The Specialized Roubaix is synonymous with the all-road segment. But the 2019 all-road OG has been around for some years now, and it’s starting to look a little dated. Can the suspended cockpit and flexible rear end still hold their own in our all-road group test in 2023? We put it to the test to find out!
This bike was tested as part of our 2023 all-road group test – you can find an overview of the group test and the featured bikes over here: The best all-road bike of 2023 10 all-road bikes in review
The name says it all with the Specialized Roubaix Comp. Inspired by the Paris-Roubaix classic and its distinctive cobbled roads, the bike is all-in on damping with its integrated suspension, taking the concept further than any other bike on test.
However, it’s not just with the Roubaix that Specialized have set new standards in the drop bar segment. The Specialized Diverge STR gravel bike also pushes the limits of what is possible with its active rear suspension, paired with the same front suspension as the Roubaix Comp on test.
Specialized decided that comfort can’t be solved by wider tires and lower pressures alone and have therefore broken new ground. At € 5,600, the Roubaix is the second most affordable bike on test, though it also comes specced with entry-level components. Read on to find out how the Specialized Roubaix Comp performs on the coastal roads and lighthouse climbs of Catalonia in our all-road group test.
Suspension done differently – the Specialized Roubaix reverses telescoping suspension
Specialized prioritise function over form on the Roubaix, coming at the cost of the bike’s looks, which are usually so important to the brand. But that can be overlooked, because the bike is brimming with interesting features, even if it has been around for a few years now. Above all, the look is determined by the front suspension and added flex at the rear.
Due to the integrated, telescoping shock absorber, positioned above the steerer tube, the cockpit is rather tall and upright. Unfortunately, there’s no way of slamming the stem and making the Roubaix look aggressive. The dial above the stem further robs the cockpit of street cred. Matching the already tall front end, Specialized spec the bike with a riser handlebar, like that on the ROSE REVEAL PLUS. Overall, it’s a sensible look and it makes no secret of the bike’s intentions. However, all-road bikes needn’t look like sandals-with-socks wearing tourists despite their functionality. They can look sexy too, making you feel excited to ride.
Specialized resort to a clever damping solution at the rear, moving the seat post clamp downwards to increase the leverage on the seat post and allowing it to flex more readily. While a great idea, however, it’s somewhat lacking in execution. The clamp is unwieldy and somewhat difficult to reach, and though the cover keeps it nicely protected, it doesn’t look great. The offset clamp on the ROSE looks far more refined. That aside, the Specialized features an understated look. This is underlined by the subtle dark red, slightly transparent finish. In direct sunlight and the right conditions, you can even see the carbon fibres shimmering through. But that’s enough of the design – the components of the Roubaix also deserve mention.
DThe € 5,600 price point is mid-range for Specialized, and it’s specced accordingly.
The DT Swiss wheelset with R 470 rims isn’t much to write home about, but it pairs well with the 32 mm Specialized Turbo Pro tires. Inflated, they almost max out the frame’s 33 mm tire clearance. Specialized rely on a proven SRAM Rival AXS 2x drivetrain for the gears. The 46/33 t crankset and 11–36 t cassette combination offers sufficient gear range for steep climbs and is perfectly acceptable for the price. Nevertheless, you can get higher end builds for just a little more money from Argon 18 and MERIDA. For roughly the same price, the Pinarello comes specced with the Shimano 105 Di2 groupset, which sits at the same level, but offers better performance.
Specialized Roubaix Comp
Seatpost S-Works Pave
Brakes SRAM Rival eTap AXS 160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Rival eTap AXS 2x12
Stem Specialized 100 mm
Handlebar Specialized Hover Comp 420 mm
Wheelset dt swiss r470
Tires Specialized Turbo Pro 700x32c
Size 44 49 52 54 56 58 61 64
Weight 8,74 kg
Rot schimmernde Lackierung mit Carbon-Optik
Clever gedämpfter Gabelschaft für extra Komfort
Viel Flex in der Sattelstütze durch individuelle Klemmung
Specialized Turbo Pro als coole Allroad-Bereifung
A bag of technical tricks – Specialized Roubaix Comp
What it lacks in looks, the Specialized Roubaix makes up for in handling and suspension. The front shock doesn’t just smooth out all the bumps and irregularities, it’s user-friendly and offers on-the-fly adjustability. Unfortunately, the adjustment range is somewhat limited, as we missed having a full lock-out function in certain situations. In addition, the suspension tends to make squelching noises, which can get annoying in the long run. While the rear end compliance cannot match the sophisticated systems of Wilier and Trek, the flex in the seat post delivers on its promise. In comparison, the Roubaix is even more comfortable than the ROSE REVEAL PLUS, relying on a similar solution. Ultimately, Specialized have succeeded in striking a good balance in damping between the front and rear as the flex in the seat post is capable of matching the front suspension, absorbing every bump and vibration.
The handling also makes a well thought-through and mature impression in every other respect. The tall cockpit instils you with confidence and results in a balanced riding position. Accompanied by the predictable, yet agile steering, you get a bike that riders of all skill levels will quickly feel comfortable riding. In some situations, however, this can be somewhat deceptive, making you feel overconfident and pushing the all-road bike beyond its inherent limits. We also overestimated the bike’s capabilities at one point and earned ourselves a puncture on a gravel road. Even if the focus of all-road riding isn’t on sprinting and responsive handling, we found the Roubaix somewhat boring to ride. You’ll be better off aboard bikes like the MERIDA SCULTURA ENDURANCE 9000 or Wilier GranTurismo SLR on fast, winding terrai
The Specialized Roubaix Comp rides like on a bed of clouds.
Who is the Specialized Roubaix Comp for?
The Specialized Roubaix Comp is a solid and versatile bike. From daily rides and commutes to ultra-distance races, the Roubaix can do it all. The beginner-friendly bike is the ideal choice when comfort and confidence are your top priorities. That said, it’s slightly lacking in acceleration and speed, though that’s to be expected on an all-road bike with features such as these. Unfortunately, the bike is limited by the lack of mounting points for bags and fenders, as well as the minimal tire clearance of just 33 mm.
Tuning tip: clip-on fenders to have fun regardless of the weather
Conclusion on the Specialized Roubaix Comp
Even though the Specialized Roubaix Comp is starting to get a bit long in the tooth, it can hold its own against the competition in our 2023 all-road group test. The bike is characterised by a high level of comfort and cleverly integrated damping elements. Unfortunately, the severely limited tire clearance comes at the cost of versatility. However, despite being restricted to asphalt and smooth gravel, the Roubaix still deserves a place on every wish list.
- bike with the best front suspension
- forgiving long-distance handling
- reserved, dated look
You can find more about at specialized.com
The test field
You’ll find a comprehensive group test and test field overview here: The best all-road bike of 2023 10 all-road bikes in review
All bikes in test: Argon 18 Krypton (Click for review) | Merida Scultura Endurance 9000 (Click for review) | Parapera Atmos² (Click for review) | Pinarello x (Click for review) | Rondo Ratt CF (Click for review) | Rose Reveal Plus (Click for review) | Scott Solace eRide 10 (Click for review) | Specialized Roubaix Comp | Trek Domane SLR 7 AXS Gen 4 (Click for review) | Wilier Granturismo SLR (Click for review)
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Words: Calvin Zajac Photos: Jan Richter