Specialized head to head Tarmac vs Roubaix
With bikes supplied by Specialized, the riders of Team Gerolsteiner are in the unusual position of having two top-flight bikes to choose from. We asked Peter Wrolich and Michael Rich to state their preference.
By Cyclingnews staff
Being on a pro team and having bikes given to you is great; especially when it is one of the most high tech bikes in the peloton. This year the Gerolsteiner team has the privilege of riding Specialized S-Works bikes and specifically the Tarmac and Roubaix models. While most teams are given a certain model to ride for the season, with maybe a few tweaks here and there, Gerolsteiner riders have been faced with a dilemma; do I ride the Tarmac or do I ride the Roubaix?
Both models feature Specialized F.A.C.T, or Functional Advanced Composite Technology, and the patented Zertz vibration-damping inserts (see this PDF for more information on F.A.C.T.). With these and other newly developed building processes and materials, Specialized has created what they feel is the perfect blend for a lightweight, stiff and comfortable race bike. However, no matter what the lab rats or PR guys say it all depends on how the riders like the ride. So to find out exactly that, we talked to Michael Rich and Peter Wrolich just before the start of Paris-Roubaix.
Peter Wrolich prefers the Roubaix and its comfortable ride. Wrolich said, "I like how comfortable it is on bad roads. It will be great for the cobbles today." Some of the finer points of the Roubaix, besides the comfort are the performance which Wrolich elaborated on.
"The bike steers aggressively which is good but not too aggressive. Also it has a stiff bottom bracket so it's good for the hills and sprinting. I'm not a pure climber or sprinter but it feels really good to me. I would definitely feel comfortable riding this bike in any situation and any race."
Michael Rich on the other hand prefers the Tarmac and its quicker handling. Rich explained, "The Tarmac is very stiff and handles really good. I think it's a little bit quicker than the Roubaix."
Another reason Rich likes the Tarmac is his positioning on it, "the front of the Tarmac sits a little bit lower so I am more aero on it." He also added, "And the bottom bracket is very stiff so it sprints and climbs well."
When asked about the conditions their favorite bikes were best suited for both riders agreed that they would feel comfortable taking the start line on either one. A major part of this is contributed to Specialized's commitment to building the best bikes for the job.
Michael Rich said, "These bikes are so much better than what I have been on in the past. Specialized has worked with us to make things just right for the team. I think they listen to what people want and build their products according to that."
Wrolich echoed Rich's comments. "These bikes are much better than what I was on last year. Specialized has done a lot of work with us to make sure we have what we need."
For Wrolich's choice, the Roubaix, that work includes developing an S-Works version of the frame with a different carbon composite from the Pro model, saving weight and improving torsional stiffness. A 56cm S-Works Roubaix weighs around a kilogram and can be spotted by the distinctive, very small "checkerboard" pattern of the 1K carbon weave on the exterior of the tubes. The 1K material is substantially lighter than the typical (and less costly) 3K weave found on many other bikes.
So is it the Tarmac or the Roubaix that's the favorite? Well that depends. Either bike can do well on any day. Already this year each one has been making waves with more big results to come. After several second placings in the World Championships TT Peter Wrolich will be one to watch when the World Championships roll around come September. And at the time of writing this Michael Rich had just recently won stage 3 of the Tour de Georgia. Oh and of course their will be Levi and his bid for the Tour and...
information on the Roubaix and Tarmac see Specialized's