We’re at the 2013 Specialized Global Press Launch all week, with plenty of time for hands on photos, weighing and riding over the next couple days. For now, we’ve put together a quick overview of the highlights for new road, cyclocross, womens and commuter bikes.
The flagship new bike is the 2013 Roubaix SL4. The Roubaix has always been their top endurance bike, and with the recent interest in this market from folks like Trek and BMC, Specialized needed to keep attention on one of its best sellers.
The new Roubaix uses size-specific tapered steerer tubes, going from a straight 1-1/8″ up to tapered lower bearings of 1-1/4″ to 1-3/8″ as frames get larger. They say makes the forks 20% more compliant, particularly for smaller riders, and about 30g lighter. Frames also get size-specific tube sizes and layups to improve comfort and performance across their wide range of frame sizes. Spotted earlier this year, the Zertz inserts on the seatstays get a new shape, and the stays are straighter than in years past, which improves lateral rigidity while still letting them damp vibrations.
We’re not sure how we feel about the name, but the new COBL GOBL-R seatpost uses a bent section to provide vertical flex controlled by what looks like an elastomer.
Look for the COBL GOBL-R on the S-Works and Pro models. All models get full internal cable/wire routing for brakes and shifting. The post was tested under Tom Boonen, who was reportedly skeptical at first but quickly decided it would be part of his setup for 2012 Paris-Roubaix assault.
It’s designed to work in conjunction with the Roubaix frame and remove large vibrations and minor impacts. On the bike, total vertical deflection is 16.61mm/kn versus 13.56 for the 2013 Trek Domane and about 9.5 for the Roubaix SL3. That’s about .67 inches of total vertical flex.
They reiterated that the numbers don’t really tell the story…that it has to be ridden to be appreciated. That said, they still took it to McLaren for testing. Ideally, you have a bike that completely isolates the rider from road vibrations and bumps. Bikes were hooked up to measurement instruments at all contact points, then put a rider on and measured how much of the forces and which frequencies were transferred. With the rider on the saddle, vibrations were reduced by roughly 10% to 20% depending on frequency.
An interesting part of the discussion was that this post would allow Boonen to run higher tire pressure because the post let the bike move under the rider, but the rider wouldn’t move. It goes back to the whole suspend-the-bike-versus-suspend-the-rider argument from the Softride days. Yes, lower tire pressures are good in general, but you run the risk of pinch flats or rim damage if you overcompensate for rough roads. Since you can’t really suspend the bike for road, this post lets you suspend the rider and not have to run dangerously low tire pressures.
Claimed weight is around 200g, it’ll be available aftermarket for approximately $200 (not final) and has a 240lb rider weight limit. It’ll come with clamps for round alloy seat rails and oval carbon rails. Setback is 25mm.
A blacked out Roubaix SL4 Pro Compact model (left) will come with the new Shimano Dura-Ace 11-speed, and a Roubaix SL4 Expert Ultegra Di2 Compact leads the upper middle pack.
Mike Sinyard, Specialized’s founder and CEO, says this new Roubaix is on par with the Tarmac SL4 in terms of race performance, with no compromise because of the built in comfort. He said they tried all sorts of ideas, including suspension in the back, with five or six of them moving pretty far into development and testing. The result is “everything we know to date.”
The goal with the new model was to make the bike faster, so they looked at the best characteristics of the Tarmac to optimize the ride. Changes included making each frame size dialed for the intended rider, hence the different layups and tube shapes and steerer tube diameters. This includes top tube placement and the shape of the top- and downtubes. Where prior models had slightly flat or ovalized tubes there, the SL4 gets rounder, fatter tubes to keep the headtube area more laterally stiff. And the tubes get bigger as frames get bigger…basically each frame size has a specific tube shape and size. Lastly, optimized compliance built into the layup for each frame size. The result is an overall frame torsional stiffness of 102.3 Nm/degree, compared to 95.6 for the 2011 Roubaix SL3, and above bikes they tested from Giant, Trek, Cervelo, Pinarello and Cannondale.
The rear end gets laterally stiffer from wider set, straighter seatstays. They claim the rear end is about 18.5% stiffer than the SL3. The Zertz elastomer insert, which dampens high frequency road vibrations, gets a new “pocket” shape that makes layup easier and more consistent.
DISC BRAKE ROUBAIX
Now for the real showstopper: The Roubaix SL4 Disc Expert will come this fall, with an S-Works version in development (frame and fork is done, it was actually developed first but components weren’t ready, so they’re launching with the Expert…we’re betting on a SRAM Red hydraulic build).
The Expert gets mechanical disc brakes, but the frame is hydraulic ready. It has 135mm rear spacing and is totally disc specific.
“We’ve known disc brakes were coming to road for a while,” said Chris Riekert, one of Specialized’s PR folks. “We believe in it and we’re committed to it, and this is the first iteration.”
