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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I currently have a 52 cm 2005 Roubaix Comp (Came with DA/Ultegra/equipe/kforce in those days)

I am looking for a new ride with better cornering capabilities that still won't beat me up on the bumps. I tend to fight my 05 Roubaix a bit in the tight corners.

I went to two local bike stores today to try out some road bikes. The first had an 09 Roubaix Pro DA in my size - 52cm (With those Roval Roubaix wheels, per the spec, but had all-condition 23c tires instead of the 25c Roubaix tires). I was very impressed with how it rode! It accelerated very well, cornered very well compared to my 05 - I could really lay it down at an angle and really push it around the corners and could always tighten my linemore if I wanted to. (Found a new, smoothly paved parking lot to get some speed on in the corners).

Could it be tire-pressure related? The LBS with the Tarmac pumped the tires up to 120 front and rear but I have no idea what tire pressure was in the Roubaix.


Then, at LBS #2, they had an 09 Tarmac expert in a 52 that I tried out. For some reason, I was not blown away by acceleration nor cornering like I thought I would be, being that it was the Tarmac. It did not feel as capable in the corners as the 09 roubaix.

So now I am completely confused!

For some reason, I thought the Roubaix Pro carved corners and accelerated much better than the Tarmac expert. I really liked the 09 Roubaix and it felt like an extension of my body - I thought about a line and it went!

The Tarmac expert had more road feeling and was more responsive to inputs, but it did not seem to want to lay down through the corners like the Roubaix. It did not seem to want to tighten up a line like the 09 Roubaix either - it reminded me of my 05 roubai'x cornering - does not want to lay down in the corners and does not like to tighten up a line in the corner.

I really don't get it! No idea if it was because of the Pro level build on the roubaix vs. the Expert level on the Tarmac. Perhaps the wheel difference alone? (Roval Roubaix versus Ultegra?) Could it be that my body size/shape is better matched to the Roubaix geometry? I am 5'5", 160lbs, shorter legs/arms and longer torso.

Any help is appreciated
 

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Could it be that my body size/shape is better matched to the Roubaix geometry?
Yes, or that the Roubaix was set up/fit to better match the riding style you're more comfortable with.

Has the geometry on the Roubaix changed at all/that much from 2005 to 2009? If not, I'd seriously consider getting your current Roubaix more set up like the Roubaix you road and liked. You could try swapping in parts that you liked on the 2009 you liked, and if after all that, you still don't like your bike, you can pick up the Roubaix Pro frameset and move the parts over. Just something to think about. I have an '06 Roubaix Pro/Expert, and aside from the noodleness (Specialized has fortunately reduced a lot of this) and the weight, I really can't tell much of a difference between it and the newer models. Of course, YMMV.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Dr_John said:
Yes, or that the Roubaix was set up/fit to better match the riding style you're more comfortable with.

Has the geometry on the Roubaix changed at all/that much from 2005 to 2009? If not, I'd seriously consider getting your current Roubaix more set up like the Roubaix you road and liked. You could try swapping in parts that you liked on the 2009 you liked, and if after all that, you still don't like your bike, you can pick up the Roubaix Pro frameset and move the parts over. Just something to think about. I have an '06 Roubaix Pro/Expert, and aside from the noodleness (Specialized has fortunately reduced a lot of this) and the weight, I really can't tell much of a difference between it and the newer models. Of course, YMMV.

Hmmm... Neither bike was set of for me other than saddle height. Not even saddle fore/aft.

I know the Tarmac had 120PSI in the tires. The 09 roubaix, I have no idea. The 05 Roubaix is the exact same geometry as the 09 Roubaix and has the same geometry stem. The 09 roubaix bars are narrow with a shallow drop versus the wide and deep-drop of the 05 bars.

The front end of the 05 roubaix is very flexy. If I lean on it in the corners, the rim will easily touch the brake pads under the flex of the fork.

I really like the 7900 DA too - much better reach for my smaller hands. Brake engagement and feel of the ultegra SL is more positive, Also like the flat bars and the more narrow hoods. The 09 Roubaix just felt really dialed in to me as a rider. And that was just out of the box with no tinkering. The bar was too high but I can adjust that.. Sure, there are cheaper ways for me to change the feel of my current bike, but I feel it's too plush and too flexy.

