The Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 is a do-it-all carbon road race bike, balancing lightweight and aero credentials, and it's my frame of choice for this 6.92kg build. I'll be the first one to admit that a few of my component choices are a little abstract, so let me know which components you reckon I should switch out before the 2023 race season starts in the comments section below...
Kicking off with the frame, this is a 2022 colourway of the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 in a size 54cm. When deciding on frame colour, I was tempted certainly tempted by the black raw carbon as the minimalist paint scheme is by far the lightest (and paint can add quite a few grams to a frame!) As it was I opted for the Fluid/Satin Black, in some lights, it shows purple hues, in others greeny/blue, and on a dull day )i.e most of them in the UK) a more understated grey.
One of the Tarmac's highlights for me is the integration. While I'm not a fan of many fully integrated bikes, I do have a soft spot for race bikes with hidden hoses; not necessarily for the alleged aero benefit, but more so for the cleaner lines.
The system on the Tarmac hides the hoses through the 40cm Roval Rapide bars, using further guides to keep them hidden as they then travel under the stem (130mm/-12).
This also means that the stem can easily be removed, excellent for maintenance and travel. A Wahoo Elemnt Roam is up front with a second quarter-turn mount underneath for a front safety light. My setup is finished off with a titanium top cap and bolt from God and Famous. If you haven't heard of them before then check out some of their very wacky bar tapes and accessories.
Moving down the bike and you'll find that despite testing 10's of wheelsets since, I'm still a firm fan of the Roval Rapide CLX I wheels. They're stonkingly fast, super wide and stable in crosswinds. They haven't been trouble-free though, and thanks to a rock strike on the front wheel I will now only use them with tyres at least 28mm wide.
As these are the first generation of Rapide wheels they are NOT rated by Specialized for tubeless use (although I have seen people doing it) I use Silca Competition Latex tubes which come with these funky 'Speed shields' as shown below. Are they more aero? Apparently, but that's near impossible for us to test. What I can say is that they do stop any unwanted valve stem rattle which is very welcome.
As you may have heard me hark on about, I'm a big fan of the Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 tyres. They grip like nobody's business and thanks to a high TPI count are about as supple as clincher tyres come. The 2.0 version also seems to have fixed the tread peeling problem that I repeatedly suffered with the previous generation.
The main bulk of the groupset is Shimano Ultegra R8070 Di2, well the shifters and mechs are anyway. I've had these for some time so they've seen a bit of a battering, however this 11-speed groupset still performs perfectly despite missing out on that extra cog of the latest generation of groupsets.
I haven't done the maths of how many grams I could save by switching components out to Dura-Ace, but I reckon as the components with the greatest difference such as cranks and brake callipers are aftermarket anyway we're talking in the region of about 150g, not worth it if you ask me!
Some of those aftermarket parts include the drivetrain, the crankset is a 170mm Quarq carbon DFOUR DUB affair with 52/36T Dura-Ace chainrings and a YBN SL110 chain, because best bikes should always have a bit of bling and YBN chains always appear to perform well in independent wear testing.
One thing to note is that where the Quarq power spider (which remains in my eyes the benchmark for power meters) attaches to the crank arms using Sram's eight-bolt system there is a tendency for creaking. It took me a long time to diagnose this and was only solved with a healthy dose of Loctite. Let's hope I don't need to get it off on a hurry!
I've also switched out the jockey wheels to the uprated Dura-Ace ones. These run on actual bearings rather than bushings like Ultegra.
My pedal choice also remains in the Shimano corner. I was a long-time user of Look but despite the excellent aesthetic and performance when new, I've been turned to the SPD-SL system for the prolonged lifespan, in my opinion. For training, I tend to opt for the cheaper Ultegra pedals but for racing go Dura-Ace, not for the weight advantage or extra set of needle bearings but the reduced stack height reducing the chance of pedal strikes.
Just like on my Allez Sprint build I've switched out the temperamental Ultegra brake callipers for Magura MT8SL FM callipers. These are lighter, look better and perform admirably with the Magura hoses, Shimano shifters and Magura Royal Blood mineral oil.
What have I missed? The brake rotors are Shimano MT900 160/140mm for maximum wheel compatibility from neutral service and the saddle is subject to change. Currently on the bike is a Fizik Adaptive R3, but I've recently been using a Bjorn Setka, reportedly the world's lightest 3D saddle. The full review of that will be coming very soon.
In its current set-up the bike weighs in at a fairly competitive 6.92kg. There's a few titanium screws to help it down to that weight but which parts should I switch out? I'm always looking for new and lesser-known parts to try out so let me know down in the comments section below...
Alternative component recommendations very welcome down in the comments section below! Which changes should I make first...?
Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...