Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-4.jpg

Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-21.jpg
Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-22.jpg

The 2017 Specialized Roubaix takes a radical step forward with an all-new Future Shock "suspension" system. Past iterations of the Roubaix did a great job in minimising road buzz through the vibration dampening Zertz inserts. The previous generation of the Specialized Roubaix has to be one of the most comfortable rides we’ve experienced, but when the going got really rough over long distances, your hands, arms and shoulders still bore the brunt of fatigue.

With the 2017 Roubaix those Zertz inserts in the fork make way for the Future Shock up front. The new micro suspension system above the head tube allows the cockpit to "float" with three spring options to adjust spring rate to suit your preference. Similarly, the seat stays are now Zertz free in favour of the Drop Clamp frame-seatpost interface coupled with the CG-R seatpost (aka the COBL GOBL-R or “Cobble Gobbler”). The combination provides up to 20mm of compliance in the rear while still doing a great job of minimising road buzz thanks to the CG-R's dampening elastomer. The additional rearward flex in the seatpost is achieved through the lower clamp position and the void in the upper section of the seat tube allowing for room to move.

Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-7.jpg

Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-13.jpg
Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-14.jpg
Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-8.jpg
Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-9.jpg
Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-12.jpg

In line with the trend across their mountain bike lineup, the revamped Roubaix also receives the SWAT treatment with a removable storage box mounted above the bottom bracket (included on the Expert and S-WORKS models). This houses most of the spares you would need: a tube, CO2 cartridge and adaptor, tyre levers and multi tool which is accessible via an outer hatch. Plus a nifty money clip to stash some cash. Upon first glance it does give the bike an ebike-esque look, but the only form of assistance inside is relief for your once stuffed pockets or ungainly (and unsightly) saddle bag. And, for what it's worth, the location of the box transfers just a little more weight to the centre low point of the bike.

Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-15.jpg

Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-16.jpg
Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-17.jpg

First Impressions

No doubt a question on many minds, and our immediate thought when presented with the Future Shock, “Won’t that ‘bounce’ when you are out of the saddle?”. Well, from a first ride on the cobbled roads of Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap, we can confidently say, “No”. It is something you will need to experience to truly believe, but the “floating” cockpit feels rock solid when out of the saddle, while still softening harsh feedback from rugged surfaces.

Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-1.jpg

Overall the combination of added compliance in the seatpost, the 26C wide tyres and “suspension” cockpit take most, if not all, of the harsh jarring out of the ride. You still feel the road surface, but there is a smoothness to the ride and with it more confidence and speed across uneven surfaces. The micro-adjustments available through the Future Shock offer an incredible sense of control in all modes. When climbing on uneven surfaces you feel less clumsy and awkward. Similarly when descending the reduction in bar rattle makes for better control - you feel more in touch with the brakes when you need them and more secure on the bars. It is not that you couldn't do it on any normal bike, it's just that the Roubaix really does feel smoother, more controlled and, yes, faster.

With all the added compliance it is natural to question the rigidity and efficiency of the design. Yet, despite the "baked in" flex, the base structure of the frame is incredibly stiff where it needs to be. Specialized have paid attention to the torsional rigidity of the frame to ensure minimal power is lost through the wrong kinds of flex. Over the years, the Roubaix has focussed more on its race performance and the 2017 iteration carries this through. Even with the gentler geometry it does not have the sluggish feel that might be associated with an endurance bike.

While we unfortunately didn’t have time in this first ride to test the true long distance endurance aspect of the bike, if the past generations of Roubaix and our initial impressions are anything to go by, endurance rides, particularly those on poor surfaces, are where this bike is going to thrive.

Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2-2.jpg

Specifications: 2017 Specialized Roubaix Expert UDI2

  • FrameFACT 10r carbon, Endurance Geometry, Rider-First Engineered, 12x142mm thru-axle, Future Shock suspension, 20mm of travel
  • ForkRoubaix disc, FACT 11r carbon, 12x100mm thru-axle
  • StemSpecialized Pro SL, alloy, 4-bolt
  • HandlebarsSpecialized Hover Expert Alloy, 15mm rise, 125mm drop, 75mm reach
  • TapeS-Wrap Roubaix w/stickygel
  • BrakesShimano Ultegra, hydraulic, Ice-Tech resin pads w/fins
  • Front DerailleurShimano Ultegra Di2 6870, 11-speed, braze-on
  • Rear DerailleurShimano Ultegra Di2, long cage, 11-speed
  • Shift LeversShimano R785 Di2, 11-speed
  • CassetteShimano Ultegra, 11-speed, 11-32t
  • ChainShimano Ultegra, 11-speed
  • CranksetShimano Ultegra Compact
  • Chainrings50/34T
  • Bottom BracketShimano, outboard cartridge bearings
  • Front WheelDT R460 Disc, thru-axle, 2Bliss Ready
  • Rear WheelDT R460 Disc, thru-axle, 2Bliss Ready
  • TyresTurbo Pro, 700x26mm, 60TPI, folding bead, BlackBelt protection
  • SaddlePhenom Expert GT, Adaptive Edge design, hollow titanium rails, 143mm
  • SeatpostSpecialized CG-R, FACT carbon, single bolt, 27.2mm
  • Sizes49, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61

Images by Craig Kolesky