Convergence. That was one of the key 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 of us.
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 their lineup.
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 exceptionally capable.
Leading cycling journalist David Arthur takes a look at the new Tarmac in this video overview from his Just Ride Bikes YouTube channel: