Fast and quick. These two words best describe the characteristics of the bikes that I just test rode. Turin bicycles, here in Denver, offered me the opportunity to ride a 2016 Tarmac Pro Ui2 disc and I jumped at it. I’ve been riding a Venge for the past 2 1/2 years and wanted to see what the other flagship bike from Specialized had to offer.
The weather here in Denver has been hit and miss lately. 26F with snow everywhere to 65F and cloudy with wind. The day I took out the Tarmac it was the latter. My training plan called for 4hrs of zone 2. Perfect, I’ll take this beauty up into the mountains. From my house, it takes around 35 minutes of riding west until the real climbing starts. One of my favorite canyons are here averages about a 2% grade for 10 miles. It’s a climb that is suited to my style.
I tried to restrain myself from going too hard because what I had planned for myself was going to require most of the energy I had. The bike felt very planted underneath me. If I stood up and put some power to the pedals, it responded immediately. I ride a 58cm frame and currently weigh in at 190lbs. As I like to say, I’m not a climber. Duh.
I guess I picked a good route for this bike. From my door, I essentially climbed for 34 miles and gained 4,500′ with the steepest bits towards the end. The bike did everything that everyone says that it does on the climbs. Where I was surprised was on the descent.
I really metered my efforts on the last few miles of the climbing. The downhill that awaited me was one of my favorites. 6.5 miles of twisty mountain roads with gravel in the corners but almost no traffic. I tend to cheat a bit when I descend. I use the maps on my Garmin 1000 so I can see what’s coming at me.
I took the first few moments to get my legs use to a different pedaling style than I had just been doing for the past 3 hours. Ok, legs are feeling good, let’s ride some tempo. The disc brakes allowed me to brake a bit later going into the sharp corners and with less effort. The lever pull initiated in a different spot than it does on my other bikes but that was easy to get use to. I’ve also gotten in the habit of shifting into an easier gear before the corner and allowing myself to get my feet up to speed sooner. The Tarmac really accelerated out of the corners quickly, it felt much different than my Venge. I ended up setting a PR by 14 sec on that section of road and I didn’t really feel like I was going that hard.
The rest of the way home I just rode a moderate pace. There are some nice long sections of downhill where it’s easier to do a “super tuck” than it is to pedal. This is a position that I use all the time and am very comfortable when in it. I’m happy to report that there is more room to fit your body comfortably on this bike than there is on my current Venge.
Bottom line: I liked the bike a lot, however I would not buy the disc version. I just have too many other wheelsets that are not disc. If I was just getting into the sport, I would probably feel differently. Disc brakes are a good thing, and I’m sure they’re here to stay. I would love to have them in wet conditions where I’ve had some scary rides on carbon rim brakes. This bike proved to be quick to get up to speed and could hold it’s own when the road turned down.