Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL Road Bike

S-Works Tarmac SL

  • Specialized FACT 10r carbon, Az1 construction, compact race geometry, carbon fiber dropouts
  • S-Works FACT SL carbon crankset
  • S-Works FACT monocoque carbon fork; full carbon legs, crown and steerer
  • Shimano Dura-Ace 20 speed group
  • S-Works Barmac ultralight bar/stem combo
  • S-Works Mindset headset with sealed bearings, carbon headset cone and spacers
  • Roval Classique Rapide FACT carbon clincher wheelset

  • User Reviews (20)

    Showing 1-10 of 20  
    Looneytuna   Road Racer [Jul 30, 2009]
    Strength:

    light, stiff, comfortable, and extremely fast..

    Weakness:

    swapped out the barmac for zipp bar/stem. swapped out the seatpost because it only fits round rails

    waited till May 2008 for specialized to build my frame. an amazing ride... quick, stiff, light, comfortable.. every expectation was beaten. on the sprints its reaction is amazing.. on the climbs the lightness makes you want to dance on the pedals.. on the descents there is no fear... went from a custom seven elium and have not looked back... the elium got ridden just twice in 14 months.. no matter if it's a 21 mile time trial type ride or an 85 mile fast group ride thru the hills..you will not be disappointed... my only issue is that I now want the 2010 SL3..

    Similar Products Used: seven alaris with DA10, seven elium SG with record10, tarmac comp with record10
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    4
    serottarider   Road Racer [May 05, 2009]
    Strength:

    Light, fast, responsive and comfortable on long rides. Corners like it's on rails!

    Weakness:

    A little drivetrain noise.

    I got the 2008 S-Works Tarmac SL for a great price through my sponsor a little over a month ago and have ridden it about 750 miles so far. It came with the Roval Fusée SL wheelset (complete with wheel bag), S-Works Carbon Crankset and Dura Ace components.

    The Tarmac replaced my 2006 Roubaix Expert which I loved for it's great ride. It is obviously geared more for racing so it's no surprise that it's ride is not as plush as the Roubaix but is still very comfortable on rougher surfaces. My second ride on it was 5 hours long on some rough wintered roads and I felt great afterwards which speaks volumes. Once professionally fitted it seemed taylor made for me.

    I'm not a climber but climbing on the SL is sweet. This bike wants to go up and do it fast. The SL is also a great sprinter accelerating as you would expect by it's pedigree but the thing that makes this bike awesome to me is the way it corners. I was on the front of a group going into a corner near the end of a race last weekend and came out over 20 yards ahead of the next guy and could have pushed it more. Now that I'm used to the Tarmac's handling I can't wait to try this bike in a Crit.

    My only complaint with this bike is that there is that the drivetrain is a little noisier than normal. I don't know if it's the S-Works crankset, the chain (I've tried other cassettes) or that combination.

    Similar Products Used: 2006 Roubaix Expert, 2002 E5 SLX Comp, Serotta Colorado TG, Serotta Nova Special
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Bum Phillips   Recreational Rider [Oct 10, 2008]
    Strength:

    Light. Smooth, compliant ride while being torsionally stiff at the same time. Acclerates like mad when you get out of the saddle and put some power into it. S-works crank allows you to replace the spider (keeping the same crank arms) and flip back and forth between standard and compact chainrings; awesome idea!

    Weakness:

    Proprietary components; crank, seatpost, S-works Barmac bar/stem combo. I had a seatpost bolt strip; couldn't find a replacement so ended up buying another seatpost. Stock seat is okay up to 2 hour rides but no longer than that.

    I work for an insurance company and was able to buy this for an extremely low price due to the fact that it was in a minor accident. Unfortunately, the carbon rear rim was damaged and you can't get just the Roval rim from Specialized; you have to replace the whole wheel at over $1100; ouch. So, I'm using it with other wheels I have. This is my 3rd carbon bike. Others were a Felt F3 and I currently also have a Colnago CLX (and other steel/aluminum framed bikes). The S-works is the best of the 3 carbon frames I've owned. Incredibly responsive out of the saddle when sprinting or climbing. When I get out of the saddle on climbs, I can often shift up a couple of gears and continue accelerating. With most other bikes, I find it hard to increase my speed by getting out of the saddle in a climb, but this thing accelarates like there's a little motor in the bottom bracket adding to my own power. My Colnago CLX feels stiff; gives a harsh ride, but doesn't accelerate like the S-Works when you put the hammer down. The Felt F3 gave a nice, smooth compliant ride, but wasn't as stiff torsionally as I would prefer. The S-works has the best of both. I would love to try the new Tarmac SL2 which is even stiffer and lighter than this.

