This article compares the differences between the Specialized Tarmac SL8 and Canyon Ultimate.
The comparison covers the model lineups, specifications, and retail pricing. It compares the carbon fiber technology (Specialized FACT vs Canyon Carbon Fiber) and frameset technologies on each bike.
The objective is to provide you with a clearer understanding of Specialized Tarmac SL8 vs Canyon Ultimate before making the purchasing decision.
|Specialized Tarmac SL8||Canyon Ultimate|
|Type of bike||All-rounder||All-rounder|
|Frame material||FACT 12r carbon|
FACT 10r carbon
CF SLX carbon
CF SL carbon
|Frame sizes||44, 49, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61||XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL|
|Groupset||Shimano, SRAM (12-speed)||Shimano, SRAM (12-speed)|
|Brakes||Hydraulic disc||Hydraulic disc|
|Price (USD)||TBD||$3,999 to $9,999|
Specialized Tarmac SL8
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.
|Model||Frame material||Groupset||Wheelset||Max. tire size||Retail price (USD)|
|S-Works Tarmac SL8||FACT 12r carbon||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 (R9200)||Roval Rapid CLX II |
(51mm front, 60mm rear)
|S-Works Tarmac SL8||FACT 12r carbon||SRAM Red eTap AXS||Roval Rapid CLX II |
(51mm front, 51mm rear)
|Specialized Tarmac SL8 Pro||FACT 10r carbon||Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R8100)||Roval Rapid CL II |
(51mm front, 60mm rear)
|Specialized Tarmac SL8 Pro||FACT 10r carbon||SRAM Force eTap AXS||Roval Rapid CL II |
(51mm front, 60mm rear)
|Specialized Tarmac SL8 Expert||FACT 10r carbon||SRAM Rival eTap AXS||Roval C38 (38mm)||32mm||$6,500|
More reading : Specialized Tarmac SL8 vs SL7 - What's Changed?
The Canyon Ultimate is an all-rounder bike. Canyon claims that the Ultimate has an unrivaled stiffness-to-weight ratio, debunking the myth that a lightweight bike is not stiff enough to perform at the highest levels of cycling.
It’s the bike the pros rode to two World Championships and three Grand Tours wins in recent years with Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana, and Richard Carapaz.
The flagship model, Canyon Ultimate CFR is the latest addition with the lightest setup weighing 6.52kg. The Ultimate CFR has the best electronic shifting groupsets from SRAM or Shimano. Next in line is the CF SLX weighing 6.98kg, and CF at 7.6kg.
|Model||Frame material||Groupset||Wheelset||Retail price (USD)|
|Canyon Ultimate CFR eTap||CFR carbon||SRAM Red eTap AXS||Zipp 353 NSW||$9,999|
|Canyon Ultimate CFR Di2||CFR carbon||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2||DT Swiss PRC 1100||$9,499|
|Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9 Di2||CF SLX carbon||Shimano Dura-Ace Di2||DT Swiss ARC 1100||$6,999|
|Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 8 Di2||CF SLX carbon||Shimano Ultegra Di2 (R9200)||DT Swiss ARC 1400||$5,499|
|Canyon Ultimate CF SL 7||CF SL carbon||SRAM Rival eTap AXS||DT Swiss P 1800||$3,999|
Canyon Ultimate vs others
Specialized vs Canyon carbon fiber
Specialized FACT Carbon
Specialized FACT (Functional Advanced Composite Technology) is an advanced carbon fiber technology used in high-performance Specialized bicycles. It offers a lightweight yet strong frame construction with precise carbon layup, resulting in optimal strength-to-weight ratio and improved ride quality.
FACT carbon frames are engineered to efficiently transfer power, absorb road vibrations, and provide a comfortable riding experience. With continuous innovation and refinement, FACT Carbon demonstrates Specialized’s commitment to delivering top-notch performance and enhancing the overall cycling experience.
The carbon is available in three grades. The choice between FACT 12r, 11r, or 10r carbon depends on the bike model, your preferences, riding style, and budget.
- Specialized FACT 12r Carbon is the highest-grade carbon used by Specialized. Bikes (S-Works models) with frames made from FACT 12r carbon are the lightest and stiffest in the Specialized line-up. These frames are manufactured using the most advanced techniques and materials.
- Specialized FACT 11r Carbon used to be the highest-grade carbon until the S-Works Tarmac (SL5). Today, it’s the highest-grade carbon for the S-Works Roubaix.
- Specialized FACT 10r Carbon is two steps below 12r in the Specialized carbon hierarchy. While it doesn’t provide quite the same level of weight savings and stiffness as 12r, 10r frames are still very light and stiff, providing a high level of performance. FACT 10r carbon is used in all non S-Works models and is ideal for riders who want a balance of performance and value.
Canyon Carbon Fiber (CF)
Canyon’s innovative approach to bike design includes the utilization of advanced carbon fiber technology, resulting in performance-oriented bicycles that offer remarkable strength, reduced weight, and improved ride quality.
