When I think back at the last three bikes I have owned (an all black Merckx, a black Cervelo SLC and a matte black Stork) getting on a bike that has graphics and color made me feel some what self-conscious. This weeks ride down at Specialized HQ was a Roubaix Pro SL3. I know this frame has won Paris-Roubaix three times, but I have to admit I was still a little skeptical about the relaxed geometry and the gel stay inserts. Do they really make a difference? The answer, is definitely yes. The front-end handling takes a little getting used to, but once you get to know each other, this makes for a very plush and fast ride. Ride 1 was just a quick 45mins to get out in the evening sun and remember what it is like to ride without tights. I tried a couple of “sprintervals” and on the first one up I nearly flicked myself right off the bike. The front geometry of the frame makes it feel a little “floaty”, but by the third interval I was over the bars more and feeling completely in control when out of the saddle. Ride 3 up Redwood Retreat is where I really learned what this bike is all about. The road out to Retreat is like riding on carpet, and that coupled with the Roubaix felt like I was riding on air. The real test came right at the end of Retreat where it turns into a nice little steep gravel track. Up I went, bad traction, bumps and seated, the bike felt great. You just kind of find yourself sinking into this long and low seated position that makes you feel like you have a lot to give. Maybe the best indicator of how nice the frame rides is my lack of neck pain. This time of year due to living in the frigid east it is hard to get out on the road as much as you want, so when you do you tend to over cook it, which usually means the “getting back into it” leaves me with a little neck pain. Sitting writing this after 3 days on the Roubaix I am happy to say I feel nothing but soft muscles in my legs (well, not that happy about that actually).