We have saved your search. Check your e-mail regularly for our suggestions. See you soon!

Specialized Aethos, Tarmac, Roubaix

In this Article

Specialized Tarmac, Roubaix, Aethos: which bike is right for you?

In this Article

Published on 22 February 2024

In the world of cycling, choosing a bike is a decision that can greatly influence our riding experience and sensations. In the collective imagination, certain brands make any cyclist dream and even vibrate. Specialized is one of them. Among the numerous brands and models available on the market, the American manufacturer stands out for its high-end bikes offering an exceptional combination of performance, comfort, and cutting-edge technology. Three iconic models from the Specialized range - the Tarmac, the Roubaix, and the Aethos - capture the interest of cycling enthusiasts worldwide, including champions like Julian Alaphilippe and Peter Sagan who have already demonstrated all their qualities. Whether you are a keen competitor, a fan of long rides, or a cyclist looking for an unparalleled riding experience, we will help you choose the bike that perfectly matches your needs and ambitions. Specialized Tarmac, Roubaix, Aethos: which bike to choose based on your practice? The Cyclist House guides you!


Specialized Aethos, Tarmac, Roubaix

Specialized Tarmac: the aero bike for performance

The Specialized Tarmac is the classic road racing bike. It has an impressive history of success at the highest level of the sport, with victories in the three Grand Tours. The Tarmac is designed to do everything exceptionally well: sprinting, cornering, climbing, and descending. It is aimed at serious cyclists who seek to give their best, whether in races, group rides, or to grab all the KOMs on Strava. The Tarmac features a stiff architecture with sleek lines and prioritizes efficiency. Its very thin seatstays filter road imperfections as well, if not better, than the Roubaix, and its accelerations are stunning. With its sporty geometry and reactive carbon frame, the Tarmac prioritizes speed and efficiency.

Of course, it is impossible to talk about the Tarmac without mentioning the new S-Works model, which, it must be said, is a true beast. 2024 saw the release of the new generation Tarmac SL8. This new model is now the flagship road bike in the Specialized range, definitively replacing the Venge. The new Tarmac offers the best of both worlds, being both aerodynamic and lightweight. Its stem system is fully integrated. It is also equipped with a full Shimano Dura-Ace drivetrain as well as carbon wheels and peripherals with the possibility of fitting tires up to 32 mm.

It definitely has the approval of both professional and amateur cyclists. On a 40 km course, the SL8 is 16 seconds faster than the SL7, which itself was already 45 seconds faster than the SL6. Specialized focused on lightweight as it weighs only 6.6 kgs, and its frame alone weighs only 685 grams, which is 15% less compared to the SL7.

The Specialized Tarmac range includes several models with prices ranging from €1,820 for the Tarmac Disc, its entry-level model, up to €16,000 for the S-Works Tarmac SL7.

This bike is for:

  • road racers and enthusiasts who cover long distances and need a high-end bike to ride at full throttle.
  • cyclists looking for performance and aerodynamics. More efficient than the Aethos on flat terrain, it prioritizes speed and efficiency.

➕ lightweight and agile

➖ possibly frame stiffness, but otherwise we are still looking. 😉

Specialized Tarmac

Specialized Aethos: the lightweight and minimalist bike

The little brother of the Tarmac, it can be considered that Specialized developed the Aethos as a bike for pure pleasure. Uphill, it clearly has nothing to envy to the Tarmac or the Roubaix. If you are an amateur of climbs, you will climb faster and more easily. The Aethos is extremely light thanks to its Fact 10 or 12r frame (depending on the model), the lightest possible carbon fiber. It weighs 6.8 kgs on the scale and less than 6 kgs in its S-Works version, with its frame in size 56 weighing only 585 g. Yet it offers the same stiffness as a traditional road bike.

Specialized made it a classic bike without the aerodynamic shapes found on many modern road bikes. Its round tubes, assembled in a traditional frame, are tuned to provide excellent stiffness and good handling. Against all trends, the cables are not integrated either. The Aethos accelerates and climbs quickly, offering a natural and sporty riding quality appreciated by cycling purists. It shares the geometry of the Tarmac, so if you get along well with the Specialized style, there will be no surprises. Moreover, the handlebar and stem combo is perfectly ergonomic to easily find your marks.

We expect high performance from this bike since its entry-level model, the Aethos Comp, is priced at €4,800 or in a reconditioned version at €3,799, and its high-end version, the S-Works, is at €15,500.

