2023 Specialized Tarmac SL8 vs Aethos vs Roubaix vs Allez

The current Specialized road bike lineup, the Tarmac SL8, Roubaix, Aethos and Allez offer a many choices to cyclists. In this article, bike expert Alex Lee compares these Specialized models, analyzing their features, builds, and pricing.

Founder and editor-at-large at Mr. Mamil.
Updated:

Specialized uses the S-Works branding for their top-of-the-line models. For example, the all-rounder Tarmac SL8 comes in the S-Works and non S-Works versions, called the Specialized Tarmac SL8. The major difference lies in the carbon fiber materials and the components.

Below the S-Works are the Specialized Pro, Expert, Comp, Sport, and Base models. S-Works models are always specced with the best electronic shifting groupsets (Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 or SRAM Red eTap AXS).

As the models trickle down from Pro to Base, and components from Shimano Ultegra to 105, SRAM Force to Rival, the prices follow the same direction.

Specialized bike modelType of Specialized bikePrice range (USD)
Specialized Tarmac SL8All-rounder race bike$6,500 to $14,000
Specialized Tarmac SL7All-rounder race bike$5,500 to $14,250
Specialized AethosLightweight climbing bike$5,500 to $14,250
Specialized AllezEntry-level road bike$1,000 to $6,800
Specialized RoubaixEndurance bike$2,700 to $12,250
Specialized Turbo Creo SLElectric bike$6,000 to $16,500
Specialized Road Bikes Lineup

Specialized Tarmac SL8

S-Works Tarmac SL8 Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (White)
S-Works Tarmac SL8. Photo : Specialized

The Specialized Tarmac SL8 is the latest, all-rounder race bike.

Now in its eighth iteration, hence SL8, the Specialized Tarmac improves on the features of the Tarmac SL7 that made it one of the best bikes in professional cycling and a leading bike brand among amateur cyclists.

According to Specialized, the Tarmac SL8 has a 33% improvement in stiffness-to-weight ratio compared to the Tarmac SL7. The most significant improvement is in aerodynamics; a larger head tube with a sharper nose cone. Specialized calls this the Speed Sniffer.

The S-Works version retains the same FACT 12r carbon, while the Specialized Pro and Expert versions use the FACT 10r carbon. The difference between the S-Works and Specialized versions lies in the carbon fiber grade, choice of groupset, wheels, and components. The S-Works versions come with the newly launched Roval Rapide Cockpit, a one-pice carbon handlebar.

A size 56 bike weighs 6.62 kg (14.6 lbs) with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, and 6.85 kg (15.1 lbs) with a SRAM Red AXS.

There are six models in the Specialized Tarmac SL8 lineup based on its groupset setup. All models are electronic shifting only. It’s also available in frameset only for S-Works and for Specialized versions.

ModelFrame materialGroupsetWheelsetMax. tire sizeRetail price (USD)
S-Works Tarmac SL8FACT 12r carbonShimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200)Roval Rapid CLX II
(51mm front, 60mm rear)
32mm$14,000
S-Works Tarmac SL8FACT 12r carbonSRAM Red eTap AXSRoval Rapid CLX II
(51mm front, 51mm rear)
32mm$14,000
Specialized Tarmac SL8 ProFACT 10r carbonShimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)Roval Rapid CL II
(51mm front, 60mm rear)
32mm$8,500
Specialized Tarmac SL8 ProFACT 10r carbonSRAM Force eTap AXSRoval Rapid CL II
(51mm front, 60mm rear)
32mm$8,500
Specialized Tarmac SL8 ExpertFACT 10r carbonSRAM Rival eTap AXSRoval C38 (38mm)32mm$6,500
Specialized Tarmac SL8 models lineup
More reading : Specialized Tarmac SL8 vs SL7 - What's Changed?

Specialized Tarmac SL7

S-Works Tarmac SL7 Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
S-Works Tarmac SL7. Photo : Specialized

The Specialized Tarmac SL7 is the complete race bike. It’s without a doubt the most popular model among all Specialized bikes.