But the 09 felt much more comfortable than my 05 even though geometry is the same.

I have upgrade-itis anyway. It's quite a serious case too :D
 

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I think a number of factors could be at play here. I'm guessing, but don't the roval wheels retail somewhere in the 1K range? If so, it's predictable that they're going to be lighter (thus spin up faster) than the +/- $500 Ultegra's. Also, the tires were different, and this can play a big part in communicating road feel and instilling confidence in corners. Another variable - different route taken for the Tarmac's test ride?

Again guessing, I would think that total weight would be a lesser issue. The bikes were set up differently (by two different shops) and maybe most importantly the Roubaix impressed you to the poin that the Tarmac was destined to fail. After all, we can talk facts all we want, but one fact remains and that is the right bike does speak to us at some level. It sounds like the Roubaix did that.

If it were me, I'd take my time with this before commiting. Have the bikes set up as closely as possible (same wheelset/ tires would be ideal) and do similar test rides, as close to back to back as possible. The second time around may clarify some things for you.
 

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Pokey said:
Hmmm... Neither bike was set of for me other than saddle height. Not even saddle fore/aft.

But the 09 felt much more comfortable than my 05 even though geometry is the same.

I have upgrade-itis anyway. It's quite a serious case too :D
I think I know why - the 09 uses 9r carbon, has a 1 3/8" lower headset bearing and the beefed up rear triangle. I doubt that you'd ever get the 05 to perform like the 09.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
ksanbon said:
I think I know why - the 09 uses 9r carbon, has a 1 3/8" lower headset bearing and the beefed up rear triangle. I doubt that you'd ever get the 05 to perform like the 09.
I kinda figured that. The 05 is just F.A.C.T. carbon no 5r, 6r, 8, 9, etc rating back then. Also, the 09 had that huge bottom braket area, huge down-tube, beefier chain stays, and wider seat-stay spread. So that explains why it felt better than my 05.

But I can't figure out why the 09 Roubaix (Pro) felt like it cornered better than the 09 Tarmac (Expert). I could really whip the roubaix around some corners - more so than the Tarmac.

I'll have to do more testing. I wish Specialized had some higher-end test bikes I could ride. Most of the test bikes are Expert.

I suppose I could also bring my wheelset and use those on each bike that I test - at least that way the variables are reduced.
 

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Pokey said:
I suppose I could also bring my wheelset and use those on each bike that I test - at least that way the variables are reduced.
Sounds like a good idea to eliminate that variable. I think it has to be the wheel-set, tires or tire pressure. 120psi is pretty high for someone riding a 52cm frame. Perhaps the tires were bouncing slightly in the corners making the handling more nervous and less responsive? With several pro teams riding the Tarmac (admittedly the SL2) around corners at speeds that I can hardly imagine, I can't imagine that it is the frame.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
ukbloke said:
120psi is pretty high for someone riding a 52cm frame.
Hmmm... What should I be running? I am 160lbs. I am using the Mondo s-works tires (23c clinchers)and they say (on the sidewall) recommended pressure is 120 min and 130 max so I put them right in the middle at 125.

ukbloke said:
Perhaps the tires were bouncing slightly in the corners making the handling more nervous and less responsive? With several pro teams riding the Tarmac (admittedly the SL2) around corners at speeds that I can hardly imagine, I can't imagine that it is the frame.

I tested each in a large parking lot where I could get some speed (12-15 mph) and just carve a corner as aggressively as I wanted. There was a really off-camber part too (A 90-degree corner leading down to a basemant parking garage) that the Roubaix just swallowed up like it was nothing. I'd like to test the Tarmac in that same spot.

I also can't imagine it was the frame, but the Tarmac was an 8r carbon frame versus the Roubaix's 9r. Not sure if there's any discernable difference there. But i'll take my wheels with me to get a better idea.
 

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I own a Roubaix and Tarmac. I've logged about 14,000 miles on my Roubaix and almost 8,000 miles on my Tarmac. While I prefer riding my Tarmac (an '08 S-Works SL), I still ride my '06 Roubaix Pro/Expert at least once a week.