This bike is for:

  • climbers looking for a lightweight, responsive, and responsive bike. Although some riders prefer the stiffness of the Tarmac, for the vast majority of cyclists, the Aethos is dedicated to them.

➕ its featherweight obviously to climb the steepest mountains;

➖ less efficient on flat terrain and less precise in descent than the Tarmac.

Specialized Aethos


Specialized Roubaix: the comfort bike for endurance

The Specialized Roubaix bears the name of the legendary Paris-Roubaix race since this bike now has no less than 7 victories.

Its raised geometry makes it the ideal endurance bike for long rides. The Roubaix benefits from a more flexible frame to absorb bumps. Specialized has made the frame as comfortable as possible, available from 44 to 64. It is also equipped with a specific comfortable aerodynamic cobblestone seatpost, and we find the Drop Collar technology which allows lowering the seat collar. From the expert model onwards, the Roubaix benefits from a new geometry which brings it closer in terms of behavior to the Tarmac with added comfort! So, there is no more hesitation at this level.

It is the favorite bike of cyclists looking for comfort on long distances or who venture onto less frequented and maintained roads. With a higher head tube, the bike is geared towards cockpit comfort and is thus less demanding on long rides (over 5 hours). This bike is renowned for its Future Shock suspension. Now the Roubaix SL 8 benefits from the new 3.0 technology with 20 mm of travel reducing impacts by 53%.

The range varies from €2,000 with its classic 2018 model and up to €14,000 for the S-Works SL 8.

This bike is for:

  • cyclists looking for a fast, yet comfortable bike for long distances, rough roads, and some unpaved surfaces.

➕comfortable and fast;

➖slight penalty for weight. In its lightest version, it is at 7.3 kgs.

Specialized Roubaix

Specialized Tarmac, Aethos, Roubaix: ultimately which one to choose?


In terms of aerodynamics, from the 2022 Tarmac SL7 version onwards, this bike beats the Roubaix hands down. Specialized claims that the updated frame and cockpit of the Tarmac SL7 make it almost as aerodynamic as the Venge road bike, which has been discontinued.

For Tarmacs before 2014 and Roubaixs before 2020, it's the same story, as these bikes do not use aerodynamic tubes. As for the Aethos, you will be pleasantly surprised by its astonishing behavior, notably thanks to its reactive and competitive frame. In the end, aerodynamics are not the most important thing for a casual cyclist, but if you want to maximize your speed on flat and hilly roads, it is worth considering.


The Roubaix is certainly the most comfortable bike of the three. At the rear, the bike uses a model-specific seatpost (CG-R on 2013-2019 models, Pavé on 2020+ models) designed to flex to absorb more violent impacts. At the front, the Roubaix 2017 and later use the Future Shock, a lightweight suspension system integrated into the headset which offers 20 mm of travel.

Geometry also makes a big difference. The Roubaix is more relaxed than the Tarmac with a lower bottom bracket, shorter reach, and higher stack. This allows two things: more stability and a more upright riding position. The bike is thus less prone to dancing, which saves you energy. It will not be as agile as the Tarmac and Aethos in tight groups and fast corners, but it is better for everyday riding, especially on rough roads. A straight riding position is not as good for aerodynamics, but it can reduce tension on key parts of the body such as the back, arms, and hands.

Tire size is another important comfort factor. Wider tires have more air volume and can be used at lower pressures, which improves comfort. In general, a Roubaix can be equipped with slightly wider tires than a comparable Tarmac or Aethos.


As for the price, these three bikes are equivalent. However, you can take advantage of one of these models in reconditioned version between 30 and 50% cheaper compared to a new model.

As you have understood, these three bikes are excellent models and there is ultimately no bad choice. To help you choose between the Tarmac, Aethos, or Roubaix, take into account above all the type of cyclist you are and how you will use the bike. Also, do not forget that the used market can also allow you to access the bike of your dreams at an excellent quality/price ratio.

And for cyclists who prefer French craftsmanship, we have some nice brands in stock. Take the opportunity to discover the Adris road bikes straight from Brittany, and believe us, this nice brand has not finished talking about it.

The Cyclist House

Older Post
Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Close (esc)


Use this popup to create an e-mail form for a mailing list. Alternatively, you can use this as a simple call-to-action with a link to a product or website.


By clicking on the button, you can determine whether you are older than you are, and whether you consume alcohol.


Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now