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Specialized road bikes: A comprehensive range overview

Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized road bikes are renowned among amateurs and professionals alike. The brand is among the biggest in the cycling world, and the tech produced is highly sought after by consumers across the globe. 

In fact, a number of Specialized road bikes have been awarded five-star reviews from our tech team, and the brand regularly features in our guides, such as the best road bikes, best gravel bikes, and best aero road bikes

With a sponsorship of three of the biggest professional teams in the world, in Bora-Hansgrohe, SD-Worx, and Deceuninck-QuickStep, Specialized road bikes are commonly ridden to WorldTour victory. These top pro teams play a vital role, not only in a marketing sense but also in terms of stress-testing the equipment to continually improve the recipe with pro rider insight and feedback. As an example, the latest Tarmac SL7 was developed in conjunction with Kasper Asgreen and Zdenek Stybar of Deceuninck-QuickStep, shaping the design of the bike almost two years ahead of its launch. 

As a brand, Specialized has become a significant force in the industry since bursting onto the scene in 1974. After initially selling imported Italian components, founder Mike Sinyard began producing Specialized’s own parts before turning its focus to bicycles in 1981 with the Sequoia and Allez models: monikers that have become synonymous with the brand and remain in existence today. 

Forty years on, and Specialized continues to be a dominant player in the highly contested retail and professional cycling spaces. A veritable industry pioneer, Specialized also produces its own line of clothing, equipment and components including tyres, saddles, shoes, helmets and even power meters.

On paper it’s hard to ignore the facts — Specialized road bikes have been on the winning end of nearly every major race over the past three years, including the Road World Championships, the Classics and stage wins at every Grand Tour, with their most recent Grand Tour overall victory coming courtesy of Vincenzo Nibali’s 2016 Giro d’Italia.

Scroll down to see Cyclingnews’ roundup of Specialized road bikes available to buy for 2021, or click here for our rundown of the range.

Specialized road bikes

Specialized Aethos

(Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Specialized Aethos

The bike that simply celebrates the joy of riding

Price: Starting at US$5,500/ £5,500/ AU$11,400 | Brake: Disc | Frame: Carbon | Type: Lightweight | Sizes (cm): 49-61cm | Weight: 6.1kg (S-Works Aethos Dura-Ace 54cm)

The extremely positive ride feel
Incredible weight
Beautiful finish
No rim brake options
Non-tubeless wheels

When the Tarmac SL7 launched, our overriding feeling was that the bike had lost some of the Tarmac's much-adored DNA and personality in the pursuit of racing speed. It's as if Specialized had predicted our thoughts, because just a few months later, the Aethos was born, encompassing everything that we loved about the Tarmac heritage and magnifying it tenfold. 

The Aethos is all about the pure joy of riding a bike. It takes things back to basics, with its round tubes and traditional frame shape, but integrates modern technologies to create a 6.1kg superbike that's confident, nimble and down right fun to ride. 

It's available as a range-topping S-Works model layered with FACT 12r carbon, or the slightly less expensive FACT 10r layup standard model. 

So it's fun, fast, lightweight, nimble and painfully beautiful. The only downside to joining the Aethos gang is the entry fee, with prices starting at $5,500 / £5,500 for a complete bike, and rising to $14,500 / £13,000 for the S-Works Founders Edition model. 

Specialized S-Works Aethos review

Model range 

  • Specialized S-Works Aethos Founder's Edition
  • Specialized S-Works Aethos Dura-Ace Di2
  • Specialized S-Works Aethos Red eTap AXS
  • Specialized Aethos Pro Force eTap AXS
  • Specialized Aethos Pro Ultegra Di2
  • Specialized Aethos Expert Ultegra
  • Specialized S-Works Aethos frameset
  • Specialized Aethos frameset

Specialized Roubaix

In the endurance road bike segment, it’s hard to beat what the Roubaix offers in terms of comfort and speed

Price: Starting at US$2700/ £2600/ AU$4000 | Brake: Disc | Frame: Carbon | Type: Endurance | Sizes (cm): 44-61 | Weight: 8.47kg (Roubaix Comp 56cm)

Compliance
Aesthetics
Stopping power
No rim brake options

Named after the revered race that is Paris-Roubaix, the Specialized Roubaix has been engineered to ride faster over bumpier terrain than ever before, using Specialized’s adage ‘Smoother is Faster’.

