New Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 spotted in Belgium

Updated model may officially debut next week

Last weekend's Liège-Bastogne-Liège not only delivered a thrilling race finale but also the public debut of the upcoming Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 under Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). Official details will have to wait until the bike's expected unveiling later next week, but Cyclingnewseditor-in-chief Daniel Benson was conveniently on site to snap a bunch of pictures for all of us to digest in the meantime.

The new Tarmac SL5 is a clear evolution of the current SL4 with much of the same design methodology and a very similar look overall. The monstrous down tube and wide top tube both partially wrap around the hourglass-profile tapered head tube, the seat tube morphs from round up top to rectangular down below, and there's once again an oversized bottom bracket shell.

The chain stays remain huge, but appear to have a more rounded profile than before. The seat stays now have a slight curve just before melding into the top tube. Specialized is apparently sticking with a 68mm-wide bottom bracket shell but the bearings look to be pressed directly into the shell.

As opposed to the current specialized s-works tarmac sl4's slightly more rectangular chain stays, the new sl5 looks to have a more rounded form. there's also a gentler transition to the seat stays and a more linear path for the internally routed rear derailleur cable, too:
As opposed to the current specialized s-works tarmac sl4's slightly more rectangular chain stays, the new sl5 looks to have a more rounded form. there's also a gentler transition to the seat stays and a more linear path for the internally routed rear derailleur cable, too:

Up top, there's now a hidden binder bolt for the seatpost and naturally, the cable routing is internal throughout (and presumably convertible between mechanical and electronic transmissions).

One of the key distinguising features on the new specialized s-works tarmac sl5 is the hidden seatpost binder. the seat stays also have a bit more of a curved shape up top as opposed to the current sl4's straighter path:
One of the key distinguising features on the new specialized s-works tarmac sl5 is the hidden seatpost binder. the seat stays also have a bit more of a curved shape up top as opposed to the current sl4's straighter path:

Overall, we don't anticipate much improvement from the Tarmac SL4 in terms of absolute stiffness but it's a safe bet that the SL5 is a touch lighter. We're also expecting a boost in ride comfort, too.

Huge tube diameters and rounded shapes are the defining characteristics of the new specialized s-works tarmac sl5:
Huge tube diameters and rounded shapes are the defining characteristics of the new specialized s-works tarmac sl5:

Specialized wouldn't even officially confirm the bike's name but did at least admit that it was something new.

The seat stays taper down as they approach the seat tube, then flow smoothly into the top tube shape:
The seat stays taper down as they approach the seat tube, then flow smoothly into the top tube shape:

"We're always working with athletes on testing," said team liaison Scott Jackson. "Some things make it into production, some don't. That bike does look different, yes. Unfortunately we can't say anything about it right now. You may or may not see it at the other teams that we sponsor."

James Huang

Former Technical Editor, US
James was BikeRadar's US tech editor from 2007-2015.
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: Up in the Colorado high-country where the singletrack is still single, the dirt is still brown, and the aspens are in full bloom. Also, those perfect stretches of pavement where the road snakes across the mountainside like an artist's paintbrush.
  • Beer of Choice: Mexican Coke
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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