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Specialized admits Niki Terpstra Paris-Roubaix bike failure was due to pre-production part in new Roubaix bike

Broken bike due to pre-production component on bike at Paris-Roubaix race

Specialized has issued a statement in which it takes the blame for the pre-production part that failed in Niki Terpstra’s Roubiax race bike, causing him to crash during the Paris-Roubaix race recently and preventing him from being able to support Tom Boonen in his final 

One of the biggest new bike developments this year has been Specialized’s revamped Roubaix, a bike designed for the brutal pave of the bike race it’s named after. Though it was designed around disc brakes, Specialized adapted it for rim brakes especially for the team (and says it will be offering a short production run) and the entire team used it in the cobbled race. 

- Pro Bike: Tom Boonen’s Specialized LTD Roubaix - with rim brakes and not discs

A key feature of the Roubaix is the FutureShock, a cartridge containing a spring in the top of the head tube with 20mm of vertical travel that isolates the rider from the vibrations and impacts coming through the front wheel.

Only not all the pros wanted it, and to accommodate Niki Terpstra’s apparent demands for a rigid version, Specialized replaced the FutureShock with a rigid steerer cartridge that removed the vertical movement offered by the FutureShock.

Only it transpires that a pre-production component, and not a fully tested and engineered part, was accidentally used due to a breakdown in communication and this part failed during the race, causing the handlebars to become detached from the bike and Niki Terpstra crashing out of the race.

Here’s the full statement from Mark Cote, Leader of Global Marketing at Specialized Bicycle Components:

Heading into Paris-Roubaix, a few of our riders asked to try a rigid cartridge as well as the fully-active Future Shock on their new Roubaix bikes.  In response to this, we developed a pre-production rigid steerer cartridge and later an approved engineered cartridge for the race.

In the days leading up, Niki Terpstra chose to race the rigid option. Unfortunately, a missed communication on the Specialized team resulted in the pre-production part remaining in Niki’s bike instead of being replaced by the approved engineered part.  Ultimately, this failed during the race.  All other riders raced on Future Shock equipped bikes. 

Rider safety is always our first concern and we are relieved that Niki was not seriously injured. This was an isolated incident and does not present any further risk to our riders.

All of us at Specialized sincerely feel the weight and responsibility of our mistake.  Both Mike Sinyard and I apologized in person to Niki and the team.  We wish him the fastest recovery possible.

Does this mean there's anything to worry about for anyone owning a Specialized Roubaix? No, this is an isolated case, and credit to Specialized for holding up their hands to the cause of the incident. Specialized has no plans to make this rigid FutureShock available to the public, it was produced solely for the team to use and apparently only Niki Terpstra was riding it

I’ve reviewed the Specialized Roubaix and was highly impressed, and I’ve continued riding it as apart of a long-term test (update coming soon) and I’ve had no problems whatsoever with the FutureShock even though this incident did spark a little concern. I battered it around 170km of the Cotswold’s roughest roads yesterday and 70kph descents with plenty of twists and turns and it didn't put a foot wrong.

- Review: Specialized Roubaix Expert (2017)

David has worked on the tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

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