2016 Specialized Tarmac Expert Disc vs Tarmac SL6 Sport

Deciding between 2 road bikes and was wondering how the 2016 Tarmac Expert Link would compare to the newer but lower in the lineup Tarmac SL6 Disc Sport Link? From the looks of it, I think the expert would be lighter and have better wheels (comes with Rovals). But the SL6 might be more aero and have more tire clearance? Given the choice (both bikes costing the same) which would you get?

I had SL5 and also rode SL6 and I’m now riding Venge.
I was super happy with SL5, and I think it is faster (with clx50 wheels) then SL6 (but less comfortable), but on the other hand I really like the disk brakes…

SL5 is probably currently best buy bike.

I see, so not too much difference between the 2?

Was also thinking an Allez Sprint Disc could be a decent option too but not sure compared to the Tarmacs

It’s best to decide and communicate what you want from the bike and what you’ll use it for before asking for advice. Otherwise people will project their own desires in their advice.

In order of priority, what do you want the bike to be good at?


Yeah will do :sweat_smile:. I’ll be using the bike as my main bike for training and racing:

  1. Training + Ability to do long miles with relative comfort (I’m sure anything is better than the 23 mm tires + 15 year old frame I ride now)
  2. Racing crits/fondos
  3. Fast group rides

I haven’t ridden it, but I suspect the Allez Sprint is going to ride rough. It’s deep section aluminum, which is going to be tend to be rigid. Crits generally are all about the high power sprints and breakaways, so it’s likely designed extra stiff. Not ideal for long rides. That said, I would much rather crash an aluminum frame than a carbon one.

The Tarmac is designed to balance speed and comfort with speed still being the main goal (not a total endurance bike).

Tires and tubes can go a long way towards comfort. Vittoria Competition latex tubes are amazingly smooth rolling. Pair them with a supple 28 mm tire and any bike will ride really nice as long as you’re not hitting potholes.

How big of a tire do you want to run? Keep in mind you should consider true width. GP4KII are notoriously larger than labeled. GP5k are closer to labeled size, but rim width affects all tires.

I think I’d be more inclined towards the SL6.

I’ve been actually wondering how those round seat post SL6es ride compared to the more expensive models.

One of my concerns would be tire clearance. I’d want to run 28mm tires that measure 30-32mm when inflated. I’m pretty sure an SL6 could accommodate that. That SL5 is spec’d with 24mm tires. How wide can it go?

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Yeah I was thinking I’ll run 28’s or 30’s depending on how much clearance the bike has and want to try out tubeless as well! Yeah sounds like the Tarmac might be a better fit for what I’m looking for? Do you see any differences between the SL6 and the Expert that I linked in the OP that would swing you either way?

When I asked the owner he said that it can take 28’s that measure 30 mm. But I’m not able to verify that with any info I can find online

First of all, depending on usage, the SL6 could have less wear, but that is highly dependent on the exact bike you’re buying. There’s wear you can see (drivetrain) and wear/damage you can’t (frame internals, fatigue, bearings). So talk to both owners too at least understand how many miles / hours the bike had been ridden. Ask about any crashes too.

I would lean towards the SL6 for a few reasons.

  1. Thru axles means the bike has more resale appeal if/when you move in to something else. It also means investing in wheels for it can likely transfer to new bikes / other bikes.
  2. Supposedly the SL6 is more aero and light as a frame itself. This is the one part of the bike that you can’t change, so having it be better is a positive.
  3. The SL6 was designed when wider tires were being acknowledged as faster. It’s got a bigger tire clearance (officially a 30 mm tire vs 28 for SL5).

The main downsides to the SL6 are the 105 instead of Ultegra and no carbon wheels. Depending on wear and your upgrade plans, you might be swapping out parts anyways so that’s not much of a factor. Besides 105 is still great. For the wheels, that’s personal, but the cost of carbon wheels has been coming down a lot.

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Yeah the Tarmac Expert has ~500 miles on it and is a higher spec bike so actually a little lighter than the SL6. The SL6 probably has 1000-2000 miles but seems to be in fine shape. The expert not being Thru Axle is not great since it’d affect resale value and finding replacement wheels if I crash. Tbh I didn’t know disc brake bikes could be QR and not thru axle. Is it not just thru axle with QR end caps?

I have an SL5 Tarmac Disc and can confirm that it’s standard QR with 100/135mm hubs.

A 2016 with less than 500 miles on it? That would give me pause.

For 30 years Mountain bikes all came with disc brakes and QR :grin:. There’s nothing wrong with QR. it actually has higher tension than thru axle, but TA helps make the frame a bit stiffer. On road bikes it is pretty much just marketing which has shifted consumer preferences.

Some wheels are convertible between QR and TA, it really depends on the hub. Google it. If they are convertible and you can find the caps, then that’s a bonus to the SL5 since you get some nice wheels.

If you don’t care about resale value (will this eventually become your rainy day or trainer bike?), then that’s less against the SL5.

But you will be more limited for tire size, which is a big deal to me. I like to run tires that measure about 30mm. It’s not clear to me how much margin is in that 28 mm official tire clearance. Sometimes that number is conservative so that most tires labeled as 28s but measuring wider still fit. Sometimes that is the true width limit. Do your research.

I see that the SL5 is an SCS bike. I wouldn’t want that if it’s true. SCS is an oldball Specialized only standard which means that those wheels will only fit SCS frames. You can convert the bike with a new derailleur hanger but then you’ll need new wheels.

The only way I could see this being an issue is if you plan on using the bike both indoors on a direct drive trainer and outdoors. And even then, it wouldn’t matter much if you only use ERG mode.

That said, 12x142TA is a much better standard.

If you are talking about SL6 I run 700x28 GP5000 on mine and clearance is fine at 90psi.

Damn. That stupid SCS crap. I forgot about that. You can’t get proper shifting unless you use special hubs that are not compatible with other bikes. For me that would be a deal killer on the SL5.

I’m running a non-SCS wheel with the non-SCS hanger. No shifting issues at all.

Yeah this really sucks and is good to know. I’m gonna pass for now and the search continues!