VENGE EPS & BOONEN SIGNATURE EDITION
The Venge aero road bike gets a new Campagnolo EPS model with silver/black color scheme.
There’s also a Boonen LTD signature series Venge with Palmares sketched into the gloss local on the downtube, with his 2012 wins (so far) listed on the bottom of the saddle. There’ll be a matching S-Works Prevail helmet, too. There will be a limited run of 200 frames.
The S-Works moniker only goes on the top products, so for an alloy bike to get it is a big deal for the brand. Before carbon, Specialized was known for their ceramic alloy matrix frames, and they wanted to showcase what they can do with the material.
The Allez S-Works is an E5 Smartweld frame that’s made as light as they could with incredible ride quality. Frame is 200g lighter than the prior model. It has thin wall tubing, thin seatstays and minimal dropouts. The Smartweld process uses a hydroformed head-, down- and top tube that are mitered into a “valley” and welded such that the weld fills the valley for a strong, lightweight joint.
The complete bike is 14.5lbs with a sub-1200g frameset. Only about 50 of these will be made, so hit your shop up now if you want one. Note the new S-Works carbon crankarms for Red, which Riekert says fixes any shifting issues they’ve had the past when running their components with Red.
CRUX CARBON DISC
As anyone could have guessed, the Crux gets a carbon fiber disc brake version. We reviewed the alloy disc Crux earlier this year and really enjoyed it, so chances are this one will be a winner.
There will be a total of 42 frames, two carbon versions and an alloy one, each with options for disc or cantilever brakes. The S-Works top of the line (below) is designed to be a “Tarmac for the Dirt” after feedback from Todd Wells, Ned Overend and Zdenek Stybar. Regardless of brake choice, you’ll get many of the same features on both: One-piece carbon BB/chainstay, tapered headtube and carbon fork, internal cable routing and triangulated seatstays. The Crux Expert Carbon Disc has a FACT 10r frame with size specific tapered headtube like the Roubaix and an Ultegra Di2 group with “Ultegra” listed as the brake. Shimano did introduce some new mechanical discs this year, but we didn’t see any labeled at the Ultegra level, so this could be an early PR typo or a taste of things to come. It’s rolling on DT Swiss Axis wheels and a Specialized cockpit.
The S-Works carbon frame is lighter, just 990g for a 56 with paint and hardware for either disc or canti, by using tube shaping and molding lessons learned from the Tarmac. You’ll see similar tube shapes on the Crux and Tarmac. The new S-Works carbon fork uses a tapered to 1.3/8″ fork (versus 1-1/4″ on the original Crux) and comes in around 500g, which is 25g lighter than before. Seatstays are quite different between the two brake versions, but both are set wide for better lateral stability. The disc brake version gets a much thicker section at the bottom to handle the stresses, where the canti version gets flattened out to keep the tubes from twisting under braking. All models get recessed bottle bosses -remove the bolts and you’ll hardly see them- and the downtube has a flattened concave section called the Love Handle, which provides a nice hand grab when shouldering the bike. The internal cable runs go under the bottom bracket and come with a cover to make the bike easier to wash in the pits without contaminating the lines.
I asked why no Zertz on the Crux like they had on the Tricross and they said they’re researching it, but that the vibration frequency is so varied in ‘cross, so it’s not as simple as reducing the high frequency road vibrations like on the Roubaix.
RUBY WOMEN’S ENDURANCE ROAD BIKE
The women’s Ruby gets a new S-Works Di2 Compact model with a new FACT 11r carbon frame using triple monocoque construction that moves joints away from high stress areas. This puts continuous fibers through the usual junction areas (where tubes meet) for better strength with minimal reinforcement needed. That equals less weight, as does the one-piece full carbon fork that’s molded in a full length EPS mandrel, including dropouts.
The 700c Crosstrail gets new A1 and M4 alloy frames with larger headtube that visually integrates into the custom (and proprietary) fork crowns for a much higher-end appearance. Full internal cable routing on the M4 frames completes the look. They also get 2×10 SRAM WiFli wide range gearing, putting them more in the performance segment of casual off roading and a more aggressive commuter option than their Sirrus.
Speaking of the Sirrus, it gets a new lightweight frame that’s much straighter tubed than its curvy predecessor. It’s a fast commuter that double as an almost race-able fitness bike. It gets a new carbon fork with Zertz inserts, and the frame has smoothed welds with internal cable routing for a svelte look. It has double eyelet dropouts to accommodate racks and fenders and clearance for up to 35c tires. Geometry is refreshed a bit, designed around road bike performance but flat bar comfort and positioning, all based on their Body Geometry research. Upper models get SRAM 2×10 drivetrains, and some models get new flat pedals and Sirrus 460 wheels.