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· Team Tom's
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Hi folks. Got a question. I'm considering these two bikes and am curious as to how much different the frames are. I know the level of components are different but was more curious if anyone would could explain in lay persons terms what the differences in the frames are.

I ride roughly 100 to 125 miles a week and I want a more responsive bike. I currently ride an Allez Elite Triple but want to make the jump to carbon.

Thanks!
 

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Not sure there is much to choose between the frames, but seems to me the upgrade in wheels (to Fulcrum 5's) and gruppo (to Ultegra/DA mix) is probably worth it - assuming it fits your budget.
I've got an 07 Tarmac Expert & the Ult/DA has been sweet. To be honest, in pretty good test rides I could feel no difference between the 07 Expert (Fact 6r carbon) & 07 Pro (Fact 8r). (I'm 6'/165# non-racer riding ~4500mi/yr).
 

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MaddSkillz said:
Hi folks. Got a question. I'm considering these two bikes and am curious as to how much different the frames are. I know the level of components are different but was more curious if anyone would could explain in lay persons terms what the differences in the frames are.

I ride roughly 100 to 125 miles a week and I want a more responsive bike. I currently ride an Allez Elite Triple but want to make the jump to carbon.

Thanks!
The carbon grade of both the Comp and Expert are the same, 8r. However, the construction is different. The Comp uses older (but not old) technology called monocoque which, as I understand it, uses a lugged construction at the joints, then is carbon wrapped. The Expert uses what Spec calls AZ1 (as one) which joins the two triangles (as one) resulting in a lighter frame. If you notice, on the Comp around the rear dropouts you'll see a fastener and carbon where the dropouts meet the stays. On the Expert that joint is seamless - all carbon.

For a complete bike, I read one test that stated that the Comp ( in a 56, I think) weighed about 18.7 lbs. According to Spec, the Expert weighs 16.75 (but I highly doubt it). I'd estimate that, all told you're gonna save around .75 - 1 lb. between the two bikes. The Fulcrum's on the Expert are only 100 g's less than the Comp's RS-10's, so the weight difference isn't there.

My money says ride quality is going to be indicernable between the two, so whichever one you go for, I'd say do it for componentry. I have the Comp and am very happy with the frameset, but upgrades to Ultegra are already underway with the wheelset coming next. Objectively speaking, the Expert is the best value of the '08 Tarmac line.
 

· Team Tom's
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the reply PJ. That's good know about the difference in the frames. Doesn't seem like it's much so you're probably right about it being mostly about the components and the Expert does seem to be the best buy from the Tarmac line.

Thanks again!
 

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The Comp does not use 8r carbon....it is 6r....check the specialized site....

With that said, I'm not sure how much of a difference you will notice...

I myself am partial to the 8r Az1 frames since I have an 07 Roubaix Expert and an 08 Tarmac Expert.
 

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rbart4506 said:
The Comp does not use 8r carbon....it is 6r....check the specialized site....

With that said, I'm not sure how much of a difference you will notice...

I myself am partial to the 8r Az1 frames since I have an 07 Roubaix Expert and an 08 Tarmac Expert.
You're right, but it had previously been spec'd as 8r on the site. The test I referred to (Cycling Plus) also listed it as 8r.
 

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I've been test riding the Tarmac Elite ($2,000, 6r carbon) and the Tarmac Expert ($3,000, 8r carbon) over the last week. I've just recently (well, in the last year) decided to get a faster bike, as I'm used to riding a $900 Cannondale Touring bike. I haven't been out riding that much this year (well, other than bike testing), so I may not have built up the back muscles to keep pressure off my wrists.

The frame on the Elite (6r) was super responsive, but every time I've ridden it I've ended my test ride (probably 15 miles) with my wrists hurting. I'm working with a guy who does bike fittings and I have my fitting specs, so I don't think it's because it's a bad fit.

On the other hand, my one test ride on the Expert (8r) was a much, much better ride that I ended with maybe, possibly the tiniest bit of tension in my left wrist. I'm going back this evening to test ride the 2 back to back (only in the opposite order of last time) but at this point I definitely feel the 8r carbon had a better ride.
 

