Specialized Rethink Design for Riders with the New Tarmac

Specialized Tarmac Australia

As one of cyclists favorite bikes brands, there was active social media speculation about what exactly Specialized would be announcing in the “rider first revolution”. The relaunch of the new Specialized Tarmac was broadcast internationally via webcast today and focused on the new design approach for creating their new Tarmac.

Specialized call it a World-First and in short “Rider First” means creating each frame size within the range individually. When the geometry is scaled up for big riders or scaled down for smaller riders, their research showed noticeable differences in handing characteristic between different frame sizes – the highlight examples repeated throughout the launch presentation were cornering and power transfer. To gather the data, strain-gauges were positioned on different parts of the bike and different sized riders (frames sized accordingly) used the same test track to determine how the bike characteristic differ.

New Specialized Tarmac

As a result, the new design approach is so important to Specialized that they have secured a  and called it Rider-First Engineered. In practice it now means that there are differences between different sized frames such as tube shapes and the carbon fibre layout in order to create a consistent ‘steering response’ and optimised power transfer suited to each size rider – for all of the details and a healthy dose of marketing jargon, the launch video is below.

Cornering / steering appeared to be where the most noticeable differences could be recorded and the following graph plots the Specialized Tarmac SL4 (grey dots) against the new Tarmac – with the blue line being  ‘optimal’. In the real world the improvements affect stability and control while entering into and riding through corners.

Specialized SL4 Tarmac Comparison

One of the exciting announcements with the new model release is a disc brake version, the S-Works Tarmac Disc Di2 [below] has Shimano Hydraulic disc brakes (Dura Ace and Ultegra). The UCI have just come out of talks about ratifying disc brakes in road cycling competition, it is on the cards however seems to be a little way off. When the major bike brands release disc brake versions for their flagship models, this helps the progress. Until then, competitive racers still have traditional Shimano Dura Ace, Ultegra (both with Di2 and mechanical) and SRAM Red  options.

Specialized Tarmac Disc brakes

The international announcement was that the new Tarmacs are available at dealers on Monday however information about Australian availability has not been provided, pricing is also not yet announced.


New Specialized Tarmac Video Presentation [Video]

Details on the new Specialized Tarmac


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About The Author

Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a professional design business, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.

2 responses to “Specialized Rethink Design for Riders with the New Tarmac”

  1. nitestick says:

    Heh, Specialized claim it a world first…done by at least Giant, if not other manufacturers years ago.

  2. That’s certainly a claim I was interested in and in the video there is a question “Isn’t Rider First Engineered pretty much the same as Rider Specific that I have heard you guys talking about in the past”.

    The answer provided by Luke Callaghan from Specialized is that the engineering targets have been redefined – where they says there is an independent engineering target for each frame size.