Review: Specialized S-Works Tarmac


Specialized S-Works Tarmac

The most successful bike in professional cycling. No bike has won more races than the Specialized S-Works Tarmac. The 2015 model was the first in a new generation, integrating Specialized’s own Rider First Engineering. I’ve had the bike almost 3 years now and have put in well over 25,000km on it.

I ordered mine specced with Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 and Specialized’s Roval 60mm wheels. All other parts are stock S-Works parts, from handlebars through to seatpost. The only other deviation from Specialized parts is the saddle where I run a Fizik Arione, perfect for my rear.

specialized s-works tarmac

As expected the frame is top quality. It’s lightweight, stiff and relatively aero. Mine weighs in at around 7.5kg, so not the lightest. Yet, going uphill it still feels light and nimble, even with the Roval 60mm wheelset. If you’re wanting it to be more of a climbing bike definitely go for a set of wheels which are shallower and a bit lighter. However, when I purchased the bike I was living in Singapore which is completely pan-flat.

specialized s-works tarmac

It made sense to have the deep 60mm wheel set. Those wheels paired with the stiff, semi-aero frame meant that once the bike is up to speed, it will hold it incredibly well. On the topic of speed, sprinting out of the saddle along with hard accelerations in the saddle is no problem. The bike is quick and responsive meaning that as soon as you put the power down it’s translated to a reaction from the bike. The response is immediate.

Then there’s the handling, which again, is sublime. The Rider First Engineering means that each frame has slightly different geometry per the size of frame you choose. This means that no matter the size you get the handling is always going to suit your body size. Going through corners, it’s both nimble and stable. You can lean into the corners and  flow out through them.

specialized s-works tarmac

The only downside with the bike is the clearance. I run 25mm but as times change I’ve started to move to 28mm tyres on my other bikes. It’s not so much of a problem as I use the S-Works in races or training in the summers but if I were riding it through winter I’d definitely like the option to throw on slightly wider tyres. That being said, it’s the smallest of gripes.

It’s not just a race bike. It comes with plenty of steerer tube so you’re able to have a nice upright position. I cut mine down to allow for a more aggressive position, which I’m used to. Yes, this isn’t your ‘pop to the shops’ kinda bike but it suits pretty much any kind of (road) riding.

Almost #readytoride #petersagan #sworkstarmac @worldchampion #sramredetap @total_rush_cycling @petosagan

A photo posted by Paul Taggart (@teknolover) on

If you’re looking at getting yourself a Specialized S-Works Tarmac (2015 or more recent) I can strongly recommend it. By far the best, all-round bike I’ve ridden. It’s so adaptable, throw on light wheels you have the ideal climbing bike, or have deep, aero wheels and you have a fast bike that’s going to contend any sprint.

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