Age-old cobblestone roads demand concessions, and bike companies, riders and mechanics completely rework what a road race bike looks like to take on such arduous terrain.
From wider tyres to longer wheelbases and even clever built-in damping systems, these bikes are just as popular with riders seeking all-day comfort as pros looking to conquer cobbled Classics such as the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix.
Here are five of the best, presented by our own cobble-loving editor in chief, Ben Delaney. Scroll below the video to check out our reviews of these rough-riding road machines or their nearest cousins.
Trek’s entry into the endurance road bike is available to the pros in three versions. The standard off-the-shelf Domane has a comfy, upright geometry; the Domane Koppenberg features full-on racing geometry; and the Domane Classics is long with an ultra-low position.
The bike’s unique IsoSpeed decoupler – a pivot at the seat tube – is superb at dissipating road buzz.
We couldn’t miss out the bike that kickstarted the endurance road bike trend back in 2003. Specialized’s Roubaix has aged well, with the tall head tube and Zertz inserts in the fork legs and seatstays delivering extra damping over rutted roads, such as those found in its namesake race.
The Synapse features a novel split seat tube at the BB junction as well as a thin 25.4mm seatpost (as opposed to the traditional 27.2mm), which both help to smooth out the ride. In this year’s Paris-Roubaix, Team Cannondale Garmin mechanics made use of the bike’s amble clearances to fit 30mm low-pressure tubs for added comfort.
The BMC GranFondo RBX takes the regular BMC GranFondo platform and increases clearance for wider rims and rubber that Team BMC required for top performance on the cobbles. Aside from that, it offers the same supple ride characteristics and pedalling efficiency that earned BMC the Bike of the Year gong from our sister publication Cycling Plus.