First ride: Specialized Roubaix S-Works SL2 review$7,200.00

Range-topping Roubaix

BikeRadar score4.5/5

Specialized’s 2010 Roubaix bikes haven’t changed a great deal from 2009, which is perhaps not that surprising considering they received a radical makeover between 2008 and 2009.

The Shimano Dura-Ace-equipped Roubaix S-Works SL2 sits at the top end of what Specialized call their 'Endurance Road' range, and it comes with pro race wins to its name and a reputation for comfort.

Ride & handling: A bike that you can not only ride for miles, but you can also ride fast

Some pro-level race bikes leave you feeling beaten up whereas the Roubaix will allow you to cover long distances comfortably, but it’s more than just a machine for fitness and leisure riding.

It has a genuine racing heritage, including being ridden to victory by Tom Boonen in – aptly – this year’s Paris-Roubaix.

More modest riders will appreciate the sumptuous ride, but with the frame stiff in all the right places – in particular the head tube and bottom bracket – it handles like the full-on race bike it is.

Fast enough for racing, comfortable enough to soak up mile after mile of Belgian pavé – now that’s a winning combination. 

Chassis: Combines armchair-like comfort with UCI limit-troubling weight

The Roubaix includes a number of design touches seen widely elsewhere, such as the way the curved top tube narrows in profile where it joins the seat tube and the use of comparatively narrow seatstays.

However, there are also some features unique to Specialized, notably the vibration-damping Zertz inserts which feature in the Roubaix’s frame, fork and seatpost.

While the Roubaix does indeed offer an almost armchair-like comfort – it rides as smoothly as any high-end bike we’ve tried – we think the frame geometry is the most important factor in achieving this.

For example, Specialized have built a little bit more ‘give’ into the rear end by using a curved brake bridge; this results in a slightly longer distance from seat tube to brake bridge, hence a little more flex.

A standard 27.2mm seatpost, rather than an oversized version, also helps add a little more comfort. And, although there has been a shift towards slightly less compact frames in the past few years – certainly in the pro peloton – the Roubaix still has a dramatically compact carbon frame.

Combining this with Specialized’s own full-carbon monocoque fork, the result is a bike that’s not only comfortable but weighs in at not much more than the UCI’s 6.8kg minimum weight. With Ultegra pedals (317g), our test bike nudged the scales at just 7.4kg (16lb).

Equipment: Shimano Dura-Ace plus quality own-brand kit

All the equipment, as you would expect on a bike at this price, is about as good as it gets. Specialized’s carbon bars, carbon cranks and its clever four-position stem complement the Dura-Ace groupset.

The chainrings are 7075 T6 aluminium with a nickel/boron-coating for added toughness, and the saddle is a Specialized Toupe with hollow titanium rails, again designed to increase comfort on long-distance rides.

Simon has been cycling for as long as he can remember, and more seriously since his time at university in the Dark Ages (the 1980s). This has taken in time trialling, duathlon and triathlon and he has toured extensively in Asia and Australasia, including riding solo 2900km from Cairns to Melbourne. He now mainly rides as a long-distance commuter and leisure/fitness rider. He has been testing bikes and working for Cycling Plus in various capacities for nearly 20 years.
  • Age: 53
  • Height: 175cm / 5'9
  • Weight: 75kg /165lb
  • Waist: 33in
  • Discipline: Road, touring, commuting
  • Current Bikes: Rose SL3000, Hewitt steel tourer
  • Beer of Choice: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Location: Bath, UK
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