I got the day off work and drove for 90 minutes to get to the Specialized “Concept Store” in Plymouth
Specialized Concept Stores seem like a toyshop for middle aged bike obsessives. They have every one of the extensive range of models of bike that Specialized make. They have every glove, every type of tyre. It’s an enormous amount of stock to carry but an impressive sight.
I’d arranged to have a test ride on a Specialized Roubaix carbon fibre long distance bike. This has the various geometry qualities previously discussed in the blog that should give a good long distance ride.
The specific advantages that the Specialized Roubaix seems to have over the other Carbon fibre bikes I’ve considered are
- The tyres it is supplied with are 25mm so it definitely works with 25mm tyres.
- One of the design features of the bike is that it is supposed to give a smooth ride, soaking up road noise. It has little plastic inserts that are supposed to aid this. I don’t know if the little plastic inserts work but at least they are trying
- Specialized make various “comfort” features like their Phat bar tape and these are fitted on the bike
- A version with a triple chainset is available. Most makers are moving to compacts
After adjusting the saddle and realising that yet again I had forgotten to bring my Brooks B17 saddle I set off. The route I had in mind was mainly hilly A roads. It was midday and sunny. The Specialized was extra stable downhill. In fact you might say that the steering was not that sensitive. I count this as a plus point. The bike was very comfortable on the hoods. It was ok on the drops but could do with being a tiny bit higher.
When I got off the A road I tried riding no hands. If the bike is balanced and stable this should be easy. It is, good!
Riding up a lane, which was just like a typical bit of audax route I realised that apart from the saddle the bike felt great on that sort of road.
One strange feature of this bike compared with the Eddy Merckx EMX1 I’d tried the week before was that the front end buzz from the road seemed worse. This is despite the 25mm tyres. I put this down to the worse road surface and the under inflated tyres on the Merckx. A more positive comparison with the Merckx was getting out of the saddle on both bikes gave a solid feeling of power transmission and not much flexing
BTW in the picture above there is a saddle bag. Specialized Concept Stores do not fit Carradice saddlepacks on their test bikes. I brought it with me.
As you can see the tyres are not tight against the bridge
When I got back to the shop I discovered that the stem was in “down” position giving a cm or so of extra drop. The other way up it should put my hands in a better place. We had a brief discussion about prices. I went for a coffee at the Waitrose over the road to consider. Then I put a deposit down. Looks like my new bike is a Specialized Roubaix, 58cm, Black/Silver with a triple.