The Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 has killed its sibling, the Venge aero bike, and single-handedly created the category of speed all-rounders that no longer distinguishes between aerodynamics and lightweight construction. As the founder of this category, will it also outpace the four fastest race bikes of the 2021 season?

Get an overview of the grouptest here: The best race bike of 2021 – 5 high-end models on test

Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 | 6.93 kg in size 56 | € 12,799 | Manufacturer’s website

With the S-Works Tarmac SL7, Specialized send a bike into the race that could be considered the prototype for the modern speed all-rounder. No other manufacturer in the test pursues the agenda of the one, true speed all-rounder so zealously, or offers just one model for all fast riding on asphalt. While the four other manufacturers still offer a pure aero bike, the Specialized Venge, which used to take up this role, has fallen victim to the latest generation of the Tarmac. Our test bike comes with a SRAM RED eTap AXS wireless groupset with 48/35 t chainrings and a 10–33 t cassette. This provides enough range to keep pedalling on fast descents while providing sufficient reserves for challenging climbs. However, the wide range comes at the expense of bigger gear jumps, especially in the easy gears. On the other hand, shifting is just as precise and quick as usual. With 160 mm brake discs at the front and rear, the SRAM brakes provide top-level deceleration that is also easy to control. Only the rattling brake levers mar the otherwise excellent picture. The Tarmac is the only bike in the test to use a two-piece cockpit, combining a 100 mm S-Works Tarmac integrated stem with a 420 mm wide S-Works Aerofly II bar. While this offers advantages when it comes to routing the brake lines and making adjustments with each part individually configurable, it doesn’t look quite as clean as its four competitors.

The most impressive thing about the Tarmac SL7 is not its sheer speed, but the way it produces speed. No hectics, almost bored.

Full steam ahead!
The Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 comes with a dual-sided power meter as standard. This means you can always keep an eye on your efforts and monitor your performance.
Wide at the front, deep at the back
The Roval Rapide CLX wheelset uses individual rims. The front one is 51 mm deep and has an outer width of 35 mm. The rear one is 60 mm deep and 30 mm wide. This combination is very fast but also more susceptible to wind than the competition.
Black or green?
Carbon/Color Run Silver Green is what Specialized calls the paint job on our test bike. It’s a real eye-catcher! Depending on the angle of view and the position of the sun, the bike is either almost black or shines in bright green.

Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 2021

€ 12,799


Seatpost S-Works Tarmac Carbon Seatpost 20 mm
Brakes SRAM RED eTap AXS HRD 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM RED eTap AXS GS-RED-E-B1 2 x 12
Chainring 48/35
Stem S-Works Tarmac Integrated Stem 100 mm
Handlebar S-Works Aerofly II 420 mm
Wheelset Roval Rapide
Tires S-Works Turbo Cotton 28 mm

Technical Data

Size 44 49 52 54 56 58 61
Weight 6.93 kg

Specific Features

mixed rim depth Roval Rapide CLX wheelset
two-piece Aerofly cockpit
multi-tone paint
dual-sided power meter

Divided into two
The Tarmac SL7 is the only bike in the test that uses a two-piece cockpit with a separate stem and handlebar. This makes it look a bit more untidy at the front but offers better customisation. Specialized, we still want a Roval Rapide cockpit, okay?
Where did the flask come from?
Okay, we took it off the Specialized S-Works Aethos from our last group test. Just because we’re testing the fastest race bikes on the planet, it doesn’t have to be overly serious.
What it says on the tin
The 700 x 26C S-Works Turbo Cotton tires contribute to the very good overall performance of the Tarmac SL7. They have low rolling resistance and generate an immense amount of grip. The only drawback is their limited puncture resistance.

Specialized also go their own way with the wheels. The Roval Rapide CLX wheelset uses different rims – shallower and wider at the front, narrower and deeper at the rear. This is supposed to achieve greater stability in crosswinds while simultaneously improving aerodynamics. They are definitely fast but also the most susceptible to crosswind in the test. In addition, together with the frameset and the freewheel, they contribute to an almost intimidating soundscape as the bike rumbles along. Cool when you’re sitting on it and you can safely go without a bell. The bike rolls on 700 x 26C S-Works Turbo Cotton tires which measure 28 mm wide. Our test bike in size 56 weighs 6.93 kg and costs € 12,799.

