Specialized 2018 road bikes: your definitive guide

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Specialized 2018 road, gravel & TT bikes: your definitive guide

From the Venge to the Diverge, everything you need to know about Spesh's 2018 bikes

Specialized have made quite a bit of noise in the last couple of years, with key launches including the Roubaix endurance bike, Diverge gravel bike, and Tarmac SL6 race bike. That’s before you take into account the fact three-time world road race champion Peter Sagan is riding a Specialized. 

Specialized broke new ground in the endurance bike market with the original Roubaix and the latest version of the bike takes that a step further with its Futureshock front suspension. The Venge ViAS, meanwhile, is at the cutting edge of race bike design as a disc-only aero machine and won its first WorldTour race – and Tour de France stages – under Marcel Kittel in 2017.

Specialized’s 2018 range includes the all-new Tarmac SL6 race bike

Specialized have also embraced the disc brake scene with the latest Tarmac all-rounder, too, and offer both disc and rim brake versions in a range that stretches from a £9,000 ultra-light superbike down to a £1,500 entry-level machine.

The legendary Allez alloy race machine also got a refresh in the summer of 2017, with a lighter frame and more relaxed geometry aimed at first-time buyers and sportive riders.

Time trial riders, meanwhile, are catered for with the Shiv TT frameset, and the gravel market has recently received the gift of the Diverge, a bike we know first-hand is a seriously impressive all-roader.

There’s a lot to talk about, so we’re going to run you through Specialized’s latest range. Here’s how the big S’s line-up shapes up for 2018.

RCUK’s 2018 bike guides

  1. Genesis 2018 bikes
  2. Canyon 2018 bikes
  3. Giant 2018 bikes
  4. Cannondale 2018 bikes
  5. Specialized 2018 bikes
  6. Merida 2018 bikes
  7. Cube 2018 bikes
  8. Focus 2018 bikes
  9. Bianchi 2018 bikes
  10. Rose 2018 bikes
  11. Ridley 2018 bikes

Specialized Venge Disc

The Venge is Specialized’s out-and-out aero race bike and is distinctive thanks to the aggressively styled tube profiles arrived at after a claimed 1000+ hours of aerodynamic testing in Specialized’s own ‘Win Tunnel’. Having won multiple races under the likes of Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel, it’s pretty safe to say the speed credentials of the frame are well-proven with the right rider on board.

The Venge also broke ground last year when it was announced that the bike would only be available with disc brakes – a sign if there ever was one that Spesh see the future of aero race bikes firmly in the realms of discs.

The Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS Disc eTap comes with SRAM’s wireless groupset and costs £8,500

The aero design choices are substantial, from the choice of a negative 17-degree stem married to Specialized’s Aerofly handlebar, to the cutaway on the underside of the downtube to accommodate the front wheel. The four bikes in the range are all based around the same frame, made from Specialized’s flagship FACT 11r carbon fibre for optimal stiffness.

The Venge ViAS Disc, ridden to victory at the Tour de France by Marcel Kittel last season, is also available with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2

Specialized Venge Disc 2018 bikes

Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS Disc Di2 (Shimano Dura-Ace Di2) – £9,000
Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS Disc eTap (SRAM Red eTap) – £8,500
Specialized Venge ViAS Pro Disc (Shimano Dura-Ace) – £6,700
Specialized Venge Expert Disc (Shimano Ultegra) – £4,300

Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS frameset (Sagan Superstar Edition) – £3,350
Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS frameset – £3,250

Specialized Tarmac

While Specialized took the step of going disc-only with the Venge, the lightweight Tarmac SL6 race bike remains resolutely rim brake only at the launch of the 2018 range. There is a disc-specific version of the SL6 on the way, according to Specialized, but the only disc-ready Tarmac currently in the line-up is based around the old SL5 frame.

The Tarmac SL6 is Specialized’s lightest ever frame, with a claimed weight of 733g – a 200g saving over the existing model, thanks partly to the use of Specialized’s lightest, stiffest FACT 12r carbon fibre. If you’re the ultimate weight weenie, the flagship £9,000 ‘Ultralight’ model sports a paintjob which apparently adds only 10g to the bike. Meanwhile, if you’re after something more affordable, the Shimano Ultegra-level bikes are made from Specialized’s FACT 10r carbon, for a claimed weight of 950g.

