Margot McGovern test rides a high-tech women’s road bike with all the trimmings.
I’ve long wanted to get behind the handlebars of a Specialized Ruby and the chance to test the Ruby Pro Disc was a real treat. Second only to the S-Works in the Ruby range, the Pro Disc is a bike that takes advantage of some of the best in high-end bike technology: electronic groupset, hydraulic disc brakes, carbon crankset, carbon wheels with ceramic bearings and full carbon frame and fork.
From a purely visual point of view, the Ruby Pro Disc is a stand out. Clean and sleek, the muted, matte black componentry throws a spotlight on the white frame, while emerald highlights add a touch of flair. It’s proudly a women’s bike, but it’s feminine, not girlie.
On the road, the Ruby Pro Disc offers a swift, precise ride. The Roval Rapide disc wheels are stiff and nimble, giving maximum return for effort. The aerodynamic profile of the 40mm deep carbon rims slices through the wind, and the ceramic bearings make for smooth-as-silk rolling. It’s light and speedy on the flat, but truly comes into its own when taking on hills and headwinds.
Whilst the Ruby Pro Disc is built for performance and speed, it doesn’t compromise on comfort; indeed, it sits in the endurance category of Specialized’s range. The Ruby’s FACT 9r carbon frame is light and springy and the Zertz vibration dampeners built into the seatstays and fork absorb almost all vibration from the road, minimising fatigue without making the bike feel spongy. The endurance geometry is speedy without being uncomfortably aggressive, and there’s attention to detail in the contact points of the bike; a Body Geometry saddle, Specialized CG-R carbon seatpost and gel bar tape complete a comfortable, lightweight setup for long rides.
However, where the bike really shines for me is in the high level of control and stability it offers, largely thanks to the Di2 shifting and hydraulic disc brakes. This was my first experience with Di2, and I’ll admit I was skeptical—it seemed as though I’d be relinquishing control to the bike rather than gaining mastery over it, and that made me nervous. However, my doubts were quickly quelled. Transitions between gears were faster and smoother and I could drop gears under load and at low speeds without the drivetrain locking up. It significantly reduced the gap between intent and action, heightening my sense of control.
This sense of control was heightened further still by the hydraulic disc brakes. They’ve been around on road bikes for a little while now, although they’re still not sanctioned for use in UCI races. More than anything, they inspire confidence. They allow you to stare down a steep, slippery descent without concern and offer the assurance that should you need to stop suddenly, you can. And it’s not just that the brakes are stronger—they are also much lighter at the lever and more predictable in a range of conditions. For someone as risk averse as me, they are a significant perk.
The elephant in the room with a bike like this is the cost. The Ruby Pro Disc retails for $7,999; the Ruby Comp—with the same frame and Ultegra groupset, but no Di2 shifting, hydraulic disc brakes or carbon wheels—is around half that. To find out how they compare, a colleague who rides a Ruby Comp also test rode the Ruby Pro Disc. On the flat, she couldn’t discern much difference; however, climbing was another story. She found that dropping multiple gears was much swifter and smoother with Di2 shifting, and that she was able to change gears quicker at lower speeds. She also noticed a significant improvement in the wheels, travelling further and faster with less effort, particularly when climbing. For her the hydraulic discs weren’t a draw card—occasionally helpful, but not so much as to justify the expense. Overall, she said: “this is the bike you ride when you want to come first.” Would she consider upgrading from the Ruby Comp? If she could afford it and racking up the equivalent of Peaks Challenge or more in vertical metres on a weekly basis, yes. Otherwise, the cheaper Ruby Comp is all the bike you need.
Even still, the Ruby Pro Disc is a true gem in the women’s road bike market and an absolute dream to ride.
|Frame||Specialized FACT 9r carbon|
|Fork||Specialized FACT carbon|
|Wheels||Roval Rapide CL 40 SCS Disc|
|Tyres||Specialized Turbo pro|
|Crankset||Specialized Pro FACT carbon, 50/34|
|Cassette||Shimano Ultegra 11-speed 11-32|
|Shift levers||Shimano R785 Di2, 11-speed|
|Front Derailleur||Shimano Ultegra Di2, 11-speed, braze on|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano Ultegra Di2, 11-speed|
|Brakes||Shimano R785 hydraulic disc|
Swift and stable, the Ruby Pro Disc is the perfect teammate for conquering big kilometres and climbs.
For more info, www.specialized.com
Ride On content is editorially independent, but is supported financially by members of Bicycle Network. If you enjoy our articles and want to support the future publication of high-quality content, please consider helping out by becoming a member.