Canyon employs three main types of carbon fiber in their range of bikes; CFR, CF SLX, and CF SL, each offering unique benefits to cater to your needs and budgets.
- Canyon CFR (Canyon Factory Racing) Carbon is the top-tier carbon fiber used by Canyon, designed for maximum performance. Bikes built with CFR carbon are the lightest and stiffest in the Canyon line-up, favored by professional racers and serious enthusiasts alike. The CFR series represents the pinnacle of Canyon’s engineering prowess and innovation, employing state-of-the-art materials and advanced manufacturing techniques.
- Canyon CF SLX Carbon is a step below CFR, but it still offers exceptional performance characteristics. It used to be the highest-grade carbon in Canyon’s arsenal until the introduction of the CFR series. Bikes with CF SLX carbon frames provide a perfect balance of weight, stiffness, and comfort, making them highly versatile for a range of riding conditions.
- Canyon CF SL Carbon is the entry-level carbon fiber in Canyon’s range, but it still offers excellent performance. While it doesn’t quite match the extreme weight savings and stiffness of the CFR and CF SLX grades, CF SL frames are still impressively light and stiff, providing excellent performance for the value. Ideal for cyclists who desire a high-quality, performance-oriented bike without breaking the bank, the CF SL series is a testament to Canyon’s commitment to delivering value and performance.
Frameset technologies and innovations
Specialized Tarmac SL8 and Canyon Ultimate framesets incorporate advanced technologies to enhance their bikes’ performance and ride characteristics.
Here’s an overview of the technologies used in each bike model.
Specialized Tarmac SL8
|FACT carbon||Functional Advanced Composite Technology (FACT). A carbon fiber construction method that balances lightweight, stiffness, and compliance in Specialized bike frames. |
Available in two carbon grades; FACT 12r and 10r. A higher number indicates a higher grade of carbon.
S-Works models use the FACT 12r carbon and Specialized Pro and Expert models use the FACT 10r carbon.
|Rider-First Engineered™||Rider-First Engineered™ is a design philosophy used by Specialized that ensures every frame size delivers the same predictable and responsive ride characteristics. This concept was first introduced with the 2015 Tarmac, and the idea has been incorporated into all models since.|
Instead of simply scaling frame sizes, Specialized takes into account that riders of different sizes have different weights, which are distributed differently. This means that each frame size experiences different forces. Therefore, each frame size is engineered independently with different carbon layups and tube dimensions, ensuring the optimal balance of rigidity, weight, and responsiveness for each size.
In short, no matter what the frame size is, the ride quality and performance remain consistently excellent.
|Win Tunnel||Specialized utilizes advanced tools and technologies to pursue aerodynamic excellence, such as the Win Tunnel, FreeFoil Shape Library, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), and Data Acquisition (DAQ) system.|
The goal is to optimize aerodynamic performance by conducting wind tunnel tests, developing new airfoil shapes, simulating fluid flow, and collecting real-world data to improve rider position and enhance overall performance.
|CFR Carbon||Canyon Factory Racing (CFR) Carbon is the highest-grade carbon fiber used by Canyon. It’s designed for ultimate performance, with CFR carbon frames being the lightest and stiffest in Canyon’s range. This carbon is employed for the most performance-driven models in Canyon’s lineup.|
|Pro Geometry||Pro Geometry is Canyon’s design approach that tailors each bike frame’s size with specific tube dimensions and carbon layups, optimizing performance and ride characteristics for riders of different sizes. This ensures that every rider, irrespective of their size, enjoys a consistent and optimal cycling experience.|
|Adjustable Cockpit CP0018||The Canyon Ultimate CFR and CF SLX feature the innovative Cockpit CP0018, designed for aerodynamic efficiency and versatility. With fully internal cable routing, it offers a clean look and enhanced aerodynamics. The unique wing design allows for easy bike packing, eliminating the hassle of dealing with internal routing. |
Its innovative width adjustment feature lets you switch between narrow, medium, and wide settings (390-430mm) using just one tool. It provides a total adjustment range of 40mm (+/- 20mm on each side), allowing you to fine-tune your fit for comfort and efficiency.
|Ultimate System Complete||This design principle ensures that the Canyon Ultimate is developed as a complete system, incorporating frame, fork, seat post, stem, handlebar, and even spacers into the design process. The goal is to maximize performance and rider comfort, making the Ultimate a highly-efficient and enjoyable bike to ride.|
|Aero Testing||Canyon uses cutting-edge technologies and tools to achieve aerodynamic efficiency, including wind tunnel testing and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). |
These tools help them simulate and analyze airflow over the bike, enabling Canyon to refine the design for optimal aerodynamics. Canyon’s rigorous testing approach ensures the Ultimate offers superior aerodynamic performance.
Where to buy
- Specialized online shops. Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States
- Specialized retailers. Use this tool to find your nearest Specialized retailers.
- Canyon online shop. Available to ship to most countries worldwide.