The 2020 Specialized Roubaix takes the ground-breaking Future Shock-equipped machine that debuted in 2017 and evolves it into a racier version of the cobble-crushing design. The Roubaix is a suspension-equipped road bike. When it comes to front suspension there are two types: splay, which relies on the fork being able to move fore and aft (like on the Domane), and Axial, where the fork moves vertically up and down below the head tube – like a mountain bike suspension fork.
According to Specialized’s Roubaix boffins, neither way is perfect for a road bike. With splay, the fore and aft movement can slow you down, and axial suspension has a tendency to ‘bob’ up and down when climbing. The Roubaix gets around this by positioning the Future Shock above the head tube. This reduces any bobbing effect and suspends the rider, not the bike.
The Future Shock is a key factor in the Roubaix’s unique ride and it is well balanced with what’s going on at the rear. The Pavé post replaces the old zig-zag shaped CGR and offers a large amount of flex fore and aft. Specialized has been rather clever with the clamp position, too: the clamp bolt is accessed from under the rubber cover but the bolt itself extends 65mm down into the frame before the actual clamping starts, this leaves a huge amount of post exposed to make the most of the special carbon layup construction.
It flexes in a 45-degree arc and feels more controlled than a simple single tube should. This combination of the new clamp, post, Future Shock, frame and fork is 170g lighter than the previous model.
On the road the Roubaix is a winner. The reach of 392mm puts you in a sporty position and the nominal stack of 630mm, though some of that is taken up by the sag in the Future Shock when you ride, is taller than the racy Tarmac.
The Roubaix comes across as one of the raciest bikes that was on test and its parallel 73.5 degree angles and 1,014mm wheelbase are numbers more often found on pure race machines. The Roubaix is also one of the best handling bikes of its type.
Rough surfaces are where the Roubaix shines and the bods at Specialized have made the most of this by choosing the Ultegra RX Di2 rear mech over the standard model. The problem with a standard mech over rough ground is that the weight of the chain can cause it to move and bounce making the system noisy and even letting the chain fall off completely. The RX Di2 mech eliminates this with its ‘clutch’ system, which maintains the tension in the derailleur throughout its movement, keeping the chain tension equal. That’s why RX mechs are usually found on gravel and cyclocross bikes.
The Roubaix is really a bike that revels in the rough, the front-end compliance keeps you in control and the front wheel in contact with the ground. At the back, the well-matched compliance is complemented by one of my favourite saddles currently available – the short, well-padded and brilliantly shaped Power.
The drivetrain and brakes don’t deviate at all from Ultegra and no corners have been cut, so you get the full-fat IceTech brake rotors with their excellent heat controlling properties. The wheels are solid DT Swiss R470DB units nicely proportioned with a 20mm internal width and a great match to the 28mm Turbo Pro tyres. It’s all reasonable stuff but is the sort of wheel package I’d expect to find on bikes half the price of this one.
Specialized Roubaix Comp UDi2 geometry
- Seat angle: 74.5 degrees
- Head angle: 72 degrees
- Chainstay: 41.8cm
- Seat tube: 53cm
- Top tube: 57cm
- Head tube: 17cm
- Fork offset: 4.4cm
- Trail: 6.6cm
- Bottom bracket drop: 7.45cm
- Bottom bracket height: 28cm
- Wheelbase: 1,014mm
- Stack: 63cm
- Reach: 39.2cm