Quick Review: 2015 Specialized Roubaix SL4 Comp Disc

2015 Specialized Roubaix SL4 Comp Disc

2015 Specialized Roubaix SL4 Comp Disc

Gallery below!

I am slowly getting to like Specialized. I mean, if you’re going to purchase a crabon bike to shed grams and pretend like you’re on a team, then Specialized, I think, is one of the better big-company bike companies out there.  I am not doing this review here to claim that Specialized is the best. Far from it. I am merely giving you a run-down of what I would choose if I were in the market for a crabon endurance bike. That said:

The 2015 Specialized Roubaix SL4 Comp Disc

Since I have made the conscious choice not to race anymore, I have resigned myself to near-Fred status. Yes. Expensive bicycles capture my attention. The only differences between me and an actual Fred is that I cannot afford to purchase the above-pictured bike and I possess the intellectual capacity to realize that I don’t really need it. I can, however, borrow one for a whiles to assess its potential for actual Freds who can afford one.

The extremely long and exhaustive name of the Roubaix Comp Disc gives away its most noticeable attribute: the Shimano 785 hydraulic road disc brakes. Finally,  a really heavy person (I don’t discriminate based on gender, but some of you dudes are huge) can ride a really light crabon bike and be able to stop on a dime. And though I am pushing a hefty 160 pounds, I found the brakes to be extremely responsive and quick to get used to. And when I say “get used to” I mean it takes a couple of stops at a slower speed to master not falling down (the bike is really light and the stoppage is immediate). Not only that, but the calipers have fins on them for those people who love good heat dissipation.

Moving on to the drivetrain, I found the Shimano Ultegra 11-speed setup quite nice. No Di2 needed here (especially at this price point). The Ultegra shift levers are quite responsive and almost Fred-proof. The PraxisWorks 50/34 compact-double chainrings were a nice addition and a good way for Specialized to keep the build cost down. Not to mention, it’s kind of cool having a crankset named after an exploded Klingon moon. A full Ultegra drivetrain is not necessary unless you are looking to brag about having a crankset that is overly expensive. And I wouldn’t bother bragging about anything less than Dura Ace or SRAM Red anyway. My only gripe is that I would rather have an external bottom bracket rather than the press-fit BB30 that comes on this frame. I can see lots of loosening and noise in the future especially if a climber buys this bike.

Speaking of climbing: there is a noticeable frame flex when climbing. Out of the saddle, it started to feel a little noodly on the long climbs we have around here.

The geometry is awesome. I am 5′ 10″ and I tested the 54cm. I felt relaxed and not too aero. For a long-distance ride, I think this bike would be perfect. I also had my reservations about the effectiveness of the Zertz inserts on the fork, seat stays and seat post However, they proved to be quite effective. The bike certainly lived up to its cobblestone-inspired name as it did a really great job of dampening vibration. The bike does glide, people.

For the 54cm  model, the 72-degree headtube angle was just slack enough to give me a comfortable ride. The steering was extremely responsive and smooth. At slower speeds (read: in a footdown contest), it was great. However, I don’t think I will be playing bike polo with it anytime soon. The wheels are another story. The Axis wheels are good, but I found them to be a little heavy to match with this frame. If I were suffering from chronic Fredness, I would definitely upgrade to a set of Mavic Kysirium SLS. But if you’re actually looking at the price of this bike, those would set you back at least another six large on a swap with your LBS, bringing this beast to over four grand.

Conclusion

If you have enough cabbage and want an effective crabon endurance ride, I would recommend, nay, advocate for the Specialized Roubaix Comp Disc.  It’s just at the bottom end of Fredness while still being pretty awesome. In fact, I would say that the only thing holding this thing back from complete Fredability is the fact that it doesn’t say “S-Works” on the downtube. And, like all of the SL4 road bikes that Specialized puts out, it makes a great platform for future upgrades.

*End of line*

 

 

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Happy new year from Way of the Bicycle!

Wishing all of you a happy new year! I hope 2014 will be a great year for you and your friends and families. Make sure to give your bike mechanic a hug.

明けましておめでとうございます!2014年度も自転車道をよろしくお願いします!今年も自転車と自転車メカニックを大切にしてください。

Happy Holidays!

HoldiayChainring1

The Holiday Chainring says “Merry/Happy [religious/cultural day of significance]!

Today is Christmas Day here in America and wherever else Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians celebrate around the world. I would like to say, however, that I think that “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” is way more appropriate. Yes, if you look at a calendar or the front door of a bank or post office, today is indeed Christmas Day. However, it is also December 25 (or 25 December depending on if you think America has it backwards), and it has about as much religious significance to non-Christians as, well, a chainring. So I would like to adopt the chainring as the new 48-point star symbol of the end-of-year season. Sort of a universal symbol of hope that next year will be better than this year. And no, I will not be using the chainring as a ninja star in some imagined war on Christmas.