The Roubaix features new, aerodynamic tube profiles, lowered seat stays and an aero seat post, which make it more aero than the Tarmac and on a par with the first iteration Venge in terms of aerodynamics. Specialized says this aero focus was a direct response to its pro riders demanding the aero advantages after years of Paris-Roubaix races being close to 50kph average speeds.

It’s also more comfortable to ride thanks to the Future Shock 2.0 damping system which provides 20mm of travel, plus the flexible S-Works Pavé seat post designed to further reduce vibration and retain pedalling efficiency over rough surfaces.

Available in disc brake-only specification, the Roubaix can also accommodate up to 33mm tyres making it the ultimate go-anywhere, do-everything road bike.

Model range 

  • Specialized S-Works Roubaix - Sagan collection
  • Specialized S-Works Roubaix
  • Specialized Roubaix Pro
  • Specialized Roubaix Expert
  • Specialized Roubaix Comp
  • Specialized Roubaix Sport
  • Specialized Roubaix
  • Specialized S-Works Roubaix frameset

Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7

(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized Tarmac SL7

Lightweight and aero, pick both

Price: Starting at US$2,600 / £2,500 / €2,699 / AU$4,000 | Brake: Disc | Frame: Carbon | Type: All-rounder race bike | Sizes: 44-61cm | Weight: 6.89kg (S-Works, Dura Ace Di2, 58cm)

A no-compromise thoroughbred race bike
As light as the SL6
As aero as the Venge
The always-on nature of the ride might not be to everyone's taste

Launched in July of 2020, the Tarmac SL7 is designed as a no-compromise race bike that combines the best of the Venge's aero properties with the Tarmac's light weight and sharp handling. 

The result is a race bike that has razor-sharp handling, instant power transfer and will sail along on the flats. In our recent S-Works Tarmac SL7 review, we gave it 4.5 stars, only missing out on the coveted perfect score by virtue of the non-tubeless-ready wheels. 

It's an expensive proposition, but if you want to go faster, the Tarmac SL7 won't leave you disappointed by any means. 

Model range

  • S-Works Tarmac Shimano - Sagan Collection
  • S-Works Tarmac SRAM Red eTap AXS
  • S-Works Tarmac Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
  • Specialized Tarmac Pro SRAM Force 1X
  • Specialized Tarmac Pro Ultegra Di2
  • Specialized Tarmac Expert Ultegra Di2
  • Specialized S-Works Tarmac frameset
  • Specialized Tarmac frameset

(Image credit: Specialized )

Specialized Tarmac SL6

The old flagship model repurposed as the budget-friendly racer

Price: Starting at US$2700 / £2350 / AU$3500 | Brake: Disc/rim | Frame: Carbon | Type: Climbing | Sizes (cm): 49-61 | Weight: 6.87kg (S-Works Tarmac Disc 56cm)

Stiffness
Handling
Aesthetics
Pricier than its rivals

With the launch of the Tarmac SL7, the Tarmac SL6 sees a shift in its position in Specialized's line up. 

Not being completely driven out of production, the SL6 is now the model name given to 2021's lesser-specced models made from Specialized's FACT 9r carbon modulus (Tarmac SL6 Comp and Tarmac SL6 Sport).

Where things get a little confusing is that for the foreseeable at least, the now-superseded Tarmac SL6, (featuring FACT 10r carbon) and the S-Works Tarmac SL6 (with FACT 12r) from model years 2020 and before, will likely still be available at certain retailers, and discounts are likely to be obtainable.

Like its siblings, the Tarmac SL6 favours disc brakes. However with that said, rim brake options were available in model-years '18 and '19, but were phased out of production and are now very few and far between. 

No matter your model year or carbon modulus, all frames have a maximum tyre clearance of up to 30mm.

Model range

  • (2021) Specialized Tarmac SL6 Comp
  • (2021) Specialized Tarmac SL6 Sport
  • (2021) Specialized Tarmac SL6
  • (2020) Specialized S-Works Tarmac frameset

(Image credit: Josh Croxton)

Specialized Venge

With the launch of the Tarmac SL7, the Venge will be cycled out of production, but it's very much still available and deals are likely to be found

Price: Starting at US$8020 / £6500 / AU$9400 | Brake: Disc | Frame: Carbon | Type: Aero | Sizes (cm): 49-61 | Weight: 7.42kg (Venge Pro 56cm)

Speed
Weight
Stiffness
Price

Although the Specialized Venge is now being phased out of production in favour of the Tarmac SL7, we're still including it because there will be older models and framesets knocking around for a while, and some bargains will surely be had by some.

The third-generation Specialized Venge is the lightest version with dropped seat stays and shaved tubing that make for an aggressive and purposeful facade. Honed in the company's own wind tunnel, the Venge favours speed and performance over comfort — Specialized claims the newest Venge will save you 8 seconds over 40km compared to its predecessor, the Venge ViAS.

That’s not to say it’s bereft of any sense of compliance. While it may not boast the fancy suspension trickery of the Roubaix, the Venge gains added levels of comfort by way of bigger tyres and lower pressure, and it can handle rubber of up to 32mm.

At launch, it narrowed the gap between aero and lightweight — something which the Tarmac SL7 took to the extreme — with a focus on being easier to live with. Specialized might be saying it's now obsolete, but it's still a rocket ship that wins races at every level. 

Specialized S-Works Venge review

Model range

  • (2021) Specialized S-Works Venge frameset

Specialized Allez Sprint

A crit-racing weapon even Peter Sagan thinks is cool

Price: Starting at US$1000 / £850 / AU$1300 | Brake: Disc | Frame: Aluminium | Type: Criterium/ all rounder | Sizes (cm): 49-61 (men) | Weight: 8.2kg (Allez Sprint Comp 56cm)

Price
Compliance
Niche appeal
Weight
Typically low-end components

The Specialized Allez Sprint may not be a top-end carbon race machine but that’s not to say it isn’t any good. In fact, three-time world champion Peter Sagan and some of his Bora-Hansgrohe teammates raced the Tour Down Under People’s Choice Classic criterium using custom-painted Allez Sprint disc framesets — a move which clearly demonstrated not only the Allez’s ability as a competitive road bike but also Specialized’s long-term outlook on aluminium road bikes.

The Allez Sprint can be had in both disc and rim-brake spec. As a full-bike build, it usually comes with a low-spec list of components, however Specialized knows the Sprint is a platform to build a race bike, so sells the frameset in a heap of stylish designs. It also uses carbon forks across the range, making it the best value-for-money proposition in Specialized’s range.

Model range

  • Specialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc
  • Specialized Allez Sprint Disc frameset

Specialized Allez

The aluminium option for all-round performance

Price: Starting at US$1000 / £799 / AU$1350 | Brake: Disc/rim | Frame: Aluminium | Type: All rounder | Sizes (cm): 49-61 | Weight: ~9kg (56cm)

Price
Compliance
Weight
Low-end components

The Allez forms the foundation of Specialized's road bike range and is one of the best budget road bikes we've tested. This pocket-friendly aluminium framed road bike is typically paired with solid, yet affordable components to offer maximum value for money for those looking for a low-cost do-it-all road bike. 

The Allez comes in a few guises, all of which are rim-brake actuated only, and prices start at $1000 / £799. 

Of course, at this price point, things like stiffness, aerodynamics and low weight are lower down the priority list, but durability, ease of maintenance and ride comfort are areas in which the Allez shines. 

Model range

  • Specialized Allez
  • Specialized Allez Elite
  • Specialized Allez Sport
  • Specialized Allez Comp Disc

Specialized Shiv TT

A super-fast time-trial bike built for speed and nothing else

Price: Starting at US$3700 / £2600 / AU$4000 | Brake: Disc/rim | Frame: Carbon | Type: Time trial | Sizes (cm): XS-L | Weight: 8.81kg (Shiv Elite Medium)

Speed
Performance
Aesthetics

In terms of kerbside drama, there’s nothing quite like the Specialized Shiv. The newest iteration is even more outlandish-looking than before with a massive, wing-like fin at the rear, disc brakes and a triple-crown fork underpinning the tri-specific version - non-UCI-legal of course.

As far as UCI-legal options go, a time trial-specific Shiv TT disc is now available sporting disc brakes, super-low seat stays, an updated fork more in line with the Venge, stealthy cable routing and a one-piece cockpit design with wide, flat base bars. 

