Specialized Tarmac Review

The Specialized Tarmac family consists of three race-ready carbon road bikes which have racked up a number of international accolades at events including the Tour de France. Of course if you are more interested in keeping up your fitness levels or getting around quickly and in style then there could still be a few reasons to invest in a Tarmac bike, starting from just £1,600.

The basic Specialized Tarmac features a FACT 8r carbon frame with a compact design which is intended to be stiff and light for racing purposes. Whilst this is the heaviest of the Tarmac bikes, it’s impressive at just 8.84kg, making this an excellent value-for-money road bike. This is matched with a FACT carbon fork that should keep the overall weight down while also doing its best to take the shimmy and shake out of the road beneath you so that you are comfortable over long distances. The Shimano Tiagra groupset has been completely redesigned for 2012 and is found contributing to the gears and brakes of the Tarmac. Meanwhile Specialized has implemented a few updates of its own, including the handlebars which are constructed from sturdy alloy. The DT Axis 2.0 rims and Specialized Espoir Sport tyres continue the theme of lightness and durability, with BlackBelt technology helping to improve hardiness without adding extra weight.

Specialized Tarmac Elite

Sitting in the middle of the range is the Specialized Tarmac Elite. The carbon frame and fork remain intact along with the alloy handlebars for quick-flicking control on the road when your racing line needs a few adjustments or you want to break away from the pack. The Shimano 105 groupset is onboard, giving you improved shifting speed and fluidity so that there are no misfires that could otherwise spoil your flow. This is also lighter than the Tiagra alternatives found on the standard Tarmac, so opting for the Elite has its perks but be prepared to pay an extra £400. Fulcrum Racing 6 rims work hand in hand with Turbon Elite tyres to help you stay on the right route whatever the weather. In addition the carbon seatpost helps provide some cushioning against the inevitable road-rumble.

Specialized Tarmac Comp

The Specialized Tarmac Comp ups the ante on several fronts, although it shares the same carbon frame and fork with its more affordable siblings. Shimano 105 and Ultegra components, including STI shifters, can be found onboard. The wheels have been upgraded with DT Axis 3.0 rims, hubs and spokes along with Turbo Elite tyres from Specialized’s own collection. The FACT carbon seatpost is a welcome addition as it allows for even more vibration-damping than the alloy alternative found on the basic Tarmac. Meanwhile the whole bike feels a little more toned and honed, combining a stiffness and elegance in its frame geometry with a responsive handling experience.

The simplicity of the styling across all three Specialized Tarmac cycles is worthy of note, because it adds classiness to each bike which can often be absent in a market filled with garish designs. There are many different carbon frame road racing bikes available this year, but Specialized has arguably struck the best balance between price and performance, which could make the Tarmac models ideal for riders who want to move forward with their cycling.