Specialized's Tarmac gets chassis update for 2017

Specialized Tarmac S-Works eTap, SL4, Expert Disc and more

Specialized’s highly regarded, rider-first engineered Tarmac chassis gets a refresh. Found on the pro level S-Works range and built with Specialized's highest grade 11r carbon, the Tarmac gets a new frame that is specific to electronic drivetrains and, more impressively, for SRAM’s eTap.

Being a wireless system, the frame (ideally) has no need for routing drillings and fixtures for conventional mechanical drivetrains. Specialized has been impressively bold in forgoing any such fittings on the S-Works eTap and it's not something we’ve seen from any of the big S’s rivals.

For the £7,000 asking price Specialized hasn’t skimped on the build either. Starting with the carbon CLX 40 40mm deep wheels that run on hubs constructed with DT Swiss 240 internals, ceramic bearings shod with 24mm wide Turbo cotton tyres and super-supple 320 Tpi casing, through to the full Red eTap groupset, Red eTap brakes, SL carbon bar, S-works stem, carbon post and carbon railed S-Works Toupé saddle, to top things off.

The Expert disc at £3,000 looks the pick of the bunch with Ultegra, BR-785 brakes and DT Swiss’ R460 disc wheels

Alongside the standard S-Works eTap is the hydraulic braked version. Like the calliper model, extraneous cable routing has been removed to make it one of the cleanest disc bikes we’ve seen. It shares much of the same specification, but uses the new CLX 32 wind tunnel engineered wheelset and is priced at £7,500.

The second tier (but still Tour winning) SL4 10r carbon frameset-equipped bikes have been revamped for 2017. There's a wider range of disc models, topping out with the Pro Disc Di2 at £5,000 that comes equipped with Ultegra Di2, CL40 carbon disc wheels, BR-785 brakes and the same, lack of, electronic specific cable routing that's found on the 11r S-works frame.

The new Tarmac Comp disc at £2,600 gets Ultegra, RS685 brakes and an Axis Elite disc wheelset
The new Tarmac Comp disc at £2,600 gets Ultegra, RS685 brakes and an Axis Elite disc wheelset

The Expert Disc at £3,000 looks the pick of the bunch with Ultegra, BR-785 brakes and DT Swiss’ R460 disc wheels. Propping up the disc range is the £2,600 Comp Disc, which like the Expert runs Ultegra but switches down to RS685 brakes and Axis Elite disc wheels.

The Tarmac SL4 Elite mixes Ultegra with a Praxis Zayante chainset and runs on Axis Elite wheels for £1,800
The Tarmac SL4 Elite mixes Ultegra with a Praxis Zayante chainset and runs on Axis Elite wheels for £1,800

On the mechanical front, the range starts at £1,500 with the SL4 sport 9r carbon frame — with a glorious sunburst fade paint scheme — and runs 105 and Axis Elite wheels. The SL4 Elite, with mainly Ultegra, a Praxis Zayante chainset and the same wheels is priced at £1,800, and the Tarmac Comp steps up to £2,400 complete with Ultegra group and DT Swiss R460 wheels.

At the top of the range is the Expert eTap. It is upgraded with the 10r frame (the same as the last-gen S-Works), a full eTap group and DT R460 Pro wheels. While not exactly cheap, it is one of the lowest priced eTap equipped bikes we’ve seen so far.

Warren Rossiter

Senior Technical Editor
Approaching two decades of testing bikes, Warren can be found on a daily basis riding and exploring the road and off roads of Wiltshire's Salisbury Plain in the UK. That's when he's not travelling the world to test the latest kit, components and bikes.
  • Discipline: Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Big, fast descents and rough surfaces like cobbles or strada bianca
  • Current Bikes: Decade Tripster ATR, Dedacciai Temarario, Cannondale Synapse, BMC Granfondo Disc Di2, Genesis Day One CX, Parlee Z Zero Custom, Storck Scenario Comp Custom, DMR Trailstar, Bianchi Pista, Cube SUV 29er e-bike
  • Dream Bike: Bianchi Oltre Disc, Bianchi Specialissima, Cannondale Slate, Buffalo Bike
  • Beer of Choice: Brew Dog Punk IPA
  • Location: Wiltshire, UK

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