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Specialized Tarmac Expert Compact

Race machine for the masses

Mid-range bikes offer more

Just as the law of diminishing returns predicts, the Specialized Tarmac

The SL2 is still a noticeably higher-performing package

Ride & handling: Refined, razor-sharp handling, yet still reasonably stable at speed

Markedly shorter, steeper and lower than its Roubaix brethren, the

The handling may be quick but the gigantic front end at least makes it predictably quick. In

As a side benefit, the tapered front end also squelches fore-aft flex

The Tarmac Expert’s cheaper ingredients and construction simply can’t

Bottom bracket and front triangle torsional stiffness are both slightly

On the plus side, Specialized’s frame designers have done a

As was the case with overall stiffness, ride quality also isn’t quite

Frame: Pro-level looks at a bargain price, but not particularly lively

At US$3,700, the Specialized Tarmac Expert Compact is $6,200 less expensive than the top-end S-Works Tarmac SL2

Indeed, the Tarmac Expert Compact includes the same tapered and

However, a lesser carbon fibre content and

Equipment: Versatile gearing range, but wheels are weighty and cockpit needs tweaking

Shimano continue to impress us with their mid-range Ultegra SL package and its near-Dura-Ace 7800 overall performance. Shifts are equally crisp and precise, the

Our compact test version (the Tarmac Expert is also offered with a

Specialized complete the ensemble with a pair of matching Shimano

The Moto GP-like casing shape may yield a faster roll in a straight

The STI Dual Control levers were mounted unusually high on the

Though the Bar Phat adds comfort, it detracts from road

We have nothing but praise for the Specialized Toupé saddle.  Novices will take issue with the minimal

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