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The Tarmac SL7 puts an end to compromise, and racing is never the same. Climbing on a bike that meets the weight lower limit of the rules, sprinting at higher speeds – all with Tarmac’s legendary handling.
It’s like we’ve taken the climbing and attacking style of Alaphilippe and combined it with the aggressive power of Sagan into one rider that will have no weaknesses. The only choice you have to make is when to launch your attack.
“No matter how fast the Venge is, no matter how well the SL6 handles on the mountain, we knew that choosing between the two would mean that the rider would have to make some kind of compromise on race day. We just couldn’t accept that, so we came up with the SL7. we just didn’t want that compromise to happen again” – Cameron Piper, Road Product Manager
Pneumatic, rigid, light, I want it all
Why should a rider be forced to choose between aerodynamics and weight? We have been innovating for 45 years and have been developing the Tarmac for almost 20 years. Our engineers knew it was time to come up with a bike that would be ahead of the big groups, but still be under the weight limit of the rules. Still want to use one car for the climbs and pick another for the sprints? That’s all for 2019!
“This is the kind of project that engineers love to hate: hate because the priority targets seem to contradict each other, and love because challenges like this allow us to stay at the forefront of design. And that’s what we’ve done for the new Tarmac” – Nadia Carroll, composites engineer
Any lighter? It’s a violation.
If you want a lighter bike, you may have to surrender your UCI race license. The stock configuration of the 6.7kg Tarmac SL7 is already at the lower limit of the race rules. By reducing the surface area of the frame and strategically lowering the wall thickness of the tubes, our painted 56cm S-works SL7 frame weighs just 800 grams without sacrificing aerodynamics, stiffness or ride quality.
Faster on every road
By targeting the parts that have a big impact on aero, like the riser, rear top fork, head tube, and fork legs, with shapes derived from our Free Foil tube collection, and combining them with the Aerofly II handlebars, hidden alignment, and new Roval Rapide CLX wheelset, we built a bike that is faster than the Tarmac at 40km and doesn’t gain a bit of weight. SL6 at 40km in 45 seconds and without adding a bit of weight.
The Tarmac name has often been used as a benchmark for handling on race bikes – effortless handling, pedaling efficiency, and crisp comfort for over 100 miles. The new Tarmac SL7 raises that bar again, being a more balanced Tarmac and a model of Rider First Engineering.
Tarmac is beloved by our racers. We’ve been working with World Tour racers for almost 20 years, and this has pushed our engineering team to heights we never thought possible. It’s so ahead of its time that the new Tarmac SL7 is arguably redefining the modern race bike.
“A car that combines the best of Tarmac and Venge? That’s literally everyone’s dream. Everyone knows there are no compromises in performance like that, and it’s simply the ideal situation.” –Ricardo Scheidecker, Director of Technology and R&D, Quick-Step Racing
Why? The races are getting faster and harder, and so are the climbs. the 2019 Tour de France has more total climbing than any race within the last eight years – 52,856 meters.
And Tarmac carried yellow jersey honors for 14 days. Stage 17 of the 2019 Tour de France produced the highest average speed ever recorded by the UCI for a 200km race – 50.63km/h – and it was set by a Venge.
Being able to choose between an aero bike and a climbing bike isn’t a luxury, it’s a sacrifice.
One bike, 45 years of innovation
At Specialized, innovation never stops. When the SL6 was released, the development of the SL7 had already begun. Our engineers were committed to making it so that our riders no longer had to choose between aero or weight. Thanks to strong R&D resources and a committed engineering team, the Tarmac SL7 reached a combination of weight, aero and ride quality that was once thought to be impossible. A miracle? A dream? Let’s call it what it is: the Tarmac SL7.
RIDER FIRST ENGINEERING
Through extensive data collection on the forces applied to each part of the frame in real-world testing, RIDER FIRST ENGINEERING ensures balanced stiffness, weight and ride quality at every size, giving every rider the same, legendary Tarmac ride.
Starting with our huge database of real-world riding telemetry, we created the prototype frame. Combining the stiffness goals of the Venge with the cushioning and nimble handling of the Tarmac SL6. We then used feedback from the Bora-Hansgrohe and Quick-Step teams to validate the changes. The result is a faster, better-handling Tarmac that is the same for every rider.
The new speed incarnation
The new incarnation of speed is our credo, where aerodynamic advantages don’t need to sacrifice weight or ride quality. And the Tarmac SL7 is the quintessential practice of this credo. Endlessly optimizing the shape from our collection of Free Foil tubes has allowed us to build a lighter and faster bike at the same time.
Building the Tarmac SL7 was a process of honing patience. Everywhere had to be pushed to the boundaries to ensure more optimized aerodynamics, weight and rigidity without compromising other metrics. It was truly a battle of the kinks and lasted for years, using every resource at our disposal.
“When we optimize every point as much as we can without sacrificing other advantages, it takes years of experience, and our amazing resources, to allow us to build a bike that is at the lower end of the weight rule, while having uncompromising aerodynamic advantages and still having the legendary handling and ride quality that Tarmac is known for ” – IAN MILLIKEN, Design Engineer
We pushed hard everywhere in the development of the Tarmac SL7 design. The samples that came out of the molds were very aggressive, almost experimental: just the little bit of material that was desperately needed to build a frame – we knew they wouldn’t pass lab tests, we knew we’d miss some stiffness targets, but they were about 20% below target weight.
From there, we strategically wrapped these frames in carbon fiber in our own carbon fiber lab to reach the stiffness goal.
We tested a variety of different laminates in the lab to improve stiffness, but we further analyzed them with finite element analysis software, which allowed us to tweak the laminate shape, angle, position, material and stack thickness indefinitely – hundreds of laminate designs were involved here, with thousands of iterations to confirm the final The design does have a better stiffness-to-weight ratio.
Using this approach means that the product can be light and aerodynamic, with strong performance and no compromises.
Integration for speed
While the new Tarmac SL7 is light and fast, we couldn’t have accomplished our goal without equally fast accessories. Aerofly II handlebars from Venge, Windbreaker, and the new Roval Rapide wheelset.
To make sure we provided a setup that was ready to race and weighed in at 6.8kg or less, we also designed the new Tarmac handlebars to reduce the weight by 45 grams, while hiding the tubing inside the windward side to enhance the already excellent aerodynamic performance.
But the World Tour mechanics made it even more tangible, making sure we offered to get the Tarmac SL7 easier to maintain on a daily basis, and also making sure riders could find the right Fitting setup for them.
The differences between the two male riders are probably greater than the differences between male and female riders. So gender as a single element does not provide enough data to verify exclusivity, which means that dividing the new Tarmac SL7 into male and female models is arbitrary and outdated. It’s time to move beyond gender.
A History of Victory
We started innovating in 1974, and 20 years ago we began to focus on winning at the top road races. Since then, we’ve won every major race, and countless professional racers, with 1381, a number that stands proud.
From Cipollini’s first World Championship win for us in 2002, to Sagan’s unprecedented 2015-2017 World Championship triumphs, and the talented riders who have helped us innovate, it’s all brought us here – the Tarmac SL7.