Specialized Tarmac Pro SL6, 56 (2019) (Operation TransAlp)

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Jugi
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:10 am

by Jugi

All of this will be unfolding in the next two weeks or so, so bear with me as I'm going through the steps of building this bicycle. I'm going to break the process down into:
1. planning & anticipation
2. weighing in
3. building
4. end result.

If you are here just for component and frame weights, go ahead and roll down to my next post.

Planning & anticipation
For the past five years I have been riding a Specialized Tarmac Pro SL3, which I have been very happy on. But like all things in life, eventually one needs a change. I made the critical mistake (?) of test riding a friend's S-Works Tarmac SL6 during August, and that pushed me over the edge. While riding the two bikes back to back, it was very clear how much more effortlessly the SL6 climbed, rolled over small hills and kept velocity when pushing on the throttle.

Fall came and with it came all kinds of good deals to be had. Already during June this year I contemplated for a long time whether I should go for a disc brake bike, but eventually decided that was unnecessary for me. During that time a friend of mine and I decided we will be participating in the Tour TransAlp next year. We will see whether this rim brake decision will come back to haunt me.

Other candidates were as follows. The current generation's Scott Foil frameset was available on a nice price, but the integrated cockpit's dimensions were not exactly to my liking. Also I didn't like to have a mediocre rear brake on the chainstays. The current Focus Izalco Max was also quite intriguing because of the light frame and geometry differences to what I'm used to. I was unable to find a good deal on the frameset and when checking out a used Izalco Max up close, I thought the design looked a bit out-dated compared to many others, and eventually the geometry seemed like a large leap into the unknown. Although I had made the decision of not moving to disc brakes, the BMC Teammachine SLR02 Disc was in contention as it would have been available for a very nice deal. I test rode that bike 6 months ago as a rental in Mallorca, and it left a good general impression although the SLR02 Disc would be quite hard to build a sub 6,8 kg bike on. Also I'm not a fan of the BMC aesthetics, and in the final stages that was the deciding factor to make a pass on it.

In my opinion, the Tarmac SL6 frame is a work of functional art. I tend to think that every once in a while for example in consumer electronics and other tightly contested areas of industry, a manufacturer releases something which feels like it is a bit too good for market at that point in time. Like it is a generation ahead of the releasