27 September 2011

Specialized bikes

New and improved and ever winning
Specialized won the Worlds! The recent winners of the mens Road World Championships for Road and Time Trial both used Specialized bikes to capture their victories. Both Mark Cavendish from Great Britain (World Champion Road) and Tony Martin from Germany (World Champion Time Trial) rode for the 2011 HTC-Highroad team whose bike sponsor happened to be Specialized, and so at Worlds, both lucky cyclists were on Specialized bikes. 

After a very successful 2011 season, HTC-Highroad has folded, which leaves the lucky teams remaining under sponsorship by Specialized to be SaxoBank-Sunguard and Astana. I would consider a team sponsorship by Specialized to be a fortunate one. I am thinking Fabian Cancellara might be missing his Specialized bikes (he now rides Treks), and Mark Cavendish will certainly miss his Venge McLaren bike in 2012 (he will ride Pinarello).  

Specialized will be adding a new team sponsorship for bicycles and helmets to Omega Pharma-Quick Step team in 2012 and will remain as sponsor to the Specialized-Lululemon (former HTC-Highroad) women's team.
Knowing that Specialized makes very nice bikes that perform well, it was with great excitement that upon arrival at Interbike 2011, I looked directly for the Specialized booth. Their huge sign directed me to their location. I knew I had arrived when the first person I saw was Chris Horner (Team Radioshack) drooling over the bikes (his team rides Trek!).

I came to see the Tarmac SL4. I receive a number of google searches for the SL4 so I thought I would give the reader what they wanted. Probably because at $8000 it is a dream purchase for the amateur cyclist knowing that the Venge might be just out of their reach with a sticker price of $18,000.

The Specialized booth at Interbike Photo © by PedalDancer.com
In 2011 Specialized bikes delivered riders to the finish line to capture these race wins: Points Classification (green jersey) at the Tour de France (Mark Cavendish), German National ITT Championships (Bert Grabsch), Irish National RR Champs (Matt Brammeier), Irish National ITT Champs (Matt Brammeier), Belarus National ITT Championships (Kanstantsin Sivtsov), Denmark National RR Champ (Nicki Sørensen), Kazakhastan National RR Champ (Andrey Mizourov), Slovenia National RR Champ (Gorazd Stangelj), Scheldeprijs 1st Place (Mark Cavendish), Ronde van Vlaanderen 1st Overall (Nick Nuyens), Milan San Remo 1st Place (Matt Goss), Paris-Nice 1st Place Overall (Tony Martin), 6 stages of the Tour de France, 5 stages of the Giro d'Italia, best overall team at the Giro d' Italia and at the Tour de France, plus many more wins. 
Let's take a look at the Specialized bikes available including the Venge, Tarmac SL4, Tarmac SL3, and the Roubaix. With a peak at the Amira and the Shiv TT.
VENGE - Venge McLaren or the S-Works Venge
Specialized Venge McLaren $18,000 (note the curve in the seat tube, wide chainstays)
Mark Cavendish became the World Champion on an aero road bike called the VS-Works + McLaren Venge
Mark Cavendish's Venge (dossard #171) at the 2011 Tour de France (he did not ride this bike on every stage)
Mark Cavendish's McLaren Venge in France 2011 Photo by iTV.com
a more affordable Specialized S-Works Venge DA $9200
Matt Goss and his Red & White Venge at Tour of California, Photo © by PedalDancer.com
S-Works Venge SRAM Red $8800
Matt Goss's Specialized S-Works Venge at the 2011 Tour of California, Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Matt Goss was the man who first tested the Venge McLaren on March 19, 2011 at the 1-day classic Milan San Remo - he won. Read A fast man on a fast bike. He later handed in his Venge McLaren for a different model of the S-Works Venge (above).
Mark Cavendish then used (and was the only rider to use) the Venge McLaren at Scheldeprijs on April 6, 2011 - he won. He never looked back and stuck with the McLaren or the S-Works models of the Venge for sprint stages for the remainder of his season. The marketing department at Specialized likes to refer to the bike as "more bike than aero." This phrase always makes me pause, what does that mean?
Read more about the development of the Venge McLaren in an earlier PedalDancer.com post The look of a Sprinter. Read much more about the Venge specs, models and prices
This is Mark Cavendish's points classification (green jersey) winning S-Works Venge bike recently on display at Interbike 2011.
Specialized Venge Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Cavendish's Venge bike Photo © by PedalDancer.com
More photos of the Venge
S-Works + McLaren Venge. They hang $18,000 bikes from the ceiling at Interbike.  
Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Another S-Works Venge color choice, Photo © by PedalDancer.com
A more affordable Venge - the every man's 2012 Venge Pro
There are three types of Venge bikes: S-Works McLaren Venge ($18,000, 12R carbon), S-Works Venge ($8900-$9200, 11R carbon), and the more affordable Venge Pro ($5700-$6000, 10R carbon). The S-Works and the Pro have the same frame design and geometry (and exterior electronic Ui2 unit), but are made of differing quality (technique) of carbon weave material. The McLaren of course is the lightest stiffest design with the Ui2 body hidden inside the frame. The more you pay the more you purchase light weight stiffness (10R, 11R, or 12R). 
Specialized S-Works Venge 11R carbon grade label
Venge Pro
Specialized 2012 Venge Pro, a beautiful bike Photo © by PedalDancer.com
3 models of white Specialized bikes - Venge Pro ($6000), S-Works SL4 ($5000), Roubaix ($5000) frames
Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Specialized Roubaix, SL4 and Venge Pro ready for sale in Denver, CO
Photo © by PedalDancer.com
TARMAC - Tarmac SL4 or the Tarmac SL3
S-Works Tarmac SL4 SRAM Red $7700
Bernie Eisel and his S-Works Tarmac, Photo © by PedalDancer.com
HTC-Highroad mechanics at the 2011 Tour of California add some final touches to the bikes. Bernie Eisel is on the left with a Tarmac, Matt Goss is center with his new Venge (not the McLaren model).
Tarmacs and a Venge, Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Notice the difference in the headtube angles when the bikes are side by side.
Eisel and Goss Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Now notice the difference in the seatstays.
Tarmac left, Venge right, Photo © by PedalDancer.com

The Venge and the Tarmac SL4 are the frames that will now be used in the Grand Tours by the Pros. Think of the Venge as the aero sprinter, the SL4 as the climbers bike. The riders can change frames and wheels according to the profile of the stage and the riders preference. Once the rider is fit using the Specialized BG Fit system, the basic position of the rider on the bike is determined and does not change drastically.

