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Next step up from S-Works Tarmac?

Posted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:44 pm
by qeaou
After several bikes I ended up with an S-Works Tarmac SL3 (Red Groupset)
What is a good step up?
(I understand this might be opening up a can of worms for people who do not like Specialized, but let's keep it "scientific" more or less)

The frame is really responsive and stiff, the geometry is great, no issues,
I guess the initial thought was that I, as we all, always want to look for another great thing,
(and also the SL3 has a BB86 bottom bracket and most new great compact cranksets seem to be BB30)

What are your thoughts and why?
(include responses about the frame itself, or frame plus gearset and why,
it would be great if someone has axperience with Sram Red and found something new that is better... (Super Record might come into the discussion, but of course the $ difference is still a factor)

There is of course also the issue of wheels as a crucial component, but I suppose since they are replaceable,
let's keep this factor to a minimum or as an added note...

What were your transitions?

Re: Next step up from S-Works Tarmac?

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:29 pm
by Ross
Ummm...not really sure what you are asking here.

You have purchased/traded and got yourself last year's S-Works Tarmac (SL3 = 2011 - SL4 = 2012)?
Great bike, I have one myself. Mine has the threaded BB though, and I run 53-39 Dura Ace cranks. I *think* you can buy adaptors for different cranks to go into different BBs. Why do you want to change from SRAM Red, it is the top of line SRAM component. Or do you just want compact cranks? I don't know much about Campy but I know Super Record is very expensive. Then there is the electronic version EPS, sell your soul to the devil for that! Obviously there are lower spec levels available, not sure what the differences are.

If you want to upgrade other components then as you mentioned wheels are another major one where a performance gain is very noticeable. There are a lot of different wheels on the market as I'm sure you know and you'll need to work out application (usage) before we can give reccomendations, And even then you'll probably get 10 different brands/types reccomended by 10 different people! Do you want clincher or tubular? Racing or training? Shallow or deep or in between? Carbon or alloy? Shimano or Campy? Used or new?

Take into account when upgrading your drivetrain if considering Shimano that 11 speed Dura Ace 9000 is starting to become available now and therefore most of the 10 speed stuff won't be compatible.

If you are considering a different group there is (with Shimano and Campy but not SRAM) the electronic versions to consider vs mechanical. Depends on how much money you have and/or how much you want to spend.

Edit: My transitions - I bought a 2009 Cervelo R3 SL off eBay with Dura Ace groupset and Mavic Kysyrium ES wheels, used that as my race bike for a couple of years. Nice bike, very light. Geometry was a bit twitchy for me so I started looking around for something a bit more relaxed but still race orientated. Specilaized were having a demo day so I went along and rode a Tarmac and A Roubaix. I wanted them both! the Tarmac seemed to have similar geometry to the Cervelo, was stiff but not as harsh as the Cervelo and not as twitchy. Roubaix was stiff too but somehow soft to ride, absorbed the bumps very well. Ended up settling on the Tarmac (S-Works) but just bought a frame and swapped all the components over and re-sold the Cervelo frame on eBay. Somewhere along the way I bought a second hand set of Zipp 404 tubular wheels. Had a couple of busted spokes but the wheels were basically sound apart from that once I had the spokes replaced. So the wheels now live on the S-Works. Then I was browsing eBay one day (as you do...) and I saw a regular non S-Works Tarmac frame for sale in the same colour as the one I had so I bid on that and won it but got touched a bit on the freight (from USA) even though I had emailed the guy before I bid to confirm shipping costs. Anyway, frame arrived and it was a good as the guy had advertised it to be with no defects or scratches so I was happy. I had half an Ultegra 6700 groupset in my garage from various wheeling and dealing over time and after I sourced a few more parts I built the new Tarmac up as a...umm...a second race bike (I already had a training bike). Then after a while my training bike developed a crack in the frame and that was the excuse I needed to make the Tarmac my training bike and ride it pretty much every day. I took the training bike frame (Felt) back to the shop where I had bought it to see about warranty. The manufacturer knocked it back apparantly but the distributor ended up honouring it so in the end (about 3 months later) I got a replacement frame but I haven't bothered to build it back up as I don't really *need* it and it gets expensive maintaining so many bikes. I can't tell much difference between the S-Works and the normal Tarmac. The S-Works is a bit lighter due mostly to carbon wheels and no saddle bag or pump and a few grams difference between DA and Ultegra groups too (both bikes have same handle bars, seat post and seat).

Re: Next step up from S-Works Tarmac?

Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:36 pm
by qeaou
Ross - thank for the solid response, very much appreciated,

I guess at this point the thought process has evolved to:

Better frame than S-Works (as in not Specialized) possibility? (open ended)

In terms of BB and Cranks, indeed the SL3 is a GXP so I cannot use a BB30,
but there are cranks available for GXP - any thoughts on GXP vs BB30?

I would certainly consider only going from Red Groupset to Dura Ace DI2 - but the 2011 SL3 is probably not compatible, right?

I lot of my mates praise Cervelo bikes, but I just don't find much comparisons, so hard to compare anyway,
then what about less popular frames, Storck etc?

Re: Next step up from S-Works Tarmac?

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 4:39 pm
by MarkG
IF you're happy with the S-Works Tarmac, why not try the stiffer and more aggressive S-Works Venge? :)

Re: Next step up from S-Works Tarmac?

Posted: Thu May 23, 2013 8:14 pm
by flex5150
Hi guys I feel qualified enough to jump into this thread. I have been riding a Cervelo S5 since they were released in early 2012 up until I had it in at DSD getting the Sram Red tweaked (Disclaimer ... Rotor cranks.. I love Sram Red and its smoother than its reputation suggests but the rotors are an issue in concert with Red).

So my mate loans me a Madone 6.9.... well that was that, bye bye Cervelo.

Long story short i went on the hunt for a new bike, ended up with a Tarmac SL4 Pro (not s-works) I spoke to many in the know and all said buy a SL4 pro over a S-works SL3, so I did.

My impressions SL4 vs S5...
SL4 much more compliant. S5 would be the stiffest thing going around and unless you are racing crits and riding beach road you dont need a bike that stiff. On roads around melbourne the S5 is way uncomfortable.
Smoother more positive power transfer
More surefooted and confident in fast decents ( S5 is twitchy as, and you feel like you sit very hi on the bike.. sz54)
Easier to tune ( slightly longer chain stays)

I'd recommend the SL4 pro as an upgrade or perhaps the s works if weight, label and a bit more stiffness is an issue but I cant see the SW being much lighter than the Pro. Mine weights in at 6.3kg with 404s on. (cervelo 7.3 ) Both Sram red. FFwd F4R on the S5.

I'd still recommend a Madone 6.9 H1 as well in fact im looking for a frame ATM. ( nothing wrong with the tarmac but im a trek fan.)

Oh and dont jump ship on Red Im using 2012-13 and its awesome!!

Hope this helps a bit.

Re: Next step up from S-Works Tarmac?

Posted: Sun May 26, 2013 12:07 am
flex5150 wrote:I'd still recommend a Madone 6.9 H1 as well in fact im looking for a frame ATM. ( nothing wrong with the tarmac but im a trek fan.)

So if you find a Trek will you offloading the Tarmac? :wink: Trying to hunt one down at the moment

Re: Next step up from S-Works Tarmac?

Posted: Mon May 27, 2013 4:53 pm
by flex5150
yep absolutely, you can check out pics of mine in the lightweight bike thread

Re: Next step up from S-Works Tarmac?

Posted: Mon May 27, 2013 5:29 pm
very nice :D

Re: Next step up from S-Works Tarmac?

Posted: Mon May 27, 2013 5:39 pm
by flex5150

Re: Next step up from S-Works Tarmac?

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:52 am
by Duck!
From a mechanical longevity point of view, I'm not that impressed with any press-fit format, BB30, BB86 or BB90, especially if the there is no alloy liner in the BB shell. BB86/90 technically results in better frame stiffness, because it allows much wider tubes & chainstays. BB30 gains stiffness from the larger diameter crank spindle, but the frame is no wider than that for a screw-in BB. The downside of press-fit is that the bearings move within the frame, moreso when they're directly in a carbon shell. Although incredibly strong under tension, carbon is a relatively soft material and is quite prone to wear. I've seen several frames where the BB does not sit in snugly due to worn journals in the BB shell. To that end, the best, most reliable BB format on the market is still the traditional screw-in type, whether it's English or Italian thread doesn't make a great deal of difference.

However, in my mind the best bottom bracket solution would actually be something that doesn't currently exist.... A hybrid of a threaded interface in a BB86-sized shell. You'd have the stiffness of the wider frame, but with the secure fit of threaded cups inside the frame.So yeah, look for something with a screw-in BB.

As far as componentry, you'd do better with either Shimano or Campagnolo. I like some of SRAM's concepts (and their levers are the most ergo out there, disregarding the hydro ones), but the engineering leaves a lot to be desired, so it becomes unreliable a lot sooner than either of the others. I've ridden it and worked on it - it's great when it's new & funky, but it's temperamental and I'd never own it.