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  1. #1
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    Specialized Roubaix - SL4 Expert v SL3 Pro

    Hi All

    New to the forms and this is my first post so go easy please!

    After 3 years riding my Fuji Team Pro, Iíve decided itís finally time for a changeÖ..bit of background; I initially purchased the Fuji straight off the peg having at the time very little knowledge of road bikes. As such Iíve ended up suffering with aches and pains when doing 30+ miles due to the frame being a bit on the small sideÖI donít intend to make the same mistake this time and am planning to test ride as well as have a fitting session this time round.

    Iíve pretty much narrowed my search down to the Specialized Roubaix SL4 Expert and the Cervelo R3 2013, however Iíve just found a LBS who still has the Specialized Roubaix SL3 pro in stock @ £2,700 vís the £3k for both the aforementioned..

    Iím really keen to understand what peoples views are on the/any advantages the SL4 Expert has over the SL3 Pro?

    Thanks in advance.

    Paul

  2. #2
    Senior Member topflightpro's Avatar
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    There really will not be much difference between the SL3 and SL4 frames. The SL4 will be lighter and maybe a bit stiffer. If the components are the same and you like the SL3 pricing, get it.

    (Side note, my wife has an SL3 Tarmac and SL4 Amira, which is the women's version of the Tarmac. She likes them both.)

  3. #3
    Senior Member Adrianinkc's Avatar
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    ^ Wrong. The sl4 frame was just updated for this year, it's a new frame. Basically if you want a more comfortable ride get a sl3, or you want something between a tarmac and a sl3 roubaix get the sl4.
    2013 Specialized Roubaix SL4

  4. #4
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrianinkc View Post
    ^ Wrong. The sl4 frame was just updated for this year, it's a new frame. Basically if you want a more comfortable ride get a sl3, or you want something between a tarmac and a sl3 roubaix get the sl4.
    Is that really so Adrian?
    You are saying that the SL4 Roubaix is stiffer than the SL3 Roubaix? Maybe laterally but don't think so vertically. If you have experience with both bikes, please post. I own the SL3 Roubaix Pro and it is quite stiff laterally and vertically.

    Edit:
    I think you are on to something Adrian. I read a review of the new Roubaix SL4 and was quite surprised. They did take the bike in the direction you spoke of.
    The SL4 has the same vertical stiffness as the SL3 but is quite a bit more laterally stiff. There is however a linkage between the two stiffness planes in ride compliancy apparently. The SL4 feels noticeably stiffer apparently on 'big hits'. What does this mean for me? I prefer my '12 Roubaix SL3 Pro. I don't want a bike that is harsher on big hits. Honestly my SL3 Roubaix is plenty vertically stiff for me and I am 188#.
    Here is a telling excerpt from Bike Radar:

    "I think for years the idea of a comfort bike being laterally stiff enough to race was absurd. The best way to make an endurance bike better is to make it faster. The new SL4 provides the exact same amount of deflection as the Roubaix SL3 but is a substantial amount more laterally stiff.

    "In my experience on the bike, there is a perception that the SL4 is stiffer on large impacts because the frame is only allowed to bend in a vertical path, whereas the SL3 could soak up some of the hit in lateral movement. That is a large reason why we pushed so hard for the system of the sharper SL4 frame paired with the COBL GOBL-R to deal with large impacts."


    And the May 2013 article it came from:

    http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/c...build-13-47244
    Last edited by Campag4life; 06-10-13 at 02:31 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrianinkc View Post
    ^ Wrong. The sl4 frame was just updated for this year, it's a new frame. Basically if you want a more comfortable ride get a sl3, or you want something between a tarmac and a sl3 roubaix get the sl4.
    Agree, totally different frame, geometries tweeked, stiffer BB, more compliant, stiffer, < weight.

  6. #6
    Senior Member fstshrk's Avatar
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    As a Roubaix SL2 rider, I am intrigued by the Domane. I think the coupler design is much better than the carbon GOBL-R post.

