Saturday, 7 June 2014

Specialized Tarmac SL4 Comp from South Downs Bikes

Recently I found myself without a bike as the Cube I was riding suffered an untimely death.

After weighing up my options and speaking to Martin from South Downs Bikes in Storrington, I was soon picturing myself on a Specialized Tarmac. A bike I've admired from a distance for some time now.

South Downs Bikes and Specialized have been very generous in their support of Army cycling and I would like to give them a big thank you for supporting us.

Martin was very helpful in sourcing me a bike which has all but disappeared from stock, and went on to assist by making changes to the bike to cater to my needs.

On reflection, this is the first time in my life I've ever bought a complete, new bike! Previously I've always replaced frames or components or ridden loan bikes. It is a new and rather nice experience.

Pictured with PowerTap rear wheel.
The 2014 Specialized Tarmac SL4 Comp features a Fact 9 carbon frame. This is the current entry level carbon from Specialized, but the frame is still rigid and responsive, probably largely due to the Tarmac's geometry and method of putting together the carbon.

I opted for a 56cm frame based on the comparative similarity of the measurement of the horizontal top tube length to the 60cm Cube Agree I was riding previously. The 58cm frame would require a really short stem and I prefer a slightly smaller frame for weight saving and the extra rigidity it can offer.

The 2014 Comp model comes with 11spd Ultegra, except for the crankset (FSA Gossamer 52/36) and Axis brake calipers. I opted to swap the compact chainset for Ultegra 53/39 as this would give me a gear ratio better suited to racing in the UK.

I also swapped the 42cm wide bars for a 44cm shallow drop alternative.

I'm getting used to the Body Geometry Toupe saddle. I had to fight my bias towards the Fizik Arione I've been riding for the last year and a half, but I now find the Toupe comfortable and it looks a lot lighter and more streamlined too.

The only thing I would change on the bike, apart from the crankset, is the adjustable stem system, which seems an unnecessary added weight. Of course race wheels are an obvious upgrade as well, but the Fulcrum Racing 5's that come standard are awesome training wheels in my experience.

Once again I'd like to give a big thank you to Martin at South Downs Bikes. Check out the shop on FaceBook and if you live in West Sussex I encourage you to pop in to the shop, either in Storrington or Worthing.

For the location and contact details for South Downs Bikes, please click here.

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