Now in its seventh iteration (SL7), the Specialized Tarmac combines an aerodynamic, lightweight, and disc-only road bike for all terrains. Light enough to climb the steepest mountain passes in Tour de France, fast and aero for the sprints on Champs Elysees.

The S-Works frame uses the lighter and stiffer FACT 12r carbon, while all other Specialized frame uses the FACT 10r carbon. The difference lies in the choice of groupset, wheels, and components.

There are six models in the Specialized Tarmac SL7 lineup based on its groupset setup. All models are electronic shifting only. It’s also available in frameset only for Specialized and S-Works editions.

ModelFrame materialGroupsetWheelsetRetail price (USD)
S-Works Tarmac SL7FACT 12r carbonShimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200)Roval Alpinist CLX$14,250
S-Works Tarmac SL7FACT 12r carbonSRAM Red eTap AXSRoval Alpinist CLX$14,000
Specialized Tarmac SL7 ProFACT 10r carbonSRAM Force eTap AXSRoval Rapide CL$9,000
Specialized Tarmac SL7 ExpertFACT 10r carbonShimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)Roval C38$8,300
Specialized Tarmac SL7 ExpertFACT 10r carbonSRAM Rival eTap AXSRoval C38$6,500
Specialized Tarmac SL7 CompFACT 10r carbonShimano 105 Di2 (R7100)DT Swiss R470$5,500
Specialized Tarmac SL7 models lineup
More reading : 
Specialized Tarmac SL7 Frame Geometry
Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200) vs SRAM Red eTap AXS Groupsets

Specialized Aethos

S-Works Aethos Campagnolo Super Record EPS
S-Works Aethos. Photo : Specialized

The Specialized Aethos is a lightweight road bike designed for hardcore weight weenies. Featuring a more traditional shape with rounded tubes and non-dropped seat stay, the Aethos weighs only 5.9kg for a complete bike.

Pronounced as Ay-thoss, the naming is based on the Greek word Ethos, meaning character.

With its weight below the minimum of 6.8kg mandated by the UCI, the Specialized Aethos will not feature in professional cycling. Like the Tarmac, the S-Works frames use the FACT 12r carbon, and non S-Works frame use the FACT 10r carbon.

There are five models in the Aethos lineup based on its groupset setup. It’s also available in frameset only for Specialized and S-Works editions.

ModelFrame materialGroupsetWheelsetRetail price (USD)
S-Works AethosFACT 12r carbonShimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200)Roval Alpinist CLX$14,250
S-Works AethosFACT 12r carbonSRAM Red eTap AXSRoval Alpinist CLX$13,750
Specialized Aethos ProFACT 10r carbonSRAM Force eTap AXSRoval Alpinist CL$8,700
Specialized Aethos ExpertFACT 10r carbonShimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)Roval C38$8,000
Specialized Aethos CompFACT 10r carbonSRAM Rival eTap AXSDT Swiss R470$5,200
Specialized Aethos models lineup
More reading : 
Specialized Aethos Frame Geometry
SRAM Force eTap AXS vs Shimano Ultegra Di2
List of Road Bikes with Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)

Specialized Roubaix

S-Works Roubaix Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
S-Works Roubaix. Photo : Specialized

The Specialized Roubaix is an endurance bike that got its name from the hardest one-day bike race; the Paris-Roubaix. It has a slightly relaxed frame geometry and wider tire clearance compared to the Tarmac.

Specialized sponsored teams will ride this model for the race instead of their usual Tarmac for its Future Shock suspension system. This technology helps make riding more comfortable when the pros ride across rough cobblestones at 30mph.

There are six models in the Specialized Roubaix lineup based on its groupset setup. It’s also available in S-Works frameset only.

