Specialized launches the Tarmac SL8

Specialized has launched the Tarmac SL8, described by the brand as “the world’s fastest race bike”.

The SL8 sees improvements to aerodynamics, a 15% reduction in weight and a 33% improvement over the Tarmac SL7.

Additional statistics provided by Specialized show the frameset to weigh a reported 685g, with a claimed 16.6 second saving over a 40km .

Race simulations run by the brand also estimate a 20 second saving on the Col du Tourmalet and 128 seconds over the course of Milan-San Remo.

To achieve this, Specialized says it has focused on aero “where it matters, not just to look good”.

Flo-Vis paint is use to visualize how the leading edge of the Tarmac SL8 keeps flow attached for minimum drag

Every shape in the clean air or on a leading edge has been optimised for “maximum advantage”

The steering tube is moved to the rear of a deep nose cone. By moving the steer tube – the tube that determines head tube width – backwards, the leading edge of the head tube can be much sharper, delivering a lower drag shape.

A Rapide Cockpit (available on S-Works models and in aftermarket) reportedly shaves four watts of drag when compared to the two-piece Tarmac stem and Rapide bar combination. This is done by removing the cluster of hardware on the leading edge, also reducing the weight by 50g.

To ensure every rider can still get the right fit, Specialized used Retül data to create 15 different bar/stem combos.

Utilising new UCI rules, the Tarmac SL8 seat tube is the same size as the SL7 seat post.

The result is the narrowest, most aero seat post Specialized has made ensuring fast moving, dirty air around the legs can more easily flow backward.

Specialized also says it has achieved “a new standard” when it comes to handling with the SL8.

Benchmarks were set for the new Tarmac based on data from decades of working with some of the best riders in the world.

The team surpassed them all, reaching bottom bracket, head tube, and front end stiffness targets with light weight delivered a stiffness-to-weight ratio improvement of 33% over the SL7

While the areas that deliver power transfer and precision are stiffer than ever, Specialized claim the Tarmac SL8 is 6% more compliant in the saddle.

To improve ride comfort further, the SL8 also has clearance for up to 32mm tyres, although all builds come standard with 26c.

There are five full bike models in the range and two tiers of frameset.

The S-Works is built around FACT 12r carbon and tips the scales at 685g in the lightest Satin Carbon/Chameleon Snake Eye colorway (56cm). The FACT 10r frame used on Pro and Expert models weighs 780g.

Top of the range will feature the S-Works frame, available with either SRAM Red eTap or Shimano Dura Ace Di2 groupset, a Roval Rapide Cockpit and Rapide CLX II wheels.

There are two Pro models with either SRAM Force eTap or Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupsets, the Tarmac stem and Rapide aero handlebar, as well as Rapide CL wheels.

The Expert model comes with SRAM Rival eTap. It has the Tarmac SL7 stem with a Specialized Expert alloy handlebar, and Roval’s Rapide C38 aero wheels.

Both tiers of framesets ship with a fork, seatpost and small parts, but will not ship with a cockpit.

Complete bike weights are roughly as follows, according to Specialized: S-Works Di2 – 6.6kg | S-Works eTap – 6.8kg | Pro eTap – 7.4kg | Pro Di2 – 7.2kg | Expert eTap – 7.7kg.


  • Specialized Tarmac SL8 S-Works – £12,000
  • Specialized Tarmac SL8 Pro – £8,000
  • Specialized Tarmac SL8 Expert – £6,000
  • Specialized Tarmac SL8 S-Works frameset – £4,750
  • Specialized Tarmac SL8 Pro frameset – £3,000

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