Model range

  • Specialized S-Works Shiv TT
  • Specialized S-Works Shiv TT Module

(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Specialized Diverge

A go-anywhere, do-it-all bike that’s just as comfortable on the black stuff as it is barrelling along gravel roads

Price: Starting at US$1300/ £1099 / AU$2700 | Brake: Disc | Frame: Carbon, aluminium | Type: Gravel | Sizes (cm): 44-61cm | Weight: 8.95kg (S-Works Fact 11r 54cm)

Compliant ride quality
Flattering geometry
Reactive steering
Comprehensive range covering all price points

Specialized's latest Diverge is the third-generation and brings with it some interesting modifications to make it an even more capable gravel and adventure machine.

Geometry has been tweaked, inspired by the Epic cross-country mountain bike. By going longer, lower and slacker, Specialized has enhanced the Diverge's composure over rough terrain. A new fork has an increased offset for steady handling at high speeds without the steering going floppy and difficult on slow, technical sections.

Like the Roubaix, it features a Future Shock 2.0. With 20mm of progressive travel, the system uses a hydraulic dampener to absorb rough surfaces. If the gravel smooths out or there is a section of tarmac, on the fly adjustment lets you tune your ride from near-rigid to fully open.

The Diverge foregoes the dropped chainstay and instead uses a narrow solid beam of carbon to create the clearance. This makes space for ample amounts of rubber with more than enough clearance for 47mm on a 700c wheel and 2.1in on 650B. The line-up comprises a combination of carbon and aluminium models and there’s even a dropper post available on the range-topping S-Works model.

Model range

  • S-Works Carbon eTap 
  • Pro Carbon eTap
  • Expert Carbon eTap 
  • Comp Carbon
  • Base Carbon
  • E5 Comp 
  • E5 Elite
  • E5 
  • S-Works frameset

(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized Diverge EVO

Like the drop bar Diverge but radder

Price: Starting at US$1700 / £1599 / AU$2700 | Brake: Disc | Frame: Carbon, aluminium | Type: Gravel | Sizes (cm): S-L | Weight: Unpublished

Wide bars are more fun
Future Shock
Dropper post
No carbon version

Specialized's Diverge EVO is likely to divide opinions. Some might just see a rigid mountain bike but for those looking to get as rowdy as possible on a gravel ride the Diverge EVO further blends the distinction between gravel bike and mountain bike.

The 1x specific frame takes the progressive geometry of the new drop bar Diverge and pushes the numbers further, dropping the BB, slackening the headtube and lengthening the reach by 30mm.

To all appearances, the Diverge EVO has a rigid front end but Specialized has specced its Future Shock 1.5 suspension system to reduce vibration forces and increase control.

The Diverge comes in two versions, both feature Future Shock and come equipped with dropper posts and Specialized's  Rhombus Pro 42mm gravel tyres.

Model range

  • E5 Expert Evo
  • E5 Comp Evo

Specialized Turbo Creo

(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized Turbo Creo

It's you, only faster, thanks to a 240w motor that will put your club mates in the gutter for 80 miles

Price: Starting at US$9000 / £7499 / AU$12000 | Brake: Disc | Frame: Carbon | Type: E-road | Sizes (cm): XS-XXL | Weight: 13.5kg (Turbo Creo SL)

Electric motor
Optional range extender
Price

Rather than simply using a Roubaix as the base and forcing a motor into it, Specialized built the Turbo Creo SL from the ground up. Specialized wasn't satisfied with how much the Bosch or Shimano e-bike systems weighed so designed its own, the SL 1.1 drive system, which is claimed to weigh 1.96kg. The 480wh battery adds another 1.8kg, and the total claimed weight for the Expert model is 13.5kg. 

Depending on usage, the range is around 80 miles (130km), however, the S-Works or Founders Edition comes with a bottle-shaped range extender for a further 60wh of battery life. 

The Turbo Creo SL features the Future Shock 2.0 upfront - more commonly seen aboard a Roubaix. All models come with a high-spec finish, with the cheapest option - the Expert - being made from Fact 11r carbon, with hydraulic disc brakes, Roval C 38 wheels and an Ultegra Di2 groupset. 

There is also an EVO version, which is the typical Creo, but with added gnar - making it gravel ready for those who want a bit of off-road assistance. 

