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Specialized Tarmac vs. Roubaix: How big a difference, really?

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Specialized Tarmac vs. Roubaix: How big a difference, really?

Old 08-03-11, 07:46 PM
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FlashBazbo
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Specialized Tarmac vs. Roubaix: How big a difference, really?

I'm contemplating selling my '09 Roubaix and moving to an '11 Tarmac. Why? The Tarmac is significantly lighter (a Tarmac module weighs about the same as a Roubaix frame -- not a heavy frame, but . . . ). And the Tarmac will likely handle a little more crisply on steep, technical descents.

But I still have questions that a 20-mile test ride is not likely to answer. For one . . . before I got my Roubaix, I had no problem with comfort on a racing-geometry bike. Is the Tarmac noticeably harsher than a Roubaix on chipseal and smooth roads? Second, if I use the same number of spacers under the stem, will I really notice that much of a position difference? The head tube difference is about 3/4". Will I really notice the difference? Over short distances, I don't see any issues here. The Tarmac will require a tad more vigilance to keep in a straight line. But, for 75, 80, 100 miles, (for those who have ridden both), is there really a massive difference between how the two bikes ride?
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Old 08-03-11, 08:09 PM
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Never ridden a Roubaix, but I went around Taho on my Tarmac with no comfort issues at all.
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Old 08-03-11, 08:19 PM
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i own a roubaix, and my brother has a tarmac. i notice a difference on longer rides. the tarmac is definately more aggressive, more responsive etc.

position difference wont be a radical change. but if you're going 100 miles you will notice a difference in comfort and probably fatigue quicker on the tarmac.

but then again, im a lower level cyclist, if youve been riding a long time the comfort issue might not even be a problem on a tarmac
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Old 08-03-11, 08:43 PM
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For 56 cm frames, 2 cm of head tube height, 1 degree of head tube angle, 6 mm of fork rake, and 24 mm of wheelbase. Unless you're looking at the Tarmac SL 3, which loses another 2.5 mm of head tube. The Tarmac is not a harsh ride, it's just the kind of ride racers and sporty enthusiasts have been choosing for the last, say, 35 years.

My opinion is, if the Roubaix doesn't bite you on the butt and shout, "Buy me, I'm the bike you've been craving ever since your 40th birthday," get the Tarmac.
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Old 08-03-11, 08:52 PM
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The Roubaix is just about the ugliest bike on the planet. Unless you have back problems or extremely poor flexibility, I see no reason to go with a Roubaix over a Tarmac. You could always run two spacers on the Tarmac if you needed to. If you need spacers on a Roubaix, you should probably be riding a hybrid/fitness bike instead. FWIW, I sold my 2011 Cervelo R3 (pretty tall head tube) and replaced it with a Look 595. Surprisingly, I'm much more comfortable on the 595 even though it has a more "aggressive" geometry.
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Old 08-03-11, 08:53 PM
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Made the move from an '08 Roubaix to a '11 Tarmac this year. My confidence on descents is much higher on the Tarmac and the bike just fits me better, but I do notice my wrists are sometimes sore. I use Fizik tape wrapped as tightly as possible and often ride without gloves (with aluminum bars/stem too), so I've got just about the perfect storm of harshness. Carbon bars, thicker tape and gloves would almost certainly solve the wrist issues, but they are relatively minor so I don't bother (small hands, don't like thickly wrapped bars and gloves rarely fit me well)
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Old 08-03-11, 09:14 PM
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They're both nice carbon frames, and given the same tires, the ride quality over various road surfaces is likely similar between the two. My Roubaix allows 25 mm tires, which I can run at lower psi than 23 mm. If it's ride quality over chip seal that's important to you, that might sway the deal, if the Tarmac is limited to 23 mm tires.

I got the Roubaix for my back. For more sporting riders, it didn't look like Contador and others had any trouble in last year's tour riding Roubaix/S-Works frames quickly on the cobblestone stages.
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Old 08-03-11, 09:18 PM
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id say try them both... the roubaix hasn't held my process of evolution, and the sl3 roubaix is awesome!!
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Old 08-03-11, 09:30 PM
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You can make either bike feel like the other depending on the size you choose.....a smaller roubaix will feel a lot like a larger Tarmac....wheel base (center of gravity) and a taller head tube is what you get with a roubaix which means you wont need as many spacers and the steering is less twitchy.

Honestly, comfort bikes and performance bikes are the same if you outfit them the same. Especially when they are the same quality like the tarmac and roubaix are. If your saddle height, bar to saddle drop, and saddle angle are the same, its the same bike, if you can feel a crazy difference you are drinking koolaid
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Old 08-03-11, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by ilovecycling View Post
The Roubaix is just about the ugliest bike on the planet. Unless you have back problems or extremely poor flexibility, I see no reason to go with a Roubaix over a Tarmac. You could always run two spacers on the Tarmac if you needed to. If you need spacers on a Roubaix, you should probably be riding a hybrid/fitness bike instead. FWIW, I sold my 2011 Cervelo R3 (pretty tall head tube) and replaced it with a Look 595. Surprisingly, I'm much more comfortable on the 595 even though it has a more "aggressive" geometry.
+20
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Old 08-03-11, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by akansaskid View Post
They're both nice carbon frames, and given the same tires, the ride quality over various road surfaces is likely similar between the two. My Roubaix allows 25 mm tires, which I can run at lower psi than 23 mm. If it's ride quality over chip seal that's important to you, that might sway the deal, if the Tarmac is limited to 23 mm tires.

I got the Roubaix for my back. For more sporting riders, it didn't look like Contador and others had any trouble in last year's tour riding Roubaix/S-Works frames quickly on the cobblestone stages.
Can you not run 25mm tires on the Tarmac? For some reason I find that hard to believe.

As for the pros riding the Roubaix at last year's TDF, they looked like modified frames to me. I swear the head tubes were just as short as the Tarmacs they were riding. I'm wondering if they were actually built with Tarmac-like geometry and outfitted with all that Zertz nonsense for marketing reasons. They didn't look like the Roubaix SL3 on their website. That's all I'm sayin.
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Old 08-03-11, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Spacemunky View Post
if you can feel a crazy difference you are drinking koolaid
But...but...it's vertically compliant, so it's comfortable, yet laterally stiff, so all my energy is transferred into forward motion
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Old 08-03-11, 10:30 PM
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I have both
Tarmac, one schweet ride
roubaix, great in its own way
I like em both - the more I ride the tarmac, the more I appreciate the incredible balance of ride characteristics
you have a roubaix, I'd get the tarmac
variety and change is the spice of life, and it prolly won;t be your last bike...
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Old 08-04-11, 04:25 AM
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Spacemunky, you need to get out more. Ride a Roubaix. There's a significant difference in stability, vibration reduction, and sound. In fact, the first thing I noticed when I first rode my Roubaix is the amazing silence of the bike. The two bikes are different in obvious ways.

Thanks for the comments, everyone. My thoughts were to go with 25 section tires on the Tarmac, thereby gaining back a little smoothness on chipseal. (I like Michelin Pro Optimums a lot.)

I don't expect a big performance difference on flats. I'm hoping to gain a bit in the mountains with a Tarmac, especially on descents.
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Old 08-04-11, 07:11 AM
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They are both great bikes. The Tarmac has some dampening built in to defray road chatter, but not to the point that the Roubaix does. Having said this, both bikes will transmit a fair amount of chatter from chip seal roads due to to tire size, frame design, seat post, and seat. Relatively speaking, the Roubaix will be quieter.

You may be challenged to put 25cm tires on the Tarmac with the combination of break pad assembly and fork clearance the the bike has.
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Old 08-04-11, 07:38 AM
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I have the 2011 Tarmac SL3. You may be cutting it close with 25s. It would probably depend on the tire though as some run small and others large.
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Old 08-04-11, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by oldbobcat View Post
For 56 cm frames, 2 cm of head tube height, 1 degree of head tube angle, 6 mm of fork rake, and 24 mm of wheelbase. Unless you're looking at the Tarmac SL 3, which loses another 2.5 mm of head tube. The Tarmac is not a harsh ride, it's just the kind of ride racers and sporty enthusiasts have been choosing for the last, say, 35 years.
Unless you are riding some really rough roads or cobblestones, the ride quality is not going to be significantly different. And any difference can be negated by dropping your psi from 110 to 100 on the Tarmac. You don't even need to go with 25 tires.

The major difference is positioning. The Tarmac is much more aggressive than the Roubaix. This is why you would buy a Tarmac. If you are truly considering using spacers to get identical handlebar heights and position, don't bother buying the Tarmac.

