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See our high-level takeaways below, or skip to our full review!Our Take:
- Most affordable starting price
- Hasn’t won as often as Roubaix
- Multiple price points
- IsoSpeed technology
- American company
Jump to: Full Review
- Advanced technology
- Expensive top-end prices
- Popular with race die-hards
- Frequent race winner
- Furture Shock technology
- American company
Jump to: Full Review
You put countless hours into your training, and you want to be sure that the road bike you choose complements all of your hard work. As a serious cyclist, it can be tough to decide whether the Specialized Roubaix or the Trek Domane is the best fit for you.
Endurance bikes aren’t just made for a casual workout (although they can certainly handle that, too): these high-powered pieces of technology were created to help you take on tough workouts on even tougher terrain. Endurance bikes also work to reduce biker fatigue, helping you to stay stronger longer in your workouts. If you’re a serious cyclist and you’re interested in seeing how far you can push yourself in your sport, it’s important to get a bike that can help you go the distance.
The pros are divided when it comes to choosing Roubaix vs Domane. Fabian Cancellara, Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra, Peter Sagan, and Philippe Gilbert have all won the Paris-Roubaix with the Specialized Roubaix, while Fabian Cancellara switched it up and won with a Trek Domane in 2013. Cancellara also won the Tour of Flanders with the Domane in 2013 and 2014, while Boonen won Flanders in 2012. The pros are divided, and for good reason — both options are fantastic.
Both the Specialized Roubaix and the Trek Domane can help you race faster and stronger — but which option is the best fit for your needs? Here, we’ll take a look at the benefits of each bike, helping you to decide which one can help you take your training and racing to new heights.
Trek Domane vs Specialized Roubaix: Endurance Road Bikes
As alluded to above the Specialized Roubaix is actually named after a specific race known as the Paris-Roubaix. This is significant because of the type of race Paris-Roubaix represents. The race is called the Hell of the North because of the difficult terrain and cobblestones along the course, through France’s countryside. The race is so challenging that teams have used adapted equipment along the way, such as wider tires, to traverse the cobblestone roadways.
Specialized developed the Roubaix bike in part as a response to the Paris-Roubaix race. It has a longer wheelbase and relaxed geometry, which is designed to provide a softer ride and a more comfortable bike fit. TheTrek Domane is in many ways the counterpart to the Specialized Roubaix. While both are endurance road bikes that are fit for any type of road race, you might also hear someone refer to either as a gravel bike.
Cobblestone pathways are hard to come by these days, which is partially why the Paris-Roubaix is so special. Gravel roadways are much more common, particularly in the United States, so these bikes endurance road bikes are often referred to as gravel bikes. The Specialized Roubaix and Trek Domane fall squarely in the middle of aero road bikes and a more traditional mountain bike. They aren’t built for perfected aerodynamics, just as they aren’t intended to be used as a mountain bike.
If you are really more interested in mountain bikes, then consider comparing Trek Marlin vs Specialized Rochopper for a hardtail bike built for speed on the singletrack, or the Specialized Stumpjumper vs Trek Fuel EX for a full-suspension bike designed to work well on technical trails and speed through flow tracks.
On the other hand, if an endurance road bike is really the type of bike you’re looking for, then you’ve come to the right place. The Trek Domane and Specialized Roubaix are two of the most advanced and renowned endurance road bikes on the planet.
Is the Specialized Roubaix Fast?
In a word: absolutely. Let’s take a look at exactly what makes the Specialized Roubaix so speedy.
The Specialized Roubaix hit the market in 2004 and offered cyclists comfort and function. The bike got its name from a grueling race in the North of France — the Paris-Roubaix, known to bikers as the “Hell of the North.” The race’s path includes countless cobblestone streets, and the Roubaix was created with the ups and downs of unpredictable stones in mind. The Specialized Roubaix was designed to grip tough trails while also providing cyclists with a smooth ride.
Prior to the release of the Specialized Roubaix, road bikes were uncomfortable, stiff, and made it tough for cyclists to enjoy their time on the bike. The Roubaix didn’t just provide a more comfortable frame — it also allowed for wider tires, cushioning the blows of cobblestone streets and other rough terrains.
