Race Tech

Spy shots: Specialized Tarmac SL6 2018 spotted at Criterium du Dauphine

Revamped Tarmac race bring adds aero features to the mix

We’re officially into bike launch season and, with BMC quick out of the blocks to launch the latest Teammachine SLR, Specialized look set to follow-up with the Tarmac SL6 race bike – and it’s also going to be available with disc brakes.

We’ve spotted the latest Tarmac being ridden by Dan Martin of the Specialized sponsored QuickStep Floor team at the Criterium du Dauphine. While a prestigious stage race in its own right, the Dauphine sees many of the Tour de France contenders test their form – and it’s also a chance to test new equipment in the heat of a race.

The 2018 Specialized Tarmac in on the UCI’s latest list of approved frames and forks under the guise ‘Specialized Tarmac SL6’, so we can expect the official launch any time now.

Specialized have revamped the Tarmac, with the SL6 set to be launched by the American brand (Pic: Sirotti)

While Specialized aren’t ready to talk about the new bike just yet, here’s what we can make out from the photos, focusing on the rim brake bike Martin is riding in France.

The Tarmac SL6 now has a subtle aerodynamic flavour, making it something of a love child of the existing Tarmac and the Venge. Remember, the Tarmac is traditionally Specialized’s lightweight all-rounder, leaving the Venge to take care of aerodynamics and the Roubaix endurance bike, revamped earlier this year to introduce the FutureShock suspension, honing in on comfort. However, now Spesh look to have taken the Tarmac to the wind tunnel.

You’ll see direct mount brakes at both the front and rear, while the rear triangle is significantly more compact, with the seatstays meeting the seattube, which now has an aero cutaway, much lower down. That could also have an impact on stiffness. Meanwhile, the seatstays look to have some bladed shaping, while the fork appears to be slimmer than the existing Tarmac.

Dan Martin is riding the Tarmac SL6 at the Criterium du Dauphine (Pic: Sirotti)

While the existing Tarmac, which we first saw ahead of the 2014 Giro d’Italia, had a round seatpost, this new frame has an updated D-shaped design, not dissimilar to what we saw on the new BMC. Specialized will most likely say that improves aerodynamics, compliance or both. It looks like Specialized have also been to work on the seatpost clamp, which now seems to use a wedge design within the toptube.

While Martin is running rim brakes at the Dauphine, with tubular versions of the superb Roval CLX 50 wheels we’ve just reviewed fitted to the Irishman’s bike, there’s also a ‘Tarmac 18 Disc’ on the UCI list. Expect many of the features you see on this bike transfer over to the disc version.

That’s all we know for now. We’ll bring you more news on the Specialized Tarmac SL6 when we have it.

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