Specialized tech for the cobbles
The spring classics are up and running with opening weekend already proving a successful one for Specialized teams. This is one of the most exciting periods of the cycling calendar, with monuments like the Tour of Flanders and the epic Paris-Roubaix to look forward to for both men and women, and all this spring racing may inspire you to tackle some cobbles and rough surfaces of your own.
Whether at home or abroad, you can sniff out these pavé roads and find out for yourself if they are really as bad as people make out. Before you go out in search of ‘kinderkoppen’ – the Flemish nickname for cobblestones – you’ll need the right equipment.
Luckily Specialized has a whole catalogue of bikes, kit and tech that will make your cobble experience memorable. In a good way.
Life imitates art and there’s a reason Specialized can label one of its road bikes with the name of the most notorious spring classic. With seven Paris-Roubaix victories to its name in all sorts of conditions, the Roubaix has a proven track record across the pavé of northern France. For 2022 the famous model has also had an upgrade in the form of a radical new Future Shock 2.0 that delivers more compliance, control and damping over the roughest pavé. The new aerodynamic geometry rivals that of the Tarmac and the Rider-First Engineered™ frame means that a 56cm bike now weighs 900 grams. Performance and comfort are guaranteed thanks to the inclusion of much of the tech that we will get into.
It’s all about tyres
To be found on the 2022 Roubaix are the Turbo Cotton Hell of the North tyres. One of the first things to equip on any cobble-ready bike, the cushioning power of tyres can mean the difference between an enjoyable adventure and a miserable one. Made to glide over cobbles, the updated tyre boasts an impressive 15% improvement in dampening compared to its predecessor thanks to a 320 TPI cotton casing. The GRIPTON® compound used in its construction also offers less rolling resistance and the BlackBelt puncture protection is ideal for use on rough roads. If you are worried about puncturing on a sector, the All Condition Armadillo tyre, although less performance orientated, is a robust option that will navigate the roughest road conditions.
Of course, when you’re on the roughest roads, naturally there is a concern about saddle sores. That’s where the S-Works Power with Mirror comes in. Utilising the best of Body Geometry, the Mirror is a next generation saddle that doesn’t use foam in its construction. Instead, a 3D printed liquid polymer perfectly reflects a rider’s anatomy to tune to that person’s individual needs. Alternatively, the Power Expert is equipped on the Roubaix bikes and is a saddle that caters to both men and women, providing all day comfort thanks to medium-grade Level Two PU padding and proper sit bone support. Finally, also found on the Roubaix, the S-Works Pavé SL Carbon seatpost is the first seatpost that blends compliance and aerodynamics. With a single-bolt adjustable head and tow setback options, it makes mid-ride position fine-tuning easier than ever before.
Another worry for road cyclists on long stretches of cobbles will of course be blisters. A small, but painful distraction, these friction pockets can turn a day sour and become increasingly frustrating as the ride goes on. Useful for those who don’t like wearing gloves, Specialized’s S-Wrap Roubaix Handlebar Tape features a pairing of grippy suede with vibration-absorbing EVA foam that reduces slip and hand fatigue. There is even an elastomer gel backing that provides additional comfort and support. Coming in black, blue, monster green, pink, red and white, the options to pair to your bike are endless. Pair the tape with some Body Geometry Dual-Gel gloves and their strategically placed gel pads for even more cobble comfort.
Completing the look
Finally, to complete the spring classic look, how about a lid which utilises the revolutionary safety system, MIPS with ANGi? An integrated technology with Specialized, the Multi-Directional Impact Protection System can be found on all Specialized helmets and helps prevent rotational injury through a low-friction layer that allows a sliding motion of up to 15mm. Paired with the patented ANGi crash sensor and helmets like the S-Works Evade and S-Works Prevail II, give you the ideal amount of comfort, style and performance blended seamlessly with safety when you are thundering across the cobbles.
To find out more about all the Specialized kit, bikes and tech mentioned in this article, come down to one of our stores, and try it out for yourself. Speak to one of our friendly staff members and get inspired to take on the pavé. Some of the most exhilarating roads you can challenge yourself on in cycling, conquering the cobbles is a bucket list item on every road cyclist’s agenda.
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