Bike

Reviewed: Specialized Roubaix Comp Road Bike

Specialized’s Roubaix Comp is the comfort-at-all-costs bike that could make a good long-course road/tri bike for the right person with a few adjustments.

Basics

Great parts on a super singular frame/road suspension setup that could actually be super tri-useful for the right person. Tested with Ultegra Di2 components and DT Swiss Aluminum Wheels.


Pros

Unparalleled comfort

Good build

Somehow still pretty light

Cons

Not exactly an aggressive handler/accelerator

Home mechanics beware


Size Reviewed

56cm

Weight

18lbs. 12oz.

Price

$4

Brand

Specialized


The most important thing you need to know about the Specialized Roubaix Comp is that it has a built-in suspension system in the steerer tube that takes a ton of road shock up off your hands, wrists, back, and neck. If you have biomechanical issues in any of those spots—and maybe they kept you from doing long-course or long rides—then this is the bike for you to try. While the higher-end Roubaixs have adjustable shocks up front, this one offers 20mm of shock in the front and a “Pavé” seatpost that helps dampen all but big hits through the rear. Specialized also claims that somehow this beefy frame is as aerodynamic as their Tarmac SL in the wind tunnel, but we’ll have to take their word on that one.

Related: Triathlete’s 2020 Road Bike Buyer’s Guide

Specialized Roubaix Comp: The Ride

Of course, the comfort on the ride is the absolute biggest feature of this bike, so it’s no surprise that this is a smooth bike on pretty much every type of road (even dirt!). While 20mm of travel isn’t enough to necessarily descend on big rocks (the suspension isn’t dialed very well for that type of riding anyway), you can smooth this whole setup out even more by going to a 33mm tire. Yes, you can gravel this thing up, if you want. The ride is insanely smooth, and this would be the bike I reached for when doing long rides on gnarly country roads. Not only did my hands, wrists, shoulders, and neck thank me, but I was also more relaxed overall, knowing that I was more glued to the road on rough descents: More suspension means more rubber on the road, which means more reliable handling overall. This is a big deal for triathletes who might have issues that prevent them from riding long, even though it’ll naturally take some fit adjustments to work with clip-ons (if you even want them).

Specialized Roubaix Comp: The Good

The number one best thing about this bike is definitely how smooth it handles over all types of terrain, but this bike is actually a pretty impressive value as well. Though it’s not really as race ready as the Ventum NS1 that costs $400 less, it does have Ultegra Di2, which is pretty impressive for this price, and further adds to the comfort factor. If you’re only going to use this for training and/or centuries, you probably won’t need race wheels anyway, so this setup is good to go. On that same note, even with all of the suspension, the seat post, the Di2, and the not-really-race wheels, this bike still weighs in at 18 pounds, which is actually pretty shocking given how much junk is in this trunk. Finally, the handling on this bike is way more relaxed and slack than any of the others we’ve looked at. As such, this bike does super well on straightaways, fast straight descents, and through crosswinds. Here is a great place to stick on clip-ons (with a few other fit adjustments, of course) and just plug away at those miles without requiring too much rider feedback.

Specialized Roubaix Comp: The Alright

The only downsides on this bike are things that probably won’t shock anyone: No, this bike isn’t going to shoot up climbs or break away from groups with crazy lively/snappy acceleration. But that’s not it’s purpose anyway. It would be nice to be able to adjust or even just lock out the front suspension, but I guess you have to pay a little bit more for that privilege. On that same note, just be sure you don’t have to do any DIY work on the suspension/steerer tube because it is quite tricky and needs to be done properly unless you want a wobbly mess. The only other consideration is that this bike is a very relaxed handler—super good for those who might want to get some clip-ons onto it and fit it in more of a tri position, but not as good for people who like to aggressively descend through tight corners. Again, just a matter of knowing what you’re getting into and why.

Specialized Roubaix Comp: Smooth Conclusions

Here is another instance of “different horses for different courses,” assuming the “course” is actually your body and your biomechanical limitations. If you have struggled on traditional tri bikes for any number of reasons, or you’re looking for a second long-ride bike, the Roubaix is an awesome choice. Yes, you will need to adapt it when you add clip-ons, but this bike’s stability, predictable handling, and smooth suspension will definitely serve certain triathletes very well. This bike would not be a good ITU racer, and this bike would probably not be ideal for any tris where you’re going road to crush climbs—both up and down—but it would be good for a surprising amount of long-course tris for people with existing issues. (Or maybe those who just want a smooth ride and a faster run.)