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PaulRivers said:
I've been test riding the Tarmac Elite ($2,000, 6r carbon) and the Tarmac Expert ($3,000, 8r carbon) over the last week. I've just recently (well, in the last year) decided to get a faster bike, as I'm used to riding a $900 Cannondale Touring bike. I haven't been out riding that much this year (well, other than bike testing), so I may not have built up the back muscles to keep pressure off my wrists.

The frame on the Elite (6r) was super responsive, but every time I've ridden it I've ended my test ride (probably 15 miles) with my wrists hurting. I'm working with a guy who does bike fittings and I have my fitting specs, so I don't think it's because it's a bad fit.

On the other hand, my one test ride on the Expert (8r) was a much, much better ride that I ended with maybe, possibly the tiniest bit of tension in my left wrist. I'm going back this evening to test ride the 2 back to back (only in the opposite order of last time) but at this point I definitely feel the 8r carbon had a better ride.
IMO, the differences in fit between the two bikes are the differences you're experiencing. Nothing aginst your fitter, because I'm sure he's doing his best for you, but there is nothing differentiating the two bikes cockpits that would explain such a substantial difference in rides. Same geometry, same seat, same anatomic bar shape (lighter aluminum used on the Expert), even the same bar tape. So bike setup, most likely, is what's different.

Also, you're the first person I can remember saying that the 8r had a better ride. Most say they can't tell the difference. Again, nothing against what you're reporting, I just happen to think the fit is what's different. If you're more comfortable on a bike, it's gonna be a better ride!
 

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PJ352 said:
...but there is nothing differentiating the two bikes cockpits that would explain such a substantial difference in rides...
I appreciate your thoughts. Well, it's different carbon (6r vs 8r). I dunno - I noticed a difference between the 6r and the 8r version of the Roubaix, to. Only with that bike they were both just as comfortable, but the 6r had a "dead" feeling to it while the 8r felt exactly as comfortable but more responsive and not "dead" at all.

Come to think of it, there's 2 other possible factors that could influence how it felt, to. First, both bikes use different wheels. Different wheels might have a different amount of feedback (wheels, tires, etc). Second, I took the bikes out but I didn't check the tire pressure myself. It's possible that one had a lower tire pressure than the other, giving it a smoother ride.

I'll be sure to check it when I test it out tonight.
 

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PaulRivers said:
I appreciate your thoughts. Well, it's different carbon (6r vs 8r). I dunno - I noticed a difference between the 6r and the 8r version of the Roubaix, to. Only with that bike they were both just as comfortable, but the 6r had a "dead" feeling to it while the 8r felt exactly as comfortable but more responsive and not "dead" at all.

Come to think of it, there's 2 other possible factors that could influence how it felt, to. First, both bikes use different wheels. Different wheels might have a different amount of feedback (wheels, tires, etc). Second, I took the bikes out but I didn't check the tire pressure myself. It's possible that one had a lower tire pressure than the other, giving it a smoother ride.

I'll be sure to check it when I test it out tonight.
Good points about the wheels and the tire pressures, but the tires are the same. That aside, far be it from me to argue with someone with the same first name as me!! Good luck on your ride. Let us know your observations.
 

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PJ352 said:
Good points about the wheels and the tire pressures.
+1 million!!!! Trying to compare modern road frames while riding different wheels/tires/pressures is almost meaningless.

My 2 main roadies are a Cannondale CAAD5 (stiff AL) and '07 Tarmac Expert (carbon with Zertz seatstays & seatpost). I set 'em up to fit me the same since I regularly ride both, and have done multiple centuries on both. Currently have 6 wheelsets. The Tarmac clearly has smoother ride with same wheels/tires/pressure. OTOH- The CAAD5 with old-school 32-spoke Ultegra/OP wheels + 25c tires @ 95psi has a smoother ride than the Expert with Ksyriums + 23c MondoPro's @ 125psi. But the Tarmac with those Ult/OP's and soft 25c tires is like silk !!!!!
 

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Oldteen said:
+1 million!!!! Trying to compare modern road frames while riding different wheels/tires/pressures is almost meaningless.

