If you are looking for a bike to start exercising with, or you want a bicycle to cruise the greenbelt or head to the farmers market, the Specialized Roll is a great option. It’s affordable, well made, and comes the highly respected brand name.
I had the opportunity to test out the Specialized Roll 3.0 Low Entry. It was a super fun, zippy bike with an exceptionally low-standover–perfect for wearing with a skirt or for folks with limited mobility.
Read on to learn more about what I liked about the bike (and the few things that I didn’t)….
Review In A Nutshell
- Very low stand over and upright position are perfect for less athletic riders
- Hydraulic disc brakes offer superior stopping
- Affordable, entry-level pricepoint
- Local bike shop support
- Zippy feeling
- Mounts for racks or fenders
- Somewhat awkward climbing steep hills
- Saddle may cause leg chafing
- Aluminum rather than carbon fork
Price: $1,100 (Roll 3.0 Low Entry)
Cruising Around Town On The Specialized Roll
I tested the Specialized Roll 3.0 Low Entry in a size small. While I normally like to test a bike over the course of a few weeks or months, I only had a few days with the Specialized Roll.
Because my time was limited, I took a few days of work (at the computer, testing bikes is still work around here) and made my husband tag along as we cruised every inch of Boise, ID. I rode the bike on our beautiful greenbelt, to run errands, out to lunch, around downtown, and up the steep hill I happen to live on.
For around town riding, I usually use an electric bike, so I pleased to discover that the Specialized Roll felt zippy even without a motor. Many “fitness” or “hybrid” bikes are heavy and clunky feeling, but that wasn’t the case with the Specialized Roll.
On flats and mellow rollers, the bike felt fast. The only time I struggled riding the bike was on the steep hill to my house.
Because the geometry of the bike is so upright, it’s a bit awkward to climb hills. My weight was positioned further back on the bike and I couldn’t stand to climb.
If you are planning to ride mostly on flat roads or paths, you’ll be fine. If you live in an area with more hills, you may want to look for a bike with geometry that favors climbing a bit more.
Comfortable Riding Position
Specialized designed the Roll to prioritize comfort, which is evident in features such as the upright riding position, slow standover, and suspension seatpost.
For women who don’t find a regular bicycle comfortable, whether because the reach is too aggressive or it’s hard to get a leg over the top of the frame, the Specialized Roll is a good alternative. The step over version of the bike has an EXTREMELY low step over height, which is nice for those with limited mobility (as well as those who’d like to wear a skirt).
It also makes stopping and starting easier. Specialized calls this “Ground Control Positioning” and it ” makes it easy to put a foot down when stopped.”
The Roll has a raised BMX style handlebar that further allows for an upright position, and I never felt like I had to “reach” to get to the bars. For folks who may feel intimidated by a more aggressive, leaned-over bike, the Roll is confidence-inspiring.
Of course, there is a down-side to the comfortable, upright position. The Specialized Roll will never be as fast or efficient as a bike with more aggressive geometry.
But chances are if you are considering the Specialized Roll, you’re not planning to race it anyhow. You are looking for a bike that makes riding enjoyable, and on that, the Specialized Roll delivers.
Buying From A Brand Like Specialized
We recommend a lot of bikes from direct-to-consumer companies but those bikes aren’t the best option for everybody. Buying a local bike shop dealt brand (like Specialized) makes a lot of sense for a good portion of consumers.
Why? When you buy from a local bike shop, you get the opportunity to try the bike before you buy (ideal if you don’t know what size you need), ensure the bike is properly assembled, and have a shop to go back to when the bike needs maintenance or you have issues.
Even if you choose to order the bike online (which you can do!), you’ll still have the support of your local Specialized dealer when and if you need it.
In addition to this level of support, you also have the peace of mind of knowing that Specialized is known for high-quality, durable bikes. And if something does go wrong with your bike (like the frame breaks), Specialized will support you in getting it fixed.
Finally, Specialized is a HUGE company which means they have the advantage of economies of scale. This means that they can put higher quality components on a bike at a more affordable price than most competitors.
The Specialized Roll is no exception. It has brand-name components, or high-quality in-house branded components.
At an entry-level pricepoint, you get a bike that will ride smoothly and last a long time. That can’t be said for all bikes at this price.
Hydraulic Disc Brakes Offer Excellent Stopping Power
Most bikes at this pricepoint come with either old-school v-brakes or slightly cheaper mechanical disc brakes. The Specialized Roll packs the full punch by including hydraulic disc brakes.
The Tektro hydraulic disc brakes on the Specialized Roll offer more stopping power and perform better in the wet than v-brakes or mechanical disc brakes. The added stopping power will be appreciated if you’re heavier or plan to add racks and cargo.
While I always recommend hydraulic disc brakes, it is worth keeping in mind that they are harder to maintain. Unless your mechanically savvy, expect that you’ll be taking your bike into the shop once a year to have them serviced. The added performance is worth the hassle.
Microshift 8-speed Drivetrain For City Riding
The Specialized Roll has an entry-level, but quality, Microshift 8-speed drivetrain. This is a change, the bike was previously speced with a Shimano Altus drivetrain.
