Experience with Specialized Tarmac or Roubaix

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by biker801, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. biker801

    biker801 New Member

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    Hello everybody- I am new to the site and actually a newb to road biking also. I have been mountain biking for 12 years or so and am now looking at picking up road biking. I'm liking the Specialized bikes, but am trying to decide between the two. I've rode the 2010 models of both (very short parking lot ), but wasn't able to ride anything longer distance (Utah weather!). Anyway, I could tell quite a difference between the two as far as positions and comfort. The Tarmac definitely more aggressive and the Roubaix more comfortable. My dilemma is I like the Tarmac looks and better handling. But I am wondering if the comfort is more important? I will probably ride mostly 20-30 mile rides every other day or so. If I decide one day to be brave and compete and do longer rides, will the Tarmac be a good choice? Or really uncomfortable for 50 miles plus? Here are the two I am looking at if anyone could help that's greatly appreciated.

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/SBCProduct.jsp?spid=53211&scid=1001&scname=Road

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/SBCProduct.jsp?spid=51637&scid=1001&scname=Road
     
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  2. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    Yes a Roubaix is comfortable, but even at 58 years old I believe there are more important things on a ride, even after 100 miles, than the kind of comfort a Roubaix gives. The Roubaix is for guys who've convinced themselves they need a Roubaix, guys who say they couldn't do long rides if they couldn't do it on a Roubaix. Or Specialized-sponsored pro racers riding Paris-Roubaix, but even their Roubaixs are far from the ones you buy at your local dealer.

    You're wavering. Get the Tarmac.
     
  3. biker801

    biker801 New Member

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    Wow my thread was finally posted. I almost forgot about this, thanks for the reply. You are definitely helping that final decision. So I won't be beating myself up with a 100 mile ride on a Tarmac? Yeah, I know, I'm still wet behind the ears. I am also wondering about the components. It looks like for 400 more I could get Ultegra instead of 105. Does anybody think this would be a good upgrade worth the 400?
     
  4. m0b00st

    m0b00st New Member

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    I keep getting told that you will not notice a performance difference between the 105 and Ultegra groups, but that the biggest difference would be the weight savings. So do you want your pocket to be lighter, or your bike. Skip the cheeseburger tomorrow and save yourself $400 in my opinion.
     
  5. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    I tend to concur with that opinion. Ten-speed 105 has always been a good value, but the new 5700 version is cheaper and lighter than 5600, and it diminishes the performance gap with Ultegra. Use the money you save for pedals, a nice helmet, and a shoe upgrade. The Echelon helmet and Expert Road shoes are my recommendations for bang for the buck.
     
  6. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    It all depends on what you ultimately want to do. If your plans include long fast spirited rides then either bike will work fine. The only downside to the Roubaix is you might not be able to get the bars low enough for a low position for racing. This may or may not be an issue. The Cervelo team used to ride the "comfort model" of the Cervelo range, the RS, in races like the Vuelta (Tour of Spain) - complete with it's higher headtube and more relaxed position. You don't have to be ass up and head down in the weeds to race.

    The biggest issue is fit. If the bike you choose doesn't fit and leaves you with a sore back or unduly sore legs because of the fit and not the effort, then paint, looks, fancy doo-dahs aint worth a damn.

    Ultegra or 105. The big difference between the two is the STI levers - the Ultegra having a "real" adjustable reach adjuster, just like the Dura Ace, whereas the 105 requires randomly stuffing shims in for reach adjust. The shape of the Ultegra lever is the same as that of the current Dura Ace. The 105 lever (not the body) is less ergonomic and is more like the older Dura Ace. Personally, having both the old and new Dura Ace, my hands are way less sore after very long rides on the newer 7900 levers. The newer offset ergo design of the composite levers is enhanced by the lever travelling not directly back towards the bars but offset, coming back slightly towards the palm of your hands. On rides flat rides under 3 hours there's not much in it but after 8+ hours in the hills these design features would get the Ultegra the sell for me if I had to choose between 6700 and 5700. I don't have the biggest hands, so all these ergo bits help lots - whether I'm riding on the brake hoods or the drops. I have my bars a touch higher that most as I like to ride in the drops due to hand position and the lever design is more noticeable here.

    The rest of the differences are fairly minor and it all depends on how fussy you want to get. The cassette sprockets are finished differently. I use 6600 10speed cassettes for training and they've been great - even wear, no rust or corrosion. As tough as the steel Dura Ace sprockets. I've seen a few 5600 (105) cassettes that looks like hell on wheels. YMMV.

