Like this site? Help us to make it better.


First look: Specialized 2017 road bike range - Tarmac, Venge, Allez, Sequoia and Alibi

A look at the updated Specialized 2017 range of road and adventure bikes

What has Specialized got lined up for 2017? To find out, we popped along to the UK headquarters for the Californian company and took a look at the new range in all its glory, including a new steel-framed adventure bike, an aluminium race bike, a disc-equipped Venge ViAS and a refined Tarmac range. 

Refined Tarmac range

Specialized 2017  - 20.jpg

Notice the lack of cable entry ports on this Tarmac? While the Tarmac hasn’t received any major attention since its launch two years ago, with the introduction of its “Rider First Engineered” size-specific design process, it has introduced an electronic groupset version of the frame at the S-Works level, which is free of the usual ports needed for mechanical cable routing. 

Specialized 2017  - 21.jpg

It’s pictured here with SRAM eTap in a build that costs £7,500. That includes SRAM’s latest eTap hydraulic shifters with disc brakes, and the hoses are routed inside the frame and fork, so you get a bike with a very clean appearance. The bike is rolling on Roval CLX 40 wheels. 

Specialized 2017  - 31.jpg

There’s also a regular eTap rim brake model of this bike costing £7,000 available as well, with pretty much the same paint job and equipment list, with the exception of the newer Roval CLX 32 wheels. More on those later.

Specialized 2017  - 26.jpg

Specialized isn’t including a Dura-Ace Di2 Tarmac at the moment, but it did have this S-Works Tarmac Dura-Ace (£6,000) with the brand spanking new Dura-Ace 9100 groupset, which the Japanese company launched just before the Tour de France.

Specialized 2017  - 24.jpg

You can read about the new groupset here.

Specialized 2017  - 64.jpg

At the other end of the Tarmac range, the company is aiming to be much more competitive on price and value for money, and at £1,500 ,the Tarmac SL4 Sport is the most affordable Tarmac.

Specialized 2017  - 66.jpg

It’s using the older, but still extremely good, SL4 frameset built up with a Shimano 105 11-speed groupset, Praxis Alba chainset and Specialized’s own Axis Elite wheels with 23mm Espoir Elite tyres. 

Specialized 2017  - 103.jpg

Next up the range and built around Shimano’s Ultegra groupset is the Tarmac SL4 Elite (£1,800) which uses almost an entire Ultegra setup apart from the Praxis Zayante chainset. These more affordable Tarmacs stick with a conventional external threaded bottom bracket.

Specialized 2017  - 107.jpg

If you want the latest Tarmac frame with its size-specific design and integrated seatclamp, the Tarmac Comp (£2,400) is the one for you. It comes with a full Ultegra groupset, including the compact chainset, and a set of DT Swiss R460 wheels - the Swiss company’s wheels making a bit presence in the Tarmac range for 2017. 

Specialized 2017  - 67.jpg

The latest Tarmac was also designed with disc brakes from the outset (I tested the S-Works Disc when it first came out, you can read that review here) and the most affordable disc Tarmac is this Tarmac Comp Disc (£2,600). It uses Shimano’s Ultegra mechanical groupset with BR-785 hydraulic disc brakes with a 160mm front rotor and 140mm rear. 

Specialized 2017  - 71.jpg

When Specialized developed the Tarmac for disc brakes, it was at a time well before any common axle and rotor standards had been agreed, so it took a punt on quick release axles and developed a novel solution to allow it to retain short chainstays and a 135mm rear axle space. 

Specialized 2017  - 72.jpg

For 2017 the disc bikes stick with this same standard but with 12mm thru-axles looking like winning the battle of standards, we would be surprised if the Tarmac gets an update in 2018. 

Venge - aero meets disc brakes

We’ve already told you about the Venge ViAS Disc which we exclusively revealed a couple of weeks ago. The aero bike got a massive update in 2015 with an all-new frame fully making use of the company’s own wind tunnel at its Morgan Hill headquarters. 

Specialized 2017  - 73.jpg

Exclusive First Look: Specialized Venge ViAS Disc

In developing the Venge with disc brakes, the company claims to have balanced out the drag generated by the disc brakes but changes to the shape and profile of the frame and fork, and the result is that the aero performance is identical to the rim brake Venge ViAS. That should silence the disc brake critics that used the drag factor in their argument against the use of disc brakes.

Specialized 2017  - 77.jpg

The 2017 Venge ViAS range includes four models, and three of them come with disc brakes. That might be a shock to some, but it shows Specialized really is a fan of discs. 

Specialized 2017  - 76.jpg

Specialized has adopted 12mm thru-axles both ends, a standard which actually looks likely to become a standard for disc-equipped road and cyclocross bikes. The other standard adoption is flat mount as well, which creates a much cleaner interface between brake caliper and frame.

Specialized 2017  - 74.jpg

This is the Venge ViAS Pro Disc UDI2 with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic groupset (£6,000) that comes in a lovely gloss charcoal paint finish. It looks better in real life than my photos show it. 

Specialized 2017  - 79.jpg

Not shown was the range-topping S-Works Venge ViAS Disc eTap (£8,500) with SRAM wireless gears and hydraulic brakes, and rolling on Roval Rapide CLX 64 Disc wheels.

Allez DSW SL Sprint - advanced aluminium

The Allez is the name for Specialized’s range of aluminium bikes with prices starting at £525 for the Allez E5. There have been some interesting developments coming out of Specialized recently and the Allez DSW SL Sprint is the result of that push to see how much performance can be squeezed out of the metal.

