Specialized have 3 great road bike models for 2015. Their Tarmac bike has undergone the most change while the Venge remains untouched. Here is all you need to know about the Specialized 2015 range.
Specialized Tarmac Road Bike
The Tarmac has undergone a major transformation for 2015 and has been completely redesigned; with what Specialized have called the Rider-First Engineered approach.
You can choose to have the Tarmac with regular rim brakes, or disc brakes. As they developed these two versions alongside each other, Specialized have been able to control the weight of the disc version more than if they were just modifying an existing frame, as a result the disc version is only 50g heavier. This makes Tarmac one of the few proper racing bikes with disc brakes, as most disc road bikes tend to be endurance bikes.
There are seven Tarmac models for 2015 to choose from; the new frame is available from the Tarmac Elite (£3000), and the three cheapest models use the older SL4 frame. Out of the range, three are available with disc brakes, starting with the Tarmac Pro Disc Race. The bikes in the new Tarmac range are all aesthetically pleasing. The Tarmac features lovely detailing; including a hidden seat collar, bulbous rear dropouts, and a curved head tube; making the Tarmac a real head turner.
As mentioned before the USP of their new frame is the rider-first engineered concept. Rather than sizing the tubes according to the frame size, Specialized size the tubes based on measured forces on specific data points across the size spectrum. Each bike is made to these performance targets, so ride characteristics should be the same, regardless of the frame size.
The new Specialized Tarmac features the expert Shimano Ultegra groupset, which is as excellent as ever. This 11-speed groupset is one of the best ever, so there are no complaints here.
The Tarmac is exciting to ride, whether on the flat or uphill, and the stiffness of the bike works in a positive way to reward all the riders effort so they aren’t completely worn out by the end of the day. It can be used as a solid ride companion on the commute or more casual rides, but is also a race-ready machine for riders looking to take road cycling more seriously.
Specialized have managed the difficult task of improving the SL4 Tarmac, they have moved away from the SL name and rebranded the Tarmac bike so it is seen as a new breed, rather than a continuous update.
Check out the Specialized Tarmac range here: http://www.specialized.com/gb/gb/bikes/road/tarmac
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Road Bike
The Roubaix SL4 is unchanged for 2015, but there are more disc-equipped models available in the range. The Roubaix has long been a popular model from Specialized; released almost 10 years ago it was one of the first sportive bikes made and is very popular with more casual riders.
A disc brake Roubaix is not new as one was first made available two years ago, and for 2015 they are expanding on this, making four disc-equipped models in the UK market. It’s a natural candidate for disc-brakes and its combination of speed and comfort are ideal for casual rides. Unlike other disc-equipped bikes, the Roubaix Disc frame and fork have been given mudguard mounts (which are neatly concealed in the frame), making it a suitable year-round bike.
Roubaix bikes range from costing around£1300 to the top SL4 Pro Disc Race Di2, costing £5500. As expected; with a change in price comes a slight change in spec, and the spec gets better as you work your way up the pile. The cheaper ones tend to come equipped with the Shimano Sora groupset, while the more expensive ones come with the Shimano Ultegra groupset.
One of the reasons the Roubaix is so popular is because of the way it looks. The curve of the top tube and its lighting-flash shock-absorbing Zertz inserts make for a distinctive frame shape. Even the basic Roubaix is an exceptionally refined product, with a classy finish and the top tube proudly displaying its Paris-Roubaix-winning credentials.
The Ultegra groupset is praised time after time so we don’t really need to convince you any more of how good it is. What is a nice surprise, however, is Shimano’s Sora groupset. Compared to the Ultegra, the Sora should be a disappointment; however it works securely, switches gears well, and doesn’t make any nasty noises. Yes it’s only nine-speed and doesn’t have all the ‘frills’ of the Ultegra, but there really isn’t anything to complain about.
The level of comfort on the Roubaix is pretty good, all the lumps and bumps on the road (up to quite substantial potholes) are just felt as a minor annoyance. The Roubaix models do a great job when it comes to shock absorption, and long rides won’t leave you feeling battered.
In the saddle, you’ll forget about any losses on the spec sheet, and the Roubaix is still the model bike which bikes at this price point should be based on. It’s great for casual riders as it simply gives a beautifully smooth, near-perfect ride, and what more could you want.
Check out the Specialized Roubaix range here: http://www.specialized.com/gb/gb/bikes/road/roubaix
Specialized Venge Road Bike
Specialized’s dedicated aero road bike (Mark Cavendish’s bike of choice) hasn’t been changed for 2015, but there are some new colour options available.
At the top end if the range is the Venge pro-race, costing £4200. It’s equipped with Roval Rapide 60 carbon clincher wheels, Shimano Ultegra 11-speed groupset, and the new S-Works Aerofly handlebar. The S-works Aerofly handlebar is a new development form Specialized, they claim it saves 17seconds over 40km compared to a regular handlebar and stem.
The Venge seems to be getting better with age. The ride is always something to look forward to, with its direct steering and sharp handling, big leans into corners and blasts up inclines out of the saddle are no test for this bike. It copes well with crosswinds and sudden gusts and the Fulcrun S3 wheels don’t seem to be fazed by much. It’s a bike that glides across the tarmac, and really is a beautiful ride.
The Venge range offer incredibly versatile bikes, it’s great for a casual rider and has enough comfort for sportives. The adjustable Pro-Set stem lets you lower the front when you want to speed things up, and you can flip the carbon seatpost’s head between zero and 20mm offset. The Venge definitely cannot be beaten when it comes to ride quality.
Check out the Specialized Venge range here: http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bikes/road/venge