When Specialized first released the S Works Tarmac SL6 Disc, there was a lot of hype. Reviewers were going crazy for it ‘one of the best bikes ever ridden’! Sales manager Josh got his hands on one and took it out to Italy to give it a test in the Sicilian mountains.
The S Works Tarmac has always been amongst some of the highest ranking bikes in the industry, it has been at the forefront of technology and making bikes as light as possible. When the new S Works Tarmac came into the shop I jumped at the chance to give it a go. The one I got to ride was a 54cm frame, with Shimano Ultegra R8070 group set, and Roval CLX 32 wheels, definitely up there with one of the best specced bikes I’ve ever ridden.
Taking it for a quick spin for set up on the infamous ‘Sawyers Hill’ I immediately felt this bike wanted to go up hill fast. Light and nimble and holding corners like a dream. After a few adjustments on the saddle and stem she was ready for my trip away.
Although the Tarmac is light, the build on this one isn’t especially weight weenie coming in at 6.89kg. This helped a lot climbing up Mount Etna, being able to sit down and spin, as well as getting out the saddle on the 15% sections, in both scenarios the bike felt springy and reactive.
The descending was where the real fun was to be had. Being super aggressive on the downhill is where you get the best of this bike. The handling was pinpoint accurate and the bike just flew. This was my first go on disc brakes on a road bike, having ridden mountain bikes for years I knew the benefits but wasn’t so sure on a road bike. Still not convinced but braking later into corners does mean that you get a nice smooth line and then can get straight back on the gas, the bike wanted to go faster than I did!
As well as being a rocket up and down the hill this bike can motor along on the flat. Okay it’s never going to be as aero or stiff as the Venge but this bike has just enough to make the push for town signs and to the crest interesting. It is a true all-rounder. Never once did I feel the bike was struggling, (unlike the rider!).
I have ridden various top end climbing bikes but this version of the Tarmac I think was my favourite. Then again maybe it was the 25c Sicilian sun in late October that swung it !
Frame; Specialized S Works Tarmac SL6 Disc
Shifters: Shimano Ultegra R8070
Rear Mech: Shimano Ultegra R8070
Front Mech: Shimano Ultegra R8070
Crankset: Shimano Dura Ace 9100
Wheels: Roval CLX 32
Tyres: Continental Grand Prix 4000
Stem: Zipp SL70
Handlebars: Zipp Service Course
Saddle: Specialized S Works PowerPedals: Shimano Dura Ace 9100