The new Specialized Roubaix Elite has a superlight carbon frame and uses unique Future Shock suspension technology for the ultimate road bike compliance and control.
The Specialized Roubaix has a long history of using clever frame geometry and construction to provide hugely comfortable endurance road bikes. With the new Roubaix, however, it has taken the search for ultimate compliance one step further with head-tube mounted Future Shock suspension technology. We look at the Roubaix Elite, where all this ability is built onto a superlight carbon frame with a fantastic yet affordable spec.
Grand Tours might be the supreme test of speed for uncompromising race bikes but when it comes to long-distance endurance road machines, events that take in the bumpy cobbles of Northern Europe are the best test bed. So it’s no surprise to discover that, when Specialized developed its latest Roubaix carbon frame, this was exactly where it sent its sponsored pro riders. It’s also probably no surprise to find out that those same elite riders had nothing but praise for the Future Shock Technology that helped to smooth out this ultimate trial.
The reason why bike designers search for compliance isn’t just about in-the-moment comfort. The reality is that an uncompromisingly fast and stiff bike will overreact to less-than-perfect roads, causing fatigue, discomfort, loss of traction and therefore loss of power and speed. For racers, that might be the difference between wining and losing. For the rest of us mortals, that’s the difference between a soul-sapping ride experience and one that leaves us feeling challenged but rewarded.
In its search for this holy grail of comfort, smoothness and speed, Specialized partnered with McLaren Applied Technologies and together they used a range of laboratory tests to understand how riders and road surfaces interact. With this information at hand, they then set about trying to create a real-world solution.The result is Future Shock: a lightweight, 20mm spring-based suspension technology housed inside the head tube and designed to move in a vertical path.
Because Future Shock is positioned above the fork, the rider can enjoy all the benefits of a compliant ride without any effect on control or efficiency. In fact, both those elements are improved because Future Shock enables the front tyre to stay in contact with the road for longer. When the front wheel does encounter rough terrain, the bike moves up towards the rider’s hands without slowing the rider down. Future Shock even comes with a choice of three different springs with varying degrees of softness, meaning riders can fine-tune their set-up to the type of terrain they expect to encounter.
Of course, this technology would mean nothing if it’s not allied to an equally potent package, which is why we rate the carbon-framed Roubaix Elite now in the Evans Cycles Summer Sale so highly. Its super smooth Shimano 105 11-speed drivetrain with compact chainset and ultra-reliable Shimano RS505 hydraulic disc brakes make moving and stopping an efficient delight. Its DT470 disc-specific wheels have 12mm Thru Axle hubs and are shod with Turbo Pro 28mm tyres for grip and cushioning. Then its Specialized finishing kit is topped off with one of the brand’s famously comfortable Body Geometry saddles.
It all adds up to an impressively comprehensive spec. But if the Roubaix Elite isn’t quite for you, the full Specialized Roubaix range should have something else to suit, from more budget-conscious entry models to elite racing-quality machines with electronic groupsets. And if you’d like a women’s-specific version, Specialized caters for that, too, with its highly rated and well-established Ruby line of equivalent women’s models.