If you are in the market for a new road bike and interested in the Specialized brand, you may be wondering about the differences between a Specialized Tarmac, Aethos, and Roubaix.
All three bikes are amazing machines, but they each have their own unique features that may make them better suited for your needs. In this article, we will discuss the differences between these three bikes so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you!
The Short Answer
– Tarmac is lightweight, aero, and has an aggressive geometry. If you’re looking for a race-ready, all-around bike, Tarmac is the answer.
– Roubaix is designed for endurance riding and offers a more comfortable geometry. If you plan on doing long rides or touring, maybe some off-road riding, then Roubaix is the best option.
– Aethos is a super lightweight disc brake bike. If you care a lot about the weight of your bike, or if you love the classic round tubes style, then Aethos is for you.
Okay, if that’s too short for you, let’s expand more about each bike.
Specialized Tarmac: The All-Around Race-Ready Bike
The Specialized Tarmac is a race-oriented bike designed to perform on every type of terrain – from flat roads to steep climbs and everything in between. It has an aggressive geometry, aero tubes, and it’s pretty lightweight too.
Why you should choose the Tarmac:
– You are looking for a race-oriented bike with a decent weight
– You want an aggressive geometry and quick handling bike that allows you to go low and fast
Why you should not choose the Tarmac:
– If comfort matters the most to you, this might not be the best option. The Tarmac is stiff, which is an important attribute for a race bike, especially during sprints. However, as a consequence, it will not give you the most comfortable ride.
– You are looking for a bike to do some off-road riding. The Tarmac is best on…well, the tarmac. But it doesn’t have as much clearance as the Roubaix for wider tires, nor does it have the “Future Shock” vibration dampening technology.
Specialized Roubaix: The Comfortable Endurance Machine
The Roubaix is the Specialized’s endurance bike, with a more relaxed geometry and added vibration dampening features. This makes it great for long days in the saddle or some light off-roading.
Why you should choose the Roubaix:
– You want a comfortable bike for long rides or touring. The geometry is more relaxed and upright, with a longer wheelbase, which makes it easier to stay in control at higher speeds or on rough terrain like gravel roads.
– You want a bike that can handle some light off-road riding. The Roubaix has wider tire clearance and the “Future Shock” vibration dampening technology, which makes it better suited for gravel roads or trails than the Tarmac.
– You’re a beginner cyclist looking for a bike for casual riding
Why you should not choose the Roubaix:
– You are looking for a race bike. The Roubaix may give you the most comfortable ride, but it’s not better than Tarmac for a road race and it’s not made for a gravel race like the Specialized Diverge (or even Crux).
– If you are looking for a lightweight bike, the Roubaix is not the lightest option on the market.
Specialized Aethos: The Ultra Lightweight Bike
The Aethos is the lightest bike in the Specialized lineup. In fact, it is the lightest disc brake bike on the market right now. It’s not made for racing, but the lack of weight may as well help you win a climbing race.
Why you should choose the Aethos:
– You only care about weight, not some UCI rules, and just want the lightest bike in your stable.
– You love the classic round tube look and want a bike that has that style, but also with a disc brake for better braking performance.
– You dislike the all-integrated-and-proprietary components which plague many modern bikes.
– You’re looking for a comfortable bike with a slightly more relaxed geometry, but still have the ride characteristics of a pure road bike
Why you should not choose the Aethos:
– You’re a racer looking for an aero, stiff, quick-handling bike that is made for racing.
– You want to do some off-road riding. The Aethos is not made for it, and it has less tire clearance than the Tarmac or Roubaix.
What About the Specialized Allez Sprint?
The Allez Sprint is another road bike from Specialized. It’s an alloy road bike with aggressive geometry and some aero profiles, a rare breed in the bicycle market.
The best thing about Allez Sprint is its price-to-performance ratio. Sure, it’s more expensive than other alloy bikes, but the geometry, stiffness, and aero profile will help you go faster in a race. Plus, because it is made of alloy, you can crash and dent it and still ride the bike safely – unlike carbon frames.
If you race criteriums, where people get so aggressive and you don’t want to risk ruining a super expensive carbon bike, Allez Sprint is the bike for you.
Even if you don’t race, it’s still a great bike as an alternative to lower-grade carbon bikes.
What About the Specialized Venge?
Before SL7, the Tarmac is Specialized’s lightweight race-oriented bike and Venge is the aero road bike. Since then, Specialized has combined the Venge’s aerodynamics and the lightness of Tarmac into one bike.
Even after Specialized killed the Venge, it is still one of the most popular aero road bikes in the market. It still looks gorgeous and modern up to this day and performs great for its intended purpose.
If you want a fast bike for a flat race, Venge is for you. However, your only option right now to get a Venge is to buy it from a secondhand market.
What is S-Works?
You may have noticed that there are different variants of the same bike, such as Specialized Tarmac S-Works and Specialized Tarmac Pro. The higher the variant, the more expensive the bike is.
S-Works is Specialized’s top-of-the-line variant for its bikes and components. The difference between S-Works and Pro is that the former uses higher modulus carbon fiber resulting in a lighter frame. If you buy a complete bike, the components are also upgraded.
Is it worth it to buy an S-Works frame? Maybe, maybe not. The price difference is pretty significant, so it depends on how much weight savings are you willing to trade with money.
Also, probably the most important thing for most people, S-Works bikes have S-Works decals on their bottom tube whereas non-S-Works bikes have Specialized decals. So, your friends and people you ride with will know whether you ride a super expensive bike or just an expensive bike.
So, Which Road Bike is Right for You?
Now that you know the differences between Specialized’s three (or, five) road bikes, which one should you choose?
You may have noticed that we’ve made some recommendations for each of the road bikes. But without knowing what kind of rider you are, we can’t specifically tell you which one to buy because it really depends on your needs and preferences, such as what kind of terrain you ride on most and how aggressive of a rider you are.
If you want a general recommendation, we would say that the Tarmac is the best all-around Specialized road bike for most road cyclists.
Not to say that Aethos and Roubaix aren’t great bikes too, but they are more niche and less versatile than the Tarmac.