Should I build my own Tarmac?

I’m most likely going to buy a new bike in the spring, but I’m having some issues when it comes to locking in the finer details. I looking at the Tarmac and the Venge, probably going with the Tarmac. The issue I’m having is that I’m really short and my geometry is just plain weird. A 49cm get me close but then I need shorter cranks and I want a 38cm handlebar. So if I buy a new bike I’m immediately fiddling with cranks and installing powermeters and new handlebars and a couple other things, am I better off just buying a tarmac frame and building the darn thing myself? The other thing that makes this attractive to me is the financial aspect, I can pay cash as I go over four months and lessen the odds of my wife having a coronary when she sees the grand total. I’m a compulsive researcher so I’ll be diving into this in depth, but does anyone else out there have some experience buying a new bike when you don’t fit nicely into generic sizing?

Whenever I have looked at specialized frames the thing that shocked me was the price. They seem very spendy compared to the full bike. At least here in the UK.

I’ve just ordered a new frame myself and before I pulled the trigger I worked out what components I wanted and costed them out at current prices, totalled them up and checked if I could get any where near it with an off the shelf bike and it was a struggle. A lot of reselling of parts would need to happen especially when you add in crank based power meters etc…

That’s what I’m afraid of, that the sum of the parts will be more expensive than off the shelf. I believe though, that if I buy off the shelf I’m still going to be spending money to get a good fit anyway, so I need to see where it washes out. I should have just kept to golf.


Have you looked at the women’s tarmacs? The 49 comes with 38 handlebars and 167.5 cranks. And they have some of the best colors. Actually, I want the purple s-works myself! Probably the only thing “women’s” about them is the saddle


Yes! I’ve been looking into those a lot actually. I’m actually kind of stuck though because I don’t love the colors. I really like the men’s black and white tarmac disc expert, but don’t dig the girls colors. If I could get an all black color way I would do it for sure, I already have my preferred saddle anyway. Great suggestion for anyone else in our boat.

The tarmac disc comp looks black in the pic, though it says it’s purple/red/black :man_shrugging:t2:

What are the aero differences between the Tarmac and a-works tarmac frames?

That I don’t know. It’s currently my understanding that they are the same shape, but the S-Works has 12r carbon where the expert has 10r, and the comp has 9r.

Nothing. It’s a different carbon lay up.

I’ve done exactly what you’re thinking of and ended up with s-Works Tarmac SL6 for around £4k cheaper than the off the peg version. If you were to do the same build as stock bike the price is almost identical. But you can save money in places if you’re clever.


I have built all my own bikes for over ten years. The main reason for me has been that very few companies offer ready built bikes with Campy. Building your own bike with generic components (read: shimano/sram) is not very cost efficient, but if you want to have something different, it is a great option.


I’m not a particularly odd size but I’ve always built my own bikes. There are lots of advantages, cost if you’re crafty, a bike exactly the spec you want, much more choice in components.

Like @kervelo I’ve always used Campag components although it’s pretty easy to mix and match groupset bits and pieces and if you build it yourself the choice is always yours.


Building your own bike has to be about enjoying building and racing your own build. If you like fiddling about adjusting bikes, or fettling as we call it sometimes, this could be for you.

I probably saved over £1,500 on my Argon18 because I found a good deal on a previous year’s frame set…but when you take into account the hours and stress, the risk of damaging components…I don’t know.

I’ve got a shed full of bits and tools, and I know everything about my race machine which is the real profit, I don’t consider any financial savings to have been really made.

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…And another lover of Campagnolo here :smile:

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Do you mind sharing your build? I’ve thought about this too.

You got me searching for bargains, even though I’m not in the market for more.

£2,499 -> £899 gets you think though…(other bargains there too), are we allowed to post links to shops here? Argon18 Nitrogen aero roadbike frameset anyway.