Last weekend's Liège-Bastogne-Liège not only delivered a thrilling race finale but also the public debut of the upcoming Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL5 under Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). Official details will have to wait until the bike's expected official unveiling later next week but Cyclingnews editor-in-chief Daniel Benson was conveniently on site to snap a bunch of pictures for all of us to digest in the meantime.
The new Tarmac SL5 is a clear evolution of the current SL4 with much of the same design methodology and a very similar look overall. The monstrous down tube and wide top tube both partially wrap around the hourglass-profile tapered head tube, the seat tube morphs from round up top to rectangular down below, and there's once again an oversized bottom bracket shell.
The chain stays are huge once again but appear to have a more rounded profile than before, however, while the seat stays now have a slight curve just before melding into the top tube. Specialized is apparently sticking with a 68mm-wide bottom bracket shell but the bearings look to be pressed directly into the shell.
Up top, there's now a hidden binder bolt for the seatpost and naturally, the cable routing is internal throughout (and presumably convertible between mechanical and electronic transmissions).
Overall, we don't anticipate much improvement from the Tarmac SL4 in terms of absolute stiffness but it's a safe bet that the SL5 is a touch lighter. We're also expecting a boost in ride comfort, too.
Specialized wouldn't even officially confirm the bike's name but did at least admit that it was something new.
"We're always working with athletes on testing," said team liaison Scott Jackson. "Some things make it into production, some don't. That bike does look different, yes. Unfortunately we can't say anything about it right now. You may or may not see it at the other teams that we sponsor."