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Advice Needed: Specialized S Works Venge or S Works Roubaix

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Advice Needed: Specialized S Works Venge or S Works Roubaix

Old 03-31-19, 08:01 PM
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Advice Needed: Specialized S Works Venge or S Works Roubaix

I am in my mid 50ís and will be going on a 1,000 mile bike ride with my son early July. I am about 240 pounds (35-40 pounds overweight), with a large frame build. I have not done much cycling in my past. I am trying to determine which bike to buy and I have been given mixed advice: S-Works Roubaix and S-Works Venge. The people recommending the Venge said that because of my build, weight and frame, I would be better off with the Venge. The other people suggested the Roubaix because it will be gentler on my body after riding long distances; since I am not planning to race, these people said a Venge is not the right bike. HELP Please!!!
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Old 03-31-19, 08:11 PM
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Old 04-01-19, 12:15 AM
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If you're dead set on a top of the line Specialized, get a Retul bike fit, because your body is not going to handle anything close to that much mileage if you have little experience regardless of the level of bike you ride (unless it's an e-bike). My Specialized shop does a fit for free with a purchase of a Pro-level or S-Works, maybe yours will too.

And hopefully the shop will be honest and tell you whether your goal is actually doable... Most cycling neophytes (myself included) had to train for months to get up to 100 miles in a single day, and even that not-insignificant training covered less than 1,000 miles per month.

Seriously though, a high-level rider that can squeeze out most of the benefits from a top-tier bike will maybe see a 5-10% benefit over a mid-range ($2k) bike. If you've only ever occasionally ridden for an hour or so on a weekend, you're going to be sorely disappointed if you expect that spending an additional $5k is going to multiply your cycling capabilities. Probably the one and only piece of equipment you can buy that will have a major impact on achieving your goal is the right saddle.
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Old 04-01-19, 04:01 AM
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I am less experienced than Surak, but I have been a 50yr old who began biking late, and had bigger riding ambitions than I did biking ability. From that point of view, I agree with his advice to you.
1. Get a fitting
2. Get a bike frame designed for endurance (Roubaix, in Specializedís case, not the Venge)
3. Get a version of that frame that is closer to the middle of their line and save thousands.
4. Get good gear that makes contact with the bike (good seat if whatever the stock seat is proves to be inadequate, bike shorts, shoes, gloves)
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Old 04-01-19, 08:16 AM
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The limit on many of those bikes listed is low 200's to 240 lbs. There was a topic on here a few years back of a guy at 250lbs wanting a Roubaix. Just a fair warning ahead of time especially if you're going to be adding "touring" luggage or something to it.

I'd suggest an endurance geometry, endurance fit. Something that can fit 30/32mm tires. Then, I'd suggest finding a high spoke count cyclocross or gravel wheelset that'll take those tires. Maybe consider a bike that'd make bike touring better.

Also, spend good time researching and fitting a good saddle. Consider a local shop that does demos. For that length trip, your saddle and shorts combo are going to be super important for someone without years of riding routinely in their sit bones/hind quarters.

Not for speed, but for a resting place option......a set of clip-on aero bars. Set them up wide and comfy and conservative just to give a place to rest.

1000 miles is a lot for anyone. Comfort will ensure you enjoy the adventure.

Good luck and have fun.
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Old 04-01-19, 09:24 AM
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These are both very high end road bikes. The Venge is a straight up racing bike designed for athletes going 21 mph+ on training rides. The Roubaix is an "endurance" bike with a longer head tube and front shock that will put you into a less aggressive position. I would try the bikes. If pressed for an opinion, I'd say a fairly hardcore aero race bike like the Venge is likely ill-suited to your needs. The Roubaix might be a better fit but it's still a racy road bike. Up to you, but you really don't need the top-of-the-line S-Works versions of these bikes, you will see no benefit in the extra money.