    At the end of the day, both these bikes are as good, if not better, than what the guys back in the 80's were riding on in the Tour de France and they were averaging over 24mph for the entire race. It is more about the rider... but nice kit, if you can afford it, is a nice thing to have.

    It also works out far cheaper to get the upgraded components as part of the bike purchase - if you decide to go 105 and for whatever reason decide that you want to upgrade to an Ultegra crank, that's a $399 ticket right there... The Ultegra 6700 STI shifter/brake levers are $550... Kerching.

    I tend to think that if you skipped all those cheeseburgers in the first place you'd have the extra spondoolies for the Ultegra and you'd weight even less - double bonus. The cheeseburgers analogy is only slightly better than the commonly made "why don't you just take a dump before the ride and save weight that way?"... But I tend to find that with the Dura Ace kit on my bike, I have no desire to forceably keep myself from taking a dump so I can keep the weight the same and the uber strong morning coffee tends to enhance the desire for pre-ride weight loss on the throne.

    Your mileage, cheeseburgers, dumps and all... may vary.
     
  7. biker801

    biker801 New Member

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    Great info. I appreciate you guys taking the time to school me. It sounds like a really need to get a better feel for the bikes. But how much can I really tell from a test ride? I am assuming I would have to ride the bike for a few hours or so to see if it is hard on the body. Will bike shops usually allow that? I realize this bike probably seems a bit much for a beginner. I just assume to avoid the want to upgrade an Allez or something similar in another year. This seems much cheaper in the long run.
     
  8. m0b00st

    m0b00st New Member

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    Your logic there fails. Regaurdless of what someone chooses to eat, they still have to pay for it, so there is no extra money to be had. The point of the analogy is that we are less willing to give up our bad habits then we are to throw money away in an attempt to counteract them.
     
  9. biker801

    biker801 New Member

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    We got the point. I don't eat many cheeseburgers by the way, but thanks for the advice. I do plan on this becoming a life long sport, so money is definitely not being thrown away. I've beena biker of some sort my entire life. Just a newbie looking for constructive advice. Even constructive criticism! As long as there is something to base it off from.
     
  10. m0b00st

    m0b00st New Member

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    After riding both bikes, I would go with the Roubaix. I feel like you can get the comfort from the Roubaix and maintain much of the geometry of the Tarmac by going down one size on the Roubaix. If you look at the spec sheets you will see what I mean. For me, I ride a 56cm Tarmac, but a 54cm Roubaix. If you look at those two bikes side by side you will see that a lot of the geometry becomes very close giving you that snappy handling of the Tarmac, while obviously retaing the Roubaix comfort.

    Only problem is that everyone may not be proportioned to where they can hop between sizes quite so easily.
     
  11. biker801

    biker801 New Member

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    Good info. I will have to check that out. I finally made it back to the bike shop and ordered a few Tarmacs in to compare. I may just have to add the Roubaix back into the equation. I am actually in that exact situation between sizes. At 5' 9" the manager suggested I Iook at a 54 and 56cm. Is there anything particular to look for when feeling out the sizes?

    He mentioned doing some around the block rides, but as far as anything longer it would have to be on a demo bike. Which may or may not be closer to spring time. Also it sounds like all Specialized prices are going up a 100 bucks , February 12 I believe. But I can't let 100 dollars rush me into anything.

    Thanks for the info . Although the looks of the Tarmac are sucking me in! I'll def have to clear my mind and look at things again.
     
  12. m0b00st

    m0b00st New Member

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    Your sore wrists, back and ass wont care what the bike looks like!!! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

    To be quite honest though, If you look at the two bikes in the same color, they are pretty hard to tell apart if it weren't for the Zerts in the Roubaix.
     
  13. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    Quote:

    Your sore wrists, back and ass wont care what the bike looks like!!! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

    To be quite honest though, If you look at the two bikes in the same color, they are pretty hard to tell apart if it weren't for the Zerts in the Roubaix.


    This twaddle about standard racing geometry causing bodily aches is getting really tiresome. People rode safety bicycles for over 100 years without Zertz and extended head tubes. Telling people that their bodies are going to hurt if they don't buy a Roubaix is acting like a cranky, opinionated old man.

    Hey, I'm a cranky, opinionated old man, and I say, if you can touch your toes without bending your knees and the vertebrae in your lower back aren't fused, you really don't need a Roubaix. And if your wrists and butt hurt, see a fit specialist because you're probably sitting on the bike like a monkey on a stick, and if your back still hurts, see a chiropractor.
     
