The new machinery was intriguing, but so too was the recently finished mini-museum that leads to the Specialized UK showroom, one featuring an original Allez road bike, a carefully unearthed Stumpjumper mountain bike valued at six figures, and a painstakingly reconstructed replica Ned Overend Ultimate: Specialized’s first signature bike.
Further down the hall, we passed Specialized’s latest signature bike – a Specialized Edition S-Works Venge, autographed by a certain sprinter from the Isle of Man – and next to it the result of Specialized’s first collaboration with Formula One constructor, McLaren. We’ll bring you close-up views of both in a separate article.
Here, we’ll look at key models from Specialized’s range for MY2014, the first of which will be in the shops by the end of this month. We’ve chosen what we believe to be the key models from each range, not necessarily the most expensive, although in some cases, notably the Tarmac, the flagship is the model we considered to be the most significant.
Here’s a look at some of the Morgan Hill firm’s range for the new model year, with a comprehensive gallery of detailed pictures at the foot of the article.
Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 Di2
The Tarmac is one of two Specialized offerings to receive SL4 construction throughout the range for model year 2014, from the £1,300 entry point to the £9,000 S-Works Di2 flagship pictured here. Each maintains the aggressive silhouette of previous incarnations of the Tarmac, with a very beefy headtube and upper section of the downtube.
Equipped almost entirely with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, Specialized have used their own FACT carbon crank and full carbon Roval Rapide CLX 40mm carbon clinchers. Were we forced to choose a favourite from the numerous pleasing details (carbon dropouts front and rear, elegant internal cable routings, Ceramic Speed press-fit bottom bracket etc), the red anodized bottle bosses and cable ends would probably top the list.
Specialized Tarmac Sport SL4
Despite the obvious appeal of the flagship S-Works model, the more interesting story for this year’s Tarmac range is the deployment of SL4 construction throughout the range (you can read more about it here) and so the brand has high hopes for entry-level models such as the Tarmac Sport, pictured here.
Our brief encounter revealed a frameset with an identical silhouette to the top-tier model, with an aggressively oversized headtube, neat, internal cable routings, and seatstays that appear to ‘flow’ past the seattube and into the toptube. Carrying the two machines out to our impromptu photo studio confirmed where the value of the S-Works model lies. For £1600, however,the Sport, with its smattering of Shimano 105 components, FSA Gossamer chainset, press fit bottom bracket and DT Swiss AXIS wheels looks like a value-for-money package.
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Disc
Disc brakes for road bikes have been discussed ad infinitum, and while Shimano’s release of an Ultegra-level hydraulic disc system stole the headlines, the Japanese giant unveiled a more wallet-friendly cable-operated incarnation at the same time. It’s the latter that appears on the £1,500 Specialized Roubaix SL4 Disc.
Notable features include the neat, internal cable routings (four ports at the headtube) and grommets on the trailing edge of the fork blades and seatstays into which Specialized’s new ‘plug and play’ mudguards can be easily screwed. These are a feature only of Specialized’s disc-equipped bikes.
Specialized Secteur Sport Triple
The Secteur is to the Roubaix what the Allez is to the Tarmac – an aluminium incarnation of an upscale carbon steed. The Secteur follows the Roubaix’s emphasis on comfort, hence the Xertz elastomer dampers on the fork and seatstays.
We’ve included it in this round-up for its use of a Shimano Sora chainset, a specification that opens up the can of worms labeled, ‘bottom bracket standard’. “Is there a standard?” jokes James Booth, Specialized UK’s marketing man. Here’s the view from Specialized’s side of the fence: the frames are equipped with an oversized PF30 shell, suitable for a press fit bottom bracket with 30mm axle.
The bottom bracket shell is compatible, naturally enough, with Specialized’s own FACT chainsets, but also with SRAM BB30, and, if used with a cup bearing and an adaptor for a standard axle, with Shimano and Campagnolo. Still with us? Here’s an example.
The Shimano SORA chainset shown here is secured with an aluminium bottom bracket equipped with a circlip and adaptor. A pre-load tool holds the chainset in place while the pinch bolts are tightened. “You fit it and tighten it in the same way you would with a threaded bottom bracket, but you’ve done away with the threaded part because the bearing is fitted into the frame,” Booth says.
