Specialized Roubaix with carbon rims and saddle

I love cycling in the early morn. There’s nothing like the calming sensation of a cool breeze on your face as you barrel through the gentle morning mist along a quiet dimly lit road. The peaking rays of the morning sun, while not fully formed, warms the heart with a sense of renewal and hope.

I’ve been cycling since my youth. It was the only form of transport that kids of my generation use to get around. In that sense, I’ve been cycling for decades now but only dabbled into “serious” cycling around a decade ago. In that time period, I’ve chewed up 2 bikes and is currently on my third (and most beloved) bike, a Specialized Roubaix.

Specialized Roubaix with Zipp 303s rims

There’s something to the namesake of my bike. It utilizes the same tech that propelled Peter Sagan in the Paris Roubaix leg of multiple Tour de Frances. There are tens of thousands of ringgit that separate my bike from his (frame made of a different material, better group sets, better rims, wheels, etc) they are essentially the same geometry. And while it is not as “aero” or light as some of the other bikes, I love it with all its quirks.

Firstly, it is not very fast. It comes with an ingenious suspension system in the front fork that isolates bumps from the cockpit, increasing comfort when going through graveled or uneven roads. While smooth, it damps power when you need to accelerate off saddle. Also, don’t bother attacking on climbs with this. Just lower the gear and take a slow on saddle ride up any inclinations. 

Secondly, you can’t really feel the road with this (though I had never fallen off any sharp turns with this bike, touch wood). This makes precise maneuvering to be slightly iffy (if you are used to making split second decisions to break away from a pack) and I have had my fair share of drifting on this bike on sandy roads when you engage brakes on the wrong wheel. The newer Roubaix which comes with Future Shock 2.0 allows riders to turn off the suspension like a race car. The frame geometry is built for control over rough terrains and hence it is reinforced to maximize control rather than speed.  

In spite of the above, it is one hell of a comfortable bike to ride every day and for long distances. I use it almost every weekday in the early morning and for longer rides during the weekends. But recently, I discovered that with a few tweaks, there’s a lot more that you can gain from this bike.

I’ve recently changed from the stock DT Swiss alloy rims to Zipp 303s carbon rims increased efficiently by 15%. It takes less wattage to hit the same speed. Ridding hard with the same effort made me faster. 

Due to consistent pain on my tail bone, I’ve replaced the stock Specialized saddle with the lighter and shorter ergonomic carbon Prologo NDR Nack. Not only did this alleviate the pain that I’ve been feeling, it also inadvertently increased power transfer. This is due to the proper placement the hips, allowing for greater motion of the legs from the hip joints.

With all these tweaks to speed, efficiency and comfort, I am re-discovering the joys of riding a Specialized Roubaix. Perhaps, the next upgrade will be on the frame and groupset but that will be discussion for the future.

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