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  1. #1
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    Roubaix and a Tarmac?

    Does anyone own both? If so, do you ride both or does one just collect dust? I have a 2012 Roubaix Expert and I am contemplating a Tarmac Expert. The only info I get from the lbs is the Tarmac "climbs like a beast". Please spare the usual endurance vs race geometry. Looking for real world feedback from guys that own both. Thanks!

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    I spent all last season on a 2009 Roubaix Comp 105 (borrowed)...when the time came to buy I went with a 2012 Tarmac Elite 105. I loved the Roubaix but i wanted a more race oriented bike ifmi were only to have one at the moment. However, they ride so differently that I may just land up with a Roubaix somewhere down the road.

    If I had to have one bike...I'm happy with my choice. The Tarmac feels much more responsive than the Roubaix...more aggressive. It's addicting. Like with sports cars however, it's rare but sometimes I find myself craving a softer ride. It's not all of the time but it happens. That's why I may eventually land up with a Roubaix as well.

    Now...I've read that the higher end Roubaix SL4 is pretty stiff and has more of a "race" feel, but not only do I not have the funds for one (nor will I...my cap is $2500 or so)...I personally don't get the point of buying a stiffer Roubaix when the Tarmac exists. That's just me though.
    Last edited by Typetwelve; 06-04-2013 at 08:16 PM.

  3. #3
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    I had read that the 2013 Roubaix are stiffer than last years. Is this through out the line or just the top end ones?
    Cannondale Synapse 2014 61cm Force 22


    I just started riding and I can't believe I want to spend that much.............................................. ..................

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ksauers View Post
    I had read that the 2013 Roubaix are stiffer than last years. Is this through out the line or just the top end ones?
    I think just the top end models. I'm pretty sure all others are SL2 and are the same as the 2012 frame. I know this is the case with the Tarmac.

  5. #5
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    Re: the stiffness question, generally speaking, as you go up Specs model line (and increment in model years), the bikes are touted as having ~18% added torsional stiffness, yet improved vertical compliance.

    Whether someone chooses to buy into this is their choice, but FWIW, I'm of the opinion that if you're a heavier, more powerful cyclists, you may benefit from the added stiffness. Lighter spinners (like myself) can't flex BB's of the lower end models, so added stiffness is (essentially) overkill, but a dose of compliance is welcomed.

    Remember, too, that because larger frames are meant for larger/ heavier riders, as frame size increments (up), so does stiffness.

    A somewhat dated, but interesting article here:
    An Overview of Material Applications in Bicycle Frames | Fit Werx: New England’s Original Bike Fit and Product Specialists

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    Yes, the SL4 Roubaix's are meant to be much stiffer and racier than previous models. My understanding is they took some of the comfort out of the frame and then tried to reintroduce some compliance with the COBL-GOBLR seat post.

    I've not ridden a Tarmac, but my S-Works handles and rides just fine. It's actually like riding on a rather stiff cloud (carbon bars, seat rails and wheels as well)

    Quote Originally Posted by PJ352 View Post
    Remember, too, that because larger frames are meant for larger/ heavier riders, as frame size increments (up), so does stiffness.
    Aren't the SL4 Roubaix's designed differently to account for different stiffness's for different sized frames? From memory they have different sized (diameter) head tubes and are tuned so that big dudes and little dudes get roughly the same ride characteristics.

    Here is a Cyclingnews review on the SL4 discussing some of the extra stiffness and the different diameter head tubes.
    Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL4 Review | Cyclingnews.com

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TmB123 View Post
    Aren't the SL4 Roubaix's designed differently to account for different stiffness's for different sized frames? From memory they have different sized (diameter) head tubes and are tuned so that big dudes and little dudes get roughly the same ride characteristics.
    Like Jamis, Spec goes a step further than you describe, using size specific tubing, which means increasing the diameter as frame size increases.

    With most any frame material, this will increase stiffness, but manufacturers still need to match ride/ handling characteristics to the anticipated riders weight range - with or without SST.

    Spec also varies the lower steerer tube diameter by frame size. I have no supporting evidence, but would guess that the results are similar to what's described above - larger diameter equates to stiffer.

    My opinion is that, while the end result of Spec's SL4's seems to be very well designed bikes, the SL4 designation (while not devoid of some substance) is primarily a marketing term. As will SL5, 6... I anticipate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Typetwelve View Post
    I spent all last season on a 2009 Roubaix Comp 105 (borrowed)...when the time came to buy I went with a 2012 Tarmac Elite 105. I loved the Roubaix but i wanted a more race oriented bike ifmi were only to have one at the moment. However, they ride so differently that I may just land up with a Roubaix somewhere down the road.

    If I had to have one bike...I'm happy with my choice. The Tarmac feels much more responsive than the Roubaix...more aggressive. It's addicting. Like with sports cars however, it's rare but sometimes I find myself craving a softer ride. It's not all of the time but it happens. That's why I may eventually land up with a Roubaix as well.