The range-topping S-Works Tarmac Ultralight has a paintjob which apparently adds just 10g to the frame weight. Yours for £9,000

Whatever level you go for, the SL6 frame has received subtle aero tweaks, with a new fork, dropped seatstays, integrated seatpost clamp and rear wheel cutaway, all of which adds up to a claimed 45-second advantage over 40km compared with comparable race bikes. Now, take those figures with a pinch of salt – we can’t verify them – but the key point is that the Tarmac SL6 is designed as a true race all-rounder.

The Tarmac’s racy persona is reflected in the geometry, too, with the wheelbase kept compact (985mm in a 56cm frame size) and the chainstays measuring 405mm for quick, responsive handling. Up front, the 73.5 degree headtube angle in the same frame size accounts for a direct front end, complete with a stack height that, while allowing an aggressive position at 163mm, is still relatively accessible for riders outside of the professional ranks.

Tarmac SL6 builds range from £3,500 for the Tarmac SL6 Expert with Shimano Ultegra to £9,000 for the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2-equipped S-Works Tarmac Ultralight. Otherwise, the existing Tarmac SL5 and SL4 frames remain in the range, with a host of builds for all budgets.

Specialized Tarmac 2018 bikes

Specialized S-Works Tarmac Ultralight (Shimano Dura-Ace Di2) – £9,000
Specialized S-Works Tarmac (Shimano Dura-Ace Di2) – £8,500
Specialized Women’s S-Works Tarmac (Shimano Dura-Ace Di2) – £8,500
Specialized Tarmac Pro (Shimano Ultegra Di2) – £5,400
Specialized Tarmac SL6 Expert (Shimano Ultegra) – £3,500
Specialized Women’s Tarmac SL6 Expert (Shimano Ultegra) – £3,500

Specialized S-Works Tarmac Ultralight frameset – £3,450
Specialized S-Works Tarmac frameset – £3,250
Specialized Women’s S-Works Tarmac frameset – £3,250

Specialized Tarmac SL5 Expert DA (Shimano Dura-Ace) – £4,000
Specialized Tarmac SL5 Comp Disc (Shimano Ultegra) – £2,800
Specialized Tarmac SL5 Comp (Shimano Ultegra) – £2,600

Specialized Tarmac SL4 Elite (Shimano Ultegra) – £2,000
Specialized Tarmac SL4 Sport (Shimano 105) – £1,750
Specialized Tarmac SL4 (Shimano Tiagra) – £1,500

Specialized Roubaix

The Roubaix set something of a precedent for endurance-themed bikes when it first launched. Introducing Zertz technology to mete out road buzz and shocks, it’s been one of the most popular bikes within the genre for years.

Last year a new iteration sprang forward, eschewing Zertz entirely and going with FutureShock – a new suspension unit developed with McLaren Applied Technologies (a sister company of the F1 racing team) that allows 20mm of travel.

McLaren helped to develop Specialized’s FutureShock suspension system on the cobble-busting Roubaix

The technology is said to improve compliance without too much compromise in overall rolling efficiency. As a result, the bike is designed to be as equally ready to tackle the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix (where else?) at pro speeds as it is all-day sportives.

The range-topping McLaren-edition bike is a no-holds-barred statement of the potential of the Roubaix right now, complete with FACT 11r carbon layup and finished with top-spec Roval hoops and Specialized’s own CG-R carbon seatpost – yours for a shade under £10,000.

At the other end of the scale, the entry-level Roubaix retains the same frame technology (this time with a FACT 9r layup) and FutureShock but comes with a Shimano Tigara groupset for £1,900.

The Specialized S-Works Roubaix is available with SRAM Red eTap (pictured) or in two builds with Dura-Ace, including the McLaren special edition above

Specialized Roubaix 2018 bikes

Specialized S-Works Roubaix McLaren Dura-Ace Di2 – £9,995
Specialized S-Works Roubaix Dura-Ace Di2 – £9,500
Specialized S-Works Roubaix SRAM eTap – £9,000
Specialized Roubaix Pro (Shimano Dura-Ace) – £6,500
Specialized Roubaix Expert Ultegra Di2 – £4,600
Specialized Roubaix Expert Ultegra – £3,800
Specialized Roubaix Comp (Shimano Ultegra) – £3,100
Specialized Roubaix Elite (Shimano 105) – £2,600
Specialized Roubaix Sport (Shimano 105) – £2,200
Specialized Roubaix (Shimano Tiagra) – £1,900

Specialized S-Works frameset (Sagan Superstar Edition) – £3,350
Specialized S-Works frameset – £3,250

Specialized Allez

The Specialized Allez has become something of a standard bearer for the sub-£1,000 alloy road bike and Spesh took the bold move of updating the frame earlier this year. Central to that update is a geometry which is now more relaxed to cater better for first-time buyers and sportive riders.