ModelFrame materialGroupsetWheelsetRetail price (USD)
S-Works RoubaixFACT 11r carbonShimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200)Roval Alpinist CLX$14,250
Specialized Roubaix ProFACT 10r carbonSRAM Force eTap AXSRoval Alpinist CL$8,700
Specialized Roubaix ExpertFACT 10r carbonShimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)Roval C38$8,000
Specialized Roubaix CompFACT 10r carbonSRAM Rival eTap AXSDT Swiss R470$5,200
Specialized Roubaix models lineup
More reading : Shimano Dura-Ace Di2  (R9200) vs Ultegra Di2 (R8100)

Specialized Allez

Specialized Allez Sprint 2023
Specialized Allez. Photo : Specialized

Over the years, many cyclists have used the Specialized Allez to race criteriums. Eventually, Specialized made a model specifically for that; the Allez Sprint.

The Specialized Allez is an aluminum, entry-level road bike since 1981. Unlike the aggressive geometry of the Specialized Tarmac and Venge, the Specialized Allez geometry is more relaxed to cater to a wider range of cyclists.

There are two models in the Specialized Allez lineup based on its groupset setup. It’s also available in a frameset only. The Sprint model is welded using the D’Aluisio Smartweld Technology, which offers greater acceleration and handling for crit racing.

ModelFrame materialGroupsetWheelsetRetail price (USD)
Specialized Allez Sprint LTDAluminum (D’Aluisio Smartweld Technology)SRAM Force eTap AXS 1XRoval Rapide CL$6,800
Specialized Allez Sprint CompAluminum (D’Aluisio Smartweld Technology)Shimano 105 (R7000)DT Swiss R470$3,000
Specialized Allez models lineup
More reading : SRAM Rival eTap AXS vs Shimano 105 Di2 Groupsets

Specialized bikes FAQ

The Specialized Aethos is focused on being lightweight, offering a more traditional ride quality with excellent handling, while the Specialized Tarmac is more focused on a balance between weight, aerodynamics, and stiffness, making it a versatile choice for various types of terrain and riding styles.

AttributesSpecialized AethosSpecialized Tarmac
Type of ridingClimbing, long-distance, endurance ridingRacing, all-around performance, versatile terrain
Riding positionMore upright, relaxedMore aggressive, lower, race-oriented
Bike handlingSmooth, responsive, preciseQuick, nimble, stable at high speeds
ComfortGreater compliance and comfort over long ridesStiff but compliant, balanced ride quality
Power transferExcellent stiffness-to-weight ratioVery stiff, efficient power transfer
AerodynamicsLess focus on aerodynamicsMore aerodynamically optimized, faster in various conditions
Comparison between Specialized Aethos and Tarmac

The Specialized Aethos is a lightweight bike with traditional ride quality and excellent handling, making it ideal for climbing and long-distance endurance rides.

In contrast, the Specialized Roubaix is an endurance-oriented bike designed to provide a comfortable ride on various road surfaces, featuring innovative technologies to absorb vibrations and increase compliance.

AttributesSpecialized AethosSpecialized Roubaix
Type of ridingClimbing, long-distance, endurance ridingEndurance, rough roads, long distance comfort
Riding positionMore upright, relaxedUpright, relaxed, endurance-focused
Bike handlingSmooth, responsive, preciseStable, confidence-inspiring, smooth
ComfortGreater compliance and comfort over long ridesExceptional comfort, vibration-damping technology
Power transferExcellent stiffness-to-weight ratioGood power transfer, slightly less stiff than Aethos
AerodynamicsLess focus on aerodynamicsLess focus on aerodynamics and more focus on comfort and control
Comparison between Specialized Aethos and Roubaix

The Specialized Tarmac is a race-oriented bike that emphasizes aerodynamics, stiffness, and handling, making it perfect for competitive cyclists and those who enjoy pushing their limits on fast rides.

On the other hand, the Specialized Roubaix is an endurance bike built for comfort and compliance over rough roads, ideal for cyclists who prioritize long-distance comfort and stability on varying road surfaces.

