Pro Bike: Tom Boonen’s Specialized Roubaix SL4
Boonen's Specialized Roubaix SL4 gets bigger tires, softer pressures, and custom geometry
Tom Boonen’s bike is mostly identical to the one he rode to Paris-Roubaix victory in 2012, save the addition of some new, much larger tires, the result of a special project between Omega Pharma sponsor Specialized and boutique tire brand FMB.
As before, Boonen is riding a frame with semi-custom geometry, dubbed “60 pro,” which has the same reach as a 61cm frame but drops the front end considerably, creating the long, low position Boonen prefers. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com No special paint jobs for Boonen’s bike this year, just a simple name tag. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com OPQS will ride even fatter tires than usual this year, nearly entering cyclocross territory. Most of the team is running 30mm rear tires and 28mm fronts, a decision that was made after a few team riders tested the bigger tires last fall. A bigger tire is more comfortable, of course, and the team will further improve their shock absorption by running pressures in the 55-65psi range, slightly higher for the rear than the front. Low pressures allow the tire to conform to the cobbles, rather than simply bouncing off them, which improves rolling resistance over rough surfaces while making the ride a bit more bearable. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com The team may be sponsored by Quarq, but most of them won’t be running a power meter on Sunday, including Boonen. Instead he’s on a pair of 177.5mm S-Works cranks with chunky 53/46 chainrings. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com Boonen will run an 11-speed SRAM PG1170 cassette with an 11-28 tooth spread. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com Boonen rides a 155mm wide Specialized Romin saddle, and is using the version with softer padding for Roubaix. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com The whole team runs Zipp 303 wheels for both Flanders and Roubaix, and 28mm tires up front for Roubaix. The tires combine a casing from FMB and tread from Specialized, using the company’s Gripton compound. Specialized claims that the use of this rubber decreases the rolling resistance to such an extent that its 30mm tubulars roll as quickly as a normal 25mm FMB. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com Look has a new version of its KeO Blade pedals, but Boonen prefers the old one. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com Tire clearance is quite low with the 30mm rear tire, so close in fact that two riders with frames from an earlier batch than Boonen will need to run 28s because the brake arch is just a hair lower. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com A SRAM chain watcher is used for a bit of added security up front. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com Tacx cages will have the daunting role of hanging onto bottles over 51.1km of cobbles. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com There’s a bit more tire clearance up front thanks to the 28mm tire. In the even of rain, the team would swap to 28s on the rear as well. The forecast is calling for sun and light winds at the moment, though. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com
The Zerts in Specialized’s Roubaix frames are intended to cut road vibration before it gets to the rider. Photo: Caley Fretz | VeloNews.com