The Specialized Tarmac Expert continues to be a great bike; few details and it could be perfect.

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 8

Specialized Tarmac Expert

Weight:
Weight:

Pros:

  • Fast ride
  • Precise and agile handling
  • Well-designed frame
  • Great Ultegra groupset

Cons:

  • Wheels are disappointing for the price
  • Just a single alteration on the group set, but a quality one

Product:

Specialized Tarmac Expert

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£3,000.00

Somewhere on Facebook I once saw this joke about Specialized. A girl is talking with some friends. “He told me he had a great bike,” she said referring to the guy she had dated. Then she adds: “But then he showed up with a Specialized!” Laughter.

Buy now: Specialized Tarmac Expert Disc 2017 Road Bike at Evans Cycles for £3,300 

Despite the jokes and the fact that this is a lower-range version of the S-Works Tarmac ridden by the pros, the Specialized Tarmac Expert is definitely a super fast and comfortable bicycle. And if you compare it with other bikes of the same price tag (£3,000), this is one of the best one out there.

>>> Specialized bikes: everything you need to know

Frame

specialized tarmac (56)

Although the Specialized Tarmac Expert comes only on the satin carbon/red/hyper colour (and either you love it or you hate it), it’s a bike that for the shape of its tubes will definitely catch your eyes. The shape is in fact aesthetically pleasing, with a cool ‘fat’ top tube and an internal routing system to keep it clean. The composition of the FACT 10r carbon fibre makes this frame stiff, light and extremely responsive.

>>> Pro Bike: Vincenzo Nibali’s Specialized S-Works Tarmac

The geometry of this bike is specifically designed for racing and when you get on it for the first ride, you immediately feel how fast it can be. However, the Specialized Tarmac Expert is not only fast, but also super stable as its performances while cornering and descending are simply incredible.

Specification

specialized tarmac (42)

With the exception of the FSA SL-K Light chainset, the Specialized Tarmac Expert mounts a full Shimano Ultegra groupset, which is what you’d expect for a £3,000 bike. The downside of what is a great set-up is however the wheelset this bike comes with. Even though the Fulcrum Racing S-19 represent an upgrade compared to the previously specced S-4, they didn’t show to be very responsive uphill or when pushing a harder pace.

>>> Road bike groupsets: a complete buyer’s guide (video)

The fork of the Tarmas is an S-Works FACT carbon fork and is the same Specialized uses for the top end of its category, that is the Tarmac Pro Race and the Tarmac S-Works (the one ridden by several pro teams). The same high-end spec is featured also on the seatpost which also comes from the S-Works series; a further element that confirm the great specifications of this bike.


Watch: Shimano Ultegra groupset review


Ride

Specialised_Tarmac_057

The ride is always pleasant and even thought the Specialized Tarmac Expert has got a racy geometry, over the course of this years’ Ditchling Devil Audax (London to Brighton and back for a total of 205km), it always felt very comfortable. On the descents, the bike is super stable and it doesn’t twitch at all. The carbon components are stiff but really responsive, and you always have the feeling of being in control of what is happening.

>>> Pro Bike: Fabio Aru’s Specialized S-Works Tarmac

Even thought for this kind of ride, you’d might go for a sportive and endurance bike, the ride along the hilly and long course was always great with the Tarmac. Not only it was fast and helped the bunch going faster when I found myself on the front, but it was always super comfortable and it didn’t feel hard to ride on it the whole day.

Value
Specialised_Tarmac_050

Buy now: Specialized Tarmac Expert Disc 2017 Road Bike at Evans Cycles for £3,300 

The Specialized Tarmac Expert’s £3,000 price tag is largely justified. You will, however, need to ‘put up’ with mechanical shifting instead of electronic, and learn to live with the fact that the wheels it comes with are not the top of the line. With a different wheelset (of course you can upgrade, but the price will rise considerably if you decide to do that), this bike would have few competitors on the market.

Verdict

The Specialized Tarmac Expert is one of the best bikes you can buy around £3,000. The frame is made of premium carbon fibre, it performs very well on short and long rides, and it can also be very comfortable on bumpy terrain (not that this is its natural environment, but sometimes it can happen). A very great ride overall, but the wheelset is not at the same standard level of the rest of the Tarmac's spec.

Details

Frame:Specialized 10r Fact Carbon
Shifters:Shimano Ultegra
Rear Derailleur:Shimano Ultegra
Front Derailleur:Shimano Ultegra
Chain:Shimano Ultegra
Cassette:Shimano Ultegra, 11-speed, 11-28T
Chainset:FSA SL-K Light
Brakes:Shimano Ultegra
Fork:S-Works FACT carbon, full monocoque, size-specific taper
Bars:Specialized Expert, shallow drop, alloy, 123mm drop, 75mm reach
Stem:Specialized Pro SL alloy
Wheelset:Fulcrum Racing S-19 light
Saddle:Body Geometry Toupé Expert Gel
Seatpost:S-Works FACT carbon
Weight (without pedals):7.2kg/15.8lb
Colours available:Carbon/red/hyper
Sizes available:49, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61, 64
  • Nibali

    I had a pair of Specialized Roval Fusee six 23, I got it at a discounted price otherwise I would have chosen a pair of Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels. They are excellent all-around wheels.

  • daniel7529

    I’v had this bike now for around 7 months and looking to upgrade the wheels now we’re (supposedly) getting better weather. As you mentioned it, have you upgraded yours yet? I was wondering what you may have looked at or gone for or any thoughts on the matter. Thanks.

  • Jcat71

    I ride a 61 and I race often, I have ridden several different bikes in this size. I now ride the 2016 tarmac expert. This is the BEST handling bike I have ever ridden, it is like it is on rails. Opened my eyes to how poorly designed the larger bikes are.

  • Bob Fast

    Not sure that I would use the term ” cracking” with a carbon frame.

  • Nibali

    I am an happy owner of the bike tested. There is a major mistake in the article. According to the author it would be better to have a full Ultegra 6800 groupset, this is quite nonsense since the only non Ultegra 6800 component is the crankset which is a FSA CTK-Light Carbon OEM for Specialized which is clearly an upgrade both in terms of performance and weight with the respect to the Ultegra 6800 crankset. Not only but you can ask to your local Specialized dealer to have it with the Ultegra crankset and usually you get a discount for that (and also 150 grams more on the bike…). The original Fulcrum wheels are a very robust pair of training wheels but I agree it is better to upgrade them since they are a bit heavy. Concerning the riding, it is a fantastic bike, the new tarmac frame is amazing especially in the large sizes. I found it very precise during downhill sections. You need to get used however, it is quite stiff and initially you may have the impression to ride over a bike which is fixed on a pair of rails. Hope this is of interest for someone.

  • RE

    What else do you expect from cyclingweekly? It is basically an Trek/Specialized website.

  • AllanBarr

    How can you call this a review and not give us a write-up on how it rides. This is basically a spec run-down, which I could get from the Spesh website. Poor CW, very poor!

  • Oliver Bridgewood

    Thanks Nigel. Updated.

  • nigelgos

    6700 mentioned all over the article, I amuse its 6800?