Presenting the new Specialized SL7 road bicycle

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We have covered several high end bicycles on TGIFriday Chillout sessions, and today, we feature a more modest bicycle – the new Specialized SL7 of a good friend. In this feature, the bicycle is fitted with excellent, but modestly priced components – Shimano Ultegra Di2 and DT Swiss wheelset.

The owner of the bicycle is a good friend Nicholas Tan, who is also a prolific watch collector with many interesting watches in his collection. He recently started road biking, and this is already his third bicycle in a short period of about a year.

ChillOut TGIFridays: The 2021/2022 Specialized Tarmac SL7 with Ultegra Di2 and DT Swiss wheelset

Nicholas on board his SL7.

Specialized Tarmac SL7

The Tarmac SL7 is the latest iteration in the long line from Specialized, a company founded in 1974 by Mike Sinyard in the California. The company is one of the larger bicycle manufacturers in the world, and in 2001, Merida Bikes of Taiwan bought 49% of Specialized for a reported US$30 million. Mike Sinyard remained majority owner and CEO of the company. The company also own the Roval brand name, which makes wheelsets.

The company is famous for their catch phrase, “Aero is Everything”, and is one of the earliest makers to focus on making aerodynamic design a center point in their products. They invested heavily in the technology, including the use of a wind tunnel to test aerodynamics. The SL7 for 2022 is the a result of the merger of two of their product lines – the Tarmac, which is traditionally been their lightweight climbing bike, and the Venge (now discontinued), which was their aerodynamic option. For this new model, the SL7 is presented as “designed the new Tarmac to have the perfect blend of aerodynamics, light weight, and ride quality to deliver the ride of your life. From using our FreeFoil Shape Library to find the best tube shapes, to developing our next generation of Rider-First Engineered™ design, the new Tarmac is the culmination of our ever-longing pursuit of speed. It’s a pure-bred race machine with no compromises. One bike to rule them all.” Bottom line, the new SL7 is as aero as the Venge, but as light and offer the same sharp handling as the outgoing SL6.

Nicholas’ frame is from the Specialized stable. The company offers the same frameset, but laid up in a different carbon configuration as the high end S-Works model line. The Shiv Disc we presented a couple of weeks ago is from the S-Works stable. The S-Works stable also feature a similar SL7, which carries a price premium of SGD 3,250 over the Specialized base model’s price of SGD 5,000 (frameset pricing from Specialized Singapore website). Both SL7 from Specialized and S-Works have the exact same tube shapes, and geometry, only the layup of the carbon used to construct the frame is different. The S-Works use what Specialized call their top of the line carbon fibre – the FACT 12r, while the Specialized model uses FACT. Apparently the carbon layup for the S-Works model is stiffer, resulting in less carbon required for the same strength with the benefit of a lighter frame. Specialized does not publish the weight difference, but well known bicycle review site Cycling Tips say the difference is a reduction from 920g to 800g. Nicholas’ frame is in a size 56.

The Tarmac SL7, in a beautiful bright white.

The frame is in a matte white, with black Specialized logo on the down tube. Nicholas has a transparent wrap around the frame to further protect the frame and paintwork from chips and damage. The wrap is quite well done, and remain nearly invisible, except for the seams at some locations. The bike uses the S-Works Aerofly II bar and stem, which features full cable integration. All cables, in this case the Shimano DI2 electrical cables and the hydraulic lines run within the bar and stem for a clean, aerodynamic cockpit. The bars are nice and stiff and feature a nice flat surface on the tops to rest the palms while riding in a relaxed position, and a moderate drop to achieve a more aggressive, but still comfortable position on the bike. A Garmin EDGE 830 bike computer sits in the cockpit, which displays GPS data as well as heart rate and power information.

The saddle is the Specialized 3D printed S-Works Power with Mirror saddle, which is the same model as that fitted in the Basso Diamante SV we reviewed a short while ago. The saddle is customized via a 3D printing process, which Specialized call the Mirror technology, utilizing a liquid polymer to perfectly reflect the rider’s anatomy. Nicholas tells us that it is extremely comfortable, even on very long rides.

Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8050 Groupset

The groupset selected is the Ultegra Di2 with hydraulic disc brakes. The Di2 system uses electronically controlled shifting which is activated via two buttons behind the brake blades. Ultegra is Shimano’s upper end offering, sitting below their top level Dura-Ace, and above their mid-level offering of the 105 Groupset for road drop bars. Ultegra is the currently the lowest level of groupset which Shimano offers Di2 capability, though we hear rumours that Di2 will come to 105 soon.

The front derailleur is the electronically controlled, motorized Ultregra Di2 R8050, which does auto trimming with each shift. The crankset was ported over from Nicholas’ previous BMC bike, and is the Rotor Vegast Aero, with 52/36 teeth chain rings. The crank length is 172.5mm.