Actually, I wouldn't personally recommend either of these bikes for a heavier new cyclist looking to do a long, non-racing ride. Unless you're looking into joining fast-paced sportive / gran fondo / group riding after the ride you plan, I'd get something with a strong frame, strong wheels, disc brakes, low bottom bracket and slack angles that can fit at least 32mm tires. A gravel bike like the Diverge (sticking with Specialized), Trek Checkpoint or Canyon Grail with slick tires might be a good way to go. These bikes are still a bit racy but more versatile.
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Old 04-02-19, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by burnthesheep View Post
The limit on many of those bikes listed is low 200's to 240 lbs. There was a topic on here a few years back of a guy at 250lbs wanting a Roubaix. Just a fair warning ahead of time especially if you're going to be adding "touring" luggage or something to it.

I'd suggest an endurance geometry, endurance fit. Something that can fit 30/32mm tires. Then, I'd suggest finding a high spoke count cyclocross or gravel wheelset that'll take those tires. Maybe consider a bike that'd make bike touring better.

Also, spend good time researching and fitting a good saddle. Consider a local shop that does demos. For that length trip, your saddle and shorts combo are going to be super important for someone without years of riding routinely in their sit bones/hind quarters.

Not for speed, but for a resting place option......a set of clip-on aero bars. Set them up wide and comfy and conservative just to give a place to rest.

1000 miles is a lot for anyone. Comfort will ensure you enjoy the adventure.

Good luck and have fun.
For the S-works model this is true, and it's true for the Venge. For the base models, the Roubaix is rated for 275 pounds, at least for the 2018 model year.

-Matt
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Old 04-02-19, 10:19 AM
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In my opinion, you want a bike with "Endurance Geometry". Being over 50 and not riding much, I would think the Venge would be quite uncomfortable, weight limits aside. My recommendation would be the Roubaix Expert. It has a much more relaxed geometry, it's got a compact crank set, and the Future Shock front end, which will further enhance rider comfort, and it's rated for 275 pounds.

-Matt
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Old 04-02-19, 10:45 AM
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"Hey, I'm getting my learner's permit next week. Should I buy a Porsche or a Ferrari?"

But seriously, I'd been riding heavily for a few years before I even considered buying a mid-priced bike. It really takes some experience to understand what will best serve your needs, fit well, etc. That experience also taught me that there are steeply diminishing returns beyond a certain price level. I'm not saying that a $10k bike is crazy, but I do think it's crazy for a non-cyclist to spend that much on a bike.
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Old 04-02-19, 11:22 AM
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The gearing on those bikes are for racing - much too high for normal people on a tour. If you want a high-end bike, I'd recommend a titanium gravel or touring bike built up to your specs with a wide gear range.
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Old 04-02-19, 12:17 PM
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You will be happy with the Roubaix it will be well suited for your objective. I have the Dura Ace Di2 S Works version and very happy with the bike. If you ride includes some challenging climbs you can easily put an 11-32 Ultegra cassette on the bike with no modifications. If you want the S Works version it's your money and want to buy the premium version go for it. As far as the ride goes I am sure you realize it will be very difficult but anything worthwhile usually it is.

"We choose to go to the Moon...We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too."
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Old 04-02-19, 12:42 PM
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Forcing an inexperienced cyclist to ride 1k miles on a Venge would make a wicked form of torture. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.


-Kedosto
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Old 04-02-19, 05:13 PM
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Thank you all for your advice. I now understand that a Venge is just the wrong bike for me. What I am confused about is the S-Works versus the Expert. With most products that I have seen (cars, cell phones, ipads, even computers), the most expensive version has benefits that anyone will be able to appreciate and enjoy. Why is this not true of the Specialized Bicycles?
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Old 04-02-19, 05:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Sackaroo View Post
Thank you all for your advice. I now understand that a Venge is just the wrong bike for me. What I am confused about is the S-Works versus the Expert. With most products that I have seen (cars, cell phones, ipads, even computers), the most expensive version has benefits that anyone will be able to appreciate and enjoy. Why is this not true of the Specialized Bicycles?
Ok, I have to ask... So, you're in your mid fifties (as well as I), admittedly overweight, inexperienced at cycling ...and you are planning to jump on a bike a go a thousand miles?!? You don't need a bicycle, you need a motorcycle! Or at the very least an e-bike. Not being negative here, just being a realist. What kind of shape are you in? How many miles a day are you planning on doing? I can tell you this... I normally cycle anywhere from 20 to 100 miles in a day, and that's only when I'm staying after it almost daily. After the winter, when I don't get so much riding time in, the 20 milers feel much like the 100 milers did before winter when I'm at my peak condition.