My 2 main roadies are a Cannondale CAAD5 (stiff AL) and '07 Tarmac Expert (carbon with Zertz seatstays & seatpost). I set 'em up to fit me the same since I regularly ride both, and have done multiple centuries on both. Currently have 6 wheelsets. The Tarmac clearly has smoother ride with same wheels/tires/pressure. OTOH- The CAAD5 with old-school 32-spoke Ultegra/OP wheels + 25c tires @ 95psi has a smoother ride than the Expert with Ksyriums + 23c MondoPro's @ 125psi. But the Tarmac with those Ult/OP's and soft 25c tires is like silk !!!!!
... and the added bonus is the Ultegra/ Open Pro's run forever. I just wish they didn't weigh in at over 2,000 g's.
 

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PJ352 said:
... and the added bonus is the Ultegra/ Open Pro's run forever. I just wish they didn't weigh in at over 2,000 g's.
With 14-15g DB spokes, my Ult/OP's weigh "only" 1875g actual (minus QRs, as most wheels are reported these days). Not light, but very nice ride, handling, and durability. Mine are just "babes" with ~4k miles on 'em.
 

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PJ352 said:
Good points about the wheels and the tire pressures, but the tires are the same. That aside, far be it from me to argue with someone with the same first name as me!! Good luck on your ride. Let us know your observations.
haha.

I test rode both the Tarmac Elite ($2,000, 6r carbon) and the Tarmac Expert ($3,000, 8r carbon) last Tuesday. I personally filled the tires to 100psi on each of the bikes so I was sure that they had the same tire pressure. I also checked the actual tire - they had the exact same tire, but different wheels. As I mentioned before, I had been fit to both bikes by the same guy, and they were both the same frame size.

I took out the $2,000 Tarmac for a half hour ride first. I rode on sidewalks. I deliberately hit bumps. I didn't wear gloves.. I even rode it about half a mile on the crushed limestone trail by the bike shop (would have liked to have gone farther, but I ran out of time). For the 1st 10 minutes the ride was fine. As I got near the limestone trail, hitting bumps started to hurt a tiny bit. When I hit the limestone trail, riding was...unpleasant. By the time I turned around and got off the trail, any time I hit anything (railroad tracks, curb bumps, whatever) it made my wrist hurt with a noticeable, sharp pain. It wasn't "really painful" or anything, but I would definitely describe it as being just past the thresshold of "annoying" and clearly into "painful".

When I got back, I inflated the tires and took out the $3,000 Tarmac (I keep referring it by price because the 1st time writing this I accidentally wrote Expert rather than Elite a couple times - don't want to get them confused). I took the same route I took with the first bike. I'd really wanted to like the $2,000 bike better - 1 it's cheaper, and 2 I think it looks way snazzier. I did the same thing - I rode it on the sidewalk, hit some potholes with it, and took it out on the crushed limestone trail. But even though I started out with my wrists still a little sore from my previous ride, this bike just clearly had a more comfortable ride. There were no "small" bumps that gave my wrists a jarring feeling like on my previous ride with the other bike. I could still feel bumps, but they were just more...muted. By the time I got to the limestone trail, my wrists were still fine. I hit the limestone trail, and it was good. I wouldn't call it a dream ride or anything, but whereas on my previous ride it hurt, now it would just "slightly annoying". I could see how it would probably be fatiguing if I rode the trail for hours on end, though I wasn't able to test that out. On my way back, the ride was still great. I hit railroad tracks (the ones that are sunken into the pavement), those little dips in the curbs, I sped along a bumpy sidewalk - still all good.

(I would add in the caveat that it wasn't the totally smooth ride that I remembered the $3,000 Roubaix having - the $3,000 Tarmac did give me that annoying/painful "jolt" that I disliked whenever I plowed across a real pothole, like one of those foot across ones. But the Tarmac is more fun to ride, and I felt like it accelerated a little faster. :))

So that's my experience! I definitely felt that the 8r carbon $3,000 Tarmac had a far more pleasant ride than the $2,000 6r carbon Tarmac. In my opinion, I've ruled out tire pressure and riding position as factors, leaving only frame construction and the wheelset as possibilities. Let me know what you think, and what your experiences have been.
 

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PaulRivers said:
haha.

I test rode both the Tarmac Elite ($2,000, 6r carbon) and the Tarmac Expert ($3,000, 8r carbon) last Tuesday. I personally filled the tires to 100psi on each of the bikes so I was sure that they had the same tire pressure. I also checked the actual tire - they had the exact same tire, but different wheels. As I mentioned before, I had been fit to both bikes by the same guy, and they were both the same frame size.