  7. #7
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fstshrk View Post
    As a Roubaix SL2 rider, I am intrigued by the Domane. I think the coupler design is much better than the carbon GOBL-R post.
    While I agree the GOBL-R post is an abomination...god its ugly, even if it is functional, it will be interesting to see what happens to the Domane 'hinge' over time. Let's see how many other comfort genre road bikes adopt this technology...if the patent can be worked around. I have stated how I feel before about need for more compliance in the rear triangle of a racey comfort bike. To me, it isn't needed. The SL3 Roubaix already has a fair amount of compliance in the rear triangle...outgrowth of chain/seat stay angles, geometry and length. If designers could come up with something to make the front of the bike more compliant and not hurt handling...the two seem to be mutually exclusive, then that would be something. One always has the option of getting out of the saddle...why hardtail mtb's are popular...but taking the hands off the handlebars for the same relief over rough road tends to be a bad idea. and why mtb bikes designed for rough rode have front and not rear suspension unless designed for real gnarly terrain.

    So I am not that big of a fan of the 'hinge' OR the goofy GOBL post. Also, reading reviews of the new SL4 Roubaix, I am not sure they took the bike in a better direction compared to the SL3 Roubaix I own...as apparently there is relationship between vertical and lateral compliance over rough road as I quoted in the Bikerader article posted above. Let me state again that a SL3 Roubaix is a very stiff bike. Let's say the SL4 is a bit snappier on acceleration because Spesh stiffened the rear triangle. If they did so as a compromise to ride integrity over the rough stuff, for me at least, this isn't a good compromise as I like every bit of compliancy the Roubaix SL3 has over the rough sections of road I ride. Also Cancellara has stated the SL3 Roubaix he has won on is every bit as stiff as his SL3 Tarmac in a sprint and I believe him and he has way more power than me.

    Lastly, regarding the Domane 'hinge'...those that are interested in suspension design know there are two things necessary for an effective suspension....a spring and a damper to quell the frequency of the spring. So what do we have with a Domane? We have a mechanical hinge. So where is the spring and the damper? The spring is the chain stay...which is analogous to a leaf spring of a car. So where is the shock or damper? There isn't one. I am not convinced a 'hinge' is an effective suspension. In fact, it maybe more of a gimmick. In other words, a hinge maybe duplicated with the right seat stay design deflection the Roubaix already has which gives the bike its incredible ride quality. I am not convinced having the seat stay 'pivot' aka hinge is any better and perhaps worse than say an equivalent Madone seat stay without the hinge for energy transfer in particular. I would be interested to hear from Domane owners regarding the feel of the bike. I have read mixed reviews. So to me the jury is still out on whether the hinge is value added or marketing to separate it from the class leading Roubaix.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the replies - a lot of detailed and very informative feedback - I've just called my local Specialized Concept store today and arrange a test ride of the SL4 Roubaix Expert (which I'm rather exited about!) - don't think I'm I'll be able to test ride the SL3 Pro as it would be ordered from an online company who are selling their final stock, and after doing plenty of searching cant find any of them in stock anywhere else.....assume due to it being last years model and out of production..

    Just as a matter of curiosity, can anyone offer any insight into the Cervelo R3 and how it compares to the Spec SL3 & 4?

  9. #9
    Senior Member echotraveler's Avatar
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    I ride sl3 and love it!

    if given the choice, take the newer frame.

  10. #10
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grundy82 View Post
    Thanks for all the replies - a lot of detailed and very informative feedback - I've just called my local Specialized Concept store today and arrange a test ride of the SL4 Roubaix Expert (which I'm rather exited about!) - don't think I'm I'll be able to test ride the SL3 Pro as it would be ordered from an online company who are selling their final stock, and after doing plenty of searching cant find any of them in stock anywhere else.....assume due to it being last years model and out of production..

    Just as a matter of curiosity, can anyone offer any insight into the Cervelo R3 and how it compares to the Spec SL3 & 4?
    The R3 is very popular and very good bike. That said, some prefer the slightly softer RS which is now discontinued.
    The thing about bike preference is...we each have a slightly different preference. Basically we are comparing a BMW with a Lexus. There are no losers in the high end bike club.

