above: the climbing prowess of Julian Alaphilippe, and the
flat out speed of Peter Sagan - two very different types of rider,
both served by the new SL7.
FLOAT LIKE AN ALAPHILIPPE, STING LIKE A SAGAN?
Convergence. That's one of the emerging themes of 2020. We've
already seen gravel bikes becoming more aero, and now pure road
bikes are starting to span more categories than ever before.
It used to be that if you wanted maximum aero performance you
were likely to end up with a heavier, harsher-riding bike -
thankfully that's no longer the case. And as race profiles have
become more varied the Pros have been asking for bikes that can
cope with a wider range of terrain. Needing to swap between a
"climbing bike" an "aero bike" and an "endurance bike" is a hassle
for the Pro rider, and an unrealistic choice for many of the rest
Advances in carbon fibre materials and layup, and the newly
possible tube shapes they enable, allow bikes to be stiffer and
lighter without any loss of aerodynamic performance. Trek's recent
Émonda demonstrated this, with their climbing model adding a
welcome aero boost.
Specialized aren't going to be left behind, and the SL7 matches
the ultralight Trek with a frame weight (painted) for the S-Works
Tarmac of just 800g, via their latest FACT 12r carbon. That's
proper lightweight climber territory, on a bike that's more aero
than the previous generation Venge. It's that fast.
With their own wind tunnel and a wealth of expertise Specialized
have unsurprisingly achieved some real aero magic here - to the
extent that the new Tarmac SL7 effectively replaces the Venge in
That's quite something - for a brand to step back and say
'actually one of our hugely popular bikes is no longer needed',
particularly when they are so heavily involved in the Pro racing
scene, shows that this is no marketing hype - the new Tarmac is