Specialized Secteur Elite Disc
Photographed in August sunshine, the Secteur Elite Disc looks a little out of place, for this is a machine that has ‘winter bike’ written all over it (not literally, of course). Equipped with Avid BB5 cable-operated disc brakes and Specialized’s ‘plug and play’ mudguards (secured with a grommet and grub screw mechanism), it looks purpose-built for wet weather riding.
The aluminium frame is perhaps better equipped to survive prolonged contact with road salt than a carbon chassis, and the curvaceous seat stays, designed to induce compliance, might be a welcome accompaniment to long winter miles. Yours for £1,200.
Specialized S-Works Venge SL4
The Venge remains largely unchanged from its launch in 2011. RCUK understands that Mark Cavendish was the first professional rider to try the machine, and his positive feedback (and continued success) has informed a largely ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to development.
The £6,000 S-Works model pictured here uses most of Shimano’s Dura Ace 9000-series mechanical groupset, but the chainset is Specialized’s own FACT model (see above for more on Specialized frames and bottom bracket standards). As a sprinter-friendly aero bike, Specialized have equipped the S-Works Venge with 60mm deep Roval Rapide CLX hoops, rather than the 40mm specced at the same level on the Roubaix and Tarmac models.
Specialized CruX Sport E5 Disc
Perhaps significantly, the most expensive offering in Specialized’s cyclo-cross range for MY2014 is the aluminium-framed CruX Sport E5 Disc at £1,900. While the Morgan Hill concern isn’t without a high-end carbon chassis for ‘cross use (the CruX Pro framesets will sell for £1,500), the range-topper, for complete bikes, is an aluminium frame with hydraulic disc brakes, which Specialized doubtless intend to reflect the priorities of their customer base.
The hydraulic brakes in question are SRAM’s S-Series, discernible as much from the very pronounced lever hoods as from examination of the wheels. The front caliper is post mounted and the rear, unlike the Roubaix SL4 Disc or Secteur Elite Disc, is mounted on the seatstay rather than on the chainstay.
Elsewhere, the componentry is from SRAM’s Apex groupset. The chassis is pretty enough, and the high bridge to the carbon fork should offer plenty of mud clearance. It’s available as a frameset, too, priced at £700, if you fancy the frame but want to run cantilever brakes (as many ‘crossers do), in the striking ‘star burst’ finish pictured below.
Specialized Ruby Pro
The Ruby is the sister model of the Roubaix and the £4,000 Pro tier machine pictured below is the flagship bike of the comfort-oriented sector of Specialized’s women’s range. The frame features the carbon dropouts of the upscale Roubaix models, but is equipped with a far more elegant integrated seat clamp. Other shared features include the Xertz elastomer inserts at the fork and seatstays, and the CGR seatpost.
The Ruby range starts at £1,300, but those seeking to invest in the flagship model get a Shimano Dura-Ace mechanical groupset, Specialized FACT crank, and a 23mm aluminium clincher wheelset equipped with a carbon front hub, and Specialized designed, DT Swiss-made spokes. The Ruby saddle is also from the upper end of Specialized’s range, featuring a titanium rail, gel inserts, and a ‘Body Geometry’ designed cutaway.
Specialized Amira Comp
Another sister model, this time to the Tarmac, the Amira is a conventionally-shaped racing bike (as opposed to the aero-profiled Venge). The silhouette is similar to the Tarmac, with the exception of the seat stays, which are a little more curved as they meet the seat cluster, both for comfort and to attain a smaller size (Specialized’s tube profiles are size specific).
Unlike the Tarmac, the Amira range does not use SL4 construction throughout. The flagship Lululemon team replica does, however, but at £3,000 will cost £800 more than the Comp version pictured here. For £2,200, you get a full carbon frameset, Shimano Ultegra 6800 shifting, Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels and an FSA Gossamer aluminium chainset.
Specialized Dolce Sport Equipped
Specialized has introduced an ‘Equipped’ option to some of its range, including the £870 Dolce Sport, which, as hinted at by the name, comes with bottle cages and saddle pack, both colour coded in this case with the striking lilac handlebar tape.
It’s the female equivalent of the Secteur, and so equipped with an A1 aluminium frame and carbon-bladed fork with ‘endurance’ geometry and other concessions to comfort, including the Xertz elastomer inserts on the fork and seatstays. The internal cable routing is a nice touch for a machine at this price, as is the full Shimano Sora groupset.
Website: Specialized UK