Bottom line... are ya sure this isn't gonna be too much too soon for ya?
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Old 04-02-19, 05:51 PM
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Great question you ask Mr One4smoke! I am certainly not in good shape at the moment. The plan is to average about 50 miles a day over say a 23 day period - this would allow for some rest days. This is not a race, but a journey with my son. My plan is to lose 35-40 pounds over the next 3 months (mostly thru diet) as well as bicycle 5-6 days per week. I hired a cycling coach who is confident he can get me to where I need to be. That being said, it most definitely won’t be easy - I am hoping the experience will be worth the effort.

By the way, I have a Ranch about 60 miles South of Nashville where I will be spending most of the summer and fall. Great city!!!
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Old 04-02-19, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Sackaroo View Post
Thank you all for your advice. I now understand that a Venge is just the wrong bike for me. What I am confused about is the S-Works versus the Expert. With most products that I have seen (cars, cell phones, ipads, even computers), the most expensive version has benefits that anyone will be able to appreciate and enjoy. Why is this not true of the Specialized Bicycles?
That's a good question. Some people on Bike Forums have criticized the major bike brands for making road bikes that are good for pros but not regular riders. There's definitely a customer segment that wants to ride what the pros ride, despite not riding them in anything close to the same conditions. That means an emphasis on bike weight and aerodynamics that produce extremely diminishing returns for those who aren't very light and very fast -- we're talking marginal gains that shave only seconds off of hours-long rides. Comfort may be secondary or even tertiary because cycling has a very close and often celebrated relationship with pain.

In defense of bike brands, they know their potential new customers are not budgeting up to $10K straight away to go on an epic trip. Heck, the vast majority of people balk at paying more than $150 for a bike. People buying the top-end offerings are usually highly committed to cycling who're fit enough to power those bikes, or have aspirations (sometimes delusions) to do so. Yes, there are niceties* that anyone can appreciate on the S-Works models, but the engine is still the most crucial part and it's not part of any package you can buy with just money.

*Differences between S-Works Roubaix and Roubaix Expert:
  • Bottom bracket: S-Works is larger and has CeramicSpeed bearings. This is one of those things that if you don't know what that means, you likely won't be able to tell the difference, but you will have marginally less energy lost to friction on the S-Works.
  • Chain: S-Works Dura-Ace versus Expert Ultegra: I think Shimano's flat out said that Dura-Ace and Ultegra groupset components perform the same except Dura-Ace is lighter (and more expensive, and possibly less durable). Less weight is great, but consider what percentage the weight difference will be over the total weight of the bike plus you and your equipment.
  • Crankset: lighter, maybe stiffer. I don't think you'll notice the stiffness unless you discover a natural-born talent for sprinting with massive power.
  • Shift levers: I've never used Dura-Ace, maybe they feel nicer, but see chain
  • Front der: see chain
  • Cassette: the S-Works has a tighter cassette with a smaller biggest sprocket. You will notice it will be harder(!) to pedal uphill compared to the Expert, but cruising you may find smaller jumps between gears is nicer. It's a tradeoff, but making it easier to go uphill is a much bigger deal for most.
  • Chainrings: see chain
  • Rear der: see chain
  • Wheels: the Expert has deeper wheels while the S-Works has shallower ones with better hub bearings, faster tires, and fewer spokes in front (generally less safe for heavier riders)
  • Saddle: S-Works is lighter, and probably has less cushioning. People have a personal preference for saddles and swap out whatever comes with any bike.
  • Seatpost: they're the same
  • Tape: unclear, seem to be the same
  • Handlebars: same
  • Brakes: see chain
  • Pedals: same nylon flat pedals
Once I've listed the components, it seems that other than weight, there really won't be anything an average rider would appreciate from the S-Works over an Expert!
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Old 04-02-19, 07:08 PM
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Surak - thank you for the summary....extremely helpful. What about the electronic gear shifting of the etap? I was told that is a very nice (although certainly not a requirement) feature to have - does the Expert have that capability?
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Old 04-02-19, 07:16 PM
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Iím 215 and have an Roubaix elite. Iíve put 4000 miles on it. The only problem Iíve had is a couple broken spokes. The S-works has fewer spokes and will likely be more likely to break some. That would be a bummer in the middle of an epic ride.

