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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone, I'm trying to decide between the Tarmac and the Roubaix. My primary rides are 20-50 mile rides in the Texas Hill Country. I may do a century once a year. Trying to justified my choice based on what I do most often. All knowledgable feedback will be appreciated. Thanks, Cykler
 

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I test rode both before buying a bike to replace my Allez. Both are good rides, and you can't go wrong with either. However, the Roubaix felt slow to me. Longer wheelbase, wider, higher profile tires, etc. It just felt too "plush", I guess. I know it's supposed to be a "plush" bike, but honestly it felt disconnected to me. The Tarmac felt more lively, but still smooth. Handled quicker, climbed better (well, as good as any bike under me can climb), and just felt better.

So, I bought the Tarmac.

However, if you can, I suggest you ride both and see for yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Cosmo you hit it!

Thanks Cosmo, I will test both. Also, your assessment of both bikes goes with my thinking. Seeing that most of my rides will be on hills, I thought the compact geometry of the Tarmac would suit me better. Have you completed a century with your Tarmac? And how was it? CK
 

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Cykler said:
Thanks Cosmo, I will test both. Also, your assessment of both bikes goes with my thinking. Seeing that most of my rides will be on hills, I thought the compact geometry of the Tarmac would suit me better. Have you completed a century with your Tarmac? And how was it? CK
My riding impressions of both the Roubaix and Tarmac are very much like Cosmos, except I'm not sure I'd call the Roubaix slow or disconnected. Maybe slower handling than the Tarmac's, but I'm picking nits because we both ended up with Tarmacs. :)

IMO, one thing you shouldn't overlook is the difference in riding positions of both bikes. All things being equal, the saddle to bar drop will be greater on the Tarmac, so if you're coming from a similar set up you might be fine, but coming from a more upright position, you may prefer the Roubaix.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks PJ, seeing that I am a little longer in the tooth than some, I will take that into consideration. Back isn't what it used to be. Thank you once again. Whoooa, high speed, low drag!
 

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PJ352 said:
My riding impressions of both the Roubaix and Tarmac are very much like Cosmos, except I'm not sure I'd call the Roubaix slow or disconnected. Maybe slower handling than the Tarmac's, but I'm picking nits because we both ended up with Tarmacs. :)

IMO, one thing you shouldn't overlook is the difference in riding positions of both bikes. All things being equal, the saddle to bar drop will be greater on the Tarmac, so if you're coming from a similar set up you might be fine, but coming from a more upright position, you may prefer the Roubaix.
I've also recently compared the Expert Level of the Tarmac and the Roubaix bikes (same frame as the Pro) by test riding the Tarmac extensively and the Roubaix some, though less extensively.

At the price point you're talking about, there's not a whole lot of difference between the bikes - they're both great bikes. If someone bought me either one for christmas, I wouldn't bother to return either to the store for the other! :)

I thought the Roubaix had a very smooth ride, just like it's marketed as. I've ridden "smoother" bikes, but none that felt BOTH as smooth and fast as the Roubaix. :) And when I hit a big pothole with the Roubaix, I remember barely noticing it.

The Tarmac was different. With the frame you're asking about, it was an extremely smooth ride for all the normal road stuff - bumps, railroad tracks, the dip between the sidewalk and the road - and I'm really sensitive about that stuff, so if I thought it was smooth I think anyone else at all would think the same thing, hehe. It wasn't quite as smooth as the Roubaix when I deliberately hit a couple of big basketball sized potholes, though. :) Those where a millisecond of being a little bit jarring (though like I mentioned, I'm extremely sensitive to that stuff).

But (if I can find a frame color I like) I'm going with the Tarmac. Just like PJ said, I also though the Roubaix was a little slower in the handling than the Tarmac. It felt like once I got up to speed it was just as fast, but it was also a tiny bit slower at accelerating. And although the Roubaix had a little smoother of a ride when it came to potholes, the Tarmac made me "feel" like I was going faster. Objectively, I thought the Roubaix and Tarmac actually went the same speed, but on the Tarmac I just "felt" like I was going faster, which was totally fun. :) When I road the Roubaix, it was very comfortable and it was easy to keep a straight line. But felt like I was always aware that I was riding a bike. When I rode the Tarmac that "I'm riding a bike" feeling melted away and I felt more like I was just running really fast or something. It was totally fun! It occurred to me that that might be fatiguing after 100 miles. But like you, I'll rarely ride that far and I thought the fun feeling was worth the risk. :)
 

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I've got both...An 07 Roubaix Expert and an 08 Tarmac Expert....Best of both worlds...

