Welcome! Glad to see someone new to the sport!Pokey said:I am new to road biking and am not sure which bike to get.
The Tarmac is a racing bike, if you look at Team Gerolsteiner, they're riding the Tarmac S-Works, which is the same bike as yours except with a bit lighter carbon fiber, and DuraAce (XTR/X.O level) componentry. Its geometry is supposed to be low and fast.The Tarmac is more of a traditional racing geometry with a double up front. It felt like it really carved turns.
The Roubaix is what Specialized calls "Endurance Road." What they mean by that is that it's something of a touring bike - it's not a racing position like on the Tarmac, so much as a more upward posture. You're sitting up on it more like an MTB, and are able to look around and relax more.The Roubaix has pretty laid back geometry and felt really comfy. It comes with a tripple. I tried the roubaix first and thought it felt fine.
The Tarmac will be much faster at cornering again because it's a racing bike - it's supposed to react quickly and immediately. Faster! Faster! Faster! is the concept of the Tarmac. The Roubaix is more of a bike that you would sit back on, and say, ride around the countryside at a leisurely pace with the family. On the Tarmac, you'd be pacelining that country road.Then I tried the Tarmac around the same corner, I immediately thought "Wow! This thing loves to corner". It was night and day in the cornering department. It reacted better to leaning then much turning of the bars. But I am told the Roubaix would be more comfy.
Zertz inserts seem like a gimmick to me, I dont think they really do anything. What it is a lot is the geometry and material of the bike, geometry most of all. A carbon fiber bike can be engineered to be wonderfully compliant, almost to the point of being noodly, while it can also be engineered to be stiff enough to bruise you in a matter of seconds. The Tarmac probably felt stiffer, because it's less comfort oriented, and more speed oriented. The stiffer it is, the faster it accelerates, the more power transfer, et cetera. And racers tend to like the stiff feeling, too. The Roubaix wont be as stiff because acceleration isnt as important, and comfort is more important.Both were much smoother of a ride than I expected out of a road bike. They say it's a combo of the carbon and these things called Zertz inserts in the forks, seat stays and seatpost.
Bull. The Tarmac would be fine for 100 miles, just fine. Especially with your mountain biking background - it's not going to be jarring, if you can stay on the bike, you just have to get used to the road bike saddle (narrow, hard.). Same goes for the Roubaix. Admittedly, if I was doing a double-century ride I'd rather have the Roubaix, but below that, the Tarmac would be just as nice.The shop said the Tarmac would be good for anything under 40 miles. Above that, or for rough roads, they recommend the Roubaix.
Stem Length has no effect on comfort - it does effect twitchiness, but in the same way as on a mountain bike. What the stem CAN affect is the angle of the stem. If you look at the bikes at the shop, see how the stems generally go up? at a diagonal angle upwards, I mean, so that the steerer tube end is lower than the handlebars? A racer will generally "flip" the stem, turning it upside down (it works both ways, they're designed to be flipped either way), making the stem "flat", such that there's no rise between the top of the steerer tube and the handlebars.
Definitely. What you could do is get a steeper stem (they come in various angles, such as 8 degree rise, 10 degree rise. If the stock rise was not high enough for your comfort, you could stick on a steeper stem, which would then raise the handlebars more. If you want to race, what you can do is take the stem, flip it, and also, take the risers off, stick the stem back on the steerer tube, stick the risers on top of the steerer tube on top of the stem, put on the cap. This gives you a drop of up to 5 inches from your saddle to handlebars. This is a racing position. Your LBS is saying that this is uncomfortable for 40 miles, I've got a 5 inch drop on mine and I do centuries on it, it's just fine. You might feel a bit of pain in your back for a week or two, but that's getting used to it, and would happen similarly with the roubaix - adjusting from an MTB to a road bike, you're going to have to get used to your handlebars usually being on the same level as your saddle, or lower.Seems like I could play with setup on the Tarmac so it is comfy for recreational riding and then set it up for a more aggressive stance if I felt like it.
If you go with the Tarmac, you will have a very raceworthy bike, that can go anywhere. You can set it up for touring, and probably dont even need to set it up differently than stock to ride it comfortably for distances up to 120, 150 miles, in a day. If you choose to race, you're going to want to flip the stem probably, but the same goes for the Roubaix, and I would go as far as to say that on the Roubaix you probalby want to flip the stem even if you're not racing.
The Roubaix will give you a somewhat raceworthy bike, although beware - if you really get into racing, or even do around 4 races a year, you'll really see a difference between you and the other riders - they wont be pushing as much air, and they'll be more comfortable at high speeds than you. However, if rides with the family at 12mph are what you're looking for, this is probably a better bike for you.
Both bikes are excellent, it depends on what your wants are. Faster, Tarmac, Slower, Roubaix. Though this is a gross oversimplification of both bikes. They're both versatile, thogh in my opinion, the Tarmac moreso.
I think this should help you, if it doesn't, or if I didnt explain anything in enough depth, dont hesitate to ask more questions here, or PM me. I'd love to help!