Specialized 2008 - Road Cycling UK

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Specialized 2008

Never a company content to rest on its laurels, Specialized has a raft of new products for 2008. There’s a couple of big changes, namely the recently spotted Tarmac SL2 and Transition bikes. There’s also plenty of new accessories, here in the shape of a new helmet, new shoes, glasses and wheels. Read on to find out what’s new.

Tarmac SL2

specialized 2008

The new SL2: lighter, stiffer and yet more compliant

The most significant development for 2008 is the Tarmac SL2. We’ve already spotted Tom Boonen riding this bike (or one very similar to it) after he had problems fitting the previous SL.

Apparently, Boonen and Paulo Bettini asked Specialized to design a frame that’s ‘stiffer, faster and more efficient’, and Specialized responded with a raft of subtle modifications. These changes aren’t immediately obvious though, but a bit of closer scrutinising reveals the bigger down tube, larger bottom bracket area, much fatter vertically chainstays and, most pertinently, the massive head tube.

Following a current trend, Specialized designers have opted for a 1 1/8” to 1.5” head tube, to really beef up the stiffness of the frameset. The lower bearing race has been recessed 12mm inside the head tube to, it says here, “put the bearing directly in-line with the down tube, giving the frame and fork maximum impact resistance.” That it may well do, but decreasing the distance between the two bearing races and increasing the effective length of the fork below the head race must surely be counter-productive.

Specialized claim (and we’ll verify these when we get one to test) that as well as being 100g lighter than the previous SL, at 952g for a 56”, the SL2 is considerably stiffer yet offers more ‘vertical compliance’ than the outgoing SL.

Expect to see a SRAM Red-equipped model on sale.


Expanding their already burgeoning range of clothing and accessories, here’s a few highlights on what to expect to see in the shops soon.

2D Helmet

specialized 2008

Kevlar-reinforced InnerMatrix on the 2D

specialized 2008

The 2D weighs 185g…

The biggest development on the gear side of things is the new 2D helmet. What’s different then? Well, replacing the Decibel, launched in 2005, the 2D is lighter and offers increased ventilation. Visually there doesn’t appear to be a major change, but it has been redesigned throughout.

Its lighter: they quote 185g for a small (the outgoing Decibel weighed 240g), and this has been achieved by using a dual density foam and a new Kevlar-reinforced InnerMatrix allowing for larger vents. Dual density hasn’t been seen before in cycling helmets and, in the 2D, involves placing higher density foam along the higher risk sides, and lower density on top.

The helmet also uses the company’s new Pro Fit 360 retention system, with a more secure attachment to the helmet body and lighter webbing.


A couple of new shades, or Optics, as Specialized prefers to call them, with the Miura, ARC II and the Uracco. The Miuras are an aggressively styled offering, moulded from a tough Grilamid material, adjustable ear pieces for a good fit, and with or without Adaptalite lenses. They’re certainly distinctive, so much so that we’ve already spotted a couple of riders wearing them in the Tour.

specialized 2008

The aggressively styled Miura (were designers inspired by the Lamborghini of the same name?)

Our favourite the Arc has been redesigned, no longer looking anything like the previous model. A stainless steel frame, still non-folding, holds the NXT lenses in place. They now incorporate a thin sweat strip, which should eliminate our only complaint with the previous Arc’s.

specialized 2008

Arc II’s

specialized 2008


Finally the Uracco offers a more relaxed design style, that looks look the Helix only with a larger cutaway at the sides of the lenses.

S-Works Shoes

When we first saw Specialized’s S-Works shoe with its BOA retention system back in 2006, we were very impressed. Changes for 2008 appear to be minor however, which is a good thing as there really wasn’t anything wrong with the previous shoes. The weight is the same; the same BG gubbins exist; the FACT carbon sole remains ensuring they’re super stiff for excellent power transfer. The big difference is the new, slimmer, Boa retention device, with the added bonus of being able to independently set the tightness for the top and mid zones. The tongue has been replaced with one that offers more breathability, there’s additional side vents and, we think they look more stylish than before.

specialized 2008

One for the time triallists, the Tritip

specialized 2008

New Boa on the S-Works shoes


Last but not least, an evolution of the Toupe for time triallists. Available in standard or SL guise, the Tritip has a wider and more padded nose, with two nose width options (40 or 50mm) available.

Roval Wheels

Now in their third year of production under the direction of Specialized, there are several new hoops from Roval. The Rapide SL Carbon wheelset employs a 33mm carbon clincher rim laced with 20/24 spokes. The front hub uses aluminium flanges with a carbon middle section, helping to keep the overall weight of the wheelset to just 1450g. The aluminium rimmed Fusee goes on a diet with the SL version weighing 1450g, thanks to using the same hubs as the SL Carbon wheelset.

specialized 2008

Rapide SL Carbon wheelset: 33mm carbon rim, 20/24 spokes, 1450g weight

specialized 2008

The 1060g Alpiniste SL Carbon hoops

But if all you care about is having the lightest kit to get up over those Alpine passes as effortlessly as possible, the 1060g Alpiniste SL Carbon wheels use a lower-profile 24mm rim. They’re tubular only and 100% carbon, 20/24 spokes, DT Aerolite butted spoeks and the same hubs as feature on Rapide wheels.

Watch out for tests of these products soon. In the meantime, check out www.specialized.com


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