This article originally published on BikeRadar
For 2014, Specialized is pushing hard on functional aerodynamic designs, from the Evade aero helmet to the new SWAT storage system for the Shiv. The size-specific engineering of the SL4 platform now applies to all bikes at all price points in the Tarmac and Roubaix families. And the California company also has a new S-Works tire and all-carbon tubular wheels in standard and disc formats.
For a rundown of the full Specialized 2014 road bike range, see our photo gallery on the right. And for BikeRadar's coverage of Specialized's new mountain bike range, see our Specialized 2014 Epic, Stumpjumper HT and Crave and Specialized 2014 trail and long travel stories.
Tarmac SL4 and Roubaix SL4 – size-specific frame tubing
The Venge, Tarmac and Roubaix designs carry forward for 2014, with the big news coming not at the top but with the more reasonably priced bikes. All the Tarmac and Roubaix bikes get SL4 size-specific engineering, which recently only applied to the top models.
The technology means that each frame size gets its own shapes, layups, seatstays, chainstays, forks and bearings. The thinking is that a smaller rider has different needs to a taller rider; a 49cm bike shouldn't be as stiff as a 61cm one.
Both the Roubaix and Tarmac have a massive down tube, and bulged surfaces where the down tube approaches the head tube. "This helps prevent local deformations that you'd find otherwise," said Specialized engineer Luc Callahan. "By eliminating the small movements at that area, it improves the stiffness of the whole chassis."
While many companies are moving to 1.5in lower headset bearings, Specialized's lower bearings range in size from 1.125in on smaller frames to 1.375in on larger frames to accommodate head tube wrap and match front-end stiffness with the size of the rider.
Other design features that carry over are the wide, flat top tubes that improve torsional stiffness while allowing the seat tube junction to flex for comfort, and a rear triangle with a wide seatstay bridge for torsional rigidity.
Disc brake Roubaix
The Roubaix line has a variety of disc options, from the top S-Works Red Disc with the new SRAM Hydro R models, through to bikes with the Shimano's new Ultegra Di2 hydraulic discs, and down to options with S-700 hydraulic and Sora mechanical discs.
Many of the SRAM-equipped bikes, including the Red 22 Hydro R Disc (US$8,500), will not be brought to the UK.
Evade aero helmet: "No need to look like a bowling ball"
Specialized has successfully publicized the Evade aero road helmet at the Tour de France this year, with Mark Cavendish winning in it. The company's aerodynamicist, Chris Yu, said he was pleasantly surprised to see other riders, such as Alberto Contador, wearing it as well.
Specialized aero R&D manager Mark Cote said good looks were key targets of the design, which has been in the works for a few years. "We don't believe that you need to compromise the core elements of a helmet – to keep you safe, to keep you well ventilated – when making an aero road helmet. There is no need to look like a bowling ball."
The Evade has relatively generous vents, especially at the back. Cote claims the helmet is actually slower when you tape over the vents. "The (rear) exhaust port is bigger than the intakes," Cote said. "You can actually suck air through.
"This has the same aerodynamics as the TT2 (a previous Specialized time trial helmet), with similar ventilation to our Prevail." Cote also claims the Evade is "as aerodynamic as a bald head".
The Evade weighs 260-280g for a medium size, depending on market.
SWAT – Storage, Water, Air, Tools
Specialized has a new storage concept for 2014, and it appears on both road and mountain bikes. After noticing riders taping, strapping and otherwise attaching food, tubes and tools to their bikes, the company's product team decided to incorporate those needs into professional products.
"I can tell you horror stories of all the weird places I've taped stuff in triathlons over the years," said Matt Elmore, of Specialized's performance road marketing team.
Water storage had already been incorporated into the frame design for the Specialized Shiv triathlon bike; for 2014 the bike also has a frame-mounted Fuelcell container above the bottom bracket, and the Sitero saddle has a tripod attachment at the rear for a bottle cage or transition hook, plus attachments for CO2 cartridges.
The Shiv is also available with Magura RT8 TT hydraulic rim brakes, which were developed for the Cervélo P5. All Shiv models will come with the Sitero, and the top-level bikes will come with the Fuelcell as well. "These are not add-ons," Cote said. "They are designed as part of the bike."
The Fuelcell, which Specialized riders tested at the Kona Ironman world championships last year, is basically a firm pouch you can simply reach into. Instead of taping gels onto the top tube, triathletes can put them in the container. Many triathletes use some version of a ‘Bento box', a top tube-mounted container.
The Fuelcell does not seal shut, but there are drainage ports at the bottom
Cervélo and some other companies have frames with bolts on the top tube for just such a container. While more of a reach for the rider, the Fuelcell is a substantially larger unit.
On the mountain side, the SWAT moniker applies to a stem-cap chain tool, a down tube-mounted flat pack, and a multi-tool mounted to the underside of the upper shock link or nested in a compartment attached to the water bottle cage of select models.
Roval CLX carbon wheels and S-Works tires
The Specialized Roval wheel line has expanded a bit for 2014, with three new CLX carbon options. The new 40mm CLX 40 tubulars weigh 1,240g, and their 60mm counterparts – the CLX 60s – weigh 1,330g. A tubular disc CLX 40 is also available at 1,340g.
There are already clincher and clincher disc wheels in these depths, plus the more affordable CL 40 and CL 60.
The 2014 S-Works road tire is 35 seconds faster than Continental's Grand Prix 4000 in a 40km time trial, according to Specialized, who sent the tires to Wheel Energy for the Finnish company's 40kph drum test.
Specialized tire product manager Wolf Vorm Walde said the new Gripton compound was developed entirely in house by Wolfgang Arendt, who has 30 years experience with tire compounds, including time with Team Telekom.
"We send our own tire compound to the factory," Vorm Walde said. "They mix it up and make the tire, but they have no idea what's in the compound. And you cannot re-engineer a compound."
BikeRadar sent five riders to Specialized's global product launch, so be sure to check out our first ride reviews of the 2014 bikes and kit in the coming days.