AttributesSpecialized TarmacSpecialized Roubaix
Type of ridingRacing, fast group rides, climbingLess focus on aerodynamics and more focus on comfort and control
Riding positionAggressive, race-orientedUpright, relaxed, endurance-focused
Bike handlingQuick, responsive, agileStable, confidence-inspiring, smooth
ComfortLess focus on aerodynamics, and more focus on comfort and controlExceptional comfort, vibration-damping technology
Power transferExcellent stiffness for maximum efficiencyGood power transfer, slightly less stiff than Tarmac
AerodynamicsAerodynamically optimized designLess focus on comfort and more on performance
Comparison between Specialized Tarmac and Roubaix

The Specialized Tarmac is a high-performance, race-oriented bike that focuses on aerodynamics, stiffness, and handling, making it perfect for competitive cyclists and those who enjoy fast rides.

In contrast, the Specialized Allez is an entry-level, aluminum road bike that offers a more affordable option for riders new to road cycling or those seeking a reliable training bike. It provides a great balance of performance and value, making it an excellent choice for many riders.

AttributesSpecialized TarmacSpecialized Allez
Type of ridingRacing, fast group rides, climbingEntry-level road cycling, training, group rides
Riding positionAggressive, race-orientedLess focus on aerodynamics, and more on value and versatility
Bike handlingQuick, responsive, agileGood handling, not as sharp as Specialized Tarmac
ComfortLess focus on comfort and more on performanceReasonable comfort for an entry-level road bike
Power transferExcellent stiffness for maximum efficiencyGood power transfer, not as stiff as Tarmac
AerodynamicsAerodynamically optimized designLess focus on comfort and more on performance
Comparison between Specialized Tarmac and Allez

The Specialized Tarmac is a versatile, all-around race bike focused on a balance of aerodynamics, lightweight design, and handling. It excels in various racing scenarios, from climbing to sprinting.

The Specialized Venge, now discontinued, is an aero race bike designed to maximize speed on flat and rolling terrain. It prioritizes aerodynamic efficiency and power transfer over lightweight construction and versatility.

AspectSpecialized TarmacSpecialized Venge
Type of ridingAll-around racing, climbing, fast group ridesAero racing, sprints, flat and rolling terrain
Riding positionAggressive, race-orientedAggressive, aerodynamically focused
Bike handlingQuick, responsive, versatileStable at high speeds, less agile than Tarmac
ComfortGood balance between comfort and performanceMore focus on aerodynamics, less on comfort
Power transferExcellent stiffness for maximum efficiencyExceptional power transfer due to aero design
AerodynamicsAerodynamically efficient, not as aero as VengeHighly aerodynamic, designed to minimize drag
Comparison between Specialized Tarmac and Venge

Specialized offers a lifetime warranty for the original owner covering the frame and fork. There is a two-year warranty from the initial purchase date for second or subsequent owners.

More about Specialized’s warranty policy.

Specialized bikes are made in China while being designed in Morgan Hill, California headquarters.

Specialized bikes are sold through their network is dealers globally. You easily find a Specialized dealer in most major cities around the world.

Alternatively, try the Specialized Store Finder.

In 2021, Specialized sponsors Bora-Hansgrohe, Deceuninck Quickstep, and SD Worx. They’re the team of Julian Alaphilippe and Anna van der Breggen, the current men’s and women’s World Road Race champion.

In 2023, three World Tour teams are riding Specialized bikes; Soudal-Quick-Step, BORA Hansgrohe, and Team Total Energies. The Specialized bikes will be ridden by current World Champion Remco Evenepoel and former World Champions such as Julian Alaphilippe and Peter Sagan.

More reading : Bikes at the 2022 Tour de France
Alex Lee at Mr.Mamil

Alex Lee is the founder and editor-at-large of Mr. Mamil. Coming from a professional engineering background, he breaks down technical cycling nuances into an easy-to-understand and digestible format here.

He has been riding road bikes actively for the past 12 years and started racing competitively in the senior category during the summer recently.