First Look: $20,000 Specialized S-Works McLaren Tarmac

Road Bike Tour de France

$20,000 Specialized S-Works McLaren Tarmac

You probably can’t afford this bike.

Just a day after Trek unveiled its new Émonda road bike line highlighted by the $15,750 10.25-pound SLR 10, Specialized lifted the lid on its own super bike, the $20,000 (yes, you read that right) S-Works McLaren Tarmac.

But unlike the SLR 10, you wont find the McLaren version at your local bike shop. Only 250 are being offered worldwide, including several which will be raced by various Specialized sponsored riders at the upcoming Tour de France. If you’re interested — and not racing at the Tour — head over to to register your interest and reserve a bike. Soon after you’ll be contacted by a Specialized representative who will help schedule the included Body Geometry fit session that comes complimentary with the bike. You’ll also get a McLaren S-Works Prevail helmet and shoes, both painted to match this admittedly stunning orange and black frame. No word on whether proof of financial worth or a credit check is required.

This isn’t the first time the Big Red S and McLaren have teamed up. Over the years, the pair have developed a relationship built upon a foundation of collaborative technical progress and a dedication to pushing the design envelope. That’s resulted in the S-Works McLaren Venge aero road bike and S-Works McLaren TT helmet.

This time they say the partnership produced a new way of looking at the forces exerted on bicycles via a new data acquisition and simulation program developed with McLaren, best known for its achievements in the motorsports world.

$20,000 Specialized S-Works McLaren Tarmac $20,000 Specialized S-Works McLaren Tarmac

Included is a set of CLX40R tubular wheels, which save 90 grams compared to a standard set of CLX40 wheels, and a McLaren S-Works Prevail helmet and shoes, both painted to match.

Now on the heels of the launch of the new S-Works Tarmac, the S-Works McLaren Tarmac takes the technical and performance standards of that bike and improves them. Specialized calls it the “most exclusive and technically advanced bike” it’s ever released.

According to Specialized, the pricey rig utilizes 300 percent more high-modulus fiber, reducing material required and weight. They also claim to have used 500 different composite ply shapes, more than twice what’s used in a standard S-Works Tarmac.

Joe Marsh, a composite design engineer from McLaren Applied Technologies Limited, was instrumental in the development of the frame. “Our design benchmark, the new S-Works Tarmac, was already a very efficient structure to start with and in some ways this was a much tougher challenge than the Venge we worked on,” said Marsh.

The S-Works McLaren Tarmac maintains all of the performance characteristics of the standard S-Works Tarmac via Rider-First Engineered design while reducing the weight of the overall frame and fork by 9-11 percent depending on frame size.

$20,000 Specialized S-Works McLaren Tarmac

Design in process at McLaren HQ.

This was done in part via the proprietary carbon layup process. Specialized claims the weight savings come with no cost to the overall performance of the bike. But more than just a frame and fork, the S-Works McLaren Tarmac is a collection of cohesive parts. Along with the included fit to dial in best frame size, a range of component sizes are selected to best fit the customer including handlebar and saddle width, stem length and crank size.

Also included is a set of CLX40R tubular wheels, which save 90 grams compared to a standard set of CLX40 wheels. Shifting is provided by a Dura-Ace 9070 Di2 electronic drivetrain. EE Cycleworks brakes further reduce weight.

The reservation process closes on July 31 or while availability lasts. Included in the final product is a personalized name plate and wall mount plaque for displaying the bike, shoes and helmet if you’d rather look at it than ride it.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the / staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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  • Cracker69 says:

    While pushing the envelope is cool and a worthwhile exercise for any company, keeping a straight face while pinning a $20K price tag to a bicycle is entering the realm of absurdity. I really couldn’t give a damn what they say they have accomplished, it is a bicycle and like all other bicycles fundamentally limited by the rider. How far does the owner of this machine sink when they realize that despite the cost they still maintain their 20 mph average speed.

  • andrea ratkovic says:

    LOL @ Cracker69! I couldn’t agree more. Very well stated. I’ve kicked many an ass on my old ass 1999 Scapin! It’s the motor behind the bike that moves it…

  • luis says:

    I specialy like the shots with the matching car in the rear..lmao !!!!! Yeah buddy you’ll be real fast…ja,ja,ja. There’s suckers everywhere!

  • Jim P Gayden says:

    Increasing the efficiency will definitely make a considerable difference for all you sceptics out there. I know this because I have been riding bicycles for over 50 years and have had many different bicycles. I was sceptical at first, but am no longer. I would really love to own one of these bikes. But $20K is more than I make in a year.

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