New Specialized road bike leaked with unique oversized head tube — is this the new Tarmac SL8 or a revamped Roubaix?

Back in January, we speculated that we might see a new Tarmac SL8 before this year’s Tour de France, but we’d now expect to see an official release prior to Remco Evenepoel’s bid to win either the World Championship road race in Glasgow or a second Vuelta a España. It seems that his teammates might have given the game away prematurely though, as these leaked images appear to show a new Specialized road bike that is certainly different to anything we’ve seen previously. 

Studio pictures have been circulating in recent days of a new Specialized bike, with some people claiming it was fake. However, a recent photo of Soudal Quick-Step riders on a training camp, posted to the online forum Weight Weenies, all but confirms that a new Specialized release could be imminent. 

The pictures show a bike that shares plenty of similarities with the current Specialized Tarmac SL7, but also has a rear triangle that looks more like the SL6 model, with thinner and lower seatstays.

2023 Specialized spotted

Since Specialized killed off the Venge in 2021, the Tarmac SL7 is typically promoted as Specialized’s ‘one bike to do it all’. On this new bike we can see that Kamm tail tubing has been used throughout. This suggests aerodynamics have clearly been a consideration. 

With the relaxation of the UCI’s frame regulations and the 3:1 rule back in December, our head of video Jamie predicted that a new Specialized Tarmac SL8 would take advantage of this, and feature a deeper headtube. This is exactly what we can see here. 

2023 3T Strada headtube

The front end is where we can the biggest difference to the SL7, and in particular the bulbous headtube. This appears to follow a similar design philosophy to the latest 3T Strada. 3T says of this bike: “You’ll see the headtube is deeper and with a full aero “nose”, taking full advantage of the new UCI rules.”

Interestingly, none of the Soudal Quick-Step riders in the photo are using an integrated cockpit. This could just be down to rider choice, but also makes us question whether it’s actually a revamped Roubaix we are looking at. 

2023 Specialized spotted

On closer inspection, we also noticed a white stripe around the tyres. None of the tyres in the current Specialized range currently have this.  

When will this mystery be solved through the medium of an official release? We’ve asked Specialized for comment, and in the meantime we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled… 

What are your thoughts on this unreleased Specialized? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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