More often than not, I've found women's bikes to be much more comfortable straight from the shop, with far less tweaking than required by unisex or men's bikes. I'm clearly Ms Average as far as women's bike builders are concerned - and I found that to be true for the Specialized Ruby Elite too.
The Ruby range (the female equivalent of the men's Roubaix range) is designed to be Specialized's sportive machine, rather than the much more aggressively speed orientated Amira and Venge variants. It's a bike that the company claim is tuned for long distance comfort and performance, but is still intended to have a turn of speed when required and to give enthusiast road riders an enjoyable and satisfying ride. Within the Ruby range the Elite (mostly Shimano 105) is pretty middle of the road, sandwiched between the SRAM Apex equipped Ruby at £1600 and the Ultegra sporting Ruby Comp at £2500.
From the off I was probably positively predisposed towards the Specialized Ruby Elite, given that I've yet to ride a Specialized I didn't find comfortable and accommodating. And trust me, I've ridden a few.
Specialized have been incredibly successful in their female specific bike range for a very good reason. That reason is that they cater to Ms Average (of various heights) aiming to provide her with a reliably good ride and a completely female tuned machine rather than a unisex bike dressed in pink. As previously mentioned, I would appear to BE that Ms Average.
The Ruby Elite frame comes in five different sizes and is made from Specialized FACT 8r carbon with Zertz inserts. All frame sizes are completely different geometry to the men's Roubaix equivalent, so it's not a case of sticking women's 'extras' onto a fundamentally unisex frame. The forks are full carbon monocoque, with Zertz inserts and the majority of the drivetrain and controls are Shimano 105. The bars are women's shallow drop alloy bars, with smart red Roubaix Wrap bar tape and it comes with a Specialized 143mm women's Lithia Comp Gel saddle.
It's a great looking bike, with none of the girly tendencies of some female specific machines. The carbon weave is nicely matched up with red and black slashes, and bright red bar tape, giving a distinctive and appealing look. It was a pleasant surprise the first time I took it out, being genuinely comfortable with minimal tweaking and an all round enjoyable ride.
The feel of the Ruby Elite was absolutely spot on for its purpose, giving a good balance of all-day long ride comfort and just the right amount of sporting oomph. The carbon frame and forks helped diminish road buzz nicely, especially with the help of the Zertz inserts, and gave a compliant but responsive ride, while the riding position was relaxed rather than aggressive, still allowing for a good turn of speed when required.
Out on the road, the Ruby Elite just eats up the miles, without you even realising, allowing for a continually good pace that just keeps on going, which is not done any harm by the fact that it only weighs 7.5kg for the 51cm bike I tested.
Handling is excellent, with no problems cornering, up or downhill or on the flat, and it manages to stay stable even at lowish speeds so isn't too stressful in traffic or at junctions. It climbs nimbly but steadily, without some of the full-on power of the likes of the Cannondale Super-Six Feminine, but still perfectly adequately.
It comes into its own descending, however, with good smooth handling and a stable and solid feeling grip on the road, lending a boost to even the least confident descender. Sprinting, it's again not as responsive as the Cannondale, but can still command a decent bit of poke, considering this is a sportive machine rather than the Cannondale's racier model, which is all about the speed. I've even managed to pull a decent time trial time out of the bag on the Ruby, so she's certainly no slouch!
With five different frame sizes, and Specialized's website giving a detailed height-linked sizing guide, it's easy to find the correct size required, and there certainly weren't any problems at all with the fit of the bike, even down to the fact that a niggling elbow pain which has historically kicked in after about 30 miles on every bike I've ridden for the last 7 years was conspicuous by its absence.
The 105 set-up gives a smooth and reliable ride, in keeping with the no dramas character of the bike, without paying too much of a price premium. The bottom bracket, although not outsized, still allowed for good power transfer and a solid feeling response, while the Fulcrum 6 Racing wheels were a good match for the rest of the set-up, quiet and smooth running. The Lithia saddle was a bonus, giving genuine ride comfort, which is far from expected with a saddle that comes as part of the package.
So, would I be leaving streaks of fire on the tarmac to mark my passing on the Ruby Elite? Probably not, but I would still be riding, at a respectable pace, long after I'd expect to be, and smiling.
