|My new 2012 Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4|
Along comes the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4.
The first thing you might think - it's been said to me several times "it doesn't look much different to an SL3". In a way they're right, it's still your typical Specialized Tarmac shape.... but that's where the similarities end.
|That top-tube is huge!|
|Di2 looks much neater as does OSBB|
The huge downtube allows Di2 cables to run internally and the brake runs along the inside of the top tube (just remember rubber doughnuts inside!). The whole Di2 integration looks very neat, I just need to bungs to finish it off!
|Huge stays as ever and much better dropouts|
So enough about how it looks, how does it ride?
This is where I stumble. I can't find a single word to sum it up. Every time I try and describe one characteristic, I lead on to another. I cannot find a superlative good enough!
Lets start with the thing which people comment on most when they ride it. It's smooth. You'd think a full on race-bike is going to be harsh, but this isn't. Specialized have obviously learnt a lot from the Roubaix and put it into the Tarmac, but in just the right amount. Personally I find the Roubaix a bit overkill in terms of smoothness, I like to feel the road, but it suits many people. The Tarmac, for me has hit the nail on the head. It's balanced front and rear, those stays ironing out the vibrations, but you can still feel the road as you should.
|Rear stance is much wider|
As you'd expect from a race bike, the rear end is stiff too. As I've mentioned it's compliant and smooth, but if you want to put the power down it will respond - it will respond with no hassle, no fuss until you want to stop. This is the only bike I've ridden which just wants to keep going harder than you do! I typically sprint up a climb, set a telegraph pole as a finish line... and give up 80% of the way there. Well I did do until I rode the SL4, I keep riding past the "finish line" now, the bike just won't give in!
|These stays are a masterpiece!|
Obviously £2500 is a lot of money for a frameset, so it should really be a very good bike, but this just keeps making me smile every time I ride it! I must have clocked up nearly 400 miles in just over a week on it and I still cannot find a fault, this is without a doubt the best race bike I have ever ridden.