The Specialized Tarmac SL4 is given the First Ride review treatment.


The tarmac sl4 is the latest evolution of Specialized’s super-light road-race machine. It tips the scales at just under 2kg for the frame, fork, seatpost, headset and cranks. Its low weight was apparent the second we started riding, surging forward as soon as we applied the gas. The new cobra-shaped carbon top tube stood out too, designed to provide greater stiffness.


While it’s not a solo time-trial machine, the SL4 lends itself well to anything. It has that rare combination of speed and comfort, responding to your every whim without shaking your teeth out in the process. Aerodynamic drag has been reduced slightly, thanks to internal cable routing, and a window under the bottom bracket allows easy maintenance.


The tarmac sl4 is an unbridled joy in the mountains. It’s so light, comfortable and responsive that it soon feels like an extension of your own body. The stiff frame helps improve the wheel tracking, so it instantly flies wherever you point it, giving you great confidence through tight bends. The steep switchbacks and narrow Alpine village streets went by in a blur.


We did a five-hour ride on the SL4, but afterwards our legs felt like they’d only done three. For all its stiffness and poise it still manages to soak up road buzz without sacrificing any of its power or acceleration. Its sharp handling and feather-light feel make long days in the saddle something to savour. The only downside was giving it back to Specialized at the end of our test.


A lightweight, responsive and surefooted climbing machine that eats mountains for breakfast.

Price £4,000
Weight 1,995g (frame, fork, seatpost, headset and crankset)
Sizes 49cm, 52cm, 54cm, 56cm, 58cm, 61cm
Size tested 54cm
Frame fork and crankset S-Works FACT carbon
Transmission SRAM Red
Brakes SRAM Red
Wheels Roval Fusée SLX
Tyres S-Works Turbo
Cockpit S-works ProSet Stem, S-Works Tarmac carbon bars
Seating Body Geometry Romin Pro saddle, S-Works FACT carbon seatpost