Everyone's comments echo my feelings. The Tarmac is quicker handling, climbs and accelerates better. In general the Tarmac feels faster. The Roubaix is more comfortable and descends just as good as the Tarmac.

Funny thing is when I take either bike out I may feel faster on the Tarmac, but by the end of the ride the average speeds are pretty well the same.

For me, if I'm doing a short hammer type ride (50-75km) with a group or with my wife I"ll grab the Tarmac. On the weekends when it's rides over 100km I take the Roubaix and just cruise along.

Basically I use a car analogy, the Tarmac is my Corvette, while the Roubaix is my Cadillac STS...

Either way you can't go wrong with either bike....
 

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rbart4506 said:
I've got both...An 07 Roubaix Expert and an 08 Tarmac Expert....Best of both worlds...
You lucky dog! I've thought about adding a Roubaix to my Tarmac, but no $$$.

FWIW- I rode a hilly century several weeks ago with a guy almost exactly my size (6',165-170#) who was riding a Roubaix vs my Tarmac Expert. Funny thing was- he could climb slightly better than me, but I easily out paced in on flats (& did most pulls) & descended much faster. Even when leading on straight smooth descents, best full tuck with neither one of us braking, I would pull away. Made me think my Tarmac was a better descender, but we never switched bikes to compare. I honestly did not think our tuck positions were that different.
 

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I have a 07 Roubaix Pro with fiipped stem, upgraded wheels and tires which caused the bike "feel" night/day different....but have realized in my short riding tenure that legs, weight, height and condition of a rider has more to do with the performance vs. the bike
 

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speedsterveloce said:
I have a 07 Roubaix Pro with fiipped stem, upgraded wheels and tires which caused the bike "feel" night/day different....but have realized in my short riding tenure that legs, weight, height and condition of a rider has more to do with the performance vs. the bike
Absolutely true, but IMO (assuming fit is optimal) the right bike for a given rider does make a difference..
 

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Interesting thread, because I'm considering the same two bikes, and had similar experiences during test rides. As to the relative geometry of the two bikes, I can't find much difference from an ergonomic standpoint. The Roubaix is supposed to be a more upright geometry, but I can't find that in the specs, other than that the head tube is a whole 10mm longer on the Roubaix (not much). The Roubaix is also slightly more raked out, probably resulting in the dampened handling. I just don't see where the Roubaix is much more upright:

http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCGeometryPopup.jsp?spid=33602

http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCGeometryPopup.jsp?spid=34007

Or am I missing something?
 

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bike eagle said:
Interesting thread, because I'm considering the same two bikes, and had similar experiences during test rides. As to the relative geometry of the two bikes, I can't find much difference from an ergonomic standpoint. The Roubaix is supposed to be a more upright geometry, but I can't find that in the specs, other than that the head tube is a whole 10mm longer on the Roubaix (not much). The Roubaix is also slightly more raked out, probably resulting in the dampened handling. I just don't see where the Roubaix is much more upright:
Or am I missing something?

Beyond the head tube, geometry is quite different between the 2 bikes in ways set-up cannot compensate. For example (all figures for 58cm size):

Head tube angle- Tarmac 72.5deg vs Roubaix 73.5deg
Chainstay: Tarmac 407mm vs Roubaix 418mm
Wheelbase: Tarmac 1003mm vs Roubaix 1029mm

Roubaix is a more upright & longer frame, so a bit smoother ride and slightly "slower" (some might say less twitchy) handling. No value judgment there regarding ultimate speed of the bikes, just differences in riding & handling to match rider preferences. Both great bikes with plenty of pro wins to their credits (FWIW).
 

