What's like a Tarmac, but not Specialized?

neonwarhead Posts: 96
edited July 2009 in Road buying advice
I had a short 16 mile ride on a Tarmac today. I'm looking for some thing comfier than my 2001 Orbea Vento for longer 2 hr plus rides. I'm planning on another 60-65 miles on it tomorrow morning now I've got the riding position sorted. Details of the Orbea below for those unfamiliar.

The Specialized was a revelation - I really wanted to try a Roubaix but the demo was a couple of sizes too big, so thought I'd have a spin on the Tarmac just to see what the fuss is about carbon... Not only was the ride quality lovely and smooth, but the riding position felt brilliant. It's a little higher in the front than the Orbea (even with then Specialized stem on its 'low' setting, Orbea's flipped to 'high' some years ago), and makes me wonder if I need the even higher head tube of the Roubaix, even with my 44 year old spine.

However, (and there was always going to be one of them wasn't there?), I don't actually want to buy the Tarmac, mainly because I still prefer Campag to Shimano, but also because of a certain degree of bike snobbery - if I'm spending a fair whack it would be nice to get something not quite so obvious. So what else is there that's going to be similar in feel and geometry to the Tarmac but not quite so all-american? Has anyone got, or tried a Condor Baracchi? What else should I be trying to get a ride on?
All suggestions gratefully received.

BTW the '01 Orbea Vento is a stiff compact aluminium frame with a carbon fork. I've got similar vintage Mavic Cosmic wheels (aero, uber-reliable, fairly heavy), 9-spd Veloce and a carbon seat post.
My first proper road bike, I got it without thinking too much about geometry, and while it's very 'direct' feeling I do feel a bit beaten up on a ride anything over a couple of hours, although increasing age may have something to do with that.


  • tmg
    tmg Posts: 651
    So you love the Tarmac but your not going to buy it because you want to be different. Personally if I'm spending a whack on anything I want it to give me the maximum amount of enjoyment, I don't think about what anyone else thinks.
  • guilliano
    guilliano Posts: 5,495
    If you really like the bike why should the badge matter? And a Spesh is not "all American".... it's made in Taiwan like the vast majority of bikes.
  • Chip \'oyler
    Chip \'oyler Posts: 2,323
    If it's comfort you're after why not go Titanium or Steel?

    And if your postion is a problem then get one fitted and custom made - there are plenty of UK builders out there - you don't see many Brian Rourke 953 frames out there.
    Expertly coached by http://www.vitessecyclecoaching.co.uk/

    http://vineristi.wordpress.com - the blog for Viner owners and lovers!
  • neonwarhead
    neonwarhead Posts: 96
    Fair point, but it's also the first bike other than my mine that I've ridden on the road in 8 years. It's great, I reckon other bikes out there might be equally great, and thought that a road bike forum might be a reasonable place to see what experiences and advice others might have. Oh well, we live and learn... :D

    And I don't like the Shimano levers - should have said that I guess!
  • tmg
    tmg Posts: 651
    Everyone on here cover the whole spectrum of bikes, so yes it's a good place to get an opinion, but most times the answer will be personal to them. It's good your considering the purchase but the only person who can find the right bike for you is you.

    I have a Spesh Tarmac, love it to pieces, but my has Sram Red on it. If you like the geometry of the Spesh then consider buying a frame only and then build it up with a groupset you prefer.

    Good luck
  • billy whippet
    billy whippet Posts: 171
    I wouldn't buy a specialized either. Condor Baracchi sublime. would also suggest you look ay titanium too - perhaps from one of the small bespoke outfits - Burls for example
  • guilliano
    guilliano Posts: 5,495
    Or as said above... go custom. You could always get the geometry figures of a bike you like the feel of, then get a frame made to that geometry in your favourite material.
  • Mccaria
    Mccaria Posts: 869
    Why not get the Tarmac frame and build it up as you wish ?

