Tarmac vs. Roubaix

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Last Updated on June 29, 2021

Specialized road bikes are popular among beginners and professionals alike. The brand is among the renowned ones in the cycling industry as it comes with highly-sought technology among consumers globally.

Most Specialized road bikes have earned a high rating from many reviewers. Among the models that attract a lot of consumer interest are Tarmac and Roubaix.

Here's a detailed comparison guide that delves into their features to help you understand the differences for an informed purchasing decision. 


All About Specialized Tarmac 

specialized tarmac bike

Specialized launched the Tarmac model in 2020. It hit the market as a no-compromise race bike that provides the best experience for cyclists. It comes as a combination of aero properties and lightweight and sharp handling.

The end product is a bike with razor-sharp handling and instantaneous power transfer. It puts you in an aggressive position while providing quick handling capabilities. Its lightweight makes it capable of uphill performance with a high compliance level. 

Tarmac comes with a handful of updates and refinements that help it preserve its position as a race bike. 

Frameset and Cockpit

Tarmac comprises second-tier carbon, with the tube shapes being similar to the predecessor. According to the brand, this feature makes the bike 45 seconds faster over a 40-kilometer distance, moving at 50kph. The tube is thinner and not as deep as that of other models in the Specialized range, and the fork is also a little different. 

The new frame is now disc-only and gives very clean lines. The cable integration mimics that of the S-Works version. The Di2 wires and hydraulic wires disappear into the front of the head tube. The junction box positions itself at the rear of the seat post where it is visible while riding. 


Tarmac's bar and stem are in-house components, with the stem being proprietary. However, being 100 mm long, it is too short for a 56 bike. Most users would prefer to swap it for a longer one. The 42 cm aluminum-compact bar is standard and has no internal cable routing. 

The recent upgrades of the bike have enhanced its ability to deliver more rear-end stiffness. The lightweight box still makes it tick, with a top-of-the-range frame that features FACT 12R carbon. Its weight stands at an impressive 6.7 kg, which is lighter than other models in the range. 


The construction of the Specialized Tarmac bike makes it a power transfer bike. If it were a person, it would constantly urge you to increase your riding speed regardless of the terrain.

The combination of a supremely stiff frame and a set of aero road bikes wheels give you the impression of unrestricted speed. It also features a remarkable degree of poise derived from its powerful sic brakes at your fingertips. The entire rising experience combines precision and efficiency for complete delight. 

Who is Specialized Tarmac For?

The Tarmac bike is one designed for any rider looking forward to enjoying delightful riding experiences. The entire package provides value for money, especially because of the aero gains that deliver free speed.

 The new frameset and extra tire clearance are enough reasons for any rider to want an experience with this bike. 

Advantages of Specialized Tarmac

  • A lightweight bike 
  • Ranks high a no-compromise race bike 
  • Wide clearance tires for better traction and performance 
  • The cockpit integration and updated frame enhance stability 

Disadvantages of Specialized Tarmac

  • Expensive 
  • The wheels don’t provide value for the price you pay 

Final thoughts

The updated version of the Tarmac race bike is everything a rider would want. The frame is made from lower-grade carbon, making it light and enhancing its stability.

However, the budget wheels do not match the high cost of the bike. For this reason, you are better off with the Specialized Roubaix bike. 

All About the Specialized Roubaix 

Specialized Roubaix

In the broad range of bikes from Specialized, none beats what Roubaix offers in speed and comfort. The bike is designed to ride faster over bumpier roads, based on the brand's motor 'Smoother is Faster.' 

Roubaix features aerodynamic tube profiles, including an aero seat post and lowered seat stays.

The design makes it more aero than its Tarmac counterpart and brings it to par with the Venge model. The new design directly responds to the demand by riders to have average speeds close to 50kph. 

Roubaix offers a more comfortable ride because it comes with a Future Shock 2.0 damping system. This serves to provide 20 mm of travel while the seat post further reduces vibrations for enhanced pedaling efficiency on rough terrains.

The bike can accommodate up to 33 mm tires, ranking high as the ultimate go-anywhere road bike. 


The frame of the Roubaix is closely similar to that of others in the range. However, the main differentiator is the grade of carbon fiber used in its making. The model used FACT 10R carbon and has a different suspension system. 

The overall design is what Specialized refers to as 'Rider-First Engineering.' It incorporates tubing profiles and lengths, not to mention the compliance and stiffness characteristics.

The bike also boasts of aerodynamic improvements that every rider can benefit from in a faster bike. The frame has longer chainstays for enhanced stability. 


Roubaix has Ultegra R8000 mechanical groupset for shifting and braking that you can trust. However, the groupset is noisy and highly mechanical. The DT Swiss R470 Disc wheelset is a reliable workhorse that enhances performance. 

The Turbo Pro tires provide a strong grip. They are technically fast, but they lack the supple nature of the more expensive tire types. They feel a little wooden and deflect easily. The tires are also not tubeless compatible, yet this bike would do well with the tubeless version. 

All the other components of Roubaix are in-house. However, the Hover bar is worth mentioning. Many riders want a taller position without using a huge spacer stack, and this one comes in handy to meet this need. 

Lastly, the carbon-pave seat post and the seat clamp perform well in dissipating road shock and easing adjustability. The inclusion of a power saddle that cushions and supports you is also a plus. 

Who is Specialized Roubaix For?

Roubaix is a model designed for users who care about speed. It is not a bike that will mesmerize you with its speeding power, although it can.

With a few changes of the components, its performance is more of a Rolls-Royce than a Lamborghini. The emphasis is on getting you where you need to be and still be in good condition to walk afterward. 

Advantages of Roubaix

  • Fitted with Future Shock that reduces vibration on rough terrains
  • It has a perfectly balanced ride performance 
  • The frame quality is highly decent 

Disadvantages of Roubaix

  • The wheels are heavy and reduce the bike’s speed potential 
  • The specifications of the bike are a bit limiting compared to others

Final thoughts on Roubaix

Roubaix is a race bike that will easily cover several hundred miles without compromise. The sharp handling and decent power transfer provide you with reliable performance.

It also has the power to kill road shocks hence fits the bill as a dependable bike. On the downside, don't expect the bike to light up the roads with speed or enhanced anti-gravity proficiency. 

Final Thoughts: Choosing Between Tarmac and Roubaix

The Specialized range of race bikes has a lot to offer. Their material, geometry, and function cater to the diverse cycling demographics, including beginners and professionals. Choosing between Tarmac and Roubaix models can be an uphill task. 

Tarmac is a lightweight bike that has attracted approvals in all aspects of cycling. It is popular among cyclists across the board, from the café goer to the criterion racer. 

Roubaix is an endurance bike that can do well over the rough stuff. Its geometry is slightly relaxed, and it comes with wider tire clearance.

Its shock-absorbing technology provides for a smooth ride. If price is the factor to help you decide, Roubaix will leave a less significant dent on your pocket than Tarmac. 

Harold Whitford

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About the Author

My name is Harold Whitford, a husband, father, and avid cyclist with a Bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Delaware. Having been in the industry for more than 15 years, I have a number of the road race and national time trial championships in my bag.

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