A masterpiece of comfort and aerodynamics? That’s what the Specialized Roubaix has always set out to be, and the latest version of the all-road racer and pavé expert promises to set new standards. But what has actually changed and how does the 2024 Roubaix fare in our first ride review?
Specialized’s all-road racer got its name from the infamous Paris-Roubaix road race. And even though it’s no longer the bike of choice for this race, Specialized remain true to its origins and their original aim of making the most comfortable endurance road bike. So we headed to Portugal’s Atlantic coast to put the € 14,000 and 7.29 kg (size M) flagship S-Works Roubaix SL8 to the test on extended rides over cobblestone, rough asphalt, and gravel. We also put the brand new Future Shock 3.0 through its paces and took an in-depth look at the bike. The cycling paradise around the coastal city of Lisbon offered the perfect conditions to do so. The rugged cliffs, refreshing sea breeze, steep gravel, heavy rain and Mediterranean specialities make reviewing a bike particularly interesting.
The big news for the Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL8 – Future Shock 3.0
True to the motto of “smoother is faster”, the Californian brand rely on decades of all-road know-how to present what they claim is the “most comfortable road bike in history”. Underlining this is the new Roubaix’s biggest innovation: the third edition of Specialized’s in-house damper, the Future Shock! It’s neatly integrated into the fork steerer and thereby prevents vibrations and impacts from being passed through the handlebar to the rider. This system has already proven to work very effectively on the Specialized Diverge STR, which is probably the craziest gravel bike we’ve reviewed to date, as well as the previous Roubaix. Due to the position and construction of the small coil shock directly under the stem, Specialized promise improved responsiveness, increased stiffness, lower weight, and better integration than comparable air suspension forks. The Holy Grail of suspension, then?
And the latest iteration of the beloved shock takes things even further. Thanks to three different spring rates and additional preload-spacers, Future Shock 3.0 can be adjusted to suit any rider. Whether small and slender or big and powerful, it should cater to everyone on the new Specialized Roubaix. However, you’ll have to disassemble the front of the bike to make the adjustments. It might sound like a lot of effort at first, but Specialized have designed the new Future Shock to be especially quick and easy to disassemble. And since Specialized want you to make the adjustments yourself, every Roubaix comes included with all the coils, preload-spacers, and tools you need. The 400 g shock is backwards compatible, too, so all previous Roubaix models can be upgraded to the latest version. Although it’s replaceable, the shock’s service life has been extended enormously thanks to its easy serviceability.
The new Future Shock is available in three different variants. Version 3.3 features on-the-fly damping adjustment, exclusive to the S-Works and Pro models. Version 3.2 with non-adjustable damping comes specced on the Comp and Expert models. The bikes of the Standard and Sport series have to make do without any damping, only fitted with a coil. Good news: the interchangeable coils and preload spacers are compatible with all Future Shock 3.0 versions.
The Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL8 in detail
Apart from the new shock, not too much has changed on the 2024 Roubaix. The Aftershock, i.e. the rear “suspension”, has remained the same and continues to rely on an offset seat post clamp to allow it to flex more freely. Compared to the active rear suspension on the Diverge STR, the damping on the 2024 Roubaix is rather subtle, though an active rear shock would be overkill for an all-road bike.
However, to make it more capable off-road, the maximum tire clearance has been upped to 40 mm, so you can fit wide gravel tires. While we’re on the topic, the bike on test comes fitted with 32 mm S-Works Mondo tires – tubeless, of course! Could the new Roubaix be the ultimate gravel racer? The aero features certainly speak for it. Wait, aero features on an endurance bike? Yes! It makes perfect sense, too, because those who ride long distances benefit from a reduction in drag just as much as pros in a race. According to Specialized, the old Roubaix was already the fastest endurance bike on the market when it was introduced. And the latest iteration is said to have become even faster! Visually, however, the Roubaix hasn’t changed all that much.
The frame shape is very similar to the predecessor and so the new Roubaix still relies on semi-integrated cable routing. We’ve come to expect a little more than that. But it makes up for that in versatility – besides the relaxed riding position, the frame has mounts for mudguards and a top tube bag. It even has bosses for a third bottle cage under the down tube for those ultra long rides.
High-end to budget – The components of the 2024 Specialized Roubaix
Good news for anyone whose budget isn’t big enough for the price of the top-of-the-line S-Works Roubaix: Specialized offer the 2024 Roubaix in seven builds and a frame set, catering to a wide range of preferences and budgets. The most affordable Specialized Roubaix SL8 starts at € 2,800. Fans of mechanical drivetrains can rejoice, too, seeing as all models are compatible with mechanical groupsets, and the lineup even includes 1x setups. Only fans of high-end Shimano groupsets are left empty-handed. The best stock build you can get in this regard is the Shimano 105 Di2 on the Specialized Roubaix SL8 Comp.
Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL8 2024
Seatpost S-Works Pave Seat post D-Shaped
Brakes SRAM Red eTAP AXS 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Red eTAP AXS 2x12
Stem S-Works Future Stem
Handlebar S-Works Carbon Hover
Wheelset Roval Terra CLX II 12 x 100/12 x 148 mm Through Axle
Tires S-Works Mondo 2BR 700 x 32c 32
Cranks SRAM Red AXS w/Power 172,5 mm
Cassette SRAM XG 1290 10-33T
Size 44 49 52 54 56 58 61 64
Weight 7,29 kg
Tried and trusted – The geometry of the 2024 Specialized Roubaix
The geometry of the new Specialized Roubaix remains largely unchanged and doesn’t hide its endurance and all-road character. As with the predecessor, the Roubaix features a tall front end and minimal saddle to handlebar drop, resulting in a comfortable riding position designed for long distances. This is also reflected in the much-touted stack and reach figures. In combination with its clever front and rear damping systems, the Roubaix SL8 looks to be a worthy successor.
|Seat tube||365 mm||410 mm||446 mm||465 mm||485 mm||505 mm||545 mm||581 mm|
|Top tube||503 mm||523 mm||534 mm||550 mm||569 mm||584 mm||600 mm||618 mm|
|Head tube||90 mm||90 mm||105 mm||122 mm||140 mm||168 mm||202 mm||222 mm|
|Chainstays||418 mm||418 mm||418 mm||420 mm||420 mm||423 mm||423 mm||423 mm|
|BB Drop||80 mm||80 mm||80 mm||78 mm||78 mm||78 mm||78 mm||78 mm|
|Wheelbase||994 mm||992 mm||998 mm||1005 mm||1012 mm||1031 mm||1042 mm||1054 mm|
|Reach||353 mm||363 mm||370 mm||381 mm||389 mm||397 mm||403 mm||409 mm|
|Stack||540 mm||555 mm||570 mm||585 mm||605 mm||630 mm||665 mm||685 mm|
First ride review of the Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL8
Cutting to the chase: the bike is indeed very comfortable. The Future Shock 3.0 works in perfect harmony with the flex offered by the seat post, providing a superbly balanced ride. As with the predecessor, Specialized’s damping system and approach performed convincingly throughout. This is underlined by the bike’s handling, allowing you to control the Roubaix with precision and speed whether you’re riding fast or slow, instilling you with confidence, and never feeling nervous. As you’d expect from an endurance road bike, the Roubaix is on the more composed side of the spectrum, and clearly designed for long distances. The tall cockpit and relaxed riding position go hand in hand with the bike’s stable handling.
Since it tips the scales at just 7.29 kg, the S-Works Roubaix climbs comfortably easily. Although the aero design is nice looking and we have no doubts about its performance in the wind tunnel, the upright riding position is sure to slow you down a whole lot more than on thoroughbred race bikes, negating much of the frame’s aero benefits. However, it’s a compromise you’ll have to accept for the increased comfort and easy handling. Swapping out the coil of the Future Shock 3.0 is super fast – any home mechanic should get the bike back on its wheels in less than ten minutes. The settings make a noticeable difference on the road: the perfect setup prevents bottoming out and bobbing when you stand up to pedal, so you’ll no longer need to make any on the fly adjustments. The new Future Shock can be left fully open in all situations. The Roubaix SL8 can easily take on gravel roads, too, without having to worry about numb hands or punctures – not least thanks to the ample tire clearance.
Tuning tip: Get a second wheelset with gravel tires for that one bike quiver.
Who is the 2024 Specialized Roubaix SL8 for?
It’s a bike for those who value comfort, ride long distances, and just want to have fun on the bike. Tech-savvy bike lovers will also get their money’s worth with the Future Shock 3.0. Even commuters should take a close look at the versatile 2024 Roubaix SL8, considering its mudguard mounts. Due to the balanced handling, many mounting points, and ample tire clearance, it’s for all those who don’t want to or can’t ride a thoroughbred road bike. The Roubaix is equally capable as an all-round bike, and with a second wheelset with gravel tires, it can serve as a fast gravel bike too.
Our conclusion on the 2024 Specialized Roubaix SL8
The new Specialized Roubaix has big shoes to fill. The predecessor isn’t just one of the most popular road bikes, but it also sets the standard to beat amongst endurance bikes. With the new Future Shock 3.0 and increased tire clearance, however, the Californian brand have made significant and sensible improvements to the latest iteration. The matching handling rounds the new Roubaix SL8 off perfectly, making it one of the most attractive all-road bikes of 2024.
- adaptability of the Future Shock 3.0 system
- a super versatile bike thanks to a variety of mounting points and wide tire clearance
- very comfortable thanks to the Future Shock 3.0 and relaxed riding position
- external cable routing isn’t the cleanest
- no high-end Shimano groupset options
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Words: Jan Richter Photos: Jan Richter, Specialized