Specialized Roubaix Comp review
« The new Roubaix platform offers a ride quality built for massive mileages »
Highs: Comfort that gives control and handling prowess in equal measures
Lows: Squishy saddle and slightly dulled tyres
Buy if: You’re a tech head that wants cutting edge comfort that provides cutting edge control
When we had the exclusive test on the new Roubaix back in the summer of 2016 Specialized hadn’t yet come up with a name for its unique front suspension, but in true Specialized fashion its now got a natty marketable name — the Future Shock. Well whatever you call it, it’s certainly a seismic shift in front-end comfort.
Now there are bikes already out there that offer some impressive compliance, like Fuji’s Gran Fondo with its clever carbon construction, the Focus Paralane and Cérvelo’s C series and not forgetting the pioneering Trek Domane — especially now it has Isospeed suspension, both front and rear, on its SL and SLR models.
They all rely to one extent or another on ‘splay’ movement, that’s allowing the fork to move fore-and-aft to generate compliance and comfort. Where the Roubaix differs is that the Future Shock works on an axial path — that’s up and down (like a traditional mountain bike telescopic fork).
A mountain bike style system would however cause the front end to dive and bob under normal riding conditions, unless running some sort of lock-out — which would negate the benefits, so you’d just be carrying extra weight. To get around this Specialized has moved the shock position to above the headtube, so rather than suspending the whole front end of the bike it merely suspends the cockpit and you, the rider, along with the massively compliant rear end taking care of the rest of your mass.
The back end’s clever design, which drops the seatstays 3.5 inches below the top tube junction and incorporates the seat clamp into the seat stay ends via twin bolts, allows for much more movement from the post. The top of the seat tube is covered by a rubber seal and the tube is significantly bigger than the slender post allowing for plenty of room to move. Add to this the clever elastomer infused CG-R head to the seat post and you’ve got a back end that offers a wonderful balanced feel to the front end too.
Out on the road the Roubaix instantly feels different and impressively so once you become accustomed to its charms — the feeling of floating across the surface, even on rough frost scarred tarmac doesn’t bother the smoothness. When things get rougher or choppier it simply swallows up the harshness while still giving you enough feedback to read the surface for grip.