The redesigned Specialized Tarmac SL6 was one of my favourite road bikes of the last year, first launched with rim brakes and soon followed by a disc brake version, but with just the single S-Works model.
That S-Works Tarmac Disc commanded a hefty £9,250 price, but today the Californian company has quietly launched four cheaper models based on this bike, with the Tarmac Pro Disc costing nearly half the price at £5,750, and the cheapest bike costing £2,000.
The new bike appears to adopt all the same key features and frame design of the range-topping S-Works model. So that’s a lighter frame than the previous SL5 with an aero optimised down tube, seat tube and seatpost, along with the increasingly common dropped seatstays.
It’s specced with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset including the cranks - Specialized has a habit of fitting its own carbon cranks with Praxis chainrings - and Roval CL 50 wheels. These use the same carbon rims as the pricier CLX 50s but use different hubs and internals and round spokes instead of flat aero spokes.
This is the disc version of the Tarmac Pro I tested earlier this year, which costs £5,400 with an Ultegra groupset. That’s a £350 premium for the disc brakes.
As well as the Pro, Specialized has also tricked down the disc brake tech to three cheaper models. They are the Comp (£2,800), Expert (£4,000) and Sport (£2,000) road bikes.
How Specialized can offer more affordable versions of its latest flagship race bike comes down to the carbon fibre it uses. The highest grade (FACT 12r in Specialized speak) is used in the S-Works frame, but less expensive grade carbon is used lower down the range. So FACT 9r on the entry-level Sport model and so on, FACT 10r on the Expert and so on. That difference impacts the price but will also impact the weight a little bit too.
The Expert model above comes in a choice of two colours, this battleship camo or a more reserved green. It's equipped with an Ultegra mechanical groupset with hydraulic disc brakes and Roval C38 carbon tubeless wheels. This is new disc-specific wheelset that Specialized has developed, we don't know much about it at this stage, other than it's a £900 wheelset that will be available aftermarket later this year.
Rounding out the new range is the Tarmac Disc Sport (£2,250) which uses the same FACT 9r carbon fibre with a Shimano 105 groupset and DT R470 wheelset.
More at www.specialized.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.