    Similar Products Used: Colnago CLX (2007), Felt F3c (2006), Pinarello Galileo (2004?).
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    azdroptop   Road Racer [Oct 06, 2008]
    Strength:

    Does it all well with great comfort

    Weakness:

    On occasion the rear feels soft. Gives the feeling that I have a flat rear tire when I don't. I haven't figured out a pattern as to when I feel it, but it happens often and teammates have described similar experiences.

    My S-works Tarmac sl is an 08. Bought it as a frame through a team deal. Never considered specialized before, but I'm glad I did. The frame does everything well. I'm 168 to 175 lbs with big legs with decent power and the bike accelerates and climbs well while giving great comfort on bad roads and long rides. A very positive move from my cervelo soloist

    OVERALL
    RATING
    4
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Justinr   Road Racer [Jul 09, 2008]
    Strength:

    Light, fast on flat and hills. responsive (twitchy for some).

    Weakness:

    The reason for going for a branded frame and for supporting your local bike shop is for the service and support, both of which let me down big-time.

    Tarmac SL Not as stiff as you think. Terrible factory warranty and equally bad shop service. I found the frame flex caused my chain to jump out of top gear while under full power out of the saddle. Hard to imagine a worse time for this to happen at 30+mph, the chain slipped then jammed into the rears stays, crank went instantly to BDC, shoe came out of the cleat. I miraculously stayed up but landed on the top tube causing a minor crack. No warning. Gears were adjusted perfectly, I can only surmize frame flex. Specialzed call this episod a rider crash and wont warranty the frame. The shop held my bike for 6 weeks with not one phone call to me. I have since read an article that Tom Boonan sent his Specialized back to the factory engineers saying "not good enough". Something wasnt right under power, the factory was said to have tested and found some flaws and fixed.

    Similar Products Used: Giant TCR, aluminum, Campy
    Avanti, Aluminum, shimano
    OVERALL
    RATING
    1
    VALUE
    RATING
    1
    skiray   Recreational Rider [Dec 16, 2007]
    Strength:

    Fast. Comfortable. Compact geometry but not crowding. Love the Barmac wedge. It looks nice while riding and it works quite well.

    Weakness:

    Gotta take the tire off to true the wheels but best do that any way. I can really find a weakness so far. The Roval carbon pads seems to wear out faster than what I am used to but wait and see.

    This is the first Carbon Fiber frame I have ever had. I love it. Torsional and lateral stiffness feels like the Cannondale 2.8 frame I used to ride and sold because ride was too harsh, really solid feel. The ride is amazingly smooth and fast. I can't tell if it climbs a whole lot faster than my Ti bike, but it seems quicker. The real difference is fast on flats and rolling hills train. I researched a bit and rode a number of bikes before I bought this. I keep my bikes a long time and I wanted to make sure it is what I want and after a couple of hunderd miles, so far so great. I love this thing. It is fast, it is super comfy. I am a lot less tired after a 60 or 70 mile ride than an other bike I have had. I have been riding regulary for 20 years. Wasnt' sure of SRAM after riding Shimano stuff for years but so far I am impressed. I got used to the double shift in one day and I now prefer this shifting design over Shimono especially the way the front derailleur works. It is a much more positive feel. I don't regret buying this bike a single bit and would recommend it not just for racing but for all around road riding that is if you can part with this kind of dough for your ride. I did.

    Similar Products Used: This is the first CarbonFiber bike I own. I have ridden steel, Aluminum (cannondale), Titanium (past 7 years).
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    skygodmatt   Road Racer [Nov 10, 2007]
    Strength:

    Basically everything. The one frame that does it all well. No trade-offs here.

    Weakness:

    Okay, I will be meticulous. The seatpost had an annoying creak. I had to lube EVERY nook and cranny of it. It went away but I grease it every few weeks to make sure. I am not changing the post due the balanced ride. Some reviewers mention the post slipping but this is not a problem on my 2008.
    That's the only weaknesses.

    This review is for the 2008 Tarmac SL.

    I am 6'2" 185 pounds and a Masters Cat4 racer who trains 4 days a week but also has a life.

    In a nutshell, this is the best framset I have ever purchased. For the 2008 SL lineup, Specialized lengthened the headtube slightly and raised the top tube making the seatstays a tad longer. I must say that Specialized is on fire with this one. I have never had a semi-compact bike fit so well.

    Ride Quality:
    The ride is perfectly tuned. It has very lightweight handling and a road feel that is muted but still lively. My other carbon frames had a tendency to be muddy feeling and flexy or just too rough to train on.

    Comfort:
    Perfect. Centuries are no problem. This is NOT one of those carbon frames that promises comfort and then beats the tar out of you ( like the tarmac from a few years ago...and other frames out today-- You know what I mean.

