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Endurance road bikes strike a balance between comfort and performance, which is why they are so popular with riders who test their limits with 100-mile gran fondos or big days that blend in a bit of rough road. You’ll even see top professionals riding these bikes (or similar models) in the cobbled spring classics, like Paris-Roubaix. Endurance bikes feature frames with built-in compliance for bumpy roads, taller head tubes to allow riders to sit more upright, and clearance for wider tires. Here are the five top models from our crop of 2016 test bikes.
Specialized S-Works Roubaix SL4 Disc Di2
Overall score: 90.7/100
The Roubaix SL4 had one hell of a debut when Tom Boonen rode it to a solo victory in Paris-Roubaix. But that was in 2012. Specialized has breathed new life into the platform with hydraulic discs that let the Roubaix stop the way it rides: on any road, in any conditions, in a WorldTour-worthy package.
Canyon Endurace CF SLX 9.0 SL
Overall score: 90.5/100
Canyon’s new disc brake-equipped Endurace CF SLX endurance race machine is the answer to the question, “Which bike should I ride today?” Whether you’re hoping to climb through the hills, explore unknown roads, or even hit the local crit, the Endurace makes an excellent choice. Sure, we have some minor quibbles: The overly stout gearing isn’t ideal for steep back roads; external cable routing disrupts the sleek cockpit. But this is, without question, the best do-everything bike we’ve ridden this year.
Trek Domane SLR
Overall score: 89.1/100
After riding Trek’s newly redesigned Domane over the Flanders cobbles in the Spring of 2016 (far less artfully than Fabian Cancellara, who raced both Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix on it), it was easy to laud the adjustable rear IsoSpeed decoupler and the new head tube decoupler because I had just ridden a an excellent but stiff race bike on those same cobbles only days before — and it shattered my neck and shoulders. The Domane was a revelation with its decouplers that smoothed out Flanders’ roughest cobbles, and after several months of testing it on home roads in Colorado, I maintain that revelatory praise. The Domane is an excellent bike for everyday riding and even certain types of racing because it quiets harsh chatter without sacrificing race geometry and handling.
BMC Roadmachine01 Ultegra
Overall score: 88.8/100
BMC’s new Roadmachine01 disc brake road bike straddles the line between endurance bike and race machine. It’s built around an endurance geometry platform with a taller head tube, longer wheelbase and chain stays, and slacker head tube angle, but the frame is tuned to feel fast and exciting like a nimble race bike. It boasts loads of integrated features for a sleek and aerodynamic look and comes with smart component specs for three different levels. Plus, the Roadmachine can fit up to 30-millimeter tires, which we love. As a versatile bike that can take on rough dirt and gravel roads while still feeling like a race-tuned machine, the Roadmachine01 impresses from top to bottom.
Ridley Fenix SL 20
Overall score: 88.1/100
The Fenix is only nominally an endurance bike. Sure, it’s designed to help riders get over bumpy roads. But those riders are racers, and those bumps are cobbles. This is the frame that team Lotto – Soudal takes to the northern classics.
Colnago CX Zero Evo Ultegra
Overall score: 87.7/100
The CX Zero Evo is basically its own sweet spot. It has all the aspirational brand cache of Colnago, hints of endurance geometry for long days in the saddle, but a build and design touches that are 100 percent race-worthy. And it does all of that at a price that had us doing double takes.