Anyone into their road bikes will know that the Paris to Roubaix Challenge is one of the lumpiest, bum-destroying events on the cycling calendar, with even the hardiest professional roadies succumbing to the privates-pounding cobbles and teeth-shatteringly tattered road surfaces
In order to maintain maximum speeds over the tricky terrain, a number of high-end bike manufacturers have engineered discreet suspension systems into their slender road bike frames. Thankfully, this technology is now available to you, the paying public.
The Specialized Roubaix is one of the most affordable machines in the lavish range, but this mid-spec Sport variant (formerly known as Elite) boasts a clever shock-absorbing cartridge in the front stem that takes some of the sharpness out of lumps and bumps in the road.
It works extremely well and the bike's general blend of performance and comfort, as well as some decent components, makes it our most recommended road bike for those looking to enjoy even the normally more arduous miles in the saddle. Those looking for pure performance might want to upgrade to a Specialized Tarmac Disc Expert.
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Specialized Roubaix Sport: the frame
Specialized offers a range of carbon fibre frames that boast a varying degree of stiffness, with FACT 9r kicking off proceedings and FACT 10r carbon in use here (the ludicrously expensive pro models go as high as 11 on the scale).
But to anyone that isn't bringing home Olympic medals, this will still feel plenty stiff enough, with excellent power transfer through the cranks and a sharp cockpit that delivers some brilliantly precise handling.
The compromise for all this turgidity tends to be in the comfort stakes, but the company attempts to mitigate this with its Future Shock technology. The small cartridge in the headset allows for up to 20mm of travel, which takes a large amount of the pain out of sudden bumps and small potholes in the road.
There's also a generous amount of seat post available here and although it is now manufactured from lovely carbon fibre, it allows for lots of adjustment, meaning riders could opt for a slightly smaller frame and extend the post for some additional shock absorption at the rear.
Specialized Roubaix Sport: the kit
Compare the Roubaix Sport to some similarly priced rivals and you begin to see where other manufacturers attempt to curry favour with punters. The Shimano 105 11-speed gearing and powerful disc brakes featured here are perfectly excellent, but the same dosh might buy you electronic shifters elsewhere, for example.
Ignore that, because the brilliant frame and fork make up for the lack of flashy extras and Specialized's general finishing kit is largely excellent, lasts for ages and proves perfectly comfortable for most riders.
The DT R470 Disc wheels are fine, feel well bolted together and roll smoothly across most surfaces. As with any modern road bike, the more sensitive cyclist may want to swap these out for something faster and flashier, but they are great all-rounders nonetheless.
Specialized Roubaix Sport: the ride
Comfort is key here and it doesn't take long to feel very at home aboard the Roubaix Sport. This is thanks, in part, to the Rider-First Engineered design of the bike, which Specialized claims ensures the same responsiveness and smooth ride, no matter the frame size.
The DT R470 Disc wheels feel light and agile but coast well, while those new and improved hydraulic disc brakes provide powerful stopping, which is more than most will ever require.
Shimano's 105 gear system is now on the lower rungs of the company's line-up but it is still perfectly suited to the task. The 11-34t cassette covers a lot of bases but some may wish to finesse this, as we found some of the jumps between cogs are a little large for our tastes, especially on tricky climbs.
However, the Future Shock suspension system really comes into its own here, taking so much of the vibration and general unpleasantness of riding on UK B-roads.
When ridden on some of our favoured local routes back-to-back with stiffer, more performance orientated machines, the Roubaix Sport came out as by far the easiest machine to live with. Yes, there is some compromise on performance, but very few will notice or even care.
Specialized Roubaix Sport: the verdict
Shop around and it's likely you'll be treated to more expensive components, such as electronic shifting gears and faster rims, but your dosh goes towards one of the slickest frames and trick suspension systems around.
Sharp handling and decent power transfer through the frame doesn't mean you have to compromise on comfort either, as the Roubaix is one of the easiest bicycles to cover serious miles on.