£2000 isn't cheap for a bike, but with the Ruby Elite, you are getting a lot of bike for your money components wise, as well as miles and miles of happy riding.
Comfort, style and even a fair bit of speed. An excellent all-round women's sportive bike.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Ruby Elite
Size tested: 51cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame- Specialized FACT 8r carbon, FACT IS construction, women's tubesets, women's endurance geometry, Zertz inserts, threaded bottom bracket
Fork- Specialized FACT carbon, full monocoque, Zertz inserts
Headset- 1-1 1/8"Cr-Mo cartridge bearings integrated w/headset, 20mm cone spacer with 20mm of spacers
Stem- new CompSet 6061 alloy, cone head bolt, 12 degree, 4 degree shim 31.8mm
Handlebars- Specialized Women's Comp, alloy, shallow drop
Tape- Specialized Roubaix Wrap w/2.5 gel pads
Front Brake- Shimano 105
Rear Brake- Shimano 105
Brake levers- Shimano 105 STI
Front Deraiileur- Shimano 105
Rear Derailleur- Shimano 105
Shift levers- Shimano 105 STI, 10 speed
Casette- Shimano 105, 10 speed 11-28t
Chain- New Shimano Tiagra 10 speed
Crankset- Shimano 105 compact
Bottom bracket- with crank
Front & Rear wheels- Fulcrum Racing 6
Front & Rear Tyres- Specialized Espoir Elite w/Double BlackBelt, 60 TPI, aramid bead, 700x23c
Saddle - Body Geometry Women's Lithia Comp Ge, hollow Cr-Mo rails, 143mm
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
"A quick efficient women's carbon bike designed to cover long distances in maximum control and comfort."
Does just what it says it should. There are other models aimed at more competitive racing.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Well finished, visually attractive and nicely designed. Zertz inserts a nice touch.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The majority of Specialized's road frames (with the exception of the Dolce range) are now carbon. The frame uses oversized tubing and isn't monocoque but the fork is.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
With a more upright riding position and shorter top tube as well as a more relaxed 51mm fork rake than the sportier Amira range with 49mm, the Ruby is designed to be a more relaxed long distance ride.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Compared very favourably, due mainly to women's specific frame geometry
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Extremely comfortable to ride, even to the point of ironing out a past elbow injury which I had assumed would always niggle. Ride was reliably smooth, responsive enough without being flighty. It was not an aggressively powerful machine, but still had a decent amount of acceleration available when required and enabled a steady high constant speed.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, no problems with over stiffness or over flexibility.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Efficient power transfer, but not an aggressive surge of power. More steady.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Tiny bit of toe-overlap on super tight corners, but very little and never a problem in use.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Steering was neutral for the most part, but responsive enough to allow for confident cornering at speed.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Handled very well indeed. Did just what I wanted, when I wanted it without any twitchiness or sluggishness. Climbed steadily, but really excelled on the descents, where it instilled huge confidence.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
It felt like all the components had been carefully selected to work together. A seamless package which worked really well.
Transferred power reliably, if not in a huge instant surge.
Steady and dependable.
Managed a decent TT time with it, so not at all bad!
Superbly stable at high speeds.
Cornered very well on the flat.
Instilled huge amounts of extra confidence descending in general.
Climbed reliably with no problems with flex.
Smooth and efficient.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
No problems with any of the components at all. All worked very well together.
Wheels and tyres
Smooth, quiet hubs and wheels performed well.
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
No problems in any of the conditions I encountered.
Female specific tweaking and shims made controls super comfortable and easy to use.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Everything is tweaked to be suitable for a woman of the correct size for the bike, so brake levers and shifters are shimmed and/or correctly sized and positioned, working with smaller bars so all works well to give an effective and comfortable ride.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Lithia saddle an added bonus. Although saddles are very personal, it's rare to find a decent female specific saddle coming as box standard with the bike, and at 143mm, a saddle that is designed for the type of rider who will use the bike.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, immensely.
Would you consider buying the bike? Definitely.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? In a heartbeat.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
For long distance comfort, an enjoyable responsive ride and enough speed to tackle the odd TT, it's hard to find fault with this bike, especially if you find unisex bikes hard to tweak.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.