Additionally, you may not be able to acheive the same position. Most manufacturers limit spacers to 45mm. If you are already near that max on your Roubaix, you will not be able to add another 20 mm (the difference in HT lengths).
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Old 08-04-11, 07:56 AM
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I went to a Spec demo last fall to test ride a Roubaix, ended up doing a test ride on a tarmac as well for the hell of it, figured why not since I was there... I fully expected to be buying a roubaix before the test ride given that I have herniated discs in my back, fell in love with the tarmac... saving my pennies now for a tarmac... roubaix was so smooth and quiet it was almost boring... but very nice... then I tried the tarmac, it was amazing how different they were... the tarmac was exciting to ride, every movement translated into forward motion, it kept whispering in my ear "dude, go faster, seriously, I promise, you can do it!"...

a tarmac as you describe with 25's and maybe a 0° stem or +7 stem would be close to ideal for me... I'll take mine with SRAM please...
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Old 08-04-11, 11:45 AM
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I road them both and the stability is wheelbase....I told you if you ride one size of roubaix down its the same as a tarmac...you can call it stability, but its wheelbase. The vibration dampening is real but seriously, if you are riding over crap roads your tires matter WAY more than your frame assuming bikes you are comparing are both carbon. If the Tarmac cant take 25c tires then ya thats a big difference, but little zerts inserts will not save your behind.

I ride about 200 miles a week between TT/road bikes and commuting. Pretty sure I get out enough to know the difference. The problem is when you get out enough you realize how small those differences actually are.
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Old 08-04-11, 12:07 PM
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I have a 08' Roubaix Expert and a 10' Tarmac Pro both size 56 cm.. Both are good bikes and I don't find much difference between the two on long rides. For me the difference is turning, especially in racing amongst other bikes. I use Conti 4000 S tires on my wheel sets and have also used the same carbon 58 tubular wheels in races on both bikes. On the Tarmac it seems that I only need to pick the spot I want the bike to finish the turn at and it gets there, the Roubaix needs constant tweaking and attention while making the same turn. I did not feel comfortable racing the Roubaix which is why I ended up the Tarmac frame.
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Old 08-04-11, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Spacemunky View Post
You can make either bike feel like the other depending on the size you choose.....a smaller roubaix will feel a lot like a larger Tarmac....wheel base (center of gravity) and a taller head tube is what you get with a roubaix which means you wont need as many spacers and the steering is less twitchy.

Honestly, comfort bikes and performance bikes are the same if you outfit them the same. Especially when they are the same quality like the tarmac and roubaix are. If your saddle height, bar to saddle drop, and saddle angle are the same, its the same bike, if you can feel a crazy difference you are drinking koolaid
Just because YOU can't tell a difference, it doesn't mean there isn't one.

SP
Bend, OR
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Old 08-04-11, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by bobbycorno View Post
Just because YOU can't tell a difference, it doesn't mean there isn't one.

SP
Bend, OR
If you ride both with the contact points in the same spots and think the difference is worth spending 2K on a new frame, then you arent comparing rides, you just wanted a new bike and you're looking for a reason to justify the money. If you want a new bike then cool, they are both awesome, but seriously, its koolaid...just pick a color and enjoy your sugar
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Old 08-04-11, 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by bobbycorno View Post
Just because YOU can't tell a difference, it doesn't mean there isn't one.
Forged vs Cast...that's all I'm sayin. And the WitchDoctor knows exactly what I'm sayin.
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Old 08-04-11, 08:57 PM
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OP whats your style of riding?
over any desire of riding a different bike you should consider your style.

the roubaix sl3 has impressed me over the sl2 i was riding. When i got fitted, the guy told me i could ride a 54 with a more relaxed position, or a 52 for a sportier position...i didn't grasp the concept until i started going faster and wanted to achieve a more aggressive position, but the bike (since i was already on the edge of the size) couldn't handle this need. FATE help me here...warranty kicked in and got an upgrade to a sl3 52cm....

the size change was most noticeable! i felt a lot more sparkyness and responsiveness from the bike! i also felt a lot better on the drops. The 10r carbon could only help i guess, and the internal cables just add to the bling! this bike is just AMAZING! i cant imagine anything holding me back from dropping someone riding a racier bike, except for a better cyclist of coarse ;D

the tarmac is a beauty too, but the internal cable koolaid worked on me! its just NICE!
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Old 08-05-11, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by bonz50 View Post
..."dude, go faster, seriously, I promise, you can do it!"...
I love this quote. It makes me want to go ride one myself.
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