Specialized Roubaix SL4 review



Specialized Roubaix SL4

BikeRadar verdict

0.3 out of 5 stars

"Smooth-riding, highly developed frame needs better components to really shine"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 8.00am By

The Specialized Roubaix arguably kicked off the ‘comfortable race bike’ genre. With vibration-damping Zertz inserts, it was designed for cobbled races. Away from racing, it appeals to sportivists and anyone doing long rides at a decent clip.

  • HIGHS: Race heritage, super-smooth ride, trustworthy handling
  • LOWS: Gappy gear setup, quirky headset, spec could be better
  • BUY IF… Comfort is everything and you don’t mind upgrading a few bits over time

While all the Roubaix frames look the same, they differ in grades of carbon. This entry-level bike is inevitably the heaviest, but the overall weight is 9kg so ‘heaviest’ isn’t actually all that heavy.

The Zertz inserts are the most obvious feature, but you’ll also find an interesting tapered head-tube: 1 1/8 to 1 3/8in, rather than 1 1/2in. The idea is to add stiffness over a straight steerer without too much weight; the downside is limited headset choice.

The zertz elastomer inserts add comfort to the roubaix’s ride:

Clearly a lot of the price is tied up in the frame. We’d expect at least Tiagra at this price, but the Roubaix can only muster 9-speed Sora. There is nothing wrong with the latest Sora. The budget group now has the same double-lever shift arrangement as its more expensive brothers, and it has a pretty slick action.

You have to put up with exposed gear cables, although the lever-mounted barrel adjusters are useful. And we weren’t all that impressed by the Axis brakes, which work in a slightly grudging fashion.

There’s a huge gear range, with the compact chainset driving an 11-32 cassette. It’s debatable who needs that much range – and hard to imagine that a rider who needs 34x32 getting much use out of 50x11. It’s a big range to get out of a 9-speed cassette, too, giving significant gaps that make it harder to maintain an even cadence at times.

While the Roubaix is marketed on its race heritage, comfort is its big thing. The 25mm tyres, Zertz inserts, gel pads under the bar tape and a 27.2mm carbon seatpost mean that the Roubaix scores highly on ride quality.

Specialized roubaix sl4:

You don’t get the alacrity of some of the competition, though. It’s a perfectly acceptable weight, and handles fine, but it’s more about rolling along than charging.

Somewhere between the high front end, sturdy tyres and slightly gappy gears, the impetus gets lost. But it’s a bike that lends itself to long rides of the sort that make sprinting performance a little moot.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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Roubaix SL4 (14)

Available Sizes:
49cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 61cm
Bottom Bracket:
OS integrated, sealed bearings
Axis 1.0
Shimano Sora 11-32
Shimano Sora 50/34
Roubaix FACT carbon full monocoque with Zertz inserts
Frame Material:
SL4 Fact Carbon 8R
Front Derailleur:
Shimano Sora
Front Tyre:
Specialized Espoir, 700x25
Front Wheel Weight:
Specialized Comp shallow bend 42cm
Headset Type:
Chromoly cartridge bearings 11/8-13/8in
Rear Derailleur:
Shimano Sora
Rear Tyre:
Specialized Espoir, 700x25
Rear Wheel Weight:
Body Geometry Riva Road Gel
Specialized Comp carbon, 27.2mm
Shimano Sora 9-speed
Specialized Comp-Set, adjustable 11cm
Weight (kg):
Specialized Axis 1.0
Weight (lb):
Spoke Type:
Front: 24 radial spokes; rear: 32 3-cross radial
Frame size tested:

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