  11. #11
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    get the new synapse when it comes out

  12. #12
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    I am in the market for a new road bike, so recently I road the Synapse (not the 2014 hi-mod version), Kona Zone 2, the R3, a 2013 Roubaix SL2 in Ultegra and 105 builds, Giant Defy Composite, and 6 series Domane. I liked the SL2 and the R3 the best. They both seemed to fit me the best. For me, I thought the harshest ride was the Giant Composite, but if i could have found an Advanced to ride I probably would have road that instead. it has gotten excellent reviews. I was a little disappointed with the ride of the Synapse with all the hype I have been hearing about the 2014 Hi-Mod version. The Hi-mod is out of my price range. The most comfortable bike to me was the Domane. You could literally ride it down the side walk and not feel the spaces between the slabs. Quite amazing. But, if I ran a pretty high cadence I could feel my butt bump around a bit which I did not like. Which got me to thinking I might not like that if i was pushing up some big hills in the saddle. Hard to say. I think the front end was a bit more comfortable on the Roubaix, but that might be splitting hairs. I salesman stated that the Roubaix was better at the smaller stuff and road buzz, but the Domane was better with the big stuff. I could not really disagree with that. I thought the SL2 was funner to ride while still being very comfortable. I also felt more connected to the road than with the Domane. It also seemed to fit me better. It probably has the best mix of what I am looking for. The R3 was a very nice bike as well. Fit me well, fun to ride, and was comfortable. I liked it very much. So now it's down to the Roubaix SL2 and the R3. But, I would suggest you test ride some of these bikes and form your own opinions. Good luck.
    Last edited by ffftroutbum; 06-11-13 at 09:56 PM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Adrianinkc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
    Is that really so Adrian?
    You are saying that the SL4 Roubaix is stiffer than the SL3 Roubaix? Maybe laterally but don't think so vertically. If you have experience with both bikes, please post. I own the SL3 Roubaix Pro and it is quite stiff laterally and vertically.

    Edit:
    I think you are on to something Adrian. I read a review of the new Roubaix SL4 and was quite surprised. They did take the bike in the direction you spoke of.
    The SL4 has the same vertical stiffness as the SL3 but is quite a bit more laterally stiff. There is however a linkage between the two stiffness planes in ride compliancy apparently. The SL4 feels noticeably stiffer apparently on 'big hits'. What does this mean for me? I prefer my '12 Roubaix SL3 Pro. I don't want a bike that is harsher on big hits. Honestly my SL3 Roubaix is plenty vertically stiff for me and I am 188#.
    Here is a telling excerpt from Bike Radar:

    "I think for years the idea of a comfort bike being laterally stiff enough to race was absurd. The best way to make an endurance bike better is to make it faster. The new SL4 provides the exact same amount of deflection as the Roubaix SL3 but is a substantial amount more laterally stiff.

    "In my experience on the bike, there is a perception that the SL4 is stiffer on large impacts because the frame is only allowed to bend in a vertical path, whereas the SL3 could soak up some of the hit in lateral movement. That is a large reason why we pushed so hard for the system of the sharper SL4 frame paired with the COBL GOBL-R to deal with large impacts."


    And the May 2013 article it came from:

    http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/c...build-13-47244

    Best way to describe the sl4 is a more comfortable tarmac, the sl3 takes the harsher impacts better without a doubt. As far as the domane goes, I really don't like it. The front end feels harsh because of the rear end softness, and with a high cadence you can feel the seat rock quite a bit.
    2013 Specialized Roubaix SL4

  14. #14
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrianinkc View Post
    Best way to describe the sl4 is a more comfortable tarmac, the sl3 takes the harsher impacts better without a doubt. As far as the domane goes, I really don't like it. The front end feels harsh because of the rear end softness, and with a high cadence you can feel the seat rock quite a bit.
    That's two posters here now that say they felt the Domane seat rock when pushing hard. That ain't cool. Other thing I have read about the Domane is it felt a bit twitchy in the handling department.

