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Smelling Speed: Specialized Tarmac SL8

Smelling Speed: Specialized Tarmac SL8

The latest and greatest Tarmac hit the roads a couple of weeks ago and it is alreay turning heads and living up to the claims. Read more about the Tarmac SL8 here:

The all new Tarmac SL8 was launched a couple weeks ago now at Super Worlds in Scotland and finally we've put enough time into them here at the shop to have some thoughts about this latest and greatest model. Since the SL7, Specialized has combined their climbing and aero models into one thus creating "One bike to rule them all". The SL7 took a lot of the aspects from the previous Venge and put them into their Tarmac making it more aero but still maintaining the trademark climbing performance. It was a hit, Specialized had about 194 UCI wins in the 2023 season according to Pro Cycling Stats. The bulk of which were road races on the SL7 and a handful on the Shiv with the runner up being Canyon at 84 wins. Teams like Soudal Quick-Step, SD Worx and Trinity Racing have been racking up the wins on the SL7 and now they'll get even more on the SL8. 


The SL8 combined the Venge and the Aethos. Both Aero and lightweight they bunched everything up in one big package. The front end is more or less a copy paste of the old Venge, with its deep curiously named head tube called the "Speed Sniffer" nose cone. Then the rear end looks very much like the Aethos, thin lightweight tubing around the rear triangle and bottom bracket area. The frame weighs in at 685 grams making it the lightest on the World Tour, 16.6 seconds faster over 40km than any other previous model. Also, a 33% improved stiffness-to-weight and 6% smoother making for a bike that can accelerate at lighting fast speeds but can also be bike you'd want to ride all day unlike most top end race bikes. All of the statistics previously stated are coming from Specialized themselves, but does it really live up to the claims? 


Like most people we didn't think that the change from the SL7 to the SL8 was going to be all that it was cracked up to be especially since they changed the game just three years ago. Brands usually have one revolutionary update every couple of generations so this came as a big surprise. The SL8 live up to all the claims, stiff, light, comfortable and aero. This bike wants to go fast and pin corners. No doubt it will be reaching the top of the podium again much like its predecessor. 


The SL8 comes in five build kit options catering to everyone but Campy fans and those ever diminishing mechanical shifting fanatics. The S-Works model comes in both SRAM Red eTap AXS and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 at $17,999 with the new Roval Rapide one piece cockpit, CLX-II and a dual sided power meter.  The Pro models coming in both Shimano Ultegra and SRAM Force eTap AXS at $11,499 with power meter, CL II's and the Roval Rapide Handlebar with an SL7 stem. Then the final member being the Expert only coming with SRAM Rival eTap AXS at $7,699 with Roval c38's, alloy bars and power meter. Also the colours of the line up are incredible, with colours such as satin powder indigo, astral blue, fiery red strata, satin blue onyx and many more creative colour choices. 


As this was being published there were still a few left in stock so get yours before they run out. If you want to learn more about the Tarmac SL8 come by the shop to check it out and see if it really lives up the the hype. Or if your far away drop us a line and we'd be happy to chat.