Specialized 2017  - 94.jpg

The frame owes its unique appearance at the head tube and bottom bracket area to its Smartweld process of rolling the ends of the tubes and welding them to a forged head tube and three-piece brazed bottom bracket shell, the result being a stiff and light frame, in the region of 1,150g for a size 56cm.

Specialized 2017  - 101.jpg

As well as advancing the development of aluminium construction, Specialized also went aero, using an aero-shaped seat tube and seatpost to cut down the drag. When the bike first launched in the US in 2015 it was billed as a crit racing bike with a 1x drivetrain, but its purity of purpose has been relaxed and it’s specced with a double chainset for 2017 

Specialized 2017  - 95.jpg

There are two models to choose from, the Expert pictured here at £1,500 and the Comp at £1,300. They use the same frame and carbon fork but the Comp gets a Shimano 105 groupset and the Expert an Ultegra groupset. 

Specialized 2017  - 98.jpg

Specialized is confident the bike is a worthy rival to any carbon bike in this price range and with the advances in aluminium leading to smooth and responsive rides, we’re inclined to believe there’s some truth in that assertion. We’ll hopefully get to swing a leg over one soon to find out.

11 of the best 2016 aluminium road bikes

Sequoia - steel adventure bike

Specialized recently unveiled a new bike in its adventure line-up, a rapidly expanding category and getting more popular all the time. The Sequoia uses a steel frame with disc brakes using thru-axles and mounts for mudguards, racks and extra bottles.

Specialized 2017  - 40.jpg
Ready for adventure: The range-topping Sequoia pictured with the company's new Burra Burra bags
Specialized 2017  - 46.jpg
The Sequoia Expert pictured without bags

Sitting at the top is the Sequoia Expert (£2,500) pictured above, which switches to 1x groupset with SRAM’s Rival 1, with hydraulic disc brakes and an FSA SL-K Light chainset.  Specialized has paired a 42t chainring with Shimano XT 11-42t cassette which ought to provide all the low gears you need for any adventure.

Specialized 2017  - 47.jpg

The top models get a carbon fork, steel for the cheaper model, and there’s clearance for these brand new 42mm wide Sawtooth tyres. It’s a tubeless tyre and goes with a new aluminium clincher rim that Specialized has also developed for the bike, showing it has really paid attention to the details. 

Specialized 2017  - 19.jpg

Specialized uses the same Gripton compound it uses for its road tyres with a reinforced centre tread section, and the casing is reinforced with an Endurant material to provide protection and cope with the extra weight of a fully loaded bike. 

Specialized 2017  - 51.jpg

It’s a three model range with prices ranging from £950 to £2,500. The least expensive model uses a steel fork with internal light cable routing if using a dynamo hub, Tektro Spyre mechanical disc brakes and a Shimano Alivio/Sora groupset mix, with a 48/32t chainset.

Specialized 2017  - 58.jpg

The Sequoia Elite (£1,500) gets a carbon fibre fork upgrade, which retains the internal light cable routing, and is built up with a Shimano 105 groupset with matching hydraulic disc brakes and a Sunrace 11-36t cassette, which with the FSA 48/32t chainset will provide a massive range of gears. 

Alibi - urban durability and reliability

Specialized 2017  - 86.jpg

And now for something a bit different... this is the new Alibi, a utility/urban transport bicycle that is designed to be comfortable and extremely durable.

Specialized 2017  - 91.jpg

It has solid tyres that Specialized says it has developed with a leading company in the development of solid tyre technology and uses a galvanised chain so rust won’t be a problem. The ride position is very relaxed with a riser bar (reminiscent of an old mountain bike riser bar from the 90s).

Specialized 2017  - 89.jpg

The range is priced from £375 for a bike with a step-through frame design, up to £425 for the Alibi Sport with a horizontal sloping top tube. 

Wheels, wheels, wheels

Roval is the name for Specialized’s entire range of wheels, and for 2017 it has replaced the CLX 40 with the new CLX 32. The shallower rim has a wider profile (21mm internal, 28mm external) and the updated profile leads to Specialized claiming it’s more aerodynamic than the wheelset it replaces. 

Specialized 2017  - 35.jpg

A benefit of the shallower rim section is that less material means they’re lighter, with the clincher version weighing in at 390g. It’s also tubeless-ready and available in a disc or rim brake version, weighing 1,350g and 1,280g respectively. Each wheelset costs £1,700. 

Specialized 2017  - 39.jpg

On the old CLX 40 the spoke nipples were concealed inside the rim, but they’re not external in a conventional approach which Specialized tells us provides no increased drag but makes spoke tensioning easier. 

Specialized 2017  - 38.jpg

The hubs have a rounded design and bulbous flanges where the old hubs were straight with very short flanges. Inside are high-quality DT Swiss bearings and seals. The disc hubs come supplied with 12mm thru-axle and quick release endcaps. 

Specialized 2017  - 114.jpg

Another interesting new wheelset and one at the other end of the price spectrum is the new Roval Fusee SLX Disc, an aluminium clincher wheel that retails for £550 for the pair. Claimed weight for the wheelset is 1,515g. 

Specialized 2017  - 110.jpg

The rim has a 20mm internal width and 23mm external width and is tubeless-ready. Rims are laced via DT Swiss Competition Race spokes to Roval hubs with DT Swiss 350 internals with sealed cartridge bearings and Shimano’s Centrelock disc mounting system. The hubs can be setup for quick release or 12mm thru-axles by changing the endcaps. 

Buyer's Guide to road bike wheels, plus 17 of the best

More highlights from the 2017 Specialized range soon...

David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

Latest Comments