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TECH NEWS

New Specialized road bike leaked with unique oversized head tube — is this the new Tarmac SL8 or a revamped Roubaix?

Are Soudal Quick-Step training on a new Specialized? Here's everything we know (and don't know) so far about this mysterious bike

Back in January, we speculated that we might see a new Tarmac SL8 before this year's Tour de France, but we'd now expect to see an official release prior to Remco Evenepoel's bid to win either the World Championship road race in Glasgow or a second Vuelta a España. It seems that his teammates might have given the game away prematurely though, as these leaked images appear to show a new Specialized road bike that is certainly different to anything we've seen previously. 

2023 Specialized spotted

Studio pictures have been circulating in recent days of a new Specialized bike, with some people claiming it was fake. However, a recent photo of Soudal Quick-Step riders on a training camp, posted to the online forum Weight Weenies, all but confirms that a new Specialized release could be imminent. 

The pictures show a bike that shares plenty of similarities with the current Specialized Tarmac SL7, but also has a rear triangle that looks more like the SL6 model, with thinner and lower seatstays.

2023 Specialized spotted

Since Specialized killed off the Venge in 2021, the Tarmac SL7 is typically promoted as Specialized's 'one bike to do it all'. On this new bike we can see that Kamm tail tubing has been used throughout. This suggests aerodynamics have clearly been a consideration. 

With the relaxation of the UCI's frame regulations and the 3:1 rule back in December, our head of video Jamie predicted that a new Specialized Tarmac SL8 would take advantage of this, and feature a deeper headtube. This is exactly what we can see here. 

2023 3T Strada headtube

The front end is where we can the biggest difference to the SL7, and in particular the bulbous headtube. This appears to follow a similar design philosophy to the latest 3T Strada. 3T says of this bike: "You'll see the headtube is deeper and with a full aero "nose", taking full advantage of the new UCI rules."

Interestingly, none of the Soudal Quick-Step riders in the photo are using an integrated cockpit. This could just be down to rider choice, but also makes us question whether it's actually a revamped Roubaix we are looking at. 

2023 Specialized spotted

On closer inspection, we also noticed a white stripe around the tyres. None of the tyres in the current Specialized range currently have this.  

When will this mystery be solved through the medium of an official release? We've asked Specialized for comment, and in the meantime we'll be keeping our eyes peeled... 

What are your thoughts on this unreleased Specialized? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Emily is our track and road racing specialist, having represented Great Britain at the World and European Track Championships. With a National Title up her sleeve, Emily has just completed her Master’s in Sports Psychology at Loughborough University where she raced for Elite Development Team, Loughborough Lightning.

Emily is our go-to for all things training and when not riding or racing bikes, you can find her online shopping or booking flights…the rest of the office is now considering painting their nails to see if that’s the secret to going fast…

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16 comments

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LookAhead | 7 months ago
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Not sure why anyone would think this is a Tarmac. That's pretty clearly a Roubaix future shock adjuster sticking up above all the stems, and everyone is on the Alpinist wheels that Specialized equips the S-Works Roubaix with. The stack heights also appear to be pretty tall relative to the overall frame sizes, again suggesting that this is probably just the new Roubaix and certainly not a Tarmac.

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Glov Zaroff replied to LookAhead | 7 months ago
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That's just spacers and a top cap sticking out of a long S-Works Tarmac stem. My Venge looked like that before the steerer was cut and the plastic hood was put over the top. You can see it better on the middle bike if you zoom in (the middle bike is also running a non integrated Rapide bar). The new all in one Rapide is in very short supply, so I suspect it's the same for the lower tear memebers of the QS team at the moment - and if they do have them they probably kept them off to avoid complete build spy shots hitting the internet. 

It's pretty much a known now that the SL8 will be 'officially' out at the end of the first week of August in time for the Worlds and the Vuelta.

*Yes I know the mens RR is on the 6/8.

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LookAhead replied to Glov Zaroff | 7 months ago
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Agree that those bikes not running the new all-in-one Rapide bar doesn't mean anything. As far as I can tell it really only exists in theory so far.

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KDee replied to Glov Zaroff | 7 months ago
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If those are just spacers, I find it very very odd that every bike visible has exactly the same amount above the stem. Guarantee that's a future shock. 

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Glov Zaroff replied to KDee | 7 months ago
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KDee wrote:

If those are just spacers, I find it very very odd that every bike visible has exactly the same amount above the stem. Guarantee that's a future shock. 

If that's a future shock system then where is it in the picture of the red version with the new Rapide bar/stem? It's not there is it. This is the new SL8.  

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Rapha Nadal replied to LookAhead | 7 months ago
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The Futureshock adjuster is simply cap which can be unscrewed and it's not as tall as the steerer tube showing in the images above.  Plus, the stack height would be much higher because there'd be a Futureshock underneath the stem? In addition, and if the image of the red "SL8" isn't fake, then where is it on that bike?

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LookAhead replied to Rapha Nadal | 7 months ago
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On the bright side, if I'm wrong it will make my decision not to buy the SL8 a whole lot easier.

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Glov Zaroff | 7 months ago
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S-Works Beluga 

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Rapha Nadal | 7 months ago
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Will it have a £20,000 price tag?

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to Rapha Nadal | 7 months ago
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Ooh, now that is a great question... will this be the first main stream, commercially available bike with a £20k+ price tag? If not, when will we see one and from who? 

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Matthew Acton-Varian replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 7 months ago
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At the moment, Trek's Madone Project One is at £15.5k. Still a way to go but is very likely within most of our lifetimes. I think it is likely to come from them or Specialized.

Shockingly, the Italian marques' flagship race models (Pinarello, Colnago, Wilier, Bianchi etc) are on average significantly cheaper (albeit still eye-wateringly sat in a 5 figure sum) between £10k and £13k (The C:68 excluded)

I can't see it coming from anywhere other than a US brand, whether in part that's down to post-Brexit US import costs, or typical American Capitalism, who knows.

 

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mark1a replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 7 months ago
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Matthew Acton-Varian wrote:

I can't see it coming from anywhere other than a US brand, whether in part that's down to post-Brexit US import costs, or typical American Capitalism, who knows.

Have US import costs changed since Brexit?

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Matthew Acton-Varian replied to mark1a | 7 months ago
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That exactly I do not know, but since leaving the EU and its economic bloc we have had to negotiate our own trade deals which includes import and export tarriffs. Depending on existing relations, some deals may have allowed us to continue paying pervious rates, however others, and now including to the EU bloc have different tarriffs. 

As well as the EU, import and export costs have increased to other countries who don't see Britain as a trading priority. Whilst there are a number of contributing factors; tarriffs, taxes and charges make up  a tangeable portion of that increase.

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Sniffer replied to mark1a | 7 months ago
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mark1a wrote:
Matthew Acton-Varian wrote:

I can't see it coming from anywhere other than a US brand, whether in part that's down to post-Brexit US import costs, or typical American Capitalism, who knows.

Have US import costs changed since Brexit?

 

US Brands don't import much into the UK from the US.

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SimoninSpalding | 7 months ago
1 like

Every generation just gets uglier.

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Matthew Acton-Varian replied to SimoninSpalding | 7 months ago
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The chrome paint job on the Trek is gorgeous, but that seat tube hole, it's like using the best polish in the world on a grade A turd.

The silhouette and shape of the Wilier bikes are classy, the Merida is not too harsh on the eye, the curvy frames on the Pinarellos arepretty cool, but a lot of the latest design tricks used by others are certainly nausea-inducing.

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