Cycling expert Andy Pruitt was a key developer in the design of the Specialized Roubaix, and he operated on the principle that when riders are more comfortable, they’re able to train harder and longer. Over time, the Specialized Roubaix has only gotten better. It’s become lighter, while still maintaining a sleek look and a comfortable ride. The aerodynamic design allows cyclists to fly through their rides, no matter what the terrain.
Is the Trek Domane Fast?
Not only is the Trek Domane fast — it’s also improved over time to provide cyclists the best of both worlds when it comes to comfort and stellar handling. Debuting in 2012, the Domane name was derived as an anagram of Madone — a mountain in France feared by cyclists around the world. It was important to developers that the Domane provided a comfortable ride (much like the Specialized Roubaix) without sacrificing any of the power that Trek is known for.
The Trek Domane’s design is unique and protects the rider from unexpected bumps in the road. The seat tube is independent of the top tube, allowing the bike to absorb bounces and provide a smooth experience. Since the bike’s introduction nearly a decade ago, Trek has updated the frame by separating the head and steerer tubes, making it even more resistant to rough terrain. Don’t worry — the tubes are still connected, they just aren’t fused.
The latest version of the Trek Domane walks a thin line that provides both comfort and stability. Riders love Domane’s handling, and also love the bike’s hidden storage area, which provides a place for cyclists to store repair equipment, snacks, keys, gear, and more.
Shock Absorbing Power: Future Shock Vs IsoSpeed
Whether you’re looking to race on smooth pavement or prefer taking your endurance bike out on tough gravel roads, a comfortable ride necessitates your bike being able to absorb a certain amount of shock as you coast over your route. The Specialized Roubaix is equipped with the Future Shock system, while the Trek Domane uses the IsoSpeek shock absorption system. Here, we’ll take a look at the benefits of each, helping you decide which option is the best fit for your cycling needs.
Specialized Roubaix and Future Shock Suspension
A change from the Zertz inserts used by Specialized in the past, Future Shock uses a spring system that lifts the rider from the start, taking a proactive approach to absorbing shocks encountered along the ride. This system allows riders to experience top-notch shock absorption without the addition of complicated systems that weigh down the bike. If you decide to purchase an older Specialized Roubaix and aren’t satisfied with the shock absorption, it’s fairly simple to disassemble the Future Shock components and adjust the coils to your liking.
Newer upscale versions offer Future Shock 2.0, which allows riders a simple dial that you can turn to adjust your level of shock absorption. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for — only the higher-end versions of Specialized bikes offer the Future Shock 2.0 system. Future Shock systems increase comfort by supporting the front of the bike, but the comfort on the back of the bike comes mostly from the shock-absorbing seat post.
Trek Domane and IsoSpeed
Like the Specialized Roubaix, the Trek Domane allows the rider’s seat to move with the bumps of the road, creating a smoother experience than a fixed-position seat. The IsoSpeed system helps the rider maintain the stiffness that they need while also absorbing vibrations from the road for a smooth ride. IsoSpeed is super-simple and doesn’t add much weight to the Trek Domane.
IsoSpeed decouples the bike post from the rest of the frame in a manner that smooths the ride while maintaining frame stiffness necessary for maximum control. IsoSpeed was first introduced back in 2012, and the one piece of significant rider feedback was that rear-focused IsoSpeed made for a smoother ride, but didn’t solve jarring on the front-end of the bike. The obvious solution for this problem was to add the same IsoSpeed technology to the front of the bike as well.
The result is a “comfort bike” that is more comfortable than ever, and also more built for performance than ever. Combined with flat mount hydraulic disc brakes that are thinner and cleaner than any brake before, and the Trek Domane is absolutely packed with the most advanced technology.
The Verdict: Trek Domane vs Specialized Roubaix
If you’ve narrowed your road bike search down to these two options, it’s clear: you’re a serious cyclist and both bikes will allow you to hone your craft, one ride at a time. Specialized is a great bike, just as Trek is a great bike, of course, there are some differences ranging from something as technical as the head tube aerodynamics to areas as practical, such as features making riding in an upright position more comfortable.
One thing worth noting is that most of these advanced endurance road bikes right feature a carbon frame, the entry-level Trek Domane is available in an alloy frame, which makes it much cheaper. The entry-level Domane AL 2 still features the Domane carbon fork, which introduces the IsoSpeed technology, but the frame on this particular model doesn’t feature many of the benefits introduced by a carbon frame, including lightweight speed. It’s a nice touch for those being first introduced to advanced road bikes that don’t have professional budgets.