It gets confusing because there is a Tarmac SL3 and the newer Tarmac SL4. Both are still in use. The SL4 was designed to be lighter and stiffer than the SL3.  I was told the designers tapered the headtube, made the front fork and rear seatstays wider for increased lateral stiffness. The SL4 is reported to have better breaking performance, better handling, and better durability when changing out wheels quickly. The improvements in the SL4 equate to a claimed 19% increase in stiffness to weight ratio over the SL3. 

Alberto Contador decided to stick with the SL3 even after the redesigned SL4 came out, it was his choice. Here is Alberto Contador's Tarmac SL3 from the Giro on the display at the recent 2011 Interbike: 
Tarmac SL3, Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Tarmac SL3, Photo © by PedalDancer.com
The new SL4 was tested out at the 2011 Tour de France where Roman Kreuziger and Alexandre Vinokourov each rode the SL4, both happened to crash out of the Tour so we were never able to experience their full performance.
Astana's Tarmac SL4 debuts at the 2011 Tour de France
Specialized talks the talk about how the pros use the Roubaix frame for the Classics, but here Nick Nuyens is riding a Tarmac for his win at the 2011 Tour of Flanders.
Read much more about the Tarmac specs, models and prices
More images of the S-Works Tarmac SL4.
Tarmac SL4, Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Tarmac SL4, Photo © by PedalDancer.com

Tarmac SL4, Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Another frame color choice for the Tarmac
Tarmac SL3
Tarmac SL3
Tarmac SL3
What is the difference between the S-Works Tarmac SL3 and the Tarmac SL4? BikeRadar did a review of the new frame when is came out in June 2011: 2012 Specialized Tarmac SL4 Unveiled – Contador’s Ride Gets Lighter, Stiffer

CyclingNews: Tom Boonen's new Specialized Roubaix SL4 
S-Works Roubaix SL3 Compact $8000
Team HTC-Highroad rode the Roubaix frame at the 2011 Paris-Roubaix. The most noticeable feature of the Roubaix are the dampening seatstays and front fork. The pros will lower the head tube as much as possible and select their wheels to fit the parcours.
Roubaix frames, revision of a photo by Matt Pacocha
This frame is the comfort class, recommended for most amateur cyclists who like to ride long rides over mixed terrain, a durable, hard worker. When I asked the question "which bike would be best for a cyclist traveling to Europe to ride a cyclosportif and then spend a week climbing in the Pyrenees?" The answer was the Specialized "Roubaix with a DT Swiss or Mavic type of wheel."

Read much more about the Roubaix specs, models and prices
More images of the Specialized Roubaix:
Roubaix Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Roubaix Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Roubaix Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Roubaix Photo © by PedalDancer.com
AMIRA - the women's version of the Tarmac
Amira Photo © by PedalDancer.com
SHIV TT (time trial)
This is the Specialized road Shiv TT frame model, not the Tri-Shiv
Specialized Shiv TT frame only $6100. It is so fast it doesn't need wheels.
The marketers like to call this one "too fast for the UCI." Read much more about the Shiv TT specs, models and prices
More images of the Specialized Shiv TT time trial bike
Saxo Bank-Sungaurd TT bike, Photo © by PedalDancer.com
HTC-Highroad Shiv Time Trial bike, Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Peter Velits, Brian Vandborg, (with Ted King on the left) wait with their HTC and Saxo-Bank S-Works Shiv TT bikes at the Prologue of the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. They have a different handlebar set up.
S-Works Shiv TT bike, Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Danny Pate with his Shiv TT in Colorado 2011, Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Bernhard Eisel and his Shiv TT bike, Tour of California,  
Photo © by PedalDancer.com
Nick Nuyens is happy to give away a bottle but not one of his Shiv TT bikes,  
Photo © by PedalDancer.com
As with so many of the bike manufacturers - you will have your choice of frame color, components, and price range. Visit the Specialized website for more information and drool over the bikes like Chris Horner: www.specialized.com

The pictures above are the 2011 Shiv Time Trial model. Specialized recently released the newly designed tri-specific Shiv in 2012, which will not be used at road races. The tri bike will be used by triathletes only. See the bike, and read the review by Nick Legan of VeloNews here: You won’t see Levi racing this: Specialized’s new Shiv. The tri-Shiv does not meet the guidelines of the UCI (the International governing body for professional road racing), read more in a previous post by PedalDancer.com: Why all the fuss over Time Trial Bikes?

If you are wondering if or why a rider remains on their team bikes at World Championships, even though they ride for their country, Nick Legan answers your question: Ask Nick: Bikes at worlds

Update November 2011: This is the new 2012 Omega Pharma Quickstep Specialized S-Works Venge bike for 2012.
Specialized S-Works Venge - team Omega Pharma-Quickstep
What a beauty !

Read about Pinarello bikes: Pinarello Dogma2 
Read about Colnago bikes: Colnago bikes
Read about BMC bikes: BMC bikes

Read and see more images of Specialized Bikes on Pedal Dancer.