One-Off Bike for Paris Roubaix Challenge?

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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by coloclimber

My best mate and I are riding the PR challenge next year to fulfill a dream since 1985.
He will likely ride his Specialized Roubaix S Works with 25mm tires but I am on the fence about this one-off build for myself.
I plan on training on this bike all fall and winter and hitting every flat dirt road I can find in Boulder county.

Wheels: Knowing wheels/tires account for a huge percent of comfort, I am thinking the bike will be built around Dura Ace 9000 24/28 hubs laced to Hed Belgium + 25mm wide rims and Hutchinson Sector 28mm tubeless tires.

Group: Ultegra Di2 with remote thumb shifter. Cheap, durable and works everytime.
Parts: thick zevlin 2.5mm bar tape, alloy bars, DA pedals

Frame: For the frame, I am puzzled. Most folks seem fine doing this ride on a road bike with wide tires. In my experience CX bikes aren't any more comfortable than road bikes just different geometry and fit wider tires. If it rains, the CX bike with cantis could be an advantage over a road bike, so I am favoring a CX bike. No disk brakes for me.
However, some guys have recommended titanium for smoothness with an enve fork.

On my long list:
CX Bikes: Scott Addict, Cannondale SuperX, Trek Boone, Colnago Prestige
Comfort carbon road bike: Specialized Roubaix, Trek Domane, Dogma K
Handbuild ti frame: moots, litespeed, lynskey

Experience and recommendations appreciated.
-Deacon Doctor Colorado Slim

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by joosttx

I rode PR Sportive this year (170k) . This is what I learned....

At around 35kph the cobbles don't hurt as much. So figure out how to have a bike and fitness to get there. I would setup a bike with 35ish deep rims and run 28 tubulars. Don't go the clincher or the tubeless route. I would double wrap your handlebars with tape and wear gloves. A light weight bike is good because it's easier to throw around the cobbles. Replace your waterbottle cages with arundel mandibles or some other bulletproof bottle cage. Don't worry about brakes you don't use them. Ultegra is a great group. We rode in the rain until after Arenberg there wasn't mud as much as there was dirty water. 52/44 crankset is ideal. I rode with a mid compact with a 11/28 cassette. I never shifted it into the lower ring once (except in Arenberg where it did it by itself).

Definitely go with your comfort carbon line of thought over the others.

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by rasmussloth

Carbon for sure. What about Cannondale Synapse?

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by MagnusH

I rode the PR and RVV sportives this year on a Caad10 with H plus son tb 32h wheels mounted with 28mm GP-4season (which only measures up to ~26 mm).

I used the Sram Force CX1 rd, which worked very well on the cobbles (no ghost shifts).
For RVV the gear-range of a 1x setup might be a limitation for some but for PR it's a no-brainer.

Considering geometry: Usually I have my saddle all the way forward, but after Rvv i moved all the way backwards, which felt much more comfortable on the cobbles.

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de zwarten
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by de zwarten

As someone with almost daily cobble experience, what I would take is:
either Cervelo R3, a titanium frame with slender tubing, or something like a Colnago C40 or Master if you can find one.
I find that standard headsets (like Chris king ahead) work best. They have very fine tolerances, so you won't have any rattle or movement in that place.
I also find that steel forks work very well. I wouldn't take a very comfortable fork (vertically compliant) as this can increase the impact of cobbles (while your fork moves up and down, and you hit the next cobble, the impact can be more than with a stiffer fork). The fork needs to eliminate small vibrations, and this is where steel works well.

Probably the most important part. If you are used to running tubulars, you better take tubulars. I really like the Vittoria 28mm open Pave. You can do 25mm if you are very light, but 28mm is better. Even pro's won't go lower than this, some run 30mm. One trick is to lower the pressure once you hit the first sections of cobbles (because the asphalt will wear you out on low-pressure 28mm). If you don't take Tubulars, some cheap tires like Michelin Speedium will also do the trick. The width of the tire is the most important. For the gears, a thight cassette (12-23) should be enough, with something like 42-50 or 44-52. I prefer a 50, because it's better to have a chain with tension on the cobbles, and a 50 is easier to spin and accellerate with the chain more-or-less straight most of the times.

You better learn how to comfortably ride in the drops for longer times, or on the top of the handlebars while still holding an aero position and be able to really push the pedals. Cobbles require a lot of pure power, preferably through interval training. Each section is a high intensity interval, and in the sportive, you will have a lot people and some go slow, and are hard to overtake. So make sure you practice on seated accellerations. Thumb shifters are very useful in this respect.