I took out the $2,000 Tarmac for a half hour ride first. I rode on sidewalks. I deliberately hit bumps. I didn't wear gloves.. I even rode it about half a mile on the crushed limestone trail by the bike shop (would have liked to have gone farther, but I ran out of time). For the 1st 10 minutes the ride was fine. As I got near the limestone trail, hitting bumps started to hurt a tiny bit. When I hit the limestone trail, riding was...unpleasant. By the time I turned around and got off the trail, any time I hit anything (railroad tracks, curb bumps, whatever) it made my wrist hurt with a noticeable, sharp pain. It wasn't "really painful" or anything, but I would definitely describe it as being just past the thresshold of "annoying" and clearly into "painful".

When I got back, I inflated the tires and took out the $3,000 Tarmac (I keep referring it by price because the 1st time writing this I accidentally wrote Expert rather than Elite a couple times - don't want to get them confused). I took the same route I took with the first bike. I'd really wanted to like the $2,000 bike better - 1 it's cheaper, and 2 I think it looks way snazzier. I did the same thing - I rode it on the sidewalk, hit some potholes with it, and took it out on the crushed limestone trail. But even though I started out with my wrists still a little sore from my previous ride, this bike just clearly had a more comfortable ride. There were no "small" bumps that gave my wrists a jarring feeling like on my previous ride with the other bike. I could still feel bumps, but they were just more...muted. By the time I got to the limestone trail, my wrists were still fine. I hit the limestone trail, and it was good. I wouldn't call it a dream ride or anything, but whereas on my previous ride it hurt, now it would just "slightly annoying". I could see how it would probably be fatiguing if I rode the trail for hours on end, though I wasn't able to test that out. On my way back, the ride was still great. I hit railroad tracks (the ones that are sunken into the pavement), those little dips in the curbs, I sped along a bumpy sidewalk - still all good.

(I would add in the caveat that it wasn't the totally smooth ride that I remembered the $3,000 Roubaix having - the $3,000 Tarmac did give me that annoying/painful "jolt" that I disliked whenever I plowed across a real pothole, like one of those foot across ones. But the Tarmac is more fun to ride, and I felt like it accelerated a little faster. :))

So that's my experience! I definitely felt that the 8r carbon $3,000 Tarmac had a far more pleasant ride than the $2,000 6r carbon Tarmac. In my opinion, I've ruled out tire pressure and riding position as factors, leaving only frame construction and the wheelset as possibilities. Let me know what you think, and what your experiences have been.
Well I gotta say, that was a pretty thorough test ride and detailed write up. Thanks for taking the time to relay your impressions to us.

I think at this point what you experienced is really all that matters. Obviously, it's your money and your vote and beyond that, you've got some specific physical issues you're focusing on.

In all honesty, my experiences have been between different brands (Giant TCR - too stiff, Trek 5.2 pro - nice bike, but don't wanna play the part of a field tester, Trek 4.5 - the Tarmac's are better and Roubaix - the Tarmac's are better). There were a few others, but you get the idea.

On my test rides I focused on fit, ride (admittedly, not limestome trails like you) and handling. I did consider the Expert, but felt that the Comp got me 95% of what the Expert would and being my first CF bike, wanted to 'test the waters', so to speak, so the Comp at a discounted price of $2,150 appealed to me. I've already got 750 miles on it, and like it a lot - no buyer's remorse at all. Anyway, that's my experience.

Good luck with your decision. I really think either way you go you'll end up with a really nice bike (although the Expert sounds like an easy win!!) :thumbsup:
 

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PaulRivers said:
I definitely felt that the 8r carbon $3,000 Tarmac had a far more pleasant ride than the $2,000 6r carbon Tarmac.

To be expected since your wallet would be $1000 lighter ;)
Seriously, I really suspect the difference you felt was the wheelset. Those Fulcrum 5's are nice hoops, particularly compared to the generic hub-CXP-22 set spec'ed on the Tarmac Elite. Even Specialized's own literature suggests the differences in vertical compliance (biggest factor in a frame's ride comfort) between their carbon frames in the same model are subtle rather than striking. BB stiffness and weight are mainly what you are getting for your additional $$$ in the frame.
 

