Friday, April 22, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
The Specialized Roubaix was built for exactly this kind of riding. Well, actually, it was built to win races like Paris-Roubaix, where the race course includes dusty, muddy, rough cobblestones covered with a patina of tractor gear oil with myriad unexpected obstacles placed between the start and finish lines. Luckily, that just so happens to describe a lot of the roadways here in northern New England too!
The Roubaix SL3 is a fantastic frame whose technology was only available on the $7000+ S-Works version of the Roubaix as recently as last year. Carbon is a fantastic material to build a bike frame out of, since it is almost infinitely tunable in terms of compliance - shaping of the tubes, layup of the carbon fabric make it possible to keep significantly stiff lateral and torsional rigidity while adding a substantial amount of vertical compliance, resulting in microsuspension that both smooths out the potholes and dampens the smaller inconsistencies of the roadway.
The thing that makes the SL3 version of the Roubaix so much better than previous versions is the way it is laid up in better sections. SL2 and earlier versions had a separate bottom bracket piece that chainstays and downtube plugged onto, which resulted in extra structural carbon overlapped and bonded together. The SL3 chainstays, bottom bracket, and seattube make up one piece that makes the bike about .25 lbs lighter, and BB30 carbon bottom bracket shell also contribute to a stiffer, lighter weight system. Size specific stays for EVERY frame size mean that there is specific thought going into every size bike, not just the 56cm one like a number of competitors.
The geometry of the Tarmac is relaxed. This gives it a longer wheelbase than a race bike, which makes it more stable and predictable at speed. It is still a light (16 lbs.), stiff, responsive bike, just more like a sport sedan than an F1 race car. The ride is plush and forgiving, but there is a sort of positive springy feel to the ride that seems to drive you forward with every pedal stroke. The headtube is probably at least as tall as any of its competitors, and with the 4-position stem that comes spec'd on every level Roubaix there is a huge range for fitting you comfortably (or aggressively) on the bike.
Full Shimano Ultegra 6700 drivetrain, Fulcrum Racing 4 wheelset, and FACT carbon seatpost w/ Zertz insert all add to the ride. Specialized's own Avatar saddle is plush, anatomically correct, and comes in three widths to fit any rider's sit bones.
We have Roubaix SL3 bikes in our Test Bike fleet. Come in, get fitted, and take one for a long ride over any road, smooth or rough!