Take your most comfortable bibs. Some people use tape for their wrists. Some people use isolation foam around the top of their handelbars. Taking (light) overshoes can save your shoes a bit from the mud. I wouldn't specifically use gloves if you are riding without normally. The trick is not to grab your bars too tight. That's why riding in the drops or on top of the bars is preferred. If you do so, you won't have too many problems with your hands and wrists.

What I will take:
Colnago master + star fork, nemesis tubular rims on Chorus hubs, vittoria pave tubulars, no extra bartape.

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by LionelB

Done it twice so far, you should have a blast. Did it with joosttx this year. First time I did it on a custom steel bike with alum components and nemesis. Second time with a custom alum bike with carbon components and nemesis wheels.

If I do it again, and I will, it will be on a carbon bike with carbon tubs. The only thing that will remain constant are the FMR P-R because they are ideal for this rain or shine.

If the budget allows I would go for the Pina K8.

The suggested Felt F1 PR is also a good option and almost bought one this year for it.

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by CBJ

I would say some of the frames that have build in flex makes a difference. I have not ridden PR but I ride really rough NYC street every day. I have a Roubaix and a GT Grade. Both are really comfortable bikes compare to my previous Tarmacs. Cannondale Synapse as mentioned above is nice too.

I really like the Conti 4 Seasons too for comfort and it has a really good sidewall. I do however think they work much better on a wider rim. I have ridden them down to 50 psi without a problem but I actually like them better at 80 psi. They are mounted to a on Stans Grail rim.

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by duvivr6

I did PR last year. Good advice so far, read "joosttx" for sure.

Rode a caad8 with alum wheels and 25mm Conti 4000S at like 80psi. No flats I weight 70kg.

If I were to do it again.

1. Take a friend. (I did it solo and it sucked!)
2. I would double wrap the top part of your bar. (Did this on my CX commuter and it rocks)
3. Meditate and be prepared to hurt. =)
4. Have fun!!!

BTW do Flanders it is much much better ride.

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by Exar

Did it this year, on a Be One carbon crossbike with 28 mm cheap Michelins (too cheap as they were sketchy as hell in the wet). My rear shifter stopped working after 10 kilometers, did the rest of the route on 46-15 which was fine, so you could even bring a singlespeed and hardly notice it. I rode cheap Shimano RS30 wheels, no problems there, I wouldn't bring anything too fancy - you'll want to worry about the ride, not about damaging your equipment, right?

Next time I would double-wrap my bars as my hands were really hurting and I'd bring shoecovers to keep all the grime out (dry or wet, they'll get really dirty). You could get a super fancy super cushy bike with 32 mm tires and hardly notice the pave (so to speak), but where's the fun in that?
Chains to the right!

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by ergott

Call me crazy, but I don't think the frame "compliance" means a darn thing for this ride. The order of magnitude of cobbled road deflections is many times more than any frame compliance barring suspension. Learn to ride with a loose but secure grip in the drops/tops. I don't find the hoods as good for this unless you angle your hoods to the sky like some of the classics riders used to do.

If you can fit 28mm tires on any bike you already have just use that. It doesn't matter unless you are looking for an excuse to buy another bike. In that case, the Domane would be excellent and comes in a lot of sizes with the Endurance and Koppenberg editions.

A higher spoke count is desired if you think you might break a spoke. If I were riding that ride tomorrow I have a set of box tubulars (Mavic GP4s) and my Spooky fits the rubber I would need. Heck I might even tie and solder them for some cobbled classics cred. Other wheels can work, but I would rather reduce the number of mechanicals that can end a ride especially when I'm far from home. Oh, and I'd ride with 2 spares and some sealant.

I would go with the FMB suggestions above.


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by coloclimber

Excellent responses and experiences. Thank you! Keep them coming.

I ride tubulars everyday so am comfortable with that choice over tubeless.
-Deacon Doctor Colorado Slim

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by CrimsonKarter21

What about the Bianchi Infinito CV? The frame rides rigid like a race bike but the CV material deadens most of the road buzz coming through. It fits 28's and has a racier geometry than most other bikes in the endurance category.

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by ultimobici

Saw this at Bespoke in Bristol this year. It had Challenge Strade Bianche tyres on TB14's that measured almost 32mm with stock Record callipers!
The frame is built in steel around a Cervelo fork. Builder is Robin Mather.

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by coloclimber

Love those chainstays!
-Deacon Doctor Colorado Slim

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