If I had it to do over again, Iíd get a Diverge. You can run bigger tires with the Diverge. Might help at 250.
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Old 04-02-19, 08:33 PM
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A couple questions. First, have you looked at any other bikes than the two Specialized models to see if they would be suitable? And second, what sort of riding do you hope to do after your trip with your son is finished? And third, depending on what you think you want to do after the tour, why not think about two bikes? One for the tour and then one for riding when you are at your planned weight?

Now, my perspective is as a rider of classic bikes. All of my bikes (even the new ones) are steel framed. Some of them are racing bikes but a few are set up for touring or carrying loads. If I were to take a long trip even a credit card tour, I would head straight for a bike designed for comfort after hours in the saddle. For me, comfort comes from a good saddle, wide tires (not *that* wide; 32 or 35 mm is fine) and a bit of spring in the frame. There is no way I would choose my Masi or my Stevenson criterium bike. But after the tour? I am sure glad that I have the Masi, the Stevenson, and my Rodriguez for fast riding. So, perhaps your best choice is to find one bike for the tour and a second for simple enjoyment.
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Old 04-02-19, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Sackaroo View Post
Great question you ask Mr One4smoke! I am certainly not in good shape at the moment. The plan is to average about 50 miles a day over say a 23 day period - this would allow for some rest days. This is not a race, but a journey with my son. My plan is to lose 35-40 pounds over the next 3 months (mostly thru diet) as well as bicycle 5-6 days per week. I hired a cycling coach who is confident he can get me to where I need to be. That being said, it most definitely won’t be easy - I am hoping the experience will be worth the effort.

By the way, I have a Ranch about 60 miles South of Nashville where I will be spending most of the summer and fall. Great city!!!
When does the trek actually begin, and do you have a planned route yet?

Lewisburg, Shelbyville or Mt. Pleasant?

Btw.... I second the Diverge. I'm actually considering one, and I'm currently riding a Roubaix. For the type of riding I do, and where I do it ...the Diverge may be the better bike for me.

Last edited by one4smoke; 04-02-19 at 10:03 PM.
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Old 04-02-19, 10:11 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Sackaroo View Post
Surak - thank you for the summary....extremely helpful. What about the electronic gear shifting of the etap? I was told that is a very nice (although certainly not a requirement) feature to have - does the Expert have that capability?
Yes the Expert has Ultegra Di2The Expert doesn't, but the Expert Ultegra Di2 does. Unlike ETap, it's not wireless, but I think all the electronic shifters on the market are considered excellent, though the way you shift differs. You should test ride both if you think you'd prefer one over the other.

Last edited by surak; 04-03-19 at 11:22 AM. Reason: Expert Di2 correction
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Old 04-02-19, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Aubergine View Post
A couple questions. First, have you looked at any other bikes than the two Specialized models to see if they would be suitable? And second, what sort of riding do you hope to do after your trip with your son is finished? And third, depending on what you think you want to do after the tour, why not think about two bikes? One for the tour and then one for riding when you are at your planned weight?