    Now...I've read that the higher end Roubaix SL4 is pretty stiff and has more of a "race" feel, but not only do I not have the funds for one (nor will I...my cap is $2500 or so)...I personally don't get the point of buying a stiffer Roubaix when the Tarmac exists. That's just me though.

    if I slam the stem on my Roubaix, will it be more Tarmac?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmajik View Post
    if I slam the stem on my Roubaix, will it be more Tarmac?
    Odds are good that you can match saddle to bar drop, but you can't change the Roubaix's stretched wheelbase and higher trail, so steering/ handling will always be slightly slower.

    Some view that as a plus, others prefer a racier, livelier handling bike.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmajik View Post
    if I slam the stem on my Roubaix, will it be more Tarmac?
    Quote Originally Posted by PJ352 View Post
    Odds are good that you can match saddle to bar drop, but you can't change the Roubaix's stretched wheelbase and higher trail, so steering/ handling will always be slightly slower.

    Some view that as a plus, others prefer a racier, livelier handling bike.
    This.

    I stilly have the Roubaix in my basement and actually took it out for a ride a few weeks back. It is just a different bike. I've heard that some tweaking can change one closer to a Tarmac like ride but honestly, I don't buy it. Both of them are 56cm frames and the difference in fit is huge. Moving the bars or the seat won't make one handle or ride like the other. The Roubaix is more "stretched" than the Tarmac. The fork angle/shape, the frame shape...all of those things make for a different ride and moving the handle bars won't change that part.

    If you can, go to a LBS and "A-B" them...in the same size frame, you'll immediatly know what I mean.

    All of that aside...the Roubaix is still a superb bike...and fast as well. It's just not *as* fast/nimble as a Tarmac...but nots not an insult. I've had some of the best rides of my life on a Roubaix and I definitely intend on getting one of my own in the future...

  11. #11
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    I have a 07' S-Works Roubaix and a 09' Tarmac Pro. I ride the Roubaix more often, especially if i know that I am going to be riding for north of 3 hours. But that said I take the Tarmac when I am riding with faster riders as I can push it allittle more. But for a long century ride day, give me the Roub any day of the week.

    I love my Tarmac but if I had to make the choice between the two and could only keep one I'd keep the roub. That said, if you can get your hands on a tarmac I highly recommend it.
    Sworker.......

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sworker View Post
    I have a 07' S-Works Roubaix and a 09' Tarmac Pro. I ride the Roubaix more often, especially if i know that I am going to be riding for north of 3 hours. But that said I take the Tarmac when I am riding with faster riders as I can push it allittle more. But for a long century ride day, give me the Roub any day of the week.

    I love my Tarmac but if I had to make the choice between the two and could only keep one I'd keep the roub. That said, if you can get your hands on a tarmac I highly recommend it.
    This is exactly how I feel.

    At this point in my life...I have little time for 2hr+ rides. I wish I had more time (don't we all) but I just don't. This is exactly why for now, I chose the Tarmac. It really is a race bike and feels fantastic on shorter, high speed intense rides (which I have more opportunities to do...1 hr rides or so).

    This is not saying the Roubaix can't be pushed hard...or that the Tarmac can't tackle a century...they're both just not in their element in those roles. Like I said, I've had my Tarmac on rides over 2 hrs and had the Roubaix on hard, fast romps and they both performed well. BUT...get them in their element (Roubaix/endurance-Tarmac/Race) and they are amazing machines.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Typetwelve View Post
    This.

    If you can, go to a LBS and "A-B" them...in the same size frame, you'll immediatly know what I mean.

    All of that aside...the Roubaix is still a superb bike...and fast as well. It's just not *as* fast/nimble as a Tarmac...but nots not an insult. I've had some of the best rides of my life on a Roubaix and I definitely intend on getting one of my own in the future...
    Funny you should say that. I did exactly that and the differences are pretty obvious. My racing days are over, and I preferred the ride/more relaxed feel of the Roubaix for the kind of riding I do now, but the Tarmac is definitely a great bike and might have been my choice if criteriums were still part of the agenda.

    The only thing I didn't like was the length of the head tube, but that was fixable with a upside down 17 degree stem and some 3T Rotundo bars. After a year, I still really like mine.

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    My older SL2 Roubaix was nothing like my SL4 of today. Does anyone have a comparison of the two most current versions they can comment on? I'm not debating the benefits of both bikes, just curious.

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    Re: Roubaix and a Tarmac?

    Quote Originally Posted by bmajik View Post
    Does anyone own both? If so, do you ride both or does one just collect dust? I have a 2012 Roubaix Expert and I am contemplating a Tarmac Expert. The only info I get from the lbs is the Tarmac "climbs like a beast". Please spare the usual endurance vs race geometry. Looking for real world feedback from guys that own both. Thanks!
    I have a Tarmac and a Secteur. Got the Secteur first and thought I wanted to upgrade to a Roubaix. But learned I wanted to upgrade to the Tarmac.

