As the World Championship road race got underway in Glasgow, all eyes were on the Belgian federation’s trident of talent, Wout Van Aert, Jasper Philipsen and Remco Evenepoel.
But there will be additional eyes on Evenepoel after it was revealed the Specialized-sponsored Soudal-QuickStep rider is aboard the all-new, currently-unreleased Tarmac SL8 race bike.
He’s not the only one, either. Cyclingnews understands that Julian Alaphilippe (France), Kasper Asgreen (Denmark), Peter Sagan (Slovakia) and Sam Bennett (Ireland) are also aboard the ‘Project Black’ bikes from the American brand.
Cyclingnews, on the ground in Glasgow, has sourced some detailed photos of the bike, and can bring you a closer look at the new flagship race bike from the American brand.
From these photos, we can infer some details as to the direction that Specialized is taking the new bike. Is it going to get a renewed focus on aero in a Venge-like revamp? Will it go on a diet in a bid to hit that UCI mandated minimum of 6.8kg? Or Is Specialized going to evolve the so-called “one bike to rule them all” approach it introduced with the SL7?
We can already assume the latter from leaked images and documents in recent weeks, but here we can dive into some details on how the brand has managed to squeeze improvements out of every known marketable trait.
The new SL8 certainly retains an element of the outgoing Tarmac’s DNA. To use one of my favourite phrases, the new bike appears to be an ‘evolution, not a revolution’
The head tube has been the subject of the most attention in the lead-up to the launch, with critics berating the bulgy front end after the initial leaked photos.
From the photos, it’s unclear whether Specialized has taken advantage of the relaxed UCI rules on tube shape, but the head tube is evidently deeper than before. Interested, it protrudes forwards in front of the fork in a similar fashion to the Cannondale SystemSix, rather than rearward into the frame triangle like the unreleased BMC we spotted at the Tour de France.
It’s also hard to be sure from the photos, and could be a trick of the eye given the protruding head tube, but it appears the steerer tube has been moved rearward, too.
As expected, the new bike is fitted with the Roval Rapide one-piece cockpit that launched in June with claims of a 50g weight saving and four-watt aero boost.