Review: Specialized Roubaix Pro SRAM Force eTap AXS

With ride-smoothing technology front and rear, this is among the best bikes in this genre

Road Bike Uncategorized

The latest iteration of Specialized’s wildly popular endurance road bike features the brand’s innovative ride smoothing Future Shock 2.0, which delivers 20mm of axial compliance via a hydraulic damper that suspends you, not the bike. That’s because the damper is located atop the headtube, the theory being this isolates the rider from harsh bumps and road chatter without compromising speed or efficiency. And unlike its predecessor, the newest shock can be adjusted on the fly via an easy-to-access knob on the stem that has five total damping settings.

This is arguably the right kind of bike for most riders. It looks pretty good, too.

Specialized Roubaix Pro Highlights

  • Redesigned Future Shock damping system
  • Adjustable damping allows riders to tune the ride
  • SRAM Force eTap AXS drivetrain
  • Pavé seatpost delivers extra flex
  • Clearance for 33mm tires
  • Endurance geometry
  • Price as tested: $7,000

The second version of the Future Shock has a much cleaner look.

Open it up to take the sting out of rough roads, or crank it down for maximum out-of-the-saddle stiffness. In the open setting, Future Shock 2.0 behaves similar to the original Future Shock by implementing a free-flowing bleed circuit. This allows for fast system response. In the firm position, the free bleed is shut off and oil is forced through separate compression and rebound shim stacks. This increases damping in both directions, especially at slow shaft speeds. And when large events are encountered (think nasty pothole, teeth-rattling braking bumps, or brick size cobblestones), a blow-off activates to absorb the energy, preventing shock from being transmitted to the rider.

A simple turn of this knob open and closes the Future Shock 2.0’s damper.

The Future Shock 2.0 comes stock on Roubaix models Expert and above. Tested here is the $7000 Specialized Roubaix Pro with SRAM Force eTap AXS drivetrain. Roubaix Comp and Sport builds get the Future Shock 1.5, which improves on the original Future Shock, but does not include the hydraulic damper.

Lowered seatstays help improve frame compliance. A little window in the seat tube helps keep you safe.

Also new on the 2019 Roubaix is the Pavé seatpost, which aims to be aerodynamic and also provide ride smoothing fore-aft flex. The new post uses a drop-clamp design, which sits inside the frame for an aesthetically slick look that allows for more exposed post to better absorb bumps and road chatter. The idea with the new seatpost is to help make the front and rear of the bike more balanced and compliant.

Specialized’s snub-nosed Power saddle has become a household favorite at RoadBikeReview.

And like the brand’s other top road steeds, the newest Roubaix’s frame sizes are determined with Specialized’s Rider First Engineering, which essentially means tube sizes, carbon lay-up, and components are optimized for the scale of that bike, not calculated as a linear change in size. Tube shapes are selected to increase aerodynamic performance and reduce weight — or at least that’s the idea. Keep reading to find out how this new bike — and these new technologies — fared in this RoadBikeReview long term test.

Pros

  • True ride smoothing technology, not a gimmick
  • Stock 28mm tires — and clearance for up to 33s
  • Steep seat tube and headtube angles deliver racier feel than comparable endurance bikes
  • Good looking bike — especially frame paint color/design
  • Appreciate cleaner aesthetic around shock
  • D-shaped seatpost means saddle always straight
  • Love wide gear range of SRAM eTap AXS drivetrain
  • Ergonomics of SRAM brake lever hoods
  • The comfortable upright ride is creaky-back friendly
  • Zippy lightweight carbon aero wheels
  • Power saddle is exceptionally comfortable (for this tester)

 

Cons

  • Not particularly light — 18 pounds (w/tubes, size 61)
  • Not sharpest handling, more cruiser than a tight-turn carver
  • Tooled axles mean you need a tool to remove wheels
  • Comparatively expensive for component spec level
  • SRAM front derailleur shifts are slower than Shimano Di2
  • Tall front end is not exceptionally aero
  • Periodic disc brake rub under power

Bike makers don’t always get it right. Even the best-intended technological innovations encounter bumps in the road. That was certainly the case with Specialized’s first Future Shock, which launched in 2017 on this same Roubaix platform. It used a spring-loaded cartridge that delivered 20mm of travel above the headtube.

While this cobbles killer did a commendable job of smoothing rough roads (certainly better than Zertz ever did…), the suspension design was “always on” meaning there were periods of efficiency loss, especially during out-of-saddle efforts on smooth roads. Word from the pro peloton is that riders tasked with racing on the bike insisted on stiffer set-ups or found ways to lock-out the system altogether. Not exactly the trickle-down marketing Specialized was going for.

The D-shaped Pavé seatpost is held in place by a recessed clamp bolt that lives underneath this cover.

But it didn’t take long for a back-to-the-drawing-board refresh, and two years later the Big Red S launched a fully revamped Roubaix with Future Shock 2.0, which replaced the spring with a more sophisticated hydraulic damper. Now, unlike the old version, which produced a noticeable clunk when you encountered large impacts, this latest Roubaix has a feel that is far more controlled and refined. It truly does a superb job of smoothing out rough roads, but it still rides like a road bike should — fast, efficient, quick. And if you’re rolling on perfect pavement, you can essentially lock it out, something the first iteration was lacking.

Specialized makes just about everything, including this capable combination of 32mm Roval carbon wheels and Turbo Pro 28mm tubeless ready tires.

Combine that with stock 28mm tubeless tires (and room for 33s) and the Pavé seatpost, and you get a bike that helps keep you fresher on long rides and/or bad roads. No it’s not a tight-turn-carving race machine such as the much-loved Specialized Tarmac. The Roubaix’s ride is more Cadillac than Corvette. And that’s just fine.

Verdict

On smooth pavement we often closed the Future Shock, though if you’re not getting out of the saddle the adjustment wasn’t necessary.

Though Specialized loves to banter about the number of Paris-Roubaix wins this platform has (seven), the reality is that the bike tested here is for weekend warriors who want top-tier performance, but also want to be comfortable whether riding for 60 minutes or six hours. If that’s what you’re looking for, you owe it to yourself to at least test ride this bike. It’s absolutely one of the best in this genre.

More Info: https://www.specialized.com/us/en/roubaix-pro—sram-force-etap-axs/p/171045?color=263089-171045

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.


Related Articles


NOTE: There are two ways to comment on our articles: Facebook or Wordpress. Facebook uses your real name and can be posted on your wall while Wordpress uses our login system. Feel free to use either one.

Facebook Comments:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*



THE SITE

ABOUT ROADBIKEREVIEW

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2019 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.