I was fortunate enough to meet Rob, an old friend and long time customer of my bike shop, for a recent fall road ride. Rob was on roughly the 700th mile with his new 2016 Specialized Roubaix SL4 Pro Disc Race UDI2. I could tell immediately that it didn’t take nearly 700 miles for Rob to fall in love with this bike.
The target rider for the Roubaix is hard to identify since the design of this bike offers so much to so many. If you just get out for 20-50 miles on the weekend, ride centuries regularly, or if you’re pushing the limits of longevity with randonneur distances, the Roubaix is absolutely up to the task. This specific model in the Roubaix series is absolutely stacked and leaves little need to step up into the s-works level.
FACT (Functional Advanced Composite Technology) frames undergo the process by which Specialized engineers design, fabricate, and test the entire spectrum of characteristics that will give the rider a lightweight and comfortable riding experience. Add to the FACT process Zerts inserts, and the rider is ready for any amount of time on the saddle.
Zerts inserts provide vibration reduction not only in the fork, but the seat stays as well as the seatpost. The outcome is a significant improvement in the overall ride no matter how rough the road may seem. In response to the Zerts inserts, Rob said, “There is noticeable vertical compliance…It really smooths out the bumps, especially noticeable cruising at over 22 mph and higher speeds.”
The Pro Race is stocked with Roval Rapide CL40 Carbon Disc wheels. When asked about the wheelset, Rob said, “Those Roval wheels are fast, I can feel them slicing through the wind at higher speeds. They are also very light and stiff…I felt like I was flying up the mountain!”
If you happened to have read my review of the Specialized Diverge, you may remember my comments regarding the future of disc brakes in the genre of road cycling. Well it’s clear, now that the majority of 2016 bikes have been released, that disc brakes have found their place in road cycling and they are here to stay.
Rob tested his first pair of road disc brakes on a local descent called Monitor Pass. After leaving the descent with a great impression, Rob said, “Because of the increased braking power, and not having to worry about overheating the rims, you can go much faster knowing that you can brake later and harder going into corners. I felt so much more in control descending at high speeds.”
The main reason for stepping into the Roubaix Pro Race vs the Roubaix Pro, aside from the wheelset, is the Shimano Ultegra DI2 drivetrain.
Quite possibly the most intriguing feature of the DI2 drivetrain is that the front derailleur automatically trims as the rider shifts through the wide range of gears in the 11 speed (11-28) cassette.
Adjusting DI2 derailleurs is much different from conventional derailleurs and should be done so with caution. If you aren’t a confident home mechanic, I recommend you take your bicycle into your LBS.
The DI2 battery life is surprisingly efficient. When asked about it, Rob said, “I have 46 hours and 702 miles in 3.5 weeks on its first charge. The battery is still showing between 100% and 51% charge. It’s supposed to give a warning at 50% and 25% charge on the Junction A LED (Junction A is the unit that connects the shifters to the derailleur wires and sits under the stem). You should check this by holding a shift button for half a second.”
Another nice touch on this bike is the Specialized Pro Carbon Crankset. In response to its riding characteristics, Rob stated, “What stands out the most is how stiff it is. You can really feel that there is no perceivable flex when putting power to the pedals. No power is lost when hammering up a hill or sprinting. I can’t emphasize enough how noticeable this is.”
Size matters. It especially matters if you are concerned about overall comfort on a long day on the road. The Roubaix is stocked with 700x26c tires that not only ride smooth and fast, but allow you to take down the psi just enough to reap the benefits of a larger tire. Rob is currently running his tires at 80psi (front) and 85psi (rear). He described his combination of psi and 26c tires as “Really comfortable for long days.”
Rob’s Roubaix Pro Race (49cm) weighed 17.2 lbs out of the box without pedals.
Retail price for this bike lists at $5,800
*I truly enjoyed writing up this review as it was the first time I’ve used rider dialogue in my post. Let me know if you guys enjoyed it as much as I did 🙂
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