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Specialized Tarmac SL7: The one bike to rule them all

Meet the all-new Specialized Tarmac SL7, the race bike designed to be the fastest bike in the peloton at 6.8kg, and the no-compromise choice on race day. 

Aimed squarely at racers, Tarmac SL7 is positioning itself to be the one bike to rule them all. 

"No matter how fast the Venge was, no matter how well the Tarmac SL6 handled in the mountains, we knew to choose between the two meant riders had to make compromises on race day," explains Cameron Piper, Product Manager at Specialized. "We just weren't okay with that, and that's where the new Tarmac SL7 came from. We were simply unwilling to allow those compromises any more."

 Read our first look: Specialized launches Tarmac SL7

Specialized Tarmac SL 7

The all-new Specialized Tarmac (Image credit: Specialized)

Aero, stiff, light. Pick three

By specifically improving tubes that impacted aerodynamics the most, SL7 sees aero-focused tweaks to the shapes of the seat stays, seat tube, fork blades and head tube. However, the major upgrade for Tarmac SL7 comes in the form of an integrated cockpit. Borrowing the same design as the Venge, cables are routed internally through the bar, but beneath the stem in order to offer more simple maintenance. The Tarmac SL7 is then equipped with Roval's Rapide CLX wheels to offer the perfect balance of lightweight and aerodynamics.

"This is the type of project engineers equally love and hate," shares Composites Engineer, Nadia Carroll. "Hate because all the priorities seem to be opposing each other, love because it’s challenges like this that allows us to design right on the edge.

Specialized Tarmac SL 7

(Image credit: Specialized)

Better handling

Using Specialized’s extensive data of rider fit from its years of Body Geometry fit and partnership with Retül, Specialized has used what it calls Rider First Engineered™ to create a bike that marries Venge-level stiffness, with Tarmac SL6 level compliance and responsiveness – across all frame sizes, so every rider can experience the same legendary Tarmac handling.

For many of Specialized's sponsored teams, the opportunity to choose a bike that answers the call of any topography without compromise is the holy grail, as Ricardo Scheidecker, Technical and Development Director at Deceuninck-QuickStep explains: "A bike that can combine the best of the Tarmac and the best of the Venge? That’s a dream for everybody. Knowing that performance is not compromised, is the perfect scenario"

Specialized Tarmac SL 7

(Image credit: Specialized)

Lightweight

As part of improving tube shapes, Specialized also took to strategically balancing the frame’s surface area and adjusting wall thicknesses on tubes. Starting with a prototype that was 20 per cent lighter than the target and would undoubtedly fail stiffness tests, Specialized used computational fluid dynamics (CFD), Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and worked meticulously adjusting carbon ply’s to improve stiffness where needed, whilst saving weight where possible. 

“When we push each of these features as far as we can, without compromising another, it’s our years of experience, our incredible resources, that let us deliver a bike as light as the rules allow, yet in a package as aero as anything else on the road, that still delivers the legendary ride quality and handling the Tarmac is known for,” explains Ian Milliken, Design Engineer. 

For more information, check out our first look at the new Tarmac SL7, or head to Specialized.com.