Model Range

  • Specialized S-Works Turbo Creo SL Founder's Edition
  • Specialized S-Works Turbo Creo SL
  • Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert EVO
  • Specialized Turbo Creo SL Expert

Best cyclo-cross bikes: Specialized Crux Pro

(Image credit: Specialized )

Specialized Crux

The dedicated cyclo-cross racer

Price: Starting at US$3200 / £2750 / AU$4100 | Brake: Disc | Frame: Carbon | Type: Cyclo-cross | Sizes (cm): 46-61 | Weight: 8.2kg (S-Works Crux)

Nimble handling
Handling
Limited options

The Specialized Crux is the dedicated cyclo-cross race bike in the range. Not a road bike per-se, it's still entirely capable of churning out the miles on the asphalt if necessary. Pairing wide tyre clearance with nimble handling makes for a fun, fast and frantic ride. 

Being a 'cross bike, it's also capable of handling the rough stuff like the Diverge, but the steeper angles and stiff frame make it better suited to the twist-and-turn nature of a full-gas race between the tape, rather than an all-day gravel epic. 

Specialized road bike range explained

Specialized’s range of bicycles differs in geometry, material and function. As such, the model line-up caters for a diverse cycling demographic including men and women, professionals and amateurs, as well as adventure and gravel riders.

Frame types include geometries specific to aero, endurance, climbing, time trial and even gravel grinding, the latter of which has recently become a popular pastime among professional road riders.

Interestingly, when the company launched its Roubaix model, Specialized committed to gender-neutral bikes in terms of geometry, sizing, name and designs going forward. Through its proprietary bike fitting company Retul, Specialized discovered that there is just as much chance of a difference in leg and torso length between two men, as there is between a man and a woman. You can read more about this in our article where we answer the question, can women ride men's bikes?

The company will simply offer a wider range of sizes in unisex models going forward, while more obviously gender-specific goods such as saddles and clothing will become available.

Specialized’s road models are ranked from entry-level through to range-topping S-Works and are available with frames made from carbon or aluminium. As far as the disc/rim brake debate goes, Specialized remains a proponent of disc-brake actuation with its  pro teams exclusively using the technology in races — however, rim-brake options are available on certain models as framesets only.

Allez

The more budget-friendly option in the range, based around an aluminium frame. The standard Allez offers an all-round platform for all-day riding, while the Allez Sprint is designed purely for racing. 

Tarmac

The lightweight race platform that gains plaudits in all aspects of road cycling. Popular among all sorts of cyclist from criterium racer to endurance rider and cafe goers alike. 

Aethos

The bike that ignores the data and is built simply to celebrate the joy of riding. The super low weight results in an extremely positive ride feel, and the geometry mimics that of the Tarmac and Venge to retain comfortable yet responsive handling prowess. 

Venge

Soon to be cycled out of production, the Venge is Specialized's dedicated aero race bike. It's still technically faster than the new Tarmac SL7 with all else equal, but at a slight weight penalty. 

Roubaix

The endurance bike that's capable of being ridden over the rough stuff. With slightly relaxed geometry compared to the others in the range, wider tyre clearance, and shock-absorbing technology. 

Shiv

The dedicated time trial and triathlon bikes in the range. They're similar in name, but the time trial bike comes complete with an enormous hydration system shaped like an aerofoil. 

Creo

The road-going electric bike from Specialized. Complete with the brand's own Turbo motor.

Diverge

The Diverge is the gravel bike from Specialized. Available in the standard drop-bar gravel bike format, or the Diverge Evo, which takes the gravel bike platform and pairs it with a flat handlebar for extra rowdy trail-going fun. 

Crux

The cyclo-cross bike in the range, complete with short chainstays and steep angles to keep steering sharp and handling nimble.  

Aaron is Cyclingnews' tech editor. Born and raised in South Africa he completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. As the former gear and digital editor of Bicycling magazine and associate editor of TopCar, he's been writing about bikes and anything with wheels for the past 16 years. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic and completed the Haute Route Alps. When not riding, racing or testing bicycles in and around the UK's Surrey Hills where he now lives, he's writing about them for Cyclingnews and Bike Perfect


Height: 176cm

Weight: 61.5kg

Rides: Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura Ace Rim, Cannondale Supersix Evo Disc, Trek Procaliber 9.9 MTB 

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