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Photos at Liege-Bastogne-Liege show what looks to be a replacement for the Tarmac SL4

It looks like Specialized’s Tarmac SL5, the long overdue replacement for the SL4, first introduced way back 2011, has quietly made its public debut, or so it would seem from the photos taken by Jakob Kristian Sørensen at Liege-Bastogne-Liege at the weekend.

Industry rumours suggest the company will be launching the new model at the Giro d’Italia starting next week, so a few miles between the legs of Roman Kreuziger in the Ardennes classic will have been prudent before the Tinkoff-Saxo team make the full switch.

The UCI’s list of approved frames and forks was updated last on 24th April and listing under the Specialized heading is the ‘Tarmac 15’ with an application date of 15th January 2014. The 15 in the name clearly suggests this is a 2015 model year, with a worldwide roll-out to shops not likely to be until much later in the year at the very earliest. 

We don’t know much about this new frame until Specialized officially spills the beans, but the photos do give an indication of the development of the company’s road race model. Visually it looks very similar, with the same curved top tube, oversized down tube, chunky chainstays and slender seatstays.

One clear difference is the new integrated seat clamp. Some manufacturers have been doing something similar, some claiming it for the aero benefits, and others for increased comfort - the Cannondale Synapse similarly has an integrated seatclamp with the idea being to allow more seatpost to deflect in an effort to provide a smoother ride. We know it’s not a Roubaix because there don’t appear to be any of the company’s ‘Zertz’ inserts in the rear stays or fork.

We imagine the SL5 will be a smidgen lighter and stiffer too - bikes always are, but by how much we’ll just have to wait and see. With many of the top-end race frames already extremely light and very stiff, there’s decreasing gains to be made in these areas. That leaves aerodynamics and ride comfort as the two remaining development paths. With the Venge still in the range and a distinct lack of aero features on the new SL5, it doesn’t appear they’ve tried to increase the aerodynamic performance.

If you want to compare these photos with the Tarmac SL4, here is Roman Kreuziger’s Tarmac SL4 photographed earlier this year. 

That's about all we know for now, we'll of course keep you updated when you get more information.

Photos © Jakob Kristian Sørensen and www.tinkoffsaxo.com

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

19 comments

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Super Domestique [1609 posts] 2 years ago
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Cool. Look forward to more on this.

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Yennings [237 posts] 2 years ago
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Most excited I've felt since BMW replaced the 3-series with another very similar looking 3-series… (i.e. not massively)

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goggy [153 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm silently very happy that there are no huge changes, given that I have a 4-week-old Tarmac S-Works SL4 frame in my back room taking pride of place  36

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hampstead_bandit [614 posts] 2 years ago
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currently riding a Tarmac SL2 which I am very much enjoying

but this news of a Tarmac SL5 is good news, perhaps I can make my way to a Tarmac SL4 at a better price once the SL5 is debuted  3

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goggy [153 posts] 2 years ago
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hampstead_bandit wrote:

currently riding a Tarmac SL2 which I am very much enjoying

but this news of a Tarmac SL5 is good news, perhaps I can make my way to a Tarmac SL4 at a better price once the SL5 is debuted  3

I know I am loving the SL4 ... yes, I have upped my distance significantly this year and joined a cycling club, but hills seem so easy now ... I used to hate them. The bike does make a difference, and the OH thinks I got a bargain too!  44

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Jacob [40 posts] 2 years ago
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Probably a little bit lighter, a little bit stiffer and a little bit more comfortable. Close your eyes and ride the SL4 vs SL5 and 99.9% of us won't know the difference. Definitely an evolution rather than a revolution. I need more to part with my cash.

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Lungsofa74yearold [289 posts] 2 years ago
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I'd just like to record my extreme jealousy of Mr Kruezinger's amazing suntan this early in the year. Lucky bastard.  4

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rich22222 [165 posts] 2 years ago
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Jacob wrote:

Close your eyes and ride

don't do this, unless you are wearing a helmet

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Quiddle [9 posts] 2 years ago
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Jacob wrote:

I need more to part with my cash.

Maybe it ill be cheaper  39

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Quiddle [9 posts] 2 years ago
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Jacob wrote:

I need more to part with my cash.

Maybe it ill be cheaper  39

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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Out there somewhere there's a guy with a caravan, a Ford Transit, a certain accent and a dog who's toying with the idea of doing 'a Sinyard' and phoning his lawyer regarding the name of this bike......  21

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joemmo [1164 posts] 2 years ago
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Specialized Head Of Products And Stuff, Paolo Schirt, was quoted as saying "some things have increased by some percent while others have decreased by some slightly different percent with the overall effect that the perception of improvement has been visibly affected. A percentage of other things have stayed broadly the same including the number of bottom brackets and the number of things you can sit on comfortably."

"Additionally, a new shape of thing has been shaped offering a substantial difference of form over the same thing that competitors offer to perform the same function such as the middle bit of the fork and the bit that isn't either the seat tube or the top tube but not quite the seat stays either."

"Finally, we experimented with moving various components into different positions but most of the results were unrideable by a normal human. As a result we just ended up moving the front brake to the back and the back brake to the front which totally transformed the braking location in a new but delicious way"

"Oh and we patented the colour black. Try us, seriously. You know how we roll"

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stealth [254 posts] 2 years ago
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What makes something that is only 3 years old "long overdue for replacement"? I know that technology marches on, but a fresh look at carbon fibre lay-up (on something that was already 'optimised') is hardly a game changer. Or is this a result of built in obsolesence, a la Apple...

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Super Domestique [1609 posts] 2 years ago
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stealth wrote:

What makes something that is only 3 years old "long overdue for replacement"? I know that technology marches on, but a fresh look at carbon fibre lay-up (on something that was already 'optimised') is hardly a game changer. Or is this a result of built in obsolesence, a la Apple...

Hearing the cycling press repeatedly call it 'long in the tooth' doesn't help!

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Dr_Lex [352 posts] 2 years ago
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stealth wrote:

What makes something that is only 3 years old "long overdue for replacement"? I know that technology marches on, but a fresh look at carbon fibre lay-up (on something that was already 'optimised') is hardly a game changer. Or is this a result of built in obsolesence, a la Apple...

The Oatmeal's comic on Apple refreshes - http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apple - could almost apply here for the SL2-3-4-5 transitions

(Disclaimer: Happy SL3 & iPhone owner)

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zagatosam [59 posts] 2 years ago
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I think I might have to file a lawsuit against Specialized. My Mum's maiden name is Adam........distant uncle was a fellow called John who invented.......Tarmac. I'm sure must have copy written the name

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andyp [1473 posts] 2 years ago
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my real name, outside of forae, is 'Zertz Inserts'. I am going to take them to the fucking cleaners.

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bradtipp [11 posts] 2 years ago
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well, bringing the conversation back to the bike, from the name...
I was looking forward to: A disc brake version and a more aero version.

I guess the disc brake version may still turn up, but not yet in the Peloton, and Aero is just look when you are as slow as I am anyway  1

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Super Domestique [1609 posts] 2 years ago
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No need for an aero version when they have the Venge.

Might be a revised Venge for next year I would imagine.