The Specialized Ruby Comp is the overall winner of the BikeRadar Women's Road Bike of the Year Award, and with good reason. It's a fantastically comfortable, fast and stable ride with above-par spec for the price.
- Presenting the BikeRadar Women's Road Bike of the Year Awards
- Do I need a women's bike?
- Best women's road bike under £2,000
For the BikeRadar's Women's Road Bike of the Year Awards, we tested over 22 bikes at three different price points: under £1,000 (roughly $1,500), £1,000 to £1,500 ($1,500 to $2,000), and £1,500 to £2,000 ($2,000 to $2,500). The Specialized Ruby Comp was the £1,500 to £2,000 category winner, but it also takes the overall award, because of its exceptional performance, comfort and value for money.
All the bikes were tested both by the BikeRadar team, and by a specially recruited panel of our readers, so this review reflects the combined opinion of a number of female road cyclists.
Introducing the Ruby Comp
The Specialized Ruby Comp (£1,800) is a bike designed around endurance and sportive/gran fondo riding, and features women's-specific geometry. Specialized is interesting in that the company develops geometry for its women's bikes based around data collected from numerous bike fits. How that data informs the angles and tube lengths varies from bike to bike, so rather than a catch-all 'shorter reach, more upright position', Specialized will develop female-focused endurance geometries, race geometries and so on.
The Ruby Comp consists of a Specialized FACT 9r carbon frame and FACT carbon fork. The seatpost is also carbon, while bars, stem and cranks are alloy. The Ruby comes in at an impressive 8.23kg, one of the lightest in our test overall.
Specialized has engineered a number of standout features into the Ruby, contributing to the comfortable ride it provides. These include Zertz inserts, small pieces of elastomer that are incorporated into the forks and seatstays that are designed to absorb road vibration and provide a cushioning effect.
That strange feature on the Specialized CG-R FACT carbon seatpost is also designed to smooth out the rough. The CG amusingly stands for 'Cobl Goblr', and the kink in the seat post is cushioned with an elastomer that deforms and absorbs road vibration, preventing it transmitting up the seatpost, into the saddle and thence the rider.
Is it hype or does it work? We certainly felt that this was the most comfortable bike we rode during our group test, but did that strangely shaped seatpost actually contribute? In this case, looking back at some extensive testing of the CG-R seatpost in a previous review – which saw it pitted against the cobbles of Flanders – we'd have to say that yes, it does.
The comfort stakes are also noticeably increased thanks to the addition of Specialized's Ruby Expert saddle, which features titanium rails. Our testers were very pleased with this perch and, given that they were also impressed with saddles on other Specialized bikes in this group test, it looks like the brand is doing something right. Of course, the usual disclaimer applies: saddles draw highly subjective opinions, and what works for some doesn't necessarily work for all. That said, we think the Ruby Expert offers a good starting point.
Also commented upon was the comfort provided by the Specialized Women's Comp alloy handlebars. These feature a shallow 123mm drop, and have a flattened and wider profile across the top that, when combined with the cushioned Roubaix bar tape with gel pads, makes for a pleasantly plush contact point.
Specialized really hasn't skimped on the spec when kitting the Ruby Comp out. The Shimano Ultegra groupset is a level above the Shimano 105 gears you see more commonly in this price bracket. Ultegra provides very smooth shifting and brake control, the result of a trickle-down of engineering from the higher spec Dura-Ace groupset, and is often seen as the sweet spot between performance and value across the Shimano hierarchy. Levers are carbon, and engineered to provide effective shifting with minimal movement.
There are 22 gears to play with, with the Shimano 11spd 11-32t cassette providing a wide range of gears that, given the light weight of the bike, should be enough to get up the majority of inclines the landscape can throw at you, fitness notwithstanding. It's certainly enough to spin your way some steep slopes without busting a gut.
If anything, we'd like to see a little more on offer that would allow us to put some extra oomph into the Ruby – its acceleration is impressive, and it maintains speed well – it was almost crying out to see how much faster we could take it.
We were also pleasantly surprised to see a TURN Zayante by Praxis Works crankset, with 50/34t chainrings. This is a seriously good piece of kit, taking the Editor's Choice in our 2015 roundup of the best road bike cranksets. While it may not be the lightest out there, it's impressively stiff and durable, and steps ahead of the cranksets seen on other bikes in our sub-£2,000 women's road bike roundup.
And there's more. The Fulcrum Racing S-19 Light wheelset is another quality choice, ideal for training and robust enough to last. The Specialized Turbo Pro tyres are quality, featuring 'black belt protection', which denotes sturdy construction to resist wear, tear and puncturing, as mush as it possible. They're also 700x26mm, slightly wider than the 25mm more commonly seen on bikes at this price point (though there are exceptions). This plumpness gives increased tyre volume, which in turn contributes to the overall comfort of the bike thanks to its cushioning effect on the road, and they roll more easily over rough surfaces.
A fast, stable, encouraging ride
Overall, the Specialized Ruby was an absolute pleasure to ride – the kind of bike you always get excited about going out for a spin on, whether that's a quick hour after work, long miles at the weekend, or sportives or club runs with friends. When describing their experience of the Specialized Ruby Comp, our reader panel consistently referred to it as stable, encouraging, fast, comfortable, forgiving and agile.
It's supremely comfortable but has no shortage of get-up-and-go or responsiveness. While the Ruby is endurance-oriented, we also found it quick to accelerate and a rock-solid and forgiving companion at speed. It spurs you on to go faster, and inspires confidence both on the flats and when descending. As a result, we reckon it could also handle racier events – though it doesn't have the aggression of out-and-out velocity merchants such as the Liv Envie.
Add to the ride and handling quality the impressive spec, and you've got a bike that excels in all directions; comfort, performance and value for money. The magic triumvirate that equals an award-winning bike.
Find out more about the BikeRadar Women's Road Bike of the Year Awards and discover our finalists and winners.