Nigel Wynn takes the Specialized Roubaix SL4 Comp for a first ride and enjoys what's on offer so far ...
Specialized’s Roubaix SL4 Comp sees the company set a new standard for what it is offering, for just over two grand.
What we have here is a slightly downgraded version of the top-end SL4 Roubaix frameset with the best bits of Shimano’s new Ultegra 11-speed drivetrain. When we say ‘best bits’, we mean that there has been some pruning — brakes and chainset are the notable deviations from Shimano’s second-from-top groupset.
The SL4 is the best Roubaix yet, with a beefed-up bottom bracket and chainstay area, coupled with an almost Coke-can width down tube, making a stiff platform for power transfer in the horizontal plane, but keeping the vertical shock absorption. It’s not the lightest or fastest frameset, not even from Specialized’s own range, but it more than compensates with ride quality.
“Specialized is keeping on top of the game by offering more for a lot less”
Coupled with the new 11-speed version of Ultegra, the whole bike gels well. Shifts are light and crisp while the cassette goes down to a super-low 32-tooth option — a safety net for steep inclines and tired legs. The FSA Gossamer chainset shifts well enough, but flexes a bit under heavy pedalling, with some chain rub against the cage of the front mech under pressure.
Another deviation from Ultegra fared better. The DT Axis 2.0 brake calipers provide plenty of power when you need it, and their machined-out sections make them look like decent aftermarket items, rather than a cost saver.
The Fulcrum S5 wheels are robust and smooth running, in keeping with the rest of the machine. The only point we could fault the bike on was the Romin Comp saddle. Normally, Spesh’s Body Geometry saddles are a byword for comfort, but there was simply no give in the thin gel layer. The gel inserts under the bar tape are a different matter, providing an effective last line of defence against road buzz.
See the Specialized site for their road bike range, specialized.com
With the same basic frame, better wheels and a better functioning groupset than last year’s £3,000 Roubaix SL4 Elite, Specialized is keeping on top of the game by offering more for a lot less in the £2,200 SL4 Comp.