There have been many partnerships with car and bicycle companies in the past. Typically a car manufacturer contracts with a no name brand of bicycle and logos it up with their name. BMW, Porsche, Ferrari all have partnered with bike brands, with the only similarity to the vehicle being the logo font on the down tube.

McLaren and Specialized have created a working partnership, from design to engineering, to testing and development. The relationship started in 2011 with the Venge. Their latest collaboration is the Roubaix, where McLaren started with a clean slate and looked to suspend the rider from the bike while keeping a true road bike feel and connection to the road. Duncan Bradley is the Design Director of McLaren Applied Technologies states “The Roubaix was about unpicking free speed from the bike and what part compliance plays in that.” The target was the holy grail of comfort, performance, handling, and stability.

Driving a McLaren makes you a better driver. It doesn’t punish you for your mistakes. Your driving skills get multiplied because McLaren builds into their technology checks and balances that keep the car in control when you push beyond your limits of speed, braking, and traction. How much? Put the McLaren in full Track mode and give it go. You better have a driving instructor with you in the car, because the car turns into a different animal. The technology shines when you turn it off and see what it is like when you are left alone with your own skills.

With the similar mission of increasing the performance of a vehicle, a bicycle this time, beyond the operator’s skill level, McLaren challenged bicycle design as we know it. The Roubaix suspends you with their FutureShock and the fore-aft flex in the seat post to insulate the rider from the worst impacts. It allows the frame to float below you, yet you never feel disconnected from being in complete control. It is just the opposite of what you would guess. The bike gives you better control and comfort in all conditions and shines on uneven surfaces, especially in turns. The bike tracks like the McLaren, point and shoot, let the technology do its job.

I was expecting the bike to feel spongy during out of the saddle climbs and sprints. Once again, I was fooled. The FutureShock is undetectable and feels locked out when standing. Not sure why, but like the McLaren,  you learn to trust that the engineers did their job so you can enjoy the fruits of their work.

Holy grail?  Yes, for a stock bike. It is a game changer for all levels of cyclists. We all push our limits at times, whether by choice or unforeseen circumstance. What happens when we get to the other side of our limits is usually determined by luck or chance. The Roubaix will make you a better cyclist and allow you to relax and enjoy the ride, shining in areas that before were unachievable. Specialized delivers McLaren’s brain trust and benefits, at 5% of the cost of the McLaren’s entry-level 570s. That’s a true partnership.