Bike Check: Nate Erickson's Black Pearl Specialized Tarmac

Erickson has long been a fan of Specialized's purebred race machine.​

Editor's Note: This article is courtesy of the team at Art's Cyclery. The original post can be found here.

Why this bike?

Like Jack Sparrow said, "Wherever we want to go, we go. That's what a bike is, you know. It's not just wheels and a chain and handlebars. That's what a bike needs, not what a bike is. What the Black Pearl really is, is freedom." These are the words of Nate Erickson, a long-time member of the Art's Cyclery team, talking about his beloved Black Pearl road bike.

Bike Check: Nate Erickson's Black Pearl Specialized Tarmac

Even sitting still she looks fast.​

Erickson's first carbon bike was a Specialized Tarmac SL. Since that time, as a competitive cyclist, he's had the opportunity to ride many bicycles. Of them all, the S-Works Tarmac is his favorite. "From the ride to the well thought out placement of each bolt and cable hanger the bike is a product of engineers that obviously ride, and work on, bikes," he says. "So when it was time to buy a bike again I knew I was going back to the Tarmac." Keep reading to hear more from Erickson about his prized two-wheel possession. But first here's a rundown of the parts spec.


Road warrior or race machine?

Race machine. I'd say road warrior but Mad Max was always dirty and I don't like dirty.

Bike Check: Nate Erickson's Black Pearl Specialized Tarmac

Drivetrain of choice is the peerless Shimano Dura Ace.​

Weight (fully loaded w/pedals and bottle cages)?

15lbs, 14oz

Favorite part/component?

The entire Dura Ace R9100 group but the new Dura Ace front derailleur and paired shifter are exquisite. The set-up is much more complex, but well worth it. The front derailleur has an integrated cable tensioning bolt, so no need for a barrel adjuster along the cable. Then the geniuses at Shimano engineered the shifting to have a trim in the bottom position. This "trim" position allows shifting from the big ring to small without needing a chain catcher, as the trim is used for the small ring and larger cogs.

Any custom accessories or special modifications?

I upgraded to a Praxis Works bottom bracket that replaces the pressed in bearings of the OSBB, moving the bearings to the outside of the frame increasing stiffness in the BB. This was an unexpected upgrade that was recommended by the Art's crew. I was just going to press in the adapters that came with the bike, but I'm glad I didn't.

Bike Check: Nate Erickson's Black Pearl Specialized Tarmac

This black pearl is a true black beauty.​

SRAM or Shimano?

Shimano all the way.

Will you ever go 1x? If not, why?

What's 1x? I have my doubts about disc brakes, too.

Beer, wine, mixed drink, or water?

Beer, black just like my bike.

High five or knuckles?

High five, unless you want a hug. But be careful, I've been known to displace ribs.

Is this bike worthy of shaved legs and/or a shaved face?

Both, extra close. None of this showing up on the weekend ride with stubble. And you better have the tire label centered over the valve stem and be able to read the hub decal from the drive side too (or as the rider depending on the position of the decal).

Kilometers or Miles?

Kilometers are too confusing.

Distance or Time?

I ride for time but try to impress my friends with distance. Fifteen hours just doesn't sound as cool as 300 miles a week.

Black or White Socks?

Really, you need to ask? So are my shoes.