That’s not to suggest that the Domane isn’t as serious as Roubaix, but Trek clearly offers more options for riders of all budgets, including the most professional budgets. At the opposite end of the spectrum from the Domane AL 2, the Domane SLR 9 features the lightest 700 Series OCLV Carbon frame, front and rear IsoSpeed technology, carbon wheels, flat-mount disc brakes, and a wireless electronic drivetrain. Plus, a clever internal storage compartment leaves room for tools or other training gear. It might cost as much as a small car, but it is a perfect bike choice for those looking for a ride with proven bike geometry that has won all of the big races.
On the other hand, the fact that Specialized does not offer an aluminum frame means that every Roubaix features tube shapes developed in their FreeFoil Shape Library, and tested in wind tunnels. The brand doesn’t apologize for making an elite bike available for a premium price. And everything from the steerer tube to the entire seat tube is designed with rugged performance in mind. Plus, the rider-first engineered frame is designed to provide the optimal balance of compliance and stiffness regardless of whether you need a 44cm frame or a 64cm frame.
Both bikes feature clearance for a wider tire, or wider tyres, as they would write in Europe. If you are training for the Hell of the North or anywhere with rough roads, you might need wider tires to manage the abuse your bike will take, and this is partially the point of the Domane and Roubaix bikes. Traditional road bikes don’t always cut it on rougher road surfaces, and its small design choices such as this make the Domane and Roubaix such great values.
But what about rim brakes? Some professional riders prefer rim brakes because they allow for faster wheel changes if there happens to be a tire puncture. Both Trek and Specialized have moved away from rim brakes in recent years, so the only hope you have here is to look for gently used bikes featuring rim brakes, that are still in good condition.
So, in comparing Trek vs Specialized, there is plenty to consider, but one thing is for certain. Trek and Specialized both make outstanding performance bikes. Trek may have a sector of their line-up more geared toward the everyday man, while Specialized seems more wholly bought in on race day bikes like the S-Works Roubaix, but there is enough crossover between the two brands to make them staunch competitors.
Is the Specialized Roubaix Worth It?
If you’re looking for a comfortable, sleek ride, yes, the Specialized Roubaix is worth it. If you want to easily customize your ride, you may want to consider shelling out for a higher-end model that comes equipped with the Future Shock 2.0 suspension system.
The Specialized Roubaix established an entirely new category of bike perfect for off-road road-riding rowdies if that makes any sense. We say that tongue and cheek, but this isn’t a traditional road bike that is either calibrated for climbing or aerodynamics. This is a bike built for everyday back road training and ultimate cobblestone road performance.
The reality is that carbon frame endurance bikes are expensive, and the same is true of the Specialized Roubaix. If you are serious about your training, and ready to invest in the best performance endurance bike on the planet, then the Specialized Roubaix is definitely worth the price. The S-Works Roubaix is the cream of the crop, and there is a reason Peter Sagan and others have won so many races with Specialized.
Is the Trek Domane Worth It?
While the Trek Emonda is built for climbing, and the Madone is the ultimate aero bike, the Trek Domane is the flagship road bike for those looking for a comfortable endurance training and endurance racing bike. This isn’t a normal road bike. The Trek Domane SLR is a bike that redefined what an entire bike might look and feel like with a non-traditional suspension system.
While the Trek Domane hasn’t won as many times at Flanders or in the Paris-Roubaix, Fabian Cancellara and others have won some serious races on the Domane. Still, where we see the most value in the Trek Domane is that the brand offers the bike with at least three different frames (2 carbon frames and an alloy frame), so that it is accessible to riders within their budgets. In comparing Trek Domane vs Specialized Roubaix, the multiple price points have to come into play. The reality is that we don’t all have endless budgets, and that’s ok. The Trek Domane is a fantastic bike, and worth your investment. That is especially true if you are looking for a bike at a lower to mid-tier price point, but true for each of the Domane models, nonetheless.
Domane of Roubaix: Which Is Better Endurance Road Bike?
Our take is this: If you just getting into road racing, or consider yourself to be an average rider, then the Trek Domane probably offers more options. On the other hand, if you are ready to jump into competitive racing, and expect to eventually win races, then it may make more sense to choose the Specialized Roubaix.
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