Specialized 2012 road bikes – First look

Tarmac SL4 first ride, updated Shiv and 'aero' Langster Pro

With the new Venge, Tarmac SL4 and Amira already unveiled, Specialized’s 2012 road launch was always going to be a little light on surprises. This was certainly the case on day one of the annual event, held this year in Monterey, California, down the road from the company’s Morgan Hill headquarters.


The Shiv time trial bike has a new look, the Langster singlespeed has gone ‘aero’ and the women’s Dolce has had some tweaks. Specialized also have some new touchscreen-responsive gloves and triathlon shoes. However, the focus was very much on the Venge and Tarmac SL4. Colour options were confirmed for the former – just red/black/white for the UK but a choice of white/grey, orange/black/white or black/blue for the US – and we were able to take the latter out for a spin

Riding the Tarmac SL4

Now in its fourth incarnation since its debut in 2004, we covered the details of the new Tarmac at its launch in St Mortiz last month. The S-Works version will be available from August, with the frameset costing £2,500 in the UK. Three colour options will be available: HTC-Highroad team issue, carbon/red/white and red/white. The SL3 will live on as the Expert model, while the SL2 is now the Comp.

The SL4 frame module, including cranks, is said to tip the scales at 1,995g, and it certainly felt light as we took it for a casual (at first) two-hour spin down the coastal roads of Monterey. Our Shimano Dura-Ace equipped bike felt silky-smooth from the outset, with top-notch power transfer from the pedals in a gusty seaside crosswind.

Rides with bike journalists and industry folk never stay calm for long, and once we hit the undulating main roads, the pace – foolishly instigated by BikeRadar – was ramped up, and we finally got a chance to see what the bike could do. Short, sharp climbs were negotiated with ease, and the handling in sharp corners was extremely reassuring, allowing us to confidently get low into bends at high speeds.

Shiv gets a new look for 2012

The Shiv time trial bike is UCI-legal now that it’s lost its nose cone, and a matt black frameset with white Specialized logos gives it a new look this year. Available in the UK as a module only – frame, fork, stem, bar, brakes, cranks and chainring – for £5,000, a limited number will be for sale almost immediately.

The updated shiv time trial bike is uci and triathlon legal for 2012:
John Whitney/BikeRadar

The updated Shiv time trial bike is UCI and triathlon legal for 2012

Langster goes aero

Echoing the frame designs of both the Shiv and Transition, there’s a new aero version of the Langster Pro track bike, with a tapered top tube and Shiv-like down tube. Specialized say it’s also lost a little weight, without sacrificing any stiffness. A steel version will also be on offer, along with a standard alloy Langster.

The langster track bike has had an overhaul for 2012, with the new pro version sporting an aero teardrop down tube that echoes the design of the shiv and transition:
John Whitney/BikeRadar

The Langster Pro has had an overhaul for 2012, with a new aero teardrop down tube and tapered top tube

Tweaks to the Allez

The popular Allez received a huge makeover for 2011, and while it doesn’t get quite the same treatment this time round, the Compact and Evo Rival models now come with a carbon fork and oversized bottom bracket. The new Allez will be available in the US almost immediately but UK readers will have to wait until the autumn.

Specialized’s 2012 allez evo rival and compact models get an oversized bottom bracket and carbon fork for 2012:
John Whitney/BikeRadar

The Allez Evo Rival and Compact models get an oversized bottom bracket and carbon fork for 2012

Women’s range

For 2012, Specialized have their biggest ever women’s range, 12 models, reflecting a surge in cycling among women in the US. We covered the top-end Amira S-Works SL4, the bike of choice for the HTC team, at its launch last month. The 11r carbon frame shares some of the technology of the new Tarmac (Cobra head tube, one piece bottom bracket) and is said to weigh 60g less than its predecessor (down to 881g for a 51cm), while being stiffer, too. The S-Works model will only be available in the US, with a red/white paintjob; the UK will have Pro (with Shimano Ultegra Di2), Comp and Elite models. Prices TBC.

The top-end s-works version of the new amira women’s race bike will only be available in the us:

The top-end S-Works version of the Amira will only be available in the US

The carbon Ruby, essentially the women’s version of the Roubaix, is, save for a few new colours, identical to last year’s model, while the aluminium Dolce gains the Cobra head tube of the Amira and Tarmac, and an oversized down tube similar to the latter’s. The Comp and Elite models have Zertz shock dampening inserts in the fork and seatstays, and all models come with Specialized’s female-specific Riva saddle and Comp handlebar. UK and US readers won’t have to wait too long; all models will be available from August.

The specialized dolce comp and elite have zertz dampeners in the fork and seatstays, as well as
John Whitney/BikeRadar

The women’s Dolce Comp and Elite have Zertz inserts in the fork and seatstays for added comfort, as well as “In-Zertz” within the frame tubing


We’ll have a comprehensive round-up of Specialized’s ever-expanding equipment range in day two’s report, but for now here are a couple of products that caught our eye. First up is new WireTap technology that enables you to use touchscreen phones and GPS units without having to take your gloves off. We tried a pair of Specialized’s BG Gel WireTap gloves on our ride yesterday and were impressed. It’s a simple idea, executed well.

Triathletes among you may be interested in the new S-Works Trivent shoe,  which uses a patent-pending Boa closure system in order to decrease the time taken between transitions. Check out our image gallery for a round-up of day one, and come back for all the action from day two.

The 280g carbon-soled trivent triathlon shoe has been designed for swift transitions to and from the bike:
John Whitney/BikeRadar

The Boa closure system on the new Trivent triathlon shoe makes it easier to get your foot in in a hurry