Specialized has concentrated an awful lot on their road bikes over the last few years. They have poured resources galore into sponsoring not one, but two Pro Tour teams: Saxo Bank and Astana, and new for this season: HTC-Columbia. Their Tarmac carried the reigning champion of the Tour de France to victory last year, and their Roubaix has been ridden by the winner of the race it was named for (Paris-Roubaix) for the last three years running.
Specialized seems to always be evolving their road bikes, and none so much as the Tarmac. For 2011, the SL3 frame has trickled down from the S-Works model to the Pro and Expert, making the Expert a fantastically stiff, light bike weighing in around 16 lbs at less than half the price of the 2010 S-Works version!
The geometry of the Tarmac is very neutral. It is quick and nimble, yet stable and predictable. It holds a solid line in the middle of a pack, yet feels playful and positively springy dancing up a climb. The carbon layup, creating the downtube, bb and chainstays as one unit, dampens the rough New England roads, but doesn’t adversely effect the responsive road feel. The bike is a race fit, with long top tube. The headtube is long enough when paired with the Pro Set 4-position stem to put you in a fairly upright riding position if desired, but not so long that you can’t slam that stem if you want to ride like the boys in the TdF.
Full Shimano Ultegra 6700 drivetrain, Fulcrum Racing 4 wheelset, and FACT carbon seatpost w/ Zertz insert all add to the ride. One last spec note: Specialized has been producing their own line of saddle for over a decade, generally offering all their saddles in 3 widths and testing bloodflow with their saddle to help keep you safe and comfortable. The Specialized Romin may be the best spec’d saddle on any road bike offered by any bike manufacturer in the world! It is lightweight, attractive, and jam-packed with technology and comfort.
We have Tarmac SL3 bikes in our Test Bike fleet. Come in, get fitted, and take one for a long ride on a twisty road!