    Thanks for the validation on the SL4 compared to the SL3. I believe the take away on all the bike comparisons is there is no free lunch. Specialized engineers decided to take the Roubaix is a slightly different direction. They took a SL3 which I feel is a very capable race bike and made it even racier with the SL4...stiffer rear end and overall with better power transfer which btw I feel is already excellent with the SL3. In doing so, they made the SL4 less tolerant of big hits because the bike is overall stiffer. So no free lunch even for the more spread out Roubaix with more forgiving angles. Racier bikes don't have the same compliance which to many is just fine if not preferred.

  15. #15
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ffftroutbum View Post
    I am in the market for a new road bike, so last weekend I road the Synapse (not the 2014 hi-mod version), Kona Zone 2, the R3, a 2013 Roubaix SL2 in Ultegra and 105 builds, Giant Defy Composite, and 6 series Domane. I liked the SL2 and the R3 the best. They both seemed to fit me the best. For me, I thought the harshest ride was the Giant Composite, but if i could have found an Advanced to ride I probably would have ridded that instead. it has gotten excellent reviews. I was a little disappointed with the ride of the Synapse with all the hype I have been hearing about the 2014 Hi-Mod version. The Hi-mod is out of my price range. The most comfortable bike to me was the Domane. You could literally ride it down the side walk and not feel the spaces between the slabs. Quite amazing. But, if I ran a pretty high cadence I could feel my butt bump around a bit which I did not like. Which got me to thinking I might not like that if i was pushing up some big hills in the saddle. Hard to say. I think the front end was a bit more comfortable on the Roubaix, but that might be splitting hairs. I salesman stated that the Roubaix was better at the smaller stuff and road buzz, but the Domane was better with the big stuff. I could not really disagree with that. I thought the SL2 was funner to ride while still being very comfortable. I also felt more connected to the road than with the Domane. It also seemed to fit me better. It probably has the best mix of what I am looking for. The R3 was a very nice bike as well. Fit me well, fun to ride, and was comfortable. I liked it very much. So now it's down to the Roubaix SL2 and the R3. But, I would suggest you test ride some of these bikes and form your own opinions. Good luck.
    Before you decide since you slightly smitten with the SL2 Roubaix, I suggest you try a SL3 and SL4 since you are wisely investing in due diligence of test riding bikes before settling on your investment. The SL3 is noticeably more responsive than the SL2 and not just because of geometry...but because of the difference in carbon modulus...Fact8 versus Fact10. The SL3 is lighter as well as more responsive. And now there is the SL4 which is said in this thread to be the raciest Roubaix yet. The Cervelo R3 is a race bike with a friendly feel. A comparable Roubaix is either the SL3 or SL4.
    Happy bike shopping...no losers.

  16. #16
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    I'm curious as to what high cadence means to feel the domane seat rock. I haven't felt anything like it, in fact the only way I notice the seat tube movement is if I forcibly push on the saddle with my forearm. That being said I'm not particularly strong and only weigh 154 lbs. I wonder if it might have to do with the amount of seat-mast?

  17. #17
    Senior Member Adrianinkc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robbyville View Post
    I'm curious as to what high cadence means to feel the domane seat rock. I haven't felt anything like it, in fact the only way I notice the seat tube movement is if I forcibly push on the saddle with my forearm. That being said I'm not particularly strong and only weigh 154 lbs. I wonder if it might have to do with the amount of seat-mast?
    When I rode the domane I was about 230lbs and cadence about 95
    2013 Specialized Roubaix SL4

  18. #18
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    Get the SL3, its less expensive. Then you can spend your saved money on accessories or, let's say, some nice carbon wheels. They stopped making the SL3 because it was so similar to the SL4, that the SL3 was cannibalizing sales of the SL4; despite the marketing "nothing lighter, stiffer" they try to sell you on. Money talks. Note that they still make the SL2 as an entry level option.
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    Thanks - must admit I kind of like the sound of having a slightly less aggressive position on the SL3, even though the Roubaix SL4 is hardly a racy position….I'm just a little nervous I may end up regretting not getting the SL4 in a few months time…..

    Suppose I've got to make a decision at the end ofthe day and by the sounds of all the replies here I'm not going to bedisappointed regardless of whether it’s the SL3 or 4..