    I bought last year's Sworks frame and then put on the kit I wanted. I am a similar age to you and have no problems with this frame for 100+ mile rdes - do not need the Roubaix frame.

    I am not too concerned about the name on the bike but I do take comfort that Specialized as a firm have a reputation for excellent warranty support if required (not required to date).
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    You don't actually say what you want to use the bike for or give us your size / weight / style of riding - it all helps. If you're after best value, look at Planet-X or Ribble.
    Giant got the best of the C Plus bike test, so worthy of a look. Focus are popular but probably too stiff and race-oriented. Specialized are OK, but IME, like other 'big' brands their excellent customer support and warranties often hide a littany of problems - I'd prefer a bike that didn't break or have a recall.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • andy_wrx
    andy_wrx Posts: 3,396
    But not all Tarmacs are the same geometry...

    When it initially came-out, the Tarmac was very racy and the Roubaix was the more relaxed 'sportive-geometry' frame

    But then the Tarmac got a bit softer too, they found that a lot of people were buying them and doing sportives, so tweaked them a bit more in that direction : the SWorks Team is the really racy one...

    Have a look on Spesh's website
    - Roubaix Elite, Comp, Expert, Pro, SWorks Roubaix SL2 size 58, headtube = 225mm
    - Tarmac Elite, Comp, Expert, Pro, SWorks Tarmac SL2 size 58, headtube = 205mm
    - SWorks Tarmac SL2 Team size 58, headtube = 170mm
  • neonwarhead
    neonwarhead Posts: 96
    Personal details - 5' 8"/173 cm, a smidge under 13 st and falling. I'm currently getting out 2-4 times a week, typically one ride of 60 miles or so and some shorter ones. At the moment I'm only averaging 16-17 mph on the longer ride, and objectives are to continue to drop the weight, speed up and go further. Hoping to get up to regular 100mile+ days at the weekends. Most of my riding is in W Berks/Wilts, so fairly hilly in places if not proper Yorkshire or Wales hilly.

    I'd spotted the racier geometry on the s-works frame - I'll talk nicely to the LBS when I take the bike back later this afternoon and see what they can do in terms of a 'normal' Tarmac/Campag combo. They also do Giant...
    I'm wary of anything that I can't test ride which counts against planet-X and ribble.

    How much would a custom frame be folks? If steel would be reasonably light then I quite like the idea of a 'bike for life', maybe along the lines of the rapha continental bikes.

    Thanks for the input so far.
  • I can completely understand what you're saying. If I'm going to spend loads of money on a bike, I want to "love" it, it needs to be more than just good at the job.
    http://www.KOWONO.com - Design-Led home furniture and accessories.
  • Chip \'oyler
    Chip \'oyler Posts: 2,323
    To give you an idea a Reynolds 631oversize frame from Bob Jacksons is around £400. Obviously 853 is more money.


    I have both a 631 and 853 from Bob Jackson and they are superb
    Expertly coached by http://www.vitessecyclecoaching.co.uk/

    http://vineristi.wordpress.com - the blog for Viner owners and lovers!
  • Hi All

    To support my Bike Fitting business I have developed a way of directly comparing published geometry by overlaying it onto a photo of your own bike. Have a look here for details http://bikedynamics.co.uk/page_1242817827537.html

    All I need is a good photo and a small fee.

    Mike at BikeDynamics.co.uk
  • on-yer-bike
    on-yer-bike Posts: 2,974
    Cervelo RS or R3 with Campag Centaur or Chorus. Most people after riding a Cervelo don't look at anything else. A Wilier Izoard has similar geo to the Tarmac (slightly shorter top tube?) and comes with Campag and there aren't many around. I had an Izoard and sold it for a Cervelo RS. My 54 year old spine needed a longer headtube and like you I wasn't going to get a Specialized. Epic cycles do unusual italian bikes with Campag you can even have a Viner frame made to measure for under 2 grand.
  • neonwarhead
    neonwarhead Posts: 96
    The cervelos look truly lovely but are a bit over budget. I'm hoping to try an Izoard and a Mortirolo in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile the lbs is exploring ways to get a std Tarmac frame from Specialized.
  • HonestAl
    HonestAl Posts: 406
    I'd suggest a Giant except I guess you might classify them in the same manner as Spec. (I have a TCR Advanced that C+ liked)