There's no way a Roubaix handles better than a Tarmac. You may be able to handle a Roubaix better because it fits your riding style/position better, which is fine, and means the Roubaix's a better bike for you. There are some very experienced and knowledgeable folks that post here, but I suspect the great majority of us couldn't tell the difference between a 8r and 9r frame in the same line, and I don't see how you could possibly compare these lay-ups across models.

A parking lot test at 12-15 mph is not an adequate means of assessing a bike's handling. Also, I've ridden a lot of tires, and I can honestly say the S-Works Mondo is the worst tire I've ever ridden on. The lack of traction was shocking. They definitely didn't instill cornering confidence, and after a few rides, I replaced them.

Others here have touched on and elaborated on the intent of my first response - not that hanging new gear on your '05 Roubaix will magically turn it into an '09 Roubaix, but that with everything else being equal, including fit, you might like it more than you think. I'm still swapping parts on '06 Roubaix as my riding still changes and for me it improves.

But i'll take my wheels with me to get a better idea.
You definitely want to do this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Dr_John said:
I own a Roubaix and Tarmac. I've logged about 14,000 miles on my Roubaix and almost 8,000 miles on my Tarmac. While I prefer riding my Tarmac (an '08 S-Works SL), I still ride my '06 Roubaix Pro/Expert at least once a week.

There's no way a Roubaix handles better than a Tarmac. You may be able to handle a Roubaix better because it fits your riding style/position better, which is fine, and means the Roubaix's a better bike for you. There are some very experienced and knowledgeable folks that post here, but I suspect the great majority of us couldn't tell the difference between a 8r and 9r frame in the same line, and I don't see how you could possibly compare these lay-ups across models.

A parking lot test at 12-15 mph is not an adequate means of assessing a bike's handling. Also, I've ridden a lot of tires, and I can honestly say the S-Works Mondo is the worst tire I've ever ridden on. The lack of traction was shocking. They definitely didn't instill cornering confidence, and after a few rides, I replaced them.

Others here have touched on and elaborated on the intent of my first response - not that hanging new gear on your '05 Roubaix will magically turn it into an '09 Roubaix, but that with everything else being equal, including fit, you might like it more than you think. I'm still swapping parts on '06 Roubaix as my riding still changes and for me it improves.

Dr_John and others, I really appreciate your feedback. I'll study this thread again before I go out to test more bikes. I agree that the lay-up is not a big difference.

Also agreed that a parking lot test is not a good way to assess a bike. I may rent each one for a day and take it on some familiar climbs and descents.

I am suspect of the tires as well. The Tarmac expert also comes with Mondo tires so that uneasy cornering feeling could be coming from those. At least using my wheels/tires will level that playing field.

The roubaix that I tested had the specialized all-conditions tires and they were probably running 80-90 PSI based on my manual squeeze-test measurements - this versus the mondos on the Tarmac at 120PSI.

Those mondos have that dual-radius tread and dual-compound tread. So you really have to lean the bike to get to that sticky rubber. I would say they hold OK in the corners, but there is no braking traction to speak of and they don't inspire confidence in the corners.

I may try some continentals (4000's black chili compound?) or Michelin pro-race3 or whatever they are called. From reading these forums, no one seems to bea fan of the mondos.

Until the last year or so, road riding was really a secondary form of recreation/exercise for me - Mountain biking was my first love and I only started road riding to get in a more sustained cardio workout in a shorter amount of time than Mountain biking (eliminates driving to/from the trailhead, etc). But I have really taken a liking to Road riding too. It's fun in a different way - I really like them both now. :thumbsup:

Road riding also revealed my weakness to me - that is going up-hill! Something about power to weight ratios and i was pushing a 28 or so BMI. I have managed to lose 20 lbs this year and would like to lose 10 more. Mountain biking hid some of that weakness from me; because I was above average at the technical riding, I could pass those having trouble - up and down hill. On the road, I could hang with others on the flats, but point uphill, and I would fall further and further back. I'm getting there.

So until recently, I have not read up much on road biking nor invested much time in research. Of course now that's changing.