  14. m0b00st

    m0b00st New Member

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    Good job old man, but nobody said "You're going to hurt, hands down, no question about it"

    Fact is that the Roubaix IS a more comfortable bike...get over it. There is no way to argue that. If someone wants the more aggressive bike, that is going to come with a little bit of harshness. Your body being in great shape, or very poor shape doesn't change the fact that one bike WILL be more comfortable than the other. Now go take your meds and eat your early dinner, you'll feel better.
     
  15. maddogbubba

    maddogbubba New Member

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    bobcat - what would be the differences between the geometries from a local dealer supplied roubaix vs a sponsored racers roubaix ? besides stems .
     
  16. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    Let me revise a bit. In 2008, Specialized started furnishing the Quickstep team SL2 Tarmacs whose main distinguishing feature is a shorter head tube. There might also be extra layers around the bottom bracket for stiffness.

    The Roubaixs furnished to Quickstep for Paris-Roubaix for 2008 and 2009 used Roubaix angles, chainstays, seatstays, forks, Zertz, doglegs, and all, but the head tubes were shortened to duplicate the stack height of the pro Tarmacs. Everything else being equal, the handlebars would be slightly higher on the Roubaix because the slackened head angle raises the stem angle. Other pro build features were non-detachable carbon derailleur hangers for snappier shifting (so what happened, Andy Schleck?) and threaded bottom bracket shells as needed to accommodate the bottom brackets of whoever was supplying the cranks. So while these bikes are not truly custom, they are a special pro build that is not in the product catalog. Leftover units might be available to non-sponsored riders who know who to call.

    Classics leader Tom Boonen got the custom builds. To accommodate his height and proportions, his Tarmacs and Roubaix had extended top tubes.

    Fabian Cancellara won in 2010, of course, riding on a Tarmac for that other Specialized sponsored team.

    The head tubes of standard Tarmacs are still 2 cm taller than Trek's intermediate H2 geometry, the Roubaix is about 2 cm taller than the Tarmac, and Trek's latest answer to the Roubaix, H3, is still about a centimeter shorter than Roubaix..Trek's H2 geometry represents a growing de-facto standard for non-professional performance bikes. Other bike companies whose stock bikes reflect this standard are doing special pro-only builds. For example, the Les Roi and Centos Uno ridden by the Lampre team looked like nothing I ever saw at the local Wilier dealer, and now I see they are available by special order. On the other hand, you can order a Madone 6 with H1 at your neighborhood Trek store, just like the ones ridden by Frank, Andy, Fabian, and Lance.

    And I apologize for my earlier crankiness, but I get impatient when a moderate bike like the standard Tarmac configuration gets branded as a radical, race-only torture machine. It really is designed for high performance all-day riding by amateur racers and enthusiasts who are at least reasonably fit, people like most of us on this forum.
     
  17. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    The analogy doesn't fail. However, your spelling does.Most people who eat lots of cheeseburgers often do so in between regular meals as a snack, which is why they get fat. Whatever you ride you still have to pay for the bike...

    I don't buy my bikes because of what others may think of them, how I may be perceived riding one or even how it looks when its in the garage - I buy the stuff because of the way it rides when I'm sat on it. Frame materials, geometry, components etc etc are all important to some degree but they're secondary. It could be sh1t brown with chewed corn graphics on it for all I care because when I'm riding it where it excels I don't have time to look at the paint.

    But the crux of the matter here is that both bikes mentioned are great bikes but the ultimate determinant is how they fit the guy who's riding it. You could ride a Roubaix that doesn't fit and it'll be uncomfortable and leave you sore despite the relaxed geometry and zertz inserts.

    The current Tarmac bikes come with a more relaxed front end unless you get the SL3 module or SL3 Pro geometry frame set. The standard geometry Tarmacs are hardly back breaking, wrist killing torture machines. If you get the Pro geometry and you've got a few years under your belt and regular stretching hasn't been part of your routine or you have a few extra pounds under your belt then it's gonna be a bit of a reach to get to the bars without a mountain of spacers, which defeats the object of the Pro geometry. If you have functional flexibility issues that prevent you from riding a standard Tarmac then maybe that adds something to your "to-do" list - ie becoming a little more flexible.

    The Roubaix is a great bike if you like the higher position that you're stuck with due to the taller head tube. It rides over bumpy surfaces really well but is still massively stiff when out of the saddle. If you're not racing or interested in eeking out that last 0.1mph then it's probably one of the better bikes out there. I almost bought one (a Roubaix SL2 on clearance) and the only reason I didn't was that I couldn't get the bars down to where I wanted them. I got a Cannondale Hi-Mod instead. It rides almost as smoothly as the Roubaix but has a lower head tube - it also has near telepathic handling.

    Maybe a Cervelo RS might be a worthy alternative depending on the OPs budget.
     
