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Specialized Ruby review: first ride

9 Sep 2016
Verdict:

The new Specialized Ruby claims to be the smoothest bicycle around, but can you really create a silky ride without compromising on speed?

Of the three women’s-specific road bike ranges on offer from Specialized I’ve always championed the Amira - a fast, responsive and exciting racing bike. The endurance-focused Ruby was, I’d assumed, not the bike for me.

But if the world of bikes was like fashion, the brand new 2017 Ruby would be called a statement bike – something that everyone would be talking about. A major overhaul - the first since it’s launch in 2005 - brings a different and striking bicycle to the market, one with suspension, riser handlebars, disc brakes and a featherlight 780g frame.

You can get the full run-down of the Ruby tech here: Specialized Ruby launched

Specialized Ruby handlebars

I like the language of the road – the bumps and vibrations and changing sensations act as feedback that inform how I ride. But ultimately that feedback is what causes fatigue, which in turn can affect performance. Enter the Ruby, stage left…

The suspension, housed in the headset, is a simple yet clever way of negating this feedback. Another feature that improves the bike’s compliance is the ‘o’ shaped seat tube, which allows the seat post to make micro movements forward and back. And there’s no doubt that technology works – on my first few outings I had the distinct feeling that I had floated around the Surrey lanes rather than ridden them on a bike, which although pleasant takes some getting used to.

Unlike its brother, the Ruby’s geometry has not been significantly updated. The 2017 Roubaix, designed with help from Tom Boonen, is more aggressive than before and is now marketed as a performance bike. The Ruby in comparison retains its relaxed geometry, most noticeably a longer and slacker head tube and a shorter reach than it’s sibling.

Specialized Ruby suspension

This bike’s calling is therefore undoubtedly still focused on the endurance, sportive and potentially the bike packing market, rather than the race circuit. With this in mind, there are times when I find this bike frustrating – most noticeably in the corners where the relaxed set-up means I have to wrestle myself forward over the front end to force the bike around the bends at speed.

Surprisingly though, despite what feels like a delay in the handling (something I get to grips with over time) the suspension, along with a relatively low bottom bracket, helps the bike stays firmly planted to the road, a sensation that fosters confidence.

With five bikes in the range, from the Ultegra-equipped Ruby Elite at £1,900 to the S-Works Ruby eTap at £7,500, the new Ruby will appeal to many women. And while it took me some time to really get this bike - it is certainly a departure from what we’re used to seeing on the shop floor - once I’d got it, I really didn’t want to leave it alone.

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