efforts with ease and very little frame flex thanks to a stout FACT 10r bottom bracket and chainstay configuration that does a great job of transferring power. Again, it’s no Tarmac but it is leaps and bounds ahead of the old Roubaix when it comes to going uphill and is probably a segment leader in this area as well.

DESCENDING & CORNERING

Although it proved itself to be an extremely worthy candidate when things went uphill, the future shock still had me feeling a bit skeptical about descending. I honestly wondered whether it would be an asset or liability when cornering at higher speeds on descents. Once again, the Roubaix quickly alleviated any of my concerns and actually stands out as a solid descender thanks to stiff tubing, laid back geometry and wide 26mm Specialized Turbo Pro tires mated to DT Swiss R470 disc wheels. The Future Shock was a non issue and is virtually unnoticeable unless you seriously put your body weight into it. The Roubaix actually held contact with the road surface quite well and upon my return to Marston Lake I even got a bit bold and threw it into some of the dirt corners pretty hard but the Roubaix handled this with absolutely no problem.

CONCLUSION

The Roubaix is a bike which has consistently redefined what a road bike should be, and this latest iteration completely takes the endurance road segment and turns it upside down, creating a bike that fills the gap between road and gravel/CX bikes. With many long-time roadies reassessing their ride goals and choosing to opt for bikes that allow for a bit more versatility and a go-anywhere mentality, we think the new Roubaix will be the catalyst to bring this type of riding to the attention of the masses. Once again the Roubaix has proven that Smoother is Faster. 

Roubaix Expert

$3,399.99
Specialized keeps on proving that smoother is faster and their all new Roubaix Expert is the embodiment of this philosophy.