Specialized have a habit of creating new bike niches, like the comfort-inspired Roubaix road bike and the TriCross with its Roubaix, cyclo-cross and tourer DNA. The Secteur range is named after Paris-Roubaix’s cobbled sections and is the budget-orientated, aluminium-framed take on the Roubaix theme, with the same emphasis on comfort over all-out racing performance and identical geometry.
Far from being just a cheaper ‘also-ran’, the Secteur is a fine bike in its own right. Its aluminium frame and carbon fibre fork are as good as you’ll find at this price, with the fork boasting Specialized’s trademark Zertz elastomer insert. The kit is predominantly Shimano 2300, an eight-speed Sora-like setup, and the triple 52/42/30T chainset is a good idea for an entry-level bike.
It’s marginally undergeared at the top – we’d have preferred a 12-tooth small sprocket (top gear) to the 13 fitted, but the 30x26 bottom gear is low enough for most climbing. Talking of bottoms… part of the reason for the Secteur’s plush comfort is the geometry of its Beyoncé-like rear – the seatstays curve outwards from the top, swoop in around the brake bridge and then flare out again at the dropouts, building in flex.
The compact frame and 27.2mm seatpost also keep things very comfortable , while the long head tube (a whopping 225mm on our 58cm) makes for an upright rather than aggressive riding position. (The equivalent in Specialized’s Allez range has straight seatstays and a 205mm head tube.) Mavic’s CXP22 rims are good to see on a £600 bike, forming a strong pairing with Specialized’s own 25mm All Condition Sport tyres; their width offers pretty much the perfect balance of rolling resistance and comfort, and there’s a layer of Flak Jacket puncture protection too.
Aesthetically, we’re not fans of the rear brake cable hanging under the top tube – common to Specialized’s Allez, Roubaix and Tarmac ranges – and the braking from the unbranded dual-pivot brakes is decidedly average, but as a first road bike for sportive, fitness or endurance riding, the Secteur is a serious contender. It’s comfortable, has a reassuring ride, looks great and is well specced for the money. It’s good to see bosses for a rear rack too.