  18. m0b00st

    m0b00st New Member

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    I agree with everything else you posted, but...

    A) Your analogy did fail.
    B) Transposing two letters in a word does not justify calling someones spelling out.
    C) Your assumption that people who eat cheeseburgers, must be eating them every other hour shows a bit of idiocy on your part.
    D) Of course you still have to pay for the bike...that was the point of my original statement, thanks for proving it.

    Other than that great post, I'm gonna go see what the Cervelo RS is all about now.
     
  19. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    A. Let's go back to the original Cheeseburger reference. Eating cheeseburgers doesn't make you fat. Consuming an excessive amount of calories from any source and not expending a suitable amount of energy thereafter makes you fat. Italian women and their pasta diets can attest to this. Using the universal McD's cheeseburger as an example - 300KCal - you're not going to get a "healthy" diet but you ain't gonna become a porker from eating it. Even eating a "Royale with Cheese" (Jules/Vincent) you'd only be looking at 510KCal.

    B. Yes it does, especially when there's a spell checker.

    C. Experience speaks on my part of this one. There's a reason I went from a 1st Cat racing weight of 140 to 145lbs to almost 230lbs in the course of 5 years off the bike. During this time not only did I partake of a burger or two but met lots of people during work, social, college and other activities who did what I did - ate crud like this between meals, not as part of the regular three main meals of the day. This wasn't just in one little town either - I've worked in a fair number of cities in the US, England and Germany. Walk past a McD's at various times during mid morning, mid afternoon or after 8pm and you'll see that it ain't exactly an empty place but you may find it a little emptier around 5 or 6pm. I wonder why... Again, personal experience with this...

    ... there's also a reason why I'm closer to my racing weight now than I was a few years ago - no mid afternoon McMunchies is a big reason. No mid morning ones either - despite the fact that some coworkers are on a mid morning road trip to BKs.

    D. No, your original statement was "skip the cheeseburger tomorrow and save yourself $400" insinuating that you'd be lighter as you'd skip the cheeseburger, which I disproved up above and that the only real benefit between Ultegra and 105 is the weight savings, which I'd disproved in a prior post. The biggest benefit, which most miss, to the new Ultegra group over the 105 is the easily adjustable reach on the brake levers which for some can translate to a big improvement in hand comfort and and improvement in brake/gear change performance when you're knackered, especially with ergo bars. I can speak with experience on this one as I have Dura Ace 7900 on my bike. The ergonomics, when the levers are adjusted, are just awesome.

    The weight aspect - if you race in the hills lots then you may appreciate that every last gram helps. It's not an opinion, its a measurable fact and if it's the difference between hanging on by the skin of your teeth or 15ft off the back at the top and unable to get back on during the descent then that ~1lb that the more expensive bike may have as an advantage might just be worth it.

    You said that "I keep getting told"... so it would seem that you have no personal experience on that. My experience with the new Shimano kit includes 200 mile rides in the Sierras bazzing down 8,000ft mountain passes after 15 hours (and 20,000ft of climbing) in the saddle, freezing cold, tired and having left my lunch on the pavement many hours earlier. The ergo aspect, while seemingly somewhat insignificant on paper, becomes huge at times like that. In fact, if you have any descent that's very steep and technical then that upgrade alone is a "deal winner" without the fact that the Ultegra calipers are probably a bit more effective. I say probably because I haven't ridden the new Ultegra kit.

    You also chimed in with "do you want your wallet to be lighter or the bike" which is a little odd, as you'd already said the more expensive bike would be lighter - so it's not a "or" situation as both conditions would be met with the Ultegra equipped bike.

    Some people just like having good kit because it's better, either cosmetically, functionally or both. Some just want the best of the best because they can afford it. Thankfully we're in a sport where many are in a position to ride bikes that are as good as the Pros ride but lighter. When one is in a position to purchase a complete bike it's always a good option to get the best you can just about afford because the groupsets and finishing kits are very heavily discounted.
     
  20. m0b00st

    m0b00st New Member

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    I still don't agree with you on the whole cheeseburger thing, but that's ok.

    And yes, I did phrase that previous statement wrong...what I meant to type was "do you want your wallet to be heavier or your bike to be lighter."

    I do appreciate your input on the components though as you are correct, I don't have much seat time with them. I don't know that the adjustability of the Ultegra group would matter all that much to me as I highly doubt that I will ever find myself on a bike for 15+ hours (at least not one that uses me as the motor). Not to mention that I found the ergo's of the SRAM equipment more to my liking. I also am in the market for a bike. That's why I stated that I was going to look into the Cervelo RS that you had brought up. It looks like an interesting bike that might fit what I am looking for.
     
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