Specialized Tarmac SL8

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Release Year
Wheel Size
Number of Gears
Gearing Type
15.1, 14.59, 15.79, 16.4, 17.13 lb
Brake Type
Frame Material

Summary of Reviews

We have read all expert and user reviews on the Specialized Tarmac SL8. In summary, this is what cyclists think.

14 reasons to buy

  • Experts agree the (S-Works) Tarmac SL8 is among the best race bikes on the market.
  • The Tarmac SL8 is repeatedly described as lively, fun, and a “joy” or “delight” to ride.
  • Testers are impressed by the bike’s blend of aerodynamics and low weight.
  • The well-balanced geometry earns praise from reviewers.
  • The handling is a standout feature for many experts. They say it’s “responsive” and “sharp” without being unstable.
  • Multiple reviewers note the Tarmac holds speed very well.
  • Testers enjoy the “extremely fast” and “reactive” acceleration. One describes the bike as “devastatingly quick.”
  • Experts appreciate the ride comfort, given it’s a race bike. One feels it’s one of the most comfortable bikes in the peloton.
  • According to reviewers, the Tarmac SL8 is a “fantastic” climbing bike.
  • The one-piece Carbon Roval Rapide cockpit (S-Works builds) feels “extremely responsive” and stiff.
  • The stopping power and control of the Dura-Ace brakes (S-Works build) are “phenomenal” in one tester’s experience.
  • Several experts laud the stiffness of the “rock-solid” bottom bracket.
  • The BSA 68 threaded bottom bracket is easier to service and less prone to creaking than press-fit.
  • Specialized states that the frame has clearance for 32mm tires.

5 reasons not to buy

  • Reviewers feel the Tarmac SL8 is expensive, especially the S-Works builds.
  • Most testers would prefer 28mm tires instead of the stock 26mm.
  • Multiple reviewers complain that the components aren’t customizable at checkout.
  • The one-piece cockpit on the S-Works builds isn’t adjustable.
  • A reviewer complains that the “thinly bladed” tops on the Roval Rapide bars are uncomfortable.

Bottom line

The Specialized Tarmac SL8 is a ‘do-it-all’ race bike that balances low weight and aerodynamics for “superb all-round” performance. It’s available in three high-end tiers: Expert, Pro, and S-Works. The list of superlatives used to describe this bike is extensive, but experts generally agree it’s among the best in its class. In particular, they praise the handling, “rock-solid” bottom bracket, rapid acceleration, ability to hold speed, and relative comfort. The main gripe shared among reviewers is the high price, especially of the S-Works builds. But overall, the “masterpiece” Tarmac SL8 earns top marks across the board.

Expert Reviews

90/100 based on 4 rated expert reviews

Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL8 Dura-Ace Di2 Review

Putting price to one side, this could be the best all-round race bike in the world right now.

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Test of the New Specialized Tarmac SL8 [French]

With its light weight, overall efficiency, maneuverability, and ease of use, the new Specialized Tarmac SL8 reaches new heights of versatility and balance, establishing itself as a new top-of-the-range reference, at least on a par with the new Cannondale SuperSix. 

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Specialized Tarmac SL8 In-Depth Review – One Bike That Can Do It All

Specialized has hit the nail on the head in almost every department: the bike is lighter, more compliant, more aerodynamic and feels fantastic in a way that is hard to put into words.

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Specialized Tarmac SL8 S-Works Di2 Review

One of the best in its class, with some caveats to consider.

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500 Miles on the New Tarmac SL8: Is It Venge? Aethos? SL7?

… it not only met my expectations but it exceeded them in a few different areas. It handles better than I expected, it’s more lively and climbs better than I expected, and it holds speed and is faster than I expected.

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Cycling Weekly

Specialized Tarmac SL8 First Ride Review – No Wonder the Internet Got Excited

… after my limited time with the bike, I believe that Specialized has done it again. It has created a bike that masses of road cyclists will love, pro and amateur alike. 

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Alex Dowsett

Faster Than I Was as a World Tour Pro

Anyway, the [Tarmac] SL8, big thumbs up from me.

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Here’s Why I Won’t Be Upgrading to the Specialized Tarmac SL8

Although I think that the SL8 has improved on the already impressive platform of the SL7 in just about every way, for me, the changes aren’t quite big enough to justify upgrading.

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Gran Fondo

The New Specialized Tarmac SL8 2024 – Evolution or Revolution?

The SL8 stays true to its Tarmac DNA – easy to handle without feeling nervous or unstable. At higher speeds, the bike’s straight-line stability is impressive, as is the incredibly low weight when accelerating.

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Specialized Tarmac SL8 First Ride Review: Clinical Improvement

Lighter, more aerodynamic, and more comfortable, the new Tarmac SL8 is truly hard to fault.

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Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL8 Dura-Ace: First Ride Review

My time with the bike so far has been limited to just a single 47km loop, so this is far from a definitive verdict, but it feels fast and smooth, with handling on another level to the already-excellent SL7.

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Reviewed: The New Specialized Tarmac SL8

… racing bikes are special because nothing moves and feels like a race bike. And on nearly perfect road surfaces, there may be no faster and more enjoyable bike than the Tarmac SL8.

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We Test the New Specialized Tarmac SL8: Back to a Forgotten Lightness and Agility

There is no doubt that Specialized has done it again. They’ve produced a [really] big bike, and it allows us to remember the sensations of lightness and agility that we thought we had forgotten with the machines of recent years…

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Matos Vélo

Getting Started With the Specialized Tarmac SL8, the Defects of the SL7 Erased [French]

A bike with two faces. Extremely lively when you’re dancing, ready for any acceleration, but much more forgiving when you’re sitting down. In fact, it’s quite astonishing.

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First Exclusive Test of the New Specialized Tarmac SL8 [French]

The bike is lively, light, and pleasant to ride

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First Impression of the S-Works Tarmac SL8 [Dutch]

One of the most pleasant surprises for me is the handling. The bike feels confident enough to dive into corners and descents ‘all-in.’ Of course, the top model comes with a hefty price tag…

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First Impression: Specialized Tarmac SL8, a Logical Evolution of the SL7 [Dutch]

The [Tarmac] SL8 is a joy to ride. The lively handling combined with the low weight makes for an extremely enjoyable bike that turns every start, gear, and climb into a playground.

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First Impression: Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL8 [Dutch]

The price is hefty, but with the caveat that this Tarmac SL8 is aerodynamic for the mass sprints and lightweight for the high mountains.

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Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL8: Our First Impression [Dutch]

The SL8 is still great to ride. In the short test period, I didn’t get to test all the aero gains, but what I did notice was the liveliness and light weight of the Tarmac SL8.

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The New Specialized Tarmac SL8 First Test [German]

The Specialized Tarmac SL8 is excellent on the gas, both on climbs and flats, and steers corners precisely.

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Wohlleben Sports

Specialized Tarmac SL8 [German]

At first glance, the bike looks a little tame and simple. In practice, however, it is an absolute racing machine with the aim of winning and putting a grin on the face of every demanding rider. I am convinced!

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User Ratings

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Bike Comparison

Specialized Tarmac SL8 in comparison to averages
Specialized Tarmac SL8