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+1 on all points

Oldteen said:
To be expected since your wallet would be $1000 lighter ;)
Seriously, I really suspect the difference you felt was the wheelset. Those Fulcrum 5's are nice hoops, particularly compared to the generic hub-CXP-22 set spec'ed on the Tarmac Elite. Even Specialized's own literature suggests the differences in vertical compliance (biggest factor in a frame's ride comfort) between their carbon frames in the same model are subtle rather than striking. BB stiffness and weight are mainly what you are getting for your additional $$$ in the frame.
I agree. I'm assuming that my Shimano RS-10's fall somewhere between the CPX-22's and Fulcrums. Not that weight is a determining factor, but I know the RS-10's weight 100 +/- g's more than the Fulcrums. Functionally they seem fine, but I've only got 750 miles on them.

IMO, you nailed it with your observations on frame (in this case, carbon) differences. As the use if higher modulus increases, so does BB stiffness (not the only factor, but one), weight drops, and price increases. Not just true of Spec, but across the board with just about any manufacturer I can think of.

Good point about how different models will have subtle rather than dramatic differences in ride charateristics. I believe most manufacurers want to find their niche and become known for a certain ride quality. This was true of Trek not too long ago (and still is) and many others. Probably explains brand loyalty, to some extent.

I think in the end it all comes down to the best bike for a particular rider. One man's candy is another man's medicine. :)

And for anyone willing to plow through a fair amount of documentation to find the facts on FACT, see below - somewhat dated, but still relevant.

http://www.cyclingnews.com/sponsors/specialized/2006/FACT_Final_opt-1.pdf
 

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PJ352 said:
I think in the end it all comes down to the best bike for a particular rider. One man's candy is another man's medicine. :)
+1

I rode many carbon bikes pretty extensively before deciding on my Tarmac Expert last year. In the end, it wasn't any one big thing about the bike, but that it did many things well. Solid handling, climbing, descending, acceleration, and ride quality were all top notch. No other ride (Madone, Synapse or Six13, TCR, Bianchi 928, etc.) gave me that feeling of all-around excellence. Perhaps if I raced I would appreciate subtle differences in Specialized's various carbons. In the end, I spent for whatever Tarmac got me into my target gruppo (Ultgera/DA mix). Flame me if you like, but I doubt I could enjoy an SL2 more than twice as much as my Expert.
 

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Oldteen said:
+1

I rode many carbon bikes pretty extensively before deciding on my Tarmac Expert last year. In the end, it wasn't any one big thing about the bike, but that it did many things well. Solid handling, climbing, descending, acceleration, and ride quality were all top notch. No other ride (Madone, Synapse or Six13, TCR, Bianchi 928, etc.) gave me that feeling of all-around excellence. Perhaps if I raced I would appreciate subtle differences in Specialized's various carbons. In the end, I spent for whatever Tarmac got me into my target gruppo (Ultgera/DA mix). Flame me if you like, but I doubt I could enjoy an SL2 more than twice as much as my Expert.
IMO, the Expert is the price point in the line that give the best bike for the money. I would've gone for it myself, but didn't for reasons previously mentioned. Up till this bike, I've been riding a mix of DA and Ultegra since 1986 and have no doubt that upgrades will be made as parts wear. So far though, the 105 group isn't bad.
 

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PJ352 said:
IMO, the Expert is the price point in the line that give the best bike for the money. I would've gone for it myself, but didn't for reasons previously mentioned. Up till this bike, I've been riding a mix of DA and Ultegra since 1986 and have no doubt that upgrades will be made as parts wear. So far though, the 105 group isn't bad.
Fully agree the 10s 105 is a fine set-up- very close to Ultegra (or DA) in function. Nicer, IMHO, than older 9s Ultegra I'm running on my Cannondale.
I should have clarified that my "target gruppo" was Shimano rather than SRAM Rival, since I doubt my brain could handle riding both shifters regularly. My LBS did not have a 105-equipped Tarmac in stock when I was shopping- only Ultegra & Rival (DA was beyond my budget). I was too impatient to wait for the '08 bikes to arrive, & liked the paint job on the '07 better.
 
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