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Specialized launch brand new Roubaix

Words by David Hicks

on 10/04/2019 17:01:34

Specialized Roubaix 2020

The Hell of the North, nickname for road cycling’s most famous one day race, gives you an idea of the demands placed on bikes and their riders as they tackle over 250 kilometres of northern France’s roughest roads each April during Paris-Roubaix. Rattling across cobbled farm tracks, only the very strongest get to lift the iconic cobblestone trophy in the track centre at Roubaix. But there’s only one claimant to the title of most Paris-Roubaix victories – and it’s not Tom Boonen or Roger De Vlaeminck. With six wins at Paris-Roubaix since its arrival 15 years ago, nothing or no-one can claim to be more successful on the cobbles than the Specialized Roubaix – proof, for sure, of Specialized’s belief that when it comes to rough road surfaces, smoother is faster.

Building on that performance heritage, Specialized have updated the Roubaix platform to deliver a more capable bike which improves performance for both the racer and rider alike.

What's new for 2020?

There’s no doubt that visually, there’s a striking difference between the outgoing Roubaix and this new model, with a silhouette much more akin to the Tarmac – but looks aside, the principles that made the last iteration a great bike to ride still apply albeit in a stiffer, racier, and faster package. So, what are the headlines with the new bike? A new frame, new Future Shock and new Pavé seatpost which all combine to deliver a higher performance, more capable package.

New frame

Let’s start with that new frame. One word dominates things here – aerodynamics. Fed straight down from Specialized’s sponsored pro teams, the new Roubaix marks a step change in the way it combines compliance with aero performance. As professional races have got progressively faster over the last few years those pro teams found that, while the Roubaix and its Future Shock provided plenty of comfort over the cobbles, an aero edge was needed. And Specialized listened.

Specialized Roubaix 2020

The new bike has spent time in Specialized’s WinTunnel, using FreeFoil tube shapes with cues taken from the Venge, to create a bike which is as fast as the Tarmac SL6 – and in turn, more aerodynamic than the original Venge, a bike with industry-beating aerodynamic performance back when it first appeared. The new bike is light too, with the S-Works frame weighing in at under 900 grams and the complete platform (including frame, fork, seatpost and Future Shock) saving between 100-200 grams across the range compared to the outgoing model. Add into the mix a stiffer chassis and the result is heightened rider feel, power transfer and handling and a bike that brings extra zip and urgency to the rider.

Down to the nitty gritty, the new Roubaix uses Specialized’s 10r carbon fibre for every bike besides the S-Works which gets an upgrade to 11r, and the RiderFirst engineered layup that has become ever-present on their road bikes is also applied – that means that every piece of carbon is optimised for each size to deliver the same performance regardless of frame size. The geometry here matches the outgoing model so, despite the racier feel of this bike, you can still be sure of the more comfortable, endurance position that you’ve come to expect from the Roubaix. Lastly, the new bike gets a threaded bottom bracket (no press fit here), and clearance for up to 33mm tyres.

Updated Future Shock

So, we have an updated chassis which promises to be stiffer and more aero – but how does that translate into a smooth ride on the worst of road surfaces, and deliver more speed overall? This is where the rebooted Future Shock comes in. Suspending you above the frame, the suspension system isolates you from road harshness to give you all the benefits of a compliant ride without taking a hit on handling or efficiency, and giving you more confidence. That suspension is also essential for performance by delivering 5.8% better traction compared to a bike with a rigid front end, meaning you can make full use of the stiffer frame and transfer more of those precious watts through the frame and into the wheels.

Smoothness = Confidence. Confidence + traction = Speed.

Specialized Roubaix 2020

The updated Future Shock comes in two versions, both delivering the same 20mm of travel as the previous model, and both located in the headtube as before, but with a smooth rubber boot to replace the previous crinkled version (more for aesthetics, than purpose). The Future Shock 1.5 on the Sport and Comp models is predominantly the same as the current version, using a progressive spring to handle duties up front, but with top and bottom bumpers added to better manage big hits. But where the magic really happens is on the Expert, Pro and S-Works models where you’ll find the Future Shock 2.0. This new system delivers the same 20mm of travel, but via a hydraulic damper with an oil port to simultaneously control the compression and rebound damping and – its real party trick – you can adjust the damping on the fly. Where you’d normally find a stem cap you’ll instead see a small dial which offers nine adjustment settings and lets you tune the front end for comfort or performance; heading into a rough section of pavé? Loosen that bad boy off and let it get to work. Heading into the final sprint on a blissful tarmac carpet? Stiffen it up ready for your watt bombs. It’s already been ridden to victory as Paris-Roubaix too – Peter Sagan piloted a development version to victory on the cobbles in 2018.

Brand new Pavé seat post

To balance out the front-end compliance and complete a balanced ride from stem to seat tube Specialized have developed the new S-Works Pavé seat post for the Roubaix. Replacing the CG-R model from the outgoing bike, this new post matches the D-shape design on the Tarmac but delivers the same compliance as the old post through clever carbon layup. The seat clamp uses an integrated wedge which sits low down in the frame in a similar position to the outgoing bike, allowing the post to flex through a greater range, with a rubber boot at the top of the frame to keep things aesthetically tidy. This new post comes on all models with a 20mm setback as standard, but you’ll be able to swap it for a 0mm offset variation if you prefer.

Throw all those updates together and what do you get? A pure race-bred endurance machine. Smoother just got a lot faster.

Specialized Roubaix 2020

Specialized Roubaix 2020 range

There’s a full range of specs and price points for the new Roubaix, from Sport all the way up to S-Works, and encompassing a few Sagan editions too. There’s no Ruby though – the RiderFirst geometry means that this bike is now a shared platform with no female specific version. To compensate, the size range now runs from a 44cm frame to a 64cm frame with stems, bars, cranks and saddles varying by size.

All bikes get the new S-Works Pavé seat post and there are Power saddles across the board. The S-Works, Pro and Expert models feature the new Future Shock 2.0 suspension with the remainder of the range specced with the 1.5 version. From Comp level upwards all bikes also get the new S-Works Future Stem - designed to work in partnership with the Future Shock, this new stem includes an integrated out-front mount for your Garmin, Wahoo, or GoPro. For braking duties it is hydraulic disc brakes throughout the range, and depending on your choices you can opt for Shimano, from 105 all the way through to Dura-Ace, or SRAM’s new Red and Force eTap AXS on the S-Works and Expert models respectively.

See the full range >

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See the brand new Specialized Roubaix up close at your nearest Rutland Cycling store.