Specialized Roubaix SL3 Review

Specialized has a reputation to uphold with the Roubaix SL3 range and so it is no surprise to see the 2012 editions of the Expert and Pro models returning to the fray with plenty of top-tier components and race-ready carbon frames. Both are worthy bikes, but what can you expect to see onboard that differentiates the two?

Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert

The Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert is the more affordable bike on offer, although at this end of the market affordable is certainly a relative term. Little expense has been spared to make the FACT 10r carbon frame as light as possible and in fact you will find many other carbon elements across the bike, from the fork to the seatpost. Carbon, remember, equals light and strong. The frame and the fork both feature Zertz inserts, a technology which has begun appearing in a number of Specialized race and endurance road models. This is because it helps to cut out the vibrations which invariably creep up from the road. This means that the Roubaix SL3 Expert is more comfortable over long distances and will not sap your energy as you progress over tarmac on the slim Roubaix Pro tyres which might otherwise let you feel every lump and bump in the surface below. This is a point worth noting when you compare this bike to others.

The Roubaix SL3 Expert has Shimano Ultegra components on the drivetrain and brakes, with STI shifters ensuring you can change gear without missing a link. The shallow bend Specialized Comp handlebars make sure that the levers are always within reach while giving you a number of options for hand positioning which can help you get comfortable and then remain so for the duration of a race. DT Axis 3.0-3.3 wheelset components are light and easy to handle, while the Comp carbon seatpost and Toupe Plus Comp saddle help you transfer power as smoothly as clockwork.

Specialized Roubaix SL3 Pro

The Specialized Roubaix SL3 Pro comes closer to offering you the same level of quality as the professional cyclists who tackle the tough Paris-Roubaix race can experience in competition. The same FACT 10r carbon frame and fork make an appearance, with internal cable routing removing the mess of wires from the outside of the bike and keeping them out of harm’s way while you ride. The Zertz insets continue to do their job, enhancing the comfort level a few notches. SRAM Red components and double-tap shifters improve the speed of each shift and also weigh less than the Ultegra kit found on the Expert. SRAM Force brakes, Roval Fusee SL wheels and Turbo Pro tyres are all chosen with weight-saving in mind.

Another area in which the SL3 Pro improves upon the Expert is the seatpost. This is formed using FACT carbon and it has its own Zertz insert so that every place your body comes in contact with the bike will be as free from vibrations as is reasonably possible. Hollow titanium rails support the Toupe Plus Expert saddle this time, bringing together a bike which will definitely be an ideal partner for any rider with real road racing aspirations.

We rate these bikes highly and can find few reasons to fault them. Bottom line, I want one.