Size 44 49 52 54 56 58 61
Seat tube 435 mm 447 mm 458 mm 475 mm 496 mm 517 mm 547 mm
Top tube 496 mm 509 mm 531 mm 541 mm 563 mm 577 mm 595 mm
Head tube 93 mm 102 mm 113 mm 131 mm 151 mm 178 mm 198 mm
Head angle 70.5° 71.8° 72.5° 73.0° 73.5° 73.5° 74.0°
Seat angle 75.5° 75.5° 74.0° 74.0° 73.5° 73.5° 73.0°
Chainstays 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm 410 mm
BB Drop 74 mm 74 mm 74 mm 72 mm 72 mm 72 mm 72 mm
Wheelbase 970 mm 973 mm 975 mm 978 mm 991 mm 1,006 mm 1,013 mm
Reach 369 mm 378 mm 383 mm 387 mm 398 mm 405 mm 411 mm
Stack 491 mm 504 mm 517 mm 534 mm 555 mm 581 mm 602 mm
Helmet POC Ventral Air SPIN | Glasses Oakley Custom Sutro | Jersey Rapha Pro Team Flyweight Jersey
Pants Rapha Pro Team Bib Shorts | Shoes Shimano S-PHYRE SH-RC902
Socks Rapha Lightweight Socks Regular | Watch Casio A168W

The Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 has only one mission: to be fast. Damn fast. And it fulfils this brilliantly! It mercilessly outruns the other test bikes on flat and undulating terrain, benefiting from the best aerodynamics in the test and laying the foundation for the test victory. But it also masters both fast and technical sections on the downhills, staying close on the heels of the fastest bikes, the Wilier Filante SLR and SCOTT Addict RC Pro. The same applies to its uphill performance: the Tarmac loses hardly any time to the fastest uphill bike, the SCOTT Addict RC Pro, over our timed section.

In total, the Tarmac is more than four minutes ahead of its nearest rival on our test track. It covered the virtual 150 km test distance with almost 2,000 metres of climbing with an average speed of 26.4 km/h and needed 5 h 40 m 26 s to do so.

The S-Works combines its breathtaking speed with a handling that leaves its precision and directness more controllable than any other bike in the test. This makes the road bike a weapon in experienced hands, without immediately overwhelming inexperienced performance fans. To get this performance into the bike, comfort had to take a back seat. The S-Works Tarmac SL7 provides only average vibration damping and is an overall stiff bike. This contradicts Specialized’s claim that “Smoother is faster”. In terms of safety, the Specialized is more susceptible to crosswinds than its competitors, though that’s likely due to it having the deepest wheels in the test. In gusty conditions, this can sometimes lead to some squirrelly behaviour. However, the powerful and well-modulated brakes together with the outstanding handling ensure a high overall sense of security on the Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7.

Tuning tips: titanium SILCA bottle cage for the street cred and off you go! | nothing else: if you’re looking for an off-the-shelf race weapon, you’ll find it here.

Riding Characteristics



  1. cumbersome
  2. playful


  1. nervous
  2. confident


  1. demanding
  2. balanced

Fun factor

  1. boring
  2. lively


  1. firm
  2. comfortable

Value for money

  1. terrible
  2. very good

Technical Data

S-Works Tarmac SL7

Size: 44 49 52 54 56 58 61
Weight: 6.93 kg
Price: € 12,799

Indended Use

Flat/Undulating terrain 1
Uphill 2
Downhill 3


A clear Best in Test! The Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 is the fastest race bike of the 2021 season and shines with maximum efficiency and outstanding handling. It is in a league of its own on the flats, can easily keep up on uphills and downhills and is docile enough not to put off less experienced riders. However, strong crosswinds give it a hard time and anyone who appreciates a little more comfort, even on a purebred race bike, may have to think twice about the Tarmac.


  • highest efficiency on the flats and fast everywhere else
  • best handling in the test
  • not just for professionals and good-natured enough for less experienced riders
  • coherent overall package


  • highest susceptibility to crosswinds in the test
  • less comfortable than the competitors and than the Tarmac SL6
  • rattling SRAM shift levers

You can find out more about at

The test field

Get an overview of the grouptest here: The best race bike of 2021 – 5 high-end models on test

All bikes in test: BMC Teammachine SLR01 ONE (Click for review) | SCOTT Addict RC Pro (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 | Trek Émonda SLR 9 eTap (Click for review) | Wilier Filante SLR Astana-Premier Tech Team Edition (Click for review)

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Words: Photos: Valentin Rühl