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bike eagle said:
Interesting thread, because I'm considering the same two bikes, and had similar experiences during test rides. As to the relative geometry of the two bikes, I can't find much difference from an ergonomic standpoint. The Roubaix is supposed to be a more upright geometry, but I can't find that in the specs, other than that the head tube is a whole 10mm longer on the Roubaix (not much). The Roubaix is also slightly more raked out, probably resulting in the dampened handling. I just don't see where the Roubaix is much more upright:

https://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCGeometryPopup.jsp?spid=33602

https://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCGeometryPopup.jsp?spid=34007

Or am I missing something?
It's not that you're missing anything, it's that most companies don't publish the stats. What you're really seeing in the higher bar position is the result of a longer HT, but also what's called frame stack (see link below). Most people confuse it with reach, which is a seperate but somewhat related issue. As far as I know, Trek and Cervelo are the only manufacturers that publish frame stack and reach numbers.

I've never compared the two, but my guess is the Roubaix's frame stack is higher than the Tarmac's - obviously when comparing the same frame sizes).

https://trekroad.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/06/05/2008_trek_new_madone_stack_and_reac.gif
 

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When test riding the bikes make sure the tires are the same including PSI. At least for 07 the Roubaix it came stock with 25cc Spec Roubaix tire which attributed to the sluggish / cushy ride. As soon as I installed GP4000s 23's if felt more twitchy and improved cornering, accelleration, rolling resis, etc. No hard facts just my seat of the pants.
 

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PJ352 said:
It's not that you're missing anything, it's that most companies don't publish the stats. What you're really seeing in the higher bar position is the result of a longer HT, but also what's called frame stack (see link below). Most people confuse it with reach, which is a seperate but somewhat related issue. As far as I know, Trek and Cervelo are the only manufacturers that publish frame stack and reach numbers.

I've never compared the two, but my guess is the Roubaix's frame stack is higher than the Tarmac's - obviously when comparing the same frame sizes).

https://trekroad.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/06/05/2008_trek_new_madone_stack_and_reac.gif
Thanks for the link. I always wondered what stack and reach are.
 

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Oldteen said:
Beyond the head tube, geometry is quite different between the 2 bikes in ways set-up cannot compensate. For example (all figures for 58cm size):

Head tube angle- Tarmac 72.5deg vs Roubaix 73.5deg
Chainstay: Tarmac 407mm vs Roubaix 418mm
Wheelbase: Tarmac 1003mm vs Roubaix 1029mm

Roubaix is a more upright & longer frame, so a bit smoother ride and slightly "slower" (some might say less twitchy) handling. No value judgment there regarding ultimate speed of the bikes, just differences in riding & handling to match rider preferences. Both great bikes with plenty of pro wins to their credits (FWIW).
Thanks for the numbers. To me though, it seems like head tube angle, chainstay length and wheel base have more to do with ride and handling and little to do with placing the rider into a more upright position.
 

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Can't really add much to what's already been said since I'm in agreement with just about everyone, but figured I should comment since I do own both.

I have an '06 Roubaix Expert/Pro and '08 Tarmac SL, both full Dura Ace. I really like both bikes a lot. I obviously bought the Roubaix first, and have close to 12,000 miles on it. It's a nice bike. But for me, my Tarmac is way more fun to ride, for the reasons others have mentioned, so it gets most of my attention. Mileage isn't a concern for me - I'd just as likely do a 100 mile ride on my Tarmac as my Roubaix. I do 300 miles/week on it (almost 4,000 miles total so far) routinely without any discomfort. To be honest, I don't really notice any significant difference in ride quality between the two. I like the handling of the Tarmac much more, and for whatever reason, as others have mentioned, it just seems easier to get up to top speed and to sprint. I tend to ride the Roubaix in uncharted territory since it has a compact crank, and my SL has a standard double.

I don't regret buying the Roubaix at all, I just like my Tarmac much more. I've seen several people on this forum who rode Roubaixs for a few years and then switched to Tarmacs. Really depends on your riding style and what you want to do. Both are great bikes, so buy whichever you like best. Just keep in my that the ride of the Tarmac isn't harsh, and the Roubaix definitely isn't slow. :)
 

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bike eagle said:
Thanks for the numbers. To me though, it seems like head tube angle, chainstay length and wheel base have more to do with ride and handling and little to do with placing the rider into a more upright position.
And if you said ...nothing to do with placing the rider into a more upright position... you would be correct in thinking that. :)

I'm not speaking for Oldteen, but from the way his post is written, I think it's more a comparison of Tarmac vs Roubaix geometry and its effects on handling, not riding position.
 
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