Specialized vs. S-Works

I am in the market for a new bike frame and the most likely choice is a Specialized Tarmac Pro 2019 frameset. I am coming from a Specialized Allez E5 2017 (my first serious road bike) and think the new frameset would be a significant upgrade.

Is there a significant improvement to the S-Works Tarmac over the Specialized Tarmac? To me, the increase in cost is significant and would only be willing to shell out more if the increase in performance is as significant (as opposed to just being marginal).

Would love to know the TR community’s thoughts on this before making my purchase.


Being 100 here - it probably doesn’t matter. I think it’s about 200 grams difference. Weight is highly overrated.

Buy the Pro and keep your money.


Not a big difference. Have you considered the Allez Sprint Disc ??


I don’t know about the Tarmac, but apparently the Venge Pro is the exact same frame as the S-works Venge, but without the S-works logo.


I think the biggest difference between the two is when you buy the complete bike, as the S-works will have all of the “best” components, while the pro will have some of the “best” with some 1 step down.


The difference is in the frame. The S-Works bikes use a different carbon lay-up. The S-Works frames are lighter and stiffer. Also they come with ceramicspeed BB as standard. I believe that they are built in a different factory and with a higher level of quality control.

The off the peg bikes do have all top of the line components, but you can buy the frame and put on it whatever you like. Whether it’s worth the extra money is purely subjective.


I have considered it, but figured it’d be better to change from AL to carbon, especially since I’ve only had my current Allez for less than 2 years. Regardless, the Allez Sprint is certainly a good option in my mind.

FWIW I’ve got a tarmac pro and I’ve been very happy with it. Would happily buy another one if they get with the program and give me one with discs and ultegra di2. I’ve ridden the current s works tarmac a bit and they’re amazing, but I think a good percentage of that over my bike is the wheels they come with.

I recently purchased the 2019 S-Works Tarmac. Before doing so, I test rode the regular Tarmac for a day on a 90mi/6kft ride - long hill climbs, high speed descents, rollers, and flats on varied pavement to really test it out.

Both the regular Tarmac and the S-Works version have the same geometry. But that’s where the similarity ends. The carbon fiber materials and carbon layup are different and that leads to some very important performance differences. The regular Tarmac is a great bike that most people would enjoy - I certainly did! However, the S-Works Tarmac is in a different class - it is a racing machine. In the “old days”, these differences would just translate into a stiffer frame. That’s not true anymore. Engineering is so advanced, that when you do sprint accelerations, it has a real “snap” to it. Power transfer is amazing.

If you want to see a few #s from my first 4 rides on the S-Works, see my post in the Forum thread below that includes a snapshot of my WK04 PDC comparing the past 2 weeks vs 2019. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a power meter on the regular Tarmac for comparison. The comparison in the #s is to my Specialized Roubaix that I have been riding (a great endurance bike).

I think the bottom line for your decision is whether the kind of riding you do/plan to do is one that could utilize the S-Works and whether you can/want to spend the money on it. In either case, you will have a great bike.


If this is the case you’d keep your Allez and upgrade wheels, group, kit, etc. (which are still marginal gains if were being honest). It’s a perfectly functional race frame with good geo and reasonable weight. Neither carbon bike is going to make you much (if any) faster.

I’d buy the one you want and feel better serves your needs. And definitely get the one with the fastest paint job.

The placebo effect is real, and new bike gains fall squarely into that category for all but the most specific products and circumstances like TTs and some full sus mtbs.


Thanks, @bobmac! This was really helpful. :+1:

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Forgot to mention that I’ve upgraded everything but the frame. And I’ve also set my mind on a carbon frame. :slight_smile:

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From what I’m aware, it’s just lighter, not stiffer. They use a higher quality carbon which means they can use less of it, but it translates to roughly the same stiffness when you compare between the two frames. The S-works frames also have a higher manufacturing tolerance as well.

I’ve got the black 2019 Tarmac Pro model and it’s an awesome bike.


2019 Tarmac Pro owner. I love it. You won’t be disappointed with either. Do I think I am missing out? Nope.

The pro wasnt available at the time I jumped in and bought my tarmac SWORKS, absolutely love it. Everytime I ride, the bike just encourages you to ride fast - which may not always be in your best interests :laughing::laughing: My 49cm frame\bike weighs in at 6.8kg’s, its actually ridiculous how light it is!

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Then whichever carbon frame you prefer is the way to go. The fastest bike is the one you enjoy and actually ride:)

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Any difference will only be noticed in your head. The Allez Sprint is a fantastic bike at a fraction of the cost.


Just finishing building my S Works Tarmac and from the little I have ridden it I’m blown away, but don’t get me wrong I don’t think in my hands ( or legs as it where) that it would be massively better/faster than the pro.
I dare say a better or more experienced rider may notice the nuance of the carbon lay up etc.
The one thing I can say is for a hydraulic brake, ultegra di2 equipped bike it weighs in under 7kg and when you put the power down it just seems to leap forward.
What ever you buy you will love it.


Sorry if people feel I’m stealing the post, not my intent.

I’m currently looking at getting a 2018 Tarmac SL6 Expert which is on clearance (£2k). What’s the difference between Expert and Pro?

My other option is a Canyon, either an Ultimate or Aeroad, but think the Tarmac will do the job, particularly with the claimed aero gains against the older model.

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That’s very light! What wheels and groupset do you have on it, if you don’t mind me asking?