Here our very own Alan Nestor reviews the Specialized Tarmac Expert.
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“As my road bike was recently in the workshop for repair I took away the Specialized Tarmac Expert on a recent cycling trip. Full disclosure; I rode this model previously in the damp Surrey hills & my normal road bike is a carbon wheeled rim brake machine. 2 things; Surrey is actually bumpy & carbon wheels are great performers but only give an approximation of stopping!
Now, as then, riding the Tarmac was a treat. Racy, fast, stiff. It’s quick…really quick. The Perthshire roads are a great testing ground for any bike. Big hills (sorry Surrey but this is a different league), long climbs, necky descents, varied road surfaces and (mostly) quiet roads. The Tarmac climbs well with good power transfer – push the pedals feel the response. It is however on the fast flat and decent that you feel the potential. First spin I found myself hanging on a little. Not because the bike felt skittish but the pure speed the bike was capable of. Exhilarating.
There are always couple of ‘hot button’ subjects in cycling; helmets, Ebikes are cheating, cyclists & ‘road tax’ (not a thing!!), etc. Disc brakes on road bikes is another topic that has been kicking around for a while and is only growing in volume. Disc brakes are, after all, the preserve of our mountain bike brothers & sisters. Plus, if some stories are to be believed, disc braked road bikes are mobile guillotines, cutting off limbs left, right & centre!
I hope I‘m not a Luddite but I do have a soupçon of scepticism about change for changes sake. 2 things now in my view; discs work and discs on road bikes are the real deal. Having ridden in traditional Scottish summer conditions (ie. 4 seasons in one afternoon) the stopping power and confidence discs deliver is unquestionable. Without them the lush Scottish verges would have had plenty of visits.
The Tarmac won’t be for everyone. It’s a supper fast, head down / bum up performance bike. (Those looking for a bit more comfort should look to the excellent new Roubaix.) If you are looking for marginal gains look no further….the Tarmac has double width margins!
Available at Edinburgh Bicycle for demo – short & long.”