We take a look at the radically redesigned Specialized Roubaix
Front suspension on a road bike might sound like something straight out of the 1990s, but the concept has been revived with the new Specialized Roubaix, and to great effect.
The big talking point on the new Specialized Roubaix is the spring-based suspension unit built into the steerer tube that offers up to 20mm of travel.
Although this may sound like a gimmick, it does, in fact, make for a significantly smoother and more comfortable front end, gliding over rough terrain.
But this is still a race bike, with a lightweight frame and the same fork as the Tarmac.
This mid-range Expert model is equipped with Shimano’s faultless Ultegra groupset, with the neat addition of a 32t sprocket at the rear.
The bike is only available with disc brakes, a decision I’m perfectly happy with considering the target market.
The wheels are DT Swiss R470 Discs which could be lighter, but still do a good job, and complement the wider tyres well.
Jumping on board the Specialized Roubaix Expert Shimano Ultegra Di2 for the first time is an unnerving feeling, with the front suspension giving the impression that you’ve got a puncture.
However, get five minutes down the road and you completely forget about it, feeling no loss of efficiency even when wrenching the bars up and down in a full gas sprint.
Going fast around a bumpy curve is a complete revelation, with the front tyre staying glued to the ground rather than juddering.
A price knocking at the door of four grand might seem a bit much for a bike without a top-level frame (if you want that then there’s an S-Works model with SRAM eTap available for £7,500), but considering the revolutionary experience of the front suspension system, it’s a fair price to pay, even with the middle-of-the-road aluminium wheels.
The Specialized Roubaix Expert ticks every box we'd hope and endurance bike to tick. Most importantly the suspension in the front end makes it incredibly easy to ride over rough surfaces, but it also offers excellent handling and a lightweight frame that can be ridden fast.