    I like having both. The Secteur is the winter/rain/gravel/beater bike. I put 28mm tires on it. It rides nice and is relaxed.

    The Tarmac just goes.

    Plus a second bike is nice when the good one is need of a shop visit because I can't figure out how to adjust what is wrong.

    One caveat. I would get the same brand groupset. My Secteur is Sora. Tarmac is Red. Really wish the Secteur was Apex.

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    Just wondering, have you looked into a Venge instead of a Tarmac? Figure having 2 different extremes of the spectrum would justify owning both

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tire Biter View Post
    My older SL2 Roubaix was nothing like my SL4 of today. Does anyone have a comparison of the two most current versions they can comment on? I'm not debating the benefits of both bikes, just curious.
    Our store has demo bikes of both current versions and we spend a bit of time on them as staff. The biggest difference is really in the geometry and the resulting handling and fit. Personally the handling of the Roubaix I find frustratingly slow, so much prefer riding the Tarmac. However others love the relaxed handling and position of the Roubaix and make it their preference. IMHO the difference between the two in terms of stiffness etc of the frames has closed. It's really the geometry and weight (depending on model) that tells the story with the SL4 versions.
    As for the Venge... that's another bike entirely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by srh04 View Post
    Our store has demo bikes of both current versions and we spend a bit of time on them as staff. The biggest difference is really in the geometry and the resulting handling and fit. Personally the handling of the Roubaix I find frustratingly slow, so much prefer riding the Tarmac. However others love the relaxed handling and position of the Roubaix and make it their preference. IMHO the difference between the two in terms of stiffness etc of the frames has closed. It's really the geometry and weight (depending on model) that tells the story with the SL4 versions.
    As for the Venge... that's another bike entirely.
    You gotta love a good bike: Venge, Tarmac, Roubaix. Thank you Mr. Sinyard and your team for all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tire Biter View Post
    My older SL2 Roubaix was nothing like my SL4 of today. Does anyone have a comparison of the two most current versions they can comment on? I'm not debating the benefits of both bikes, just curious.
    Thanks for saying that, I remember demoing a sl2 Tarmac and roubaix and remember thinking the roubaix simply wanted to go too straight

    I have a sl4 roubaix now and it seems entirely different, I was surprised when I looked at geometry specs and they seem to be identical to the sl2

    I have a Tarmac sl3 and have ridden it on everything but last year about mile 190 of a double as I was hitting potholes in the dark, the idea of the roubaix started creeping into my brain

    There is no doubt the Tarmac is magic when carving a turn but the roubaix at least in its latest incarnation isn't too bad

    I think you would have to ride both to decide and you really can't lose either way

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    Here is my story: Total Left Knee Replacement March 2012. Upon returning to Florida where I spent 75 days this winter off and on, I wanted to purchase a new carbon road bike. I wanted to see how much riding I was wanting to do so I purchased a 2012 Roubaix Apex. Rode 1500 miles (Florida) Wanted a bike in Indiana and found a 2011 Tarmac Expert demo for a deal. I should have tried it on a test ride with patched road surfaces. After 350 miles and the rebates on new Specialized Road bikes, I purchased a 2013 Copper Roubaix Expert and sold the Tarmac. It seems like my new 2013 Roubaix is as snappy as my 2011 Tarmac. So in my limited ownership of 6 weeks, I am very happy that the new Roubaix seems as stiff but is much more comfortable as my 2011 Tarmac. But in the process of experiencing the better components of the Expert, I found a left over 2012 S-Works Roubaix that will replace the Apex. I am leaning on taking the Copper Roubaix to Florida. I'm 59 and usually average 17-17.5 mph and generally ride 25 miles at a time. Hope this helps you but I encourage you to test ride over your normal routes and if possible over several days.

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    First of all, thanks for all the info! I was able to demo a 2013 Tarmac SL4 Expert UDi2. It is truly a different experience. Every ounce of energy is put to turning the wheels where as in my 2012 Roubaix Expert it seems 10-15% somehow gets lost. I got to have a Tarmac! LBS tells me current sale is sure to last till the 2012 are gone. Spec doesn't usually run sales like that. This has me a bit worried with the fork recall. Should I be worried?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmajik View Post
    First of all, thanks for all the info! I was able to demo a 2013 Tarmac SL4 Expert UDi2. It is truly a different experience. Every ounce of energy is put to turning the wheels where as in my 2012 Roubaix Expert it seems 10-15% somehow gets lost. I got to have a Tarmac! LBS tells me current sale is sure to last till the 2012 are gone. Spec doesn't usually run sales like that. This has me a bit worried with the fork recall. Should I be worried?
    I wouldn't be. The problem's been identified and a plan to rectify it, executed. Your fork will already have been inspected prior to delivery.

    Far better (IMHO) than buying a product that should be recall, but isn't.

    BTW, FWIW, fork recalls have been fairly numerous through the years. Giant, Felt, Cervelo (among others) have experienced them.

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