    I like the suggestion of some lighter wheels - I've been riding a race bike regular for 3 years now and the wheelset on my Fuji are Shimano R500's which from what I can gather are by all accounts pretty poor. I've managed to get myself up to what I consider a decent standard on that bike and am hoping by spending this kind of £££ I'm going to notice a fair difference to what I've been used to thus far - will adding some carbon wheels to the SL3 or 4 really make a significant difference again? What would you suggest as an option to pair with the Roubaix SL3/4?

    Cheers.
    Last edited by Grundy82; 06-12-13 at 07:27 AM.

  20. #20
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    I have an SL3, it's a great ride. Plenty stiff and I am no lightweight by any means..


    IMG_2657.jpg

  21. #21
    Senior Member Adrianinkc's Avatar
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    Position does not change much if any on the sl4 or sl3. Great bikes either way.
    2013 Specialized Roubaix SL4

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    Senior Member fstshrk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ffftroutbum View Post
    I am in the market for a new road bike, so recently I road the Synapse (not the 2014 hi-mod version), Kona Zone 2, the R3, a 2013 Roubaix SL2 in Ultegra and 105 builds, Giant Defy Composite, and 6 series Domane. I liked the SL2 and the R3 the best. They both seemed to fit me the best. For me, I thought the harshest ride was the Giant Composite, but if i could have found an Advanced to ride I probably would have road that instead. it has gotten excellent reviews. I was a little disappointed with the ride of the Synapse with all the hype I have been hearing about the 2014 Hi-Mod version. The Hi-mod is out of my price range. The most comfortable bike to me was the Domane. You could literally ride it down the side walk and not feel the spaces between the slabs. Quite amazing. But, if I ran a pretty high cadence I could feel my butt bump around a bit which I did not like. Which got me to thinking I might not like that if i was pushing up some big hills in the saddle. Hard to say. I think the front end was a bit more comfortable on the Roubaix, but that might be splitting hairs. I salesman stated that the Roubaix was better at the smaller stuff and road buzz, but the Domane was better with the big stuff. I could not really disagree with that. I thought the SL2 was funner to ride while still being very comfortable. I also felt more connected to the road than with the Domane. It also seemed to fit me better. It probably has the best mix of what I am looking for. The R3 was a very nice bike as well. Fit me well, fun to ride, and was comfortable. I liked it very much. So now it's down to the Roubaix SL2 and the R3. But, I would suggest you test ride some of these bikes and form your own opinions. Good luck.
    Good write-up. Thanks.

    ps. I agree with you on the SL2

  23. #23
    has a Large Member Campag4life's Avatar
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    SL2 versus SL3 versus SL4

    Quote Originally Posted by ffftroutbum View Post
    I am in the market for a new road bike, so recently I road the Synapse (not the 2014 hi-mod version), Kona Zone 2, the R3, a 2013 Roubaix SL2 in Ultegra and 105 builds, Giant Defy Composite, and 6 series Domane. I liked the SL2 and the R3 the best. They both seemed to fit me the best. For me, I thought the harshest ride was the Giant Composite, but if i could have found an Advanced to ride I probably would have road that instead. it has gotten excellent reviews. I was a little disappointed with the ride of the Synapse with all the hype I have been hearing about the 2014 Hi-Mod version. The Hi-mod is out of my price range. The most comfortable bike to me was the Domane. You could literally ride it down the side walk and not feel the spaces between the slabs. Quite amazing. But, if I ran a pretty high cadence I could feel my butt bump around a bit which I did not like. Which got me to thinking I might not like that if i was pushing up some big hills in the saddle. Hard to say. I think the front end was a bit more comfortable on the Roubaix, but that might be splitting hairs. I salesman stated that the Roubaix was better at the smaller stuff and road buzz, but the Domane was better with the big stuff. I could not really disagree with that. I thought the SL2 was funner to ride while still being very comfortable. I also felt more connected to the road than with the Domane. It also seemed to fit me better. It probably has the best mix of what I am looking for. The R3 was a very nice bike as well. Fit me well, fun to ride, and was comfortable. I liked it very much. So now it's down to the Roubaix SL2 and the R3. But, I would suggest you test ride some of these bikes and form your own opinions. Good luck.
    I guess what I am a bit surprised about ffftroutburn...is after your thorough testing against really top in class comfort bikes, you placed the SL2 at the top of the heap with the Cervelo R3. Why this is a bit surprising is the SL2 in theory isn't in the same price category as the R3 or a few of the other bikes you mentioned. The SL2 is a lower end Roubaix and $1K cheaper than the others. SL2 has the softer Fact8 carbon and doesn't have the same frame sections as the racier SL3 or new SL4. Any yet you really like the bike. Which begs the question for many of us...is the SL2 just fine and in fact preferred for those that ride on rough roads? In fact, the SL2 may have...likely does have...a more compliant ride than either the stiffer SL3 or SL4 and I would believe the R3 because it uses a lower modulus carbon and the geometry is a bit less stout. At the end of the day, if you put the SL2 and Cervelo R3 in the same company, then why shouldn't most of us just save $1K and opt for the SL2 versus ante up for the SL3 or SL4?. The SL4 Pro frameset alone retails for $2850 which btw has gone up quite a bit from the more cost effective SL3 which retailed for $2200 in 2012.

