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Specialized says new Roval Rapide Cockpit is the fastest bar it has ever made

Does the introduction of new one-piece handlebar and stem suggest a Specialized Tarmac SL8 is on the horizon?

Specialized’s Roval brand has officially released the integrated Rapide handlebar/stem that we’ve seen used by countless pros over recent months, claiming that the new design is its fastest ever, saving four watts over the existing two-piece Rapide bar and Tarmac SL7 stem. Could this be the prelude for the introduction of a new Specialized Tarmac – an update of the current SL7 – later in the year?

2023 Dauphine Roval Rapide cockpit - 1

Roval already offers a full-carbon Alpinist SL Cockpit (£475) where the focus is on light weight. Roval claims 255g for the version with a 110mm stem section and a 420mm width. The priority of the new Roval Rapide Cockpit, though, is aerodynamic efficiency.

> New pictures of unreleased fully integrated Roval bars on Specialized Tarmac leaked on social media 

Roval says, “The all-new Rapide Cockpit is a lot more than just the fastest way to the finish line, it’s the fastest leading edge we’ve ever made, putting aero gains in the clean air, where they matter most and shaving four watts off the already ultra-quick two-piece Rapide Bar and Tarmac SL7 Stem.”

2023 Dauphine Roval Rapide cockpit - 1 (2)

Roval doesn’t give a speed at which that four-watt advantage is applicable (we've asked), although it does say that the figure was calculated by its Ride Science team “in simulation using real-world power data, course data, and CdA [coefficient of aerodynamic drag] numbers from Win Tunnel testing”. Win Tunnel is the name that Specialized and Roval give to their in-house wind tunnel.

“Removing the cluster of hardware (where stem and handlebar connect) created one of the most important leading edges of the bicycle and can be designed as a single airfoil,” says Roval. “We optimised this airfoil to provide a maximum advantage in clean air at speeds seen from long solo breakaways to full gas World Tour sprints. While a four-watt improvement may seem small, it adds up to 32cm advantage over a 250m final sprint. When races are won by bike throws, this is a winning difference.” 

2023 Roval Rapide cockpit - 2

Roval says that the Rapide Cockpit (in a 420mm bar width, 100mm stem length) is also 50g lighter than a two-piece Rapide bar and Tarmac SL7 combo, coming in at a claimed 310g.

It’s made from high-modulus carbon fibre and Roval claims a higher stiffness-to-weight ratio than any two-piece system it has ever made. 

2023 Roval Rapide cockpit - 4

The Roval Rapide Cockpit comes in 15 different stem length (75mm-125mm) and handlebar width (380mm-440mm) combinations. The drop is 125mm and the reach is 75mm, and the stem section is -6° in all cases.

> Best road bike handlebars 2023 — fine-tune your ride position for comfort and performance 

“The radius from tops to drops has been sculpted for wrist clearance whether out of the saddle in a final sprint or tucked in an aero position, while bend and flare reflect our favourite Rapide bar,” says Roval

The top sections of the bar slant forward slightly, a little like they do on a Metron 5D integrated bar, for example, if you're familiar with that design.

The Roval Rapide Cockpit is compatible with internal/electronic cable routing and is priced at £475.

2023 Dauphine Roval Rapide cockpit - 1 (1)

The Roval Rapide Cockpit has been used by many pros since the start of the year. Demi Vollering and Lotte Kopecky have dominated women’s racing while using the new model over recent months and Fabio Jacobsen sprinted to victory on Stage 2 of Tirreno Adriatico with it.

We also saw the new design being used by many pro riders when we visited the Criterium du Dauphine at the weekend (some of the pics here are of Sam Bennett's bike). It has hardly been flying under the radar. 

> Check out our review of the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 Dura-Ace Di2 

We don't know for certain but this launch could prepare the ground for the introduction of a new Specialized Tarmac SL8 later in the year. The current SL7 is about due an update.

Find out more here. 

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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RobD | 11 months ago
1 like

So it's the most Aero leading edge they've ever created, and then you stick a bike computer in front of it

Toffee | 11 months ago

It looks lovely.


I'd never, ever buy one.

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