2018 SPECIALIZED TARMAC MEN SL6 EXPERT (TEST/ HIRE)
Our S-Works Tarmac may be the optimal bike for winning a Grand Tour, but chances are, you're not going to be competing in Southern France this season. But when you need a bike that's ready to annihilate the competition on your training rides and local races, the new Tarmac Expert is pretty damn hard to beat.
To get the weight around 950 grams, we utilised advanced aerospace composite optimisation software to revolutionise the construction and layup of our new FACT 10r carbon. It's the most advanced material and schedule we've ever made—the shape, schedule, and material optimisation allowed us to shed nearly 200 grams. That's right, a 20% reduction in frame weight—the perfect recipe for your next hill climb PR.
We then further improved our Rider-First Engineered™ technology to ensure that the new Tarmac is stiff and compliant in exactly the right places. With this revamp, we also updated the geometry—basing it on countless Retül data points and professional rider input. This enabled us to develop a performance road geometry that perfects the combination of a responsive front end and short wheelbase, delivering instantaneous response and optimal power transfer.
And while stiffness aids in the aforementioned, compliance must also be utilised for an optimal ride quality. That's why we designed a seatpost that builds compliance into the upper 120mm where clamping doesn't happen, dropped the seatstays, and altered the seat tube shape. We also added tyre clearance up to 30mm, which translates to a 28mm Turbo Cotton on a Roval SLX 24 rim. This allows lower pressures for decreased rolling resistance, increased traction, and more comfort. Altogether, these additions still have the Tarmac riding like a true race-machine, but just takes a bit of the sting out of those road imperfections. You'll thanks us on your next long ride.
And while this is all great, we know that aerodynamics are the most important thing we can do to make you faster. Both our Bora-Hansgrohe and Team Quick Step Floors Pro Tour riders, after all, are demanding aero improvements on every bike. With this, the aero goal was to discover where we could essentially ",add aero for free,", by not taking anything away from the hallmarks of the Tarmac design. During the six-month iterative process, three areas were discovered where we could do this—a new fork shape, dropped seatstays with aero tubes, and a d-shaped seatpost and seat tube. The result? A bike that's approximately 45 seconds faster over 40km compared to other lightweight bikes in the same category. A speed savings that you'll feel when you're attacking off the front of the peloton.
This new Tarmac comes ready to race out of the box, featuring a crisp Shimano Ultegra 8000 groupset, resplendent Roval SLX 24 alloy rims laced to DT Swiss hubs, our fastest S-Works Turbo 26mm tyres, and a sublime Toupé Expert Gel saddle.