Tom Boonen raced his final ever Tour of Flanders aboard a very specialized Specialized Roubaix

Tom Boonen took to the Tour of Flanders last weekend aboard a very special Specialized Roubaix. The new bike is a curious beast in a couple of ways, but we’ll begin with the most curious: those rim brakes.

We’re particularly interested in these because Specialized originally said that the new Roubaix model would disc specific, and that they will not be releasing a rim brake version of the bike.

Yet low behold, here’s Tom Boonen riding a rim brake Roubaix bike. We contacted Specialized for some more info, here’s what they said:

“In a time where bikes with disc brakes have not yet been adopted by all teams, there exists a discrepancy in mechanical assistance along the course.

“For these technical and strategic reasons, working closely with our teams and riders, we’ve decided to supply Tom Boonen (for whom Paris-Roubaix will be the last race of his career), and all of our riders competing at both Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, with Roubaix bikes that have traditional rim brakes.”

The rim brakes on Tom Boonen's Specialized Roubaix

Rim brakes on Tom Boonen’s Roubaix race bike, a previously disc specific frame Photo: Jim Fryer / BrakeThrough Media

Specialized has also found a work around the UCI’s rules, continuing “This is a platform that’s UCI-approved and could be commercialized, that is if it’s determined to have enough consumer demand.”

It is likely, then, that we’ll see Boonen running the rim brake-equipped Roubaix again when he races Paris-Roubaix.

However, there were also some other neat little features of Boonen’s Roubaix; including a curious front end. The bikes comes with Future Shock, which is a spring cartridge that suspends the front end. It’s built into the fork and sits within the head tube.

The Future Shock on Tom Boonen's Specialized Roubaix race bike

According to Specialized, Boonen runs a stiffer spring than is commercially available Photo: Iri Greco / BrakeThrough Media

That in itself is nothing unusual, and Future Shock is available on the consumer model of the Specialized Roubaix. For these, the spring comes in three different weights.

However, Specialized says that Boonen has been experimenting with how stiff he runs his front end, so chances are, what he raced at Flanders is a lot stiffer than what you or I could buy.


Watch: Tour of Flanders highlights


There are other features of the consumer bike that Boonen has chosen to forgo, too. For example, the stock option comes with a CG-R seat post, which uses special inserts to make the ride more comfortable thanks to its added vertical compliance.

Whether Boonen feels this doesn’t suit his riding, we’re not sure, but either way, he has chosen to not use it.

In the end, though, it wasn’t to be in Flanders for Boonen, who suffered two bouts of bad luck with just 40km to go. The Classics legend suffered a mechanical at the bottom of the Taaienberg before quickly suffering a second on his replacement bike.