Fitted on the cranks are the Garmin Vector 3 pedals with powermeter, the same model that we saw in Bobby’s Basso. This is a dual sided power meter, which is capable of reporting LR power as well as numerous cycling dynamics information which is useful for analysis. The data derived can then be used for more intelligent training. Also, the benefit of a pedal based power meter is that it can be easily transferred from bike to bike, unlike crank based powermeters. For example the Dura-Ace 9100P that I have on my Pinarello F10, will require wrench work to remove and reinstall, while the pedal based Garmin can be removed and reinstalled, even on the road side, with just a no8 Allen Key.

The rear derailleur is also Ultegra Di2 R8050 electronically controlled medium cage, and shifts the 11 speed Ultegra 11-30 cassette. Chain is also Ultegra. This combination of 53/36 in front and 11-30 at the rear gives the bike a wide range of gears on which to provide a good high speed performance as well as the ability to climb well.

The Tarmac SL7 is disc brake only and on this bike, is fitted with Shimano Ultegra Centerlock discs, measuring 160mm in the front, and 140mm for the rear.

DT Swiss ARC DiCut 1450 Wheelset

The wheelset is the DT Swiss ARC DiCut 1450 DB clinchers, using 12mm through axels. The DT Swiss ARC DiCut 1400 rims in a 62mm depth, and here it is laced to DT Swiss DT350 hubs. The wheels fitted are basically the standard DT Swiss ARC DiCut 1450 DB which uses the same rims laced to DT Swiss DT240 hubs. The DT240 hubs are higher end hubs by DT Swiss, and the same basic design as the DT350, but optimized for weight savings while the DT350 are not. However, this optimizations come at a price premium.

The DT 350 is known for its low engagement with its stock 18 tooth rachet. Nicholas has the hubs upgraded with the DT Swiss 54T Star Ratchet for a higher engagement rate. The upgrade kit provides a star ratchet with 54 tooth, which provides three times the engagement rate over the stock. The 54T engages in 6.6° of pedal movement vs the 20° in the stock set up. The added bonus, is that this higher engagement rate also comes with a louder and more aggressive free hub sound which many riders adore.

Tyres are Continental Grand Prix 5000 700x25C, with tan walls. These are very popular racing tyres, known for good rolling resistance and reasonable puncture protection.

Concluding thoughts

The Specialized Tarmac SL7 is a highly desirable road bike, somewhat in the mid high end price range. The complete bicycle comes in at about the SGD 10,000 price mark.

The Specialized Tarmac SL7 and my Pinarello Dogma F10. The SL7 is size 56, and the F10 on the right is size 53, but physically, both are similar in size.

We did not weigh the SL7, but in a quick hand feel compared to the known weight of 7.7kg of my Pinarello F10, it feels roughly similar, and we reckon that it is about 7.8kg or thereabouts. This is quite an impressively low weight, considering that the F10 has 45mm wheelset, and Dura-Ace mechanical, both of which are lighter than the 62mm and Ultegra Di2 used on the SL7.

Photo Notes

All photographs in this presentation is taken with the Leica C, available light in the Marina Bay area.



  1. Ultegra and this bike are not exactly modestly priced. Electronic shifting and disc brakes are slowly killing bicycles which used to be enjoyed for their ride quality and hand built frames not the component listing.Carbon isn’t durable or long lasting.I will say Specialized is a good company.

    • Hi Stefan. thanks for your comments. In our books, Ultegra is modestly priced. We are used to Dura-Ace and Campagnolo Super Record.

      I also differ in the view of electronic shifting and disc brakes. I have mechanical shifting on my bike, mainly because I feel the cost benefit is not good. But I don’t mind having one. Both Di2 oand EPS are very good, fast, efficient. And the added benefit of auto trim, and being able to shift under power – good for sprints and on climbs. I haven’t tried SRAM electronic shifting, so unable to comment.

      I totally disagree on disc brakes – they are superb. If you ride carbon rims in wet weather, you will know the benefit. Also, its cheaper to change a set of rotors than a carbon rim when they wear out. The main negative of disc brakes is that they do tend to squeal, especially in the wet…but I take that as a “feature” as it warns other road users that I am coming…like a horn…lol.

      And finally, carbon has a durability which is actually higher than steel, or aluminum as it does not suffer from material fatigue over time. And continues to perform for practically forever. Do remember that even high tech aircrafts have carbon components in load bearing positions, so they can be incredibly strong.

      Anyway, the most important thing is enjoy the ride. Just go out and ride your bike. Peace.

    • Well said Stefan and many will agree with you. As for seeing the ‘squeal’ sound as a ‘feature’. Give me a break Peter. I can also say that your poor assessment and judgement on the bike is also your ‘feature’.

  2. “Nicholas has a transparent wrap around the frame to further protect…” just gross and tasteless.

  3. Awesome to have of my two passions road cycling and watches in the same place. Keep ‘em coming! My next big purchase is a new bike build.