The 8 speeds are plenty to tackle paved paths and city streets. You may feel over geared on steep hills, but we already established that this isn’t the best bike for climbing anyhow.
The one thing I really like the drivetrain is that it has a trigger shifter. Many hybrid bikes come with grip shifters, which are just so much harder to get a clean shift with.
Comfortable, But Wide, Gel Saddle
We all know that a sore butt is one of the biggest complaints with riding a bicycle. Specialized has attempted to address this with the very comfortable Body Geometry Comfort Gel saddle.
I put quite a few miles in on this bike and found the saddle to be quite comfortable, particularly on my sitbones. I didn’t have any bruising or saddle sores which I’m prone to when riding on a saddle that’s not my own.
That said, the nose of the saddle was quite wide for me, and I ended up with some inner leg rubbing. Saddles are always such a personal thing, but if the stock saddle doesn’t work for you, you can always swap it out for a different, women’s-specific saddle.
In addition to the saddle itself, Specialized has also added a suspension seatpost to the bike. This is a unique and newer inclusion.
When I tested the bike it didn’t yet have the suspension seatpost so I can’t speak to it, but it seems like it would be helpful for absorbing some vibration from the road.
Wide, Smooth Rolling Tires
The tires on the Specialized Roll are quite wide (2.3″) which mean they have more air volume and can be ridden at lower pressures than a road bike for example. This provides both more traction and a little more suspension. Once again, this is an example of how Specialized has tried to make the bike as comfortable as possible to ride.
Although the tires are wide, they’re also pretty smooth. This makes them well suited to paved surfaces, and ensures that they’re fast rolling. I did take the bike on some hard-packed dirt trail and it performed just fine, but it is best suited for the road.
Finding The Right Fit
As a long-time Specialized rider (I’ve had many Specialized bikes over the years), I went straight for the size small bike. At 5’5″, I’ve always been a size small in their bikes.
So I was surprised when I hopped on the Specialized Roll and found that I needed to raise the seatpost to it’s maximum height. Turns out the Roll runs a little smaller than other Specialized bikes. That said, it may not be small enough for some.
The frame comes in four sizes: small, medium, large, and extra large. While taller riders should be more than covered, the small fits riders starting at 5’1″. I do know quite a few women who reach out to us at Femme Cyclist, because they’re short and struggle to find bikes. It would be nice if the Roll came in an XS for those ladies as well.
Specialized Roll vs The Competition
One of the closest competitors to the Specialized Roll might be the Trek FX 3 Disc Stagger.* The two are nearly identical and price and offer similar quality of components (hydraulic disc brakes, for example).
Worth noting, however, the Trek FX comes with a carbon fork, whereas the Specialized Roll does not. A carbon fork is both lighter and dampens vibration from the road.
The Trek FX Stagger does have a higher standover height the Specialized Roll and slightly more aggressive geometry than the Roll which may be a turn-off for some. It’s tires are also narrower which means it might roll a little faster but will be less comfortable doing so.
Overall both are similar bikes in terms of quality, but the Trek FX Stagger is a better choice for those looking to “go fast” while the Roll is a better choice for those looking to go in comfort.
The Cannondale Quick Disc 3 Remixte* is another close competitor with a similar pricepoint. Like the Trek FX, it includes a carbon fork. (This is perhaps the biggest drawback of the Roll compared to the competition).
The Cannondale also includes a built-in wheel sensor that can be used to measure speed and distance. The Roll does not. That could be a differentiator you’re looking for.
Like the Trek FX, the Cannondale has a low standover, but it is not as low as the Specialized Roll. If you want a bike that’s super easy to get on and off, the Roll is your best bet.
The Trek FX and Cannondale Quick are two other hybrid bikes that come with a low step-over and have similar pricepoints.
Other Stuff Worth Mentioning
- Mounts For Fenders Or Rack. Although, the bike doesn’t come with fenders or a rack, it does include mounts so you can add them. This is ideal if you plan to use the bike for commuting or for running errands.
- Kickstand. The Specialized Roll comes with a kickstand already installed.
- Multiple colors. Don’t like the pink you see here? The Roll comes in several different paint schemes, and of the Low Entry colors are quite feminine.
Should You Buy The Specialized Roll?
The Specialized Roll 3.0 Low Entry is a comfortable, well-made, and affordable bike that is perfect for those who are looking for an easy ride around town. With its upright riding position and low standover, it’s ideal for less athletic riders or people with limited mobility.
Its hydraulic disc brakes provide superior stopping power, and it comes with mounts for racks or fenders. While the bike may struggle on steep hills, it makes up for it with its zippy feeling on flat terrain.
For those who value local bike shop support and the peace of mind that comes with buying from a well-known brand, the Specialized Roll is an excellent choice.
1 thought on “Specialized Roll: A Comprehensive Review”
A closer match from Trek is their Verve 2 LowStep. It’s also an upright/comfort hybrid, with a step-through frame, hydraulic disc brakes and 8-speed rear shifting.