Once a year, the best cyclists in the world gather to ride on the worst roads in Northern France. If it rains, it’s even better. If you’re not familiar with Paris- Roubaix, it seems stupid, but if you know anything about road cycling, you’ll know that the 25okm race, with is 54km of baby’s head sized cobbles, is the biggest and best single day in cycling.
The race finishes at the Roubaix Velodrome, but it is far from a smooth track event. The decisive parts of the race are the bone shaking cobbles (and bike breaking missing cobbles) of the Carrefour de l’Abre, Mons-en-Pévèle, and the Trouée d’Arenberg. These three five star cobbled sectors are the most vicious of the race and can leave unprepared riders and bikes broken by the roadside. Inexperienced racers pick the middle of the road, but the sectors are barley rideable outside of the wheel ruts created by generations of carts and cars. Add a thin layer of wet mud, and riding on the cobbles is like holding onto a piledriver while standing on an ice rink.
Roubaix is a religious event in the North oF France and Belgium, occurring around Easter and after the Tour of Flanders, the race is often termed as the climax of the “holy week” of cycling. There’s even a pastry in Northern france called the pavé which looks like a cobblestone (having smashed my face into both, I can recommend the pastry version).
For decades, bike manufacturers have tried to innovate ways to tame the stones of Paris- Roubaix. Everything from suspension forks, rear shocks, softtail road bikes and super slack geometries has been tried. Most of them have failed, some of them have failed spectacularly and catastrophically.
We have also learned a lot from the more successful, and less radical, changes that have been made to tame the Roubaix cobbles. Perhaps, if it wasn’t for Roubaix, we wouldn’t know that deep section wheels can be comfortable, or that high volume tires at low pressure can be just as fast (or faster) as skinny ones at high pressure. We’ve learned that integrated handlebar-stem set ups might test well in the wind tunnel, but they’re far from comfy in the windy conditions of the Secteurs of Paris Roubaix.
We weren’t thinking about the cobbles of Roubaix when we designed the Skyline, but we wouldn’t have designed it much differently if we were. We’ve learned a lot from pro riders who hit the cobbles at 28mph that works equally well for those of us cruising the slightly less storied roads of events like Boulder-Roubaix, the Belgian Waffle Ride and other dirt-road type events. The Skyline delivers razor sharp handling, which helps when you’re diving into corners to secure position into a decisive section of cobbles or just ripping down your local descent. We also allowed for tire clearance in excess of 30mm, which is great for riding the potholed roads of Portland as well as the cobbles of Northern France.
With the release of Enve’s new 3.4 AR wheelset, we have found the perfect partner for the skyline. The 3.4’s “traditional yet modern” aesthetic matches the classic lines of our Titanium bike. The wide rim, hookless bead, tubeless ready construction, and incredible crosswind performance is the perfect partner to the high performance and high clearance design we built in to the Skyline. Now you too can have a Roubaix ready bike with 30mm tires, a vibration dampening Ti frame and handling that far exceeds that of the slacked out and fully suspended Paris- Roubaix bikes of previous editions We also guarantee that our bikes won’t snap in half on you, even if you do have one too many of those pastries!