    Handling:
    It is quite stable without feeling long legged. It coordinates well in a turn. It does not "dive" into the turns or fell "twichy" at all ever. It is more balanced and predictable than many new race frames out today. Some other frames can be too annoying with their aggressiveness. That said, it is really the perfect balance. The trail and blade rake/head tube angle is dialed. Due the light frame and build, it is so "flickable" that it feels like part of your body. That is what we all want to achieve-you know. What I am also trying to say is it's not "tourerish" like a Roubaix but has dam near the comfort. On the other side of the spectrum, it also doesn't feel like your trying to balance on a beach ball.

    Stiffness:
    Incredible. I've done road tests where I've put the front derailleur cage next to the chain and Stomped in a high gear. I can't get it to rub. Also, I have to really be looking down closely at the BB area to notice any flex when I'm out of the saddle hammering. It will move, but VERY slightly. When the SL2 comes out, it may be Nirvana. We'll see.

    Overall:
    I have to give it a perfect score. The professional folks at Action Sports in Bakersfield,CA gave perfect service. They got me this frame in a day. Yes.

    Similar Products Used: I owned recently:
    2008 Trek Madone, Giant TCR, Scott CR1, Specialized E5.
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Steve Lawes   Recreational Rider [Sep 29, 2007]
    Strength:

    Comfort, Stiffness, Responsiveness.

    Weakness:

    None so far (800miles)

    Bought the frameset in the end of season sales and built up myself as above. 14.8lb complete bike. This is the most comfortable road bike I've ever owned. Just done my first century on it, and whereas I would have been hobbling after that on the Cannondale, I felt I could have done another couple of hours, with no problems. Lateral stiffness is more than the Cannondale, but it's just so smooth! Soaks up the road. Climbs like a dream, and handling is positive without being too twitchy. And its sooo fast!

    Similar Products Used: Cannondale, Giant OCR, Dura Ace, Ksyrium Elites
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    gillott   Road Racer [Sep 16, 2007]
    Strength:

    Light! Not the sub 900 grams claimed in Velonews but 989 grams (first frame) and 996 grams (second frame).
    Great power transfer with a super stiff (laterally) frame.

    Weakness:

    The acceleration was awesome as you felt all the power going into your wheels which on a light bike means you really take off. But somehow it always seemed like you were just moments from losing control.
    The thing that bothered me the most is the way it handled rougher roads. Specialized raves about how vertically compliant their frames are, yet laterally stiff. While I have no problems with the lateral stiffness (again its awesome), the vertical compliance proved annoying. With the compact geometry, it seemed as though anytime I went over any rougher roads, that the seat would bounce up and down in the moments following a bump, almost like suspension bob. It was very irritating and makes me wonder if the vertical compliance might have been overdone. I realize their are quite a few components that might be responsible for this effect, but they all have a Specialized logo.
    Finally, when I buy any bike, the first thing I do is to remove all the stickers on it. Sadly, I peeled a sticker off that rips off a nasty section of clear coat about the size of a thumbnail. However, Specialized were very helpful and immediately warrantied the frame for me without any questions.

    Bought as a frameset as I don't like that Specialized tries to shove a lot of its components down your throat.
    Overall its a great bike that I think performs extremely well for climbing but could use a few tweaks in ride quality.

    Similar Products Used: Felt F1, Ibis Road Silk, Specialized Allez, Giant TCR Advanced, Trek Madone, Cervelo R3.
    OVERALL
    RATING
    4
    VALUE
    RATING
    4
    Andrew   Recreational Rider [Jul 19, 2007]
    Strength:

    Absolute excellent all rounder! Climbs like a goat, corners well, very comfy on long rides, sprints well. Just LOVE it.

    Weakness:

    I wish I would have gotten it with Campy Record, and I wish I could get it with Tom Boonen's 177.5 length Specialized crank.

    While they are at it, I'll take Tornado Tom's sprint. HA!

    Now that I have owned this Bike about 7 months, I wanted to give you my impression of it.

    I have a fully custom Moots road bike that I cannot force myself to ride even on rainy days. Say no more.

    Seriously, the SWorks Tarmac SL is so proficient and comfortable you almost forget that you are on a Tour de France level racing machine. It does everything exceedingly well. If I was to try my hardest to find a week point it is that it is slightly twitchier than my Moots. I am not saying it doesn't descend well, because it does. But my Moots feels like a touring bike next to this.

    I am about 6'3" and 200+ lbs (clydesdale city here folks). But I do ride 4 or 5 times a week and can hang with some relatively fast folks (Boulder, CO fast). I highly recommend this bike for anybody who can part with the rather steep and justifiably so, price tag.

    I would have said BS to someone trying to convince me on the "vertical compliance" comfort, but after several months on-board I buy it.

    Similar Products Used: None really, I have had many nice bikes Ti Moots, Aluminum Fondriest, Aluminum Morgal Bizmark, Ti Dean.
    OVERALL
    RATING
    5
    VALUE
    RATING
    5
    Showing 1-10 of 20  

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