In any case, if you do celebrate Christmas and you are reading this on December 25 (or 25 December), I certainly hope you family (or yourself) regaled you with a nice new bicycle, bicycle part or bicycle-themed object of some sort. I also hope that you are out there right now, weather permitting, on your new road bike/cross bike/fat bike/mountain bike (26/27.5/29 – single speed/hardtail/dual-suspension)/touring bike/BMX bike/recumbent/tandem/hybrid/fixie/Dutch bike/mixte/cruiser/tall bike/folding bike/fitness bike/unicycle (yes, even they count) getting rad and enjoying the thing we all love: cycling.

Thank you all for sticking with me. Merry Christmas. Happy Festivus. Hang a chainring in your window and thank the Gods for your two-wheeled love of your life.

George

George2

Rides an early 80s Trek road bike.
Shot on State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara, CA.
In for routine maintenance.

I am in no way belittling George as a person. He is a very cool guy. I’m just saying that sometimes looks can be deceiving.

Let me explain: Working in a bicycle shop on State Street in Santa Barbara, I see many different types of people. A lot of the time, there are guys who are down on their luck and can’t afford a new tube. Most of the time, these folks come in looking for a free tube and they ask for it. Nothing wrong with that, right? Curiosity only kills cats, I always say. But George here (and I know I am going to get flak for this, sorry in advance) didn’t look like he needed anything. He was a really nice guy who came in to get his bike checked out. He didn’t ask for anything for free. While conversing with him, I found out that this old bike, which he picked up at Bici Centro for a song, was his only transportation. I would have at least pegged him for a 10-year-old BMW.

Sorry again, if I have offended anyone. But it goes to show that people’s money and how they look or act don’t always equate. Like today, I had a woman come by today that looked like she had been sleeping outside all her life. She didn’t smell so great and her clothes were super tattered. She asked for a lot of advice on what kind of bicycle to buy for her son for college if he was going to live off campus. So I showed her a really nice 2013 Kona Dew Plus hybrid. Plenty of gears, hydraulic disc brakes, great 700c road wheels and upright riding position. Without even so much as a protest about the $899.00 price tag, she bought it. And I helped her load it and the helmet, floor pump and lock into her Mazda SUV. Let me just say that nothing surprises me anymore. I do get kind of annoyed, though, at people who try too hard to look they they have money when they actually have money. What’s the point of that? Just keep it real like George here.

Joshua

Joshua

Rides a 1984 Nishiki Olympic 12
Shot on State Street in Downtown Santa Barbara, CA
On the way to Friendsgiving.

I ran into Joshua at Velo Pro about a week before Thanksgiving. I was checking out his Nishiki Olympic 12. It’s a really nice steel road bike from the 80s. I thought the color and the way the gold decals looked was really awesome. This was the kind of bike that the well-to-do kids would ride when I was in high school. While I was sloshing away with only 10 speeds on my Univega in crap brownish gold, the cool kids would be riding Japanese steel with a 6-speed cassette.

Joshua mentioned to me that he was just getting the bike looked over before he went to Friendsgiving. I thought to myself that even though our society has its problems, every now and then a gem pops up that makes you feel good about the people around you.

Happy Thanksgiving

Home Decor

Bicycles can look good and be useful anywhere.

For those of you not in the United States, today is Thanksgiving Day. It commemorates an awful mistake that the Native Americans made over 300 years ago. When the original pilgrims (colonists) came to the New World in search of religious freedom (business opportunities), they struggled with sickness and hunger. Because they were self-righteous city folk who had no idea how to live in nature, they soon found that they were unable to support themselves. The Native Americans, whom these good religious folk so delicately called “savages,” found it in their heart to do what Christians weren’t used to doing: which was to lend a helping hand to people who were different. The natives provided a huge bounty of food and knowledge of how to farm and hunt in the New World. The pilgrims, completely taken aback, found themselves thanking these savages who, in their mind were doomed to hell. Today we celebrate the pilgrims sudden unselfish streak of giving thanks with a holiday called “Thanksgiving” with a huge feast of turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, corn, veggies and all that good stuff. What happened after we gave thanks is history, but needless to say, the Native Americans suddenly found themselves with an obvious lack of their own farmland — and farmers, too since they were all wiped out in the name of “Manifest Destiny.”

Thanks for showing your kindness to strangers, Native Americans! Now let’s eat some turkey!