    Ffftroutburn, I am hopeful you get a chance to ride either the SL3 or SL4 Roubaix as a basis for comparison with the Roubaix SL2 you like. I would be curious if you believe the higher cost of either bike is worth it in terms of more responsive performance and perhaps reduced ride quality over rough roads.

  24. #24
    Senior Member fstshrk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
    I guess what I am a bit surprised about ffftroutburn...is after your thorough testing against really top in class comfort bikes, you placed the SL2 at the top of the heap with the Cervelo R3. Why this is a bit surprising is the SL2 in theory isn't in the same price category as the R3 or a few of the other bikes you mentioned. The SL2 is a lower end Roubaix and $1K cheaper than the others. SL2 has the softer Fact8 carbon and doesn't have the same frame sections as the racier SL3 or new SL4. Any yet you really like the bike. Which begs the question for many of us...is the SL2 just fine and in fact preferred for those that ride on rough roads? In fact, the SL2 may have...likely does have...a more compliant ride than either the stiffer SL3 or SL4 and I would believe the R3 because it uses a lower modulus carbon and the geometry is a bit less stout. At the end of the day, if you put the SL2 and Cervelo R3 in the same company, then why shouldn't most of us just save $1K and opt for the SL2 versus ante up for the SL3 or SL4?. The SL4 Pro frameset alone retails for $2850 which btw has gone up quite a bit from the more cost effective SL3 which retailed for $2200 in 2012.

    Ffftroutburn, I am hopeful you get a chance to ride either the SL3 or SL4 Roubaix as a basis for comparison with the Roubaix SL2 you like. I would be curious if you believe the higher cost of either bike is worth it in terms of more responsive performance and perhaps reduced ride quality over rough roads.
    At the current prices, I think the Roubaix SL2 is the best endurance bike out there. There are a lot of chip seal roads where I ride, and the SL2 makes the buzz disappear. No worries related to stiffness either. It is a solid value in the segment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fstshrk View Post
    At the current prices, I think the Roubaix SL2 is the best endurance bike out there. There are a lot of chip seal roads where I ride, and the SL2 makes the buzz disappear. No worries related to stiffness either. It is a solid value in the segment.
    I agree the SL2 is a great bike for the money. I bought a Roubaix SL4 Expert earlier this year which I really like , it's the best bike I've ever owned. When test riding bikes the I rode the 2013 Roubaix Sport compact(SL2). I think it was on sale for about $1800. The ride is amazing for this price point, slightly more compliant than the SL4. It's a fantastic frame. If I didn't mind the lower end components and the lack of internal cable routing I might have considered it. The DT Axis 1.0 wheels are crap but so are the DT Axis 4.0 wheels that come on the SL4.

    I installed Shimano Dura-ace C24 wheels on mine which dropped a lb off the bike and further improved the already great ride.

    Put a good set of wheels on any of these SL2,SL3 or SL4 and you'll be happy.

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