Days before Specialized officially unveils a new road bike, Daniel Oss teased us with images of the machine on his Instagram account. I’ve been riding this bike for a week now, but due to an embargo agreement I’m not allowed to talk about anything other than what we can glean from these images. You’ll have to check back in a few days to learn the full details.
What’s most striking is the lack of design elements that we’ve come to know as standard fare on road bikes: This bike appears to have no aerodynamic considerations. There is a (gasp!) normal cockpit with a round bar and stem completely void of proprietary parts and internal brake line routing. There are no dropped seatstays, nor can we spot any aero shaping on the fork or down tube.
Oss mentions in his Instagram post that he looks forward to riding this bike after the Tour de France finishes, and uses the hashtag #breaktherules, which suggests the bike isn’t legal in UCI-sanctioned bike races. A quick scan of the list of approved frames and forks on the UCI website shows no new bike from the California-based brand. Based on the image of the Bora-Hansgrohe rider holding the bike aloft with one hand we might guess this new sled is far below the minimum weight limit of 6.8 kilograms. But we know there are production bikes made specifically for racing, like the Giant TCR Advanced SL 0, that weigh less than the UCI limit. So that alone wouldn’t necessarily preclude the bike from racing. Furthermore, based on the profile, the new bike looks aggressive. We don’t see signs of a high stack or short reach that may indicate it’s more of an endurance bike.
If I’m being completely honest, the bike Oss is posing with looks exactly like what road racing bikes used to be before everything had to be aero and integrated. That begs the question: What can possibly be so revolutionary about a road bike with round tubes and standard parts?
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What immediately stands out is how clean and traditional this bike looks. It looks a lot like the Tarmac SL5, the company’s first “Rider First Engineered” model.
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The frame isn’t plastered with logos conspicuously calling attention to the manufacturer—doubly shocking because we’re talking about Specialized here. The gold S on the head tube is the only visible badge identifying the brand.
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Cyclists aren’t known for their upper body strength, so we can presume that the hint here is the new bike is extremely light.
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The round bar and stem, and external (not hidden) brake hoses are refreshing but unusual for a new bike in 2020. We also noticed the round seatpost, and, based on the Tarmac SL7, expect a threaded bottom bracket. Overall it looks like a rider friendly bike.
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