    In terms of Planet X I had the same feeling as you, that I didn't want to buy without trying, but (a) you can go there and borrow one - not really an option for me, or maybe you as it sounds like you don't live far away, and (b) if you do buy one, they'll take it back if you don't like it. As a consequence I bought one of their Ti Pro Roads and love it.

    But I agree it's taking a bigger leap of faith to buy before you try
    "The only absolute statement is that everything is relative" - anon
  • huggy
    huggy Posts: 242
    Spesh is English
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    Er no its not.....

    Buy the specialized, and have it resprayed to your own design and unbadged. That will confuse everyone and it'll probably work out a lot cheaper than custom !
  • Ash_
    Ash_ Posts: 385
    What about the Colnago CLX?

    A much underrated bike which has similar geometry to the Tarmac (slightly higher head tube than a full-on race machine, but not as extreme as the Roubaix) and is a little bit different...

  • neonwarhead
    neonwarhead Posts: 96
    Thanks for that, the CLX looks fantastic...I think a visit to epic cycles may be on the cards.

    I'm also quite taken with the idea of a Tarmac with SRAM Rival, assuming I can get hold of a frame. It's not the Specialized brand that I object to, in fact I've always liked their stuff, more the lack of ability to personalise the bike. A SRAM groupset and some Xero wheels ought to do that nicely without the need for a respray, unless of course the only frame my lbs can get hold of is one of the demo bikes in the fetching white/purple combo... :shock:
  • EdZed
    EdZed Posts: 119
    As others have said, ultimately it's a personal thing, but I would highly recommend going for a test ride on a Bianchi 928 carbon C2C. Although it's billed as a more sportive orientated bike, it's geometry is closer to a race bike. I have one and think it's fabulous, it's equally at home on short rides and long rides and is very comfortable. Epic Cycles is a Bianchi dealer so getting hold of one shouldn't be a problem.
  • neonwarhead
    neonwarhead Posts: 96
    Red Planet have got a bianchi demo day coming up as well - the 928 and mono-q are on the list!
  • EdZed
    EdZed Posts: 119
    Don't be surprised if your next bike is a Bianchi! :wink:
  • Chip \'oyler
    Chip \'oyler Posts: 2,323
    If you're going to Epic - don't be surprised if your next bike is a Viner :wink:
    Expertly coached by http://www.vitessecyclecoaching.co.uk/

    http://vineristi.wordpress.com - the blog for Viner owners and lovers!
  • Ally_GT
    Ally_GT Posts: 13
    try out an izoard man, absolutley beautiful italian bikes. Really stiff bottom bracket and handle brilliantly! I know cyclesurgery do test bikes for them if you can't find anywhere
  • Thanks to all who contributed ideas; the answer it turns out is this;


    Planet-X SL Pro Carbon with Rival, Fulcrum crank and Novatec wheels



    16.2 lbs without pedals and all for the price of a Tarmac with 105... :lol: 8)
  • Mothyman
    Mothyman Posts: 655
    well done NeonWH

    I note the Spesh drinks holder...you're not a snob after all


    ps-i got a roubaix...v happy with it - got a few nostril glances from people with fast bikes recently - made me chuckle
  • Mothyman wrote:

    I note the Spesh drinks holder...you're not a snob after all

    Hey, not at all! They're a nice little cage, and fairly cheap... but of course the real reason for choosing them is the black-with-a-flash-of-red colour scheme to match the wheels and cranks!

    And yes, I'm enjoying it very much indeed... :D:D:D