Now, my perspective is as a rider of classic bikes. All of my bikes (even the new ones) are steel framed. Some of them are racing bikes but a few are set up for touring or carrying loads. If I were to take a long trip even a credit card tour, I would head straight for a bike designed for comfort after hours in the saddle. For me, comfort comes from a good saddle, wide tires (not *that* wide; 32 or 35 mm is fine) and a bit of spring in the frame. There is no way I would choose my Masi or my Stevenson criterium bike. But after the tour? I am sure glad that I have the Masi, the Stevenson, and my Rodriguez for fast riding. So, perhaps your best choice is to find one bike for the tour and a second for simple enjoyment.

So much good advice in one post!


Are you aware of how nice modern steel bikes can be? Something like this might suit the ride you've described very well: https://co-motion.com/bikes/cascadia (Check out the accessories kit, including couplers that make it easy to travel with.)

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Old 04-03-19, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Sackaroo View Post
I am in my mid 50ís and will be going on a 1,000 mile bike ride with my son early July. I am about 240 pounds (35-40 pounds overweight), with a large frame build. I have not done much cycling in my past. I am trying to determine which bike to buy and I have been given mixed advice: S-Works Roubaix and S-Works Venge. The people recommending the Venge said that because of my build, weight and frame, I would be better off with the Venge. The other people suggested the Roubaix because it will be gentler on my body after riding long distances; since I am not planning to race, these people said a Venge is not the right bike. HELP Please!!!
A lot of good advice in this thread.
The only thing I can add is that you should punch whoever suggested an S-Works Venge right in the face.
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Old 04-03-19, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by frogmorton View Post
I’m 215 and have an Roubaix elite. I’ve put 4000 miles on it. The only problem I’ve had is a couple broken spokes. The S-works has fewer spokes and will likely be more likely to break some. That would be a bummer in the middle of an epic ride.

If I had it to do over again, I’d get a Diverge. You can run bigger tires with the Diverge. Might help at 250.
I've put over 3,000 miles on my 2018 Diverge Comp. I like everything about the bike, except for one. And that's the Praxis Alba crank set. It has never shifted exactly right. The bike has thrown the chain probably two dozen times, often after hitting a bump. I'm not sure if it's the 105 rear derailleur, the front 105 derailleur, or the Praxis cranks. Sometimes the chain throws were after hitting a bump, sometimes during shifting the front derailleur. This was my first road bike, so while I knew throwing the chain that often was not normal, I didn't realize how poor the shifting performance was. I'd just adjust the front and rear derailleurs, and it would be a little better for 200 miles or so.

I'm now riding a Canyon Endurace with Ultegra drivetrain. The shifting is in a whole different league. As in flawless. The front derailleur shifts almost immediately. On the Diverge, it would often take an entire revolution or more for the front derailleur to shift. (These are upshifts I'm talking about.) I don't honestly need to shift the front derailleur much as my area is pretty flat. On the Diverge I'd gotten to the point I basically just avoided it. Again, I'm not sure if this was caused by the front derailleur, or the Praxis Alba crank set or possibly, just the combination of the two.

I would not recommend the Diverge based on this experience. Throwing a chain is a minor inconvenience until it happens 4 or 4 times on a 50 mile ride. Throwing the chain and having it lodge between the small ring and the bottom bracket is a little more inconvenient to repair on the side of the road. Seeing the pretty paint chewed up under the bottom bracket is a heart breaker.

Other than this issue, I really, really enjoyed the bike. I upgraded to Roval SLX24 wheels and they held up pretty well, and ran tubeless very well. For reference, most of those miles were at 250 pounds. I ran Specialized Roubaix Pros (32mm) for most of those miles, which worked great.

I will likely look into replacing the drivetrain on the Diverge to Ultegra. The Diverge is much easier on my 50 year old body than the Endurace.

-Matt
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Old 04-03-19, 08:20 AM
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Bikes: '19 Canyon Endurace, '18 Specialized Diverge Comp, '19 Trek X-Caliber 7

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I guess my point after the lengthy post above is that the Roubaix Expert would be a very, very similar bike to the Diverge, but with an Ultegra drivetrain. I haven't checked the geometry charts, but I'm guessing the stack height of the Roubaix is a bit shorter, but still well within the "endurance geometry" category.


-Matt
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