Specialized’s Future Shock system is now a familiar sight on the Roubaix models. We ride its Elite model to see how it stacks up two years after its introduction - words Will Thompson
Having spent most of the summer riding an assortment of gravel bikes with their large diameter wheels and tyres, when the Elite brightly coloured Specialized Roubaix Elite came through the door sporting 28mm Turbo Pro rubber, I was apprehensive about the prospect of putting in some long miles on what I thought has the potential to be far from the comfortable quality I’d become so used to.
The Roubaix frameset bears the name of arguably one of the toughest single day road races on the calendar which was first introduced by Specialized back in 2004. Since then it’s gone on to win six editions of the famous race, including 2018 where Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) rode to victory on the latest model with the Future Shock system.
A race such as Paris-Roubaix demands a bike that offers comfort for long days the saddle without feeling like you’ve been sat on a washing machine but offering compliance and stiffness for fun and reactive ride when you’re out on the road.
Coming from a racing background and not having ridden the latest Roubaix models with the future shock system, I was keen to see how it performed and I wasn’t disappointed. The suspension system immediately got to work and all but eliminated road buzz and smaller bumps that we’re accustomed too here in the UK.
The Specialized Roubaix Elite gave me a lot of confidence and took away that unpredictability that can come with potholed and badly surfaced roads. After a few rides it was really shaping up to be something I would turn to for every day rides and even weekly commuting. The positive ride quality with no noticeable jarring through the saddle or bars had me really impressed and gave the assurance to point the bike wherever I wanted it to go!
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this additional comfort comes at a cost of speed and stiffness. When climbing out of the saddle I could feel the Future Shock bobbing slightly but I didn’t feel that it was sapping power or slowing me down. There was no noticeable movement from the suspension when seated, and on flat out sprints for local town signs it really accelerated up to speed quickly and felt responsive to my inputs. I wouldn’t be at all reluctant on turning up on the Specialized Roubaix Elite at a local evening club race on this bike.
It’s worth noting that the Future shock system can be height adjusted by 15mm up and down so most people should be able to find a fit that works for them. In addition, it comes with three different spring options out of the box to also cater for different rider weights. I’m 5”10’ and 68kgs and the medium spring felt like the right balance, but you could swap this out depending on the kind of ride you were doing, and it’s a simple enough job to change.
Lets talk about the paint of the Specialized Roubaix Elite! Rocket Red is bold and bright, it’s not for everyone, but I really liked it. The logo’s on the frame are reflective and it certainly drew some attention out on the road (the good kind!). This would be the colour I’d choose if I was adding it to my stable.
The bike comes with Specialized‘s own Hover handlebar that add around 15mm of rise, and for the racer in me, it felt a little too high, but this bike isn’t really aimed at that market, that aside, the bars are comfortable to hold and have a nice ergonomic shape.
With the future shock feeling like it’s the star of the show, the bike has a host of other tech specs that really made it a fantastic all-rounder. The Roubaix frame is made from its top of the line and super stiff FACT 10r carbon fibre, it has bolt thru front and rear axles that really add to the overall stiffness and something I was pleased to see.
While the CG-R seat post works to take away some of that road buzz through the rear end that can often have you riding out of the saddle to bring some relief. As someone who rides out of the saddle a lot, I found myself sat down a whole lot more on this bike due to the smoothness of the ride.
A talking point among many for this particular model may be the spec. With 11-speed Shimano 105 mechanical shifting and RS Hydro disc brakes it might seem slightly lacking given the price of £2,600.
Overall, I was really impressed with the shifting performance and long-term durability of the drive chain. Aesthetically the shifters might not be the most pleasing to the eye, but they were really comfortable in the hand and offered plenty of options of where to hold.
The hydraulic disc brakes had bags of feel and power that we’ve come to enjoy some Shimano and road bikes with Hydraulic discs in general. Given the location of the future shock, there was no dive from the front end under heavy braking, something that the mountain bikers amongst us will have long contended with on front suspension systems.
Lastly the wheel and tyre combination of the Specialized Roubaix Elite where nothing to write home about and are pretty standard components from the specialized equipment parts bin. With most of the money being in the frame, it’s to be expected that some of the components might be from a lower price point. Overall it comes down to your perception of value. A bike over £2,500 with 105 will need some consideration given other models on the market, but that frameset really sets it apart from those others.
I really enjoyed my time with the Roubaix Elite. It was comfortable, engaging and really allowed me to get on and enjoy riding without the normal distractions of road buzz and sore hands. Anyone looking for a road bike that can take on any road or terrain should look no further. The purists might shy away from a road bike with suspension and disc brakes, or say its been done before, but I honestly feel that this is one of the best endurance road bikes on the market right now. Although given the spec, it might not be that wallet friendly for everyone.