Testing the S-Works Roubaix eTap AXS

I already own, and have been impressed by, the Team version of this bike (which is the same tech, just in a more aggressive geometry - closer to that of the sublime Tarmac).

For my 1100km race through Italy I jumped at the chance to ride the "normal" Roubaix (well, normal in geometry, but this is still the range-topping S-Works model).

I have since ridden more than 1500km on it and feel able to give some decent first impressions:

It's light. Seriously, surprisingly light...

7.2kg for an endurance bike with disc brakes and a power meter. That's ridiculous!

You notice this when climbing, especially with the huge gear range of the 2x12 drivetrain - it encourages an easy pedalling action up even the longest climbs.

I continue to love SRAM's eTap AXS groupset. It's taken me a while to embrace SRAM, but now I am fully on board with their way of doing things. I think AXS is amazing; everything just works as it should.

Also I now find it hard to ride a bike without a Power Meter - to me this is a huge competitive advantage of SRAM vs Shimano, with the AXS cranks having neatly integrated, tried and tested Quarq power measurement. The Di2 bike and the AXS-equipped one are the same price. Given that the latter comes with a power meter I think that's the better buy of the two unless you have an unshakeable loyalty to Shimano.

28mm tyres feel slow INITIALLY - but aren't!

The bike comes with 28mm Turbo Cotton tyres as standard; a real favourite. But I was keen to try out the new 28mm Turbo Rapid Air tubeless tyres Specialized have recently launched. Now, 1500km in, and through terrible roads and some gravel, they're showing barely a cut, let alone a puncture.

They do feel a little sluggish accelerating on steep hills; you can feel the extra weight on the very perimeter of the wheel (and even feel the sealant sloshing around); but once up to speed they are great; very fast and confidence inspiring.

Overall this is an incredibly comfortable bike for tackling epic distances.

below: Barry's test Roubaix in "Ultracycling" mode during the Two Volcano Sprint:

Endurance, Comfort:

I was riding 15+ hour days in Italy, and was not sore at all. I often saw other riders on "racier" frames with more aggressive geometry and fewer shock-absorbing features, and they would be stretching their backs and shoulders; you could tell they were beat up. In comparison I felt the Roubaix was a magic cushion, isolating me from the worst the rural Italian road surfaces could throw at me without compromising the crisp handling of the bike.

I read one reviewer saying that he felt the bike had a harsh rear end. That's nonsense in my view. The seat post is clamped 65mm lower down inside the seat tube, resulting in more post flex to help soak up bumps in the road. This takes away a lot of the road imperfections, but does not affect your pedalling when climbing. It's very clever.

The front end is equipped with Future Shock; Specialized's adjustable suspension system hidden away inside the head tube, which provides up to 20mm of travel. I played around with the dial in the beginning but ended up leaving it fully open. The only time I closed it was on sustained climbs (especially when out of the saddle) so as to keep the front end as rigid as possible, but really you never notice it's there, except that you feel less fatigued at the end of a long ride.

It looks classy (if a bit boring)

Black always looks good; especially on wet roads, and the AXS model is particularly stealthy in its matt black finish. I must admit though that I prefer the Di2 version with the added colour of the Dove Grey/Red paint. Of course the S-Works is also available as a frameset only, and there are some really beautiful colour options there - check them out in our online Bike Builder - and you can easily build those up with AXS or the groupset of your choice.

I often compare bikes to cars; and this is a Range Rover Autobiography... it's not the raciest bike out there (though it can be hustled when needed). But as a bike to cover long distances efficiently and in comfort it has few equals.

Read More:

We took a closer look at the technology and design of the latest Roubaix, including the FutureShock 2.0 suspension, in our original first look blog.