The new Specialized Allez Elite comes with Shimano 105 shifting components

This is still a performance-orientated bike, though, and Specialized claim to have dropped 450g from the weight thanks to revised tube profiles and a new carbon fork. You’ll also notice the Tarmac-esque dropped seatstays, said to add to the frame’s aerodynamic prowess while also improving comfort. Otherwise, you’ll find full mudguard and rack mounts for all-weather and commuter versatility.

There are three bikes in the standard Allez range, equipped with Shimano Claris, Shimano Sora and Shimano 105 components for £599, £799 and £999 respectively. You’ll also find the crit-specific Sprint frame, which has a racier geometry and updated tube profiles designed to help it cut through the wind. There’s a 105 Allez Sprint bike for £1,600, or you can put together your own privateer build by buying the frameset for £1,300.

The Allez Sprint is based around a racier, more aerodynamic frame designed for the cut-and-thrust of criteriums

Specialized Allez 2018 bikes

Specialized Allez Sprint Comp (Shimano 105/Tektro Axis) – £1,600
Specialized Allez Elite (Shimano 105/Tektro Axis) – £999
Specialized Allez Sport (Shimano Sora/Tektro Axis) – £799
Specialized Allez (Shimano Claris/Tektro dual-pivot) – £599

Specialized Sprint Frameset (Sagan Superstar Edition) – £1,300

Specialized Diverge

We recently reviewed the new Diverge all-roader, and in the £2,600 Comp guise we found it to be a fantastically versatile machine – equally capable on the road as it is off it, with very little compromise in performance between the road-specific and gravel-specific extremes.

Specialized set out to achieve this with the Diverge, hoping that it would keep roadies happy while providing an entertaining ride off road too.

Either bikes make up the 2018 Diverge range, three based around a carbon frame and five featuring an aluminium chassis

Three carbon framed bikes (including the £8,500 flagship machine complete with 1x Shimano XTR Di2 drivetrain) top the range, while there are five alloy models – two of which are female-specific in their geometry.

All boast the same FutureShock spring technology as found on the Roubaix, helping to improve front-end comfort and off-road control. Meanwhile, Specialized’s CG-R seatpost is designed to dampen the rear.

 

An ‘Open Road’ geometry keeps the bike visually akin to a road-specific machine, with short chainstays and a relatively compact wheelbase to ensure responsive performance, and a slack head angle to ease the handling over tough terrain.

Tyre clearance goes up 700x42c (or 650bx47c) on the carbon frame and 700x38c for the alloy version, while there are also mounts for mudguards and Specialized’s SWAT storage device. A true all-rounder, in the purest sense.

Specialized’s ‘Open Road’ geometry is designed to make the Diverge feel as a comfortable off-road as it is on it

Specialized Diverge 2018 bikes

Specialized S-Works Diverge (Shimano XTR Di2) – £8,500
Specialized Diverge Comp (Shimano 105) – £2,600
Specialized Diverge Sport (Shimano Tiagra) – £2,000
Specialized Diverge Comp E5 (Shimano 105/Tektro Spyre) – £1,500
Specialized Women’s Diverge Comp E5 (Shimano 105/Tektro Spyre) – £1,500
Specialized Diverge Comp E5 Sport (Shimano Sora/Tektro Mira) – £1,000
Specialized Diverge E5 (Shimano Claris/Tektro Mira) – £799
Specialized Women’s Diverge E5 (Shimano Claris/Tektro Mira) – £799

Specialized S-Works Diverge frameset – £3,350

Specialized Shiv

Specialized’s Shiv TT bike isn’t actually available as a whole bike, but is instead offered only as a frameset (Specialized calls it a ‘Module’), for a cool £4,500.

Its pedigree is almost unrivalled having won five UCI World Championship TTs, so it’s a great platform on which to build a fast TT bike.

The Specialized Shiv TT bike is only available as a frameset, or ‘Module’ as Spesh have dubbed it

The frameset is made of FACT 11r carbon, and the Module includes CeramicSpeed bearings in the bottom bracket, Shiv-specific aero brake calipers, the Shiv TT Aerobar and bladed seatpost.

Specialized Shiv 2018 frameset

Specialized S-Works Shiv TT Module – £4,500

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