Thanks again to all that have replied and offered up their advice. I am hoping to do at least one century this year. The furthest I have ridden so far in one ride is 48 miles and maybe 3k feet of cumulative elevation gain - That was last year when I was pushing 180lbs. Now I am at 160 and hope to get to 150 early this summer. I have not been that light of weight for over 20 years - I just turned 39 this year.

I don't expect the new bike to help my abilities (But it might improve the fun-factor with better downhill prowess). I know weight management and conditioning will do more for me than a new bike. I bought my 05 in 06 for a good clearance price and I was not sure if I'd take to road riding so I did not want to invest a lot of money. Now that I am addicted to road riding and have lost almost all my goal weight, I'll reward myself with a nicer road bike this summer. I may borrow some nice wheels from a friend and try them on my current Roubaix just to see where that gets me.
 

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The roubaix that I tested had the specialized all-conditions tires and they were probably running 80-90 PSI based on my manual squeeze-test measurements - this versus the mondos on the Tarmac at 120PSI.
That pressure difference is very significant. Coincidentally, Specialized used to use something similar in their Roubaix ad copy. Something like "The Roubaix's ride is like going from 120 to 100 psi, and that's a difference you can feel."

Those mondos have that dual-radius tread and dual-compound tread. So you really have to lean the bike to get to that sticky rubber. I would say they hold OK in the corners, but there is no braking traction to speak of and they don't inspire confidence in the corners.
That's right. But if I need to stop quickly, I don't want to have to lean the bike over. :)

I may try some continentals (4000's black chili compound?) or Michelin pro-race3 or whatever they are called. From reading these forums, no one seems to bea fan of the mondos.
Those are both very popular road tires. I use the Conti 4000S because I've always have had good luck with them, like the ride, etc. I've never tried the Pro 3's, but my impression is there is or was some quality control issues with them.

Road riding also revealed my weakness to me - that is going up-hill!
Yes, that's where you really start separating out fitness. What's great for me is that hills that were a big challenge when I started riding now don't concern me at all. It's a great way to see your fitness improve.

I don't expect the new bike to help my abilities (But it might improve the fun-factor with better downhill prowess).
Then you have reasonable expectations. I ride my Tarmac more not because it makes me 1 or 2 mph faster, but because I just enjoy riding it more. I used to really hate downhill riding on my Roubaix, and being old, I'm much more cautious than others I ride with, but with some different wheels, adjustments, and a fit repositioning (I now have no spacers), it's not that bad.

- That was last year when I was pushing 180lbs. Now I am at 160 and hope to get to 150 early this summer. I have not been that light of weight for over 20 years - I just turned 39 this year.
:thumbsup: Good going. I went from 180 to 140 lbs in about a year. My intent was just to get in better shape; the weight came off naturally. I'm 50 this year:yikes:, and I certainly don't feel like it. Cycling's really great exercise.
 

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I just recently took my first ride on an '09 Roubaix SL2 and was extremely impressed by its cornering. I could understand why you may feel the Roubaix corners a little better than the Tarmac- the longer wheel base on the Roubaix gives it such stable handling around corners- it's unreal. It is really confidence inspiring. Obviously that's not to say a Tarmac doesn't corner well, but it just boils down to preference. I have a Tarmac SL2 frame that I'm going to build up and do some extended testing on both.

I love the Roubaix, but for my own personal preference I wish it were a tad bit stiffer at the rear end. I'm hoping the Tarmac may give me that little extra stiffness. Anyone have experience with both? Is the Tarmac a little stiffer and more responsive than the Roubaix?
 

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ricky bobby said:
I just recently took my first ride on an '09 Roubaix SL2 and was extremely impressed by its cornering. I could understand why you may feel the Roubaix corners a little better than the Tarmac- the longer wheel base on the Roubaix gives it such stable handling around corners- it's unreal.
What kind of corners? Twisty, technical descents, or fast crit corners, or fast descending sweepers, or all of the above? I can understand the longer wheelbase helping with the sweeping curves, but not necessarily the others so much.

ricky bobby said:
I have a Tarmac SL2 frame that I'm going to build up and do some extended testing on both.
Ain't you the lucky guy! I look forward to hearing about your testing. Since you have access to both bikes and will do extended testing, that should give some pretty good comparative data.
 
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