Specialized Aethos review

The Aethos isn't designed for number pinning - but it certainly set our hearts racing

Cycling Weekly Verdict

Every time I climb onto the Aethos, it feels like coming home. The ride quality gave me everything I want from a bike. The rear end isn't quite as stiff as an out and out racer, and it's not aero - but I'd whack an aero bar on and a set of deep wheels and take it to a local race with no concern. Once I've come back down from cloud nine, I do have to look at the spec sheet alongside the RRP and point out that you could go fully custom and still have change left over. I also can't help but feel that Specialized has made a strange decision in replacing the Tarmac SL6 and Venge with the new aero Tarmac SL7 and Aethos. The SL6 had fantastic ride quality and was relatively aero, so feels almost like the ideal compromise. Despite all of that, the Aethos' design goal was to offer excellent ride quality with zero care for aerodynamics and it's achieve that in bucket loads. Yes, it's expensive - but it's also pioneering in being the lightest production disc brake frame in the world and that comes with a cost and the promise of trickle down tech for those currently priced out. I absolutely love this bike, of all the bikes I've tested this year it is the one that makes me want to stay out all day the most.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Ride quality x 100

  • +

    Long term ease of maintenance

  • +

    Traditional aesthetics

  • +

    Low weight

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    If you want this plus aero, the SL6 might be on sale near you..

  • -

    RRP deserves the Alpenist bar

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

The Specialized S-Works Aethos was selected for an Editor's Choice award in 2020. This year's list contains 78 items which scored a 9 or 10/10 with our tech team - this gear is the best of the best, and has received the Cycling Weekly stamp of approval. 

We must note that this bike was £10,750 at time of review, before a price rise saw it increase to £11,750. The model pictured was photographed ahead of testing, and the set-up is not as tested. 

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Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Michelle Arthurs-Brennan the Editor of Cycling Weekly website. An NCTJ qualified traditional journalist by trade, Michelle began her career working for local newspapers. She's worked within the cycling industry since 2012, and joined the Cycling Weekly team in 2017, having previously been Editor at Total Women's Cycling. Prior to welcoming her daughter in 2022, Michelle raced on the road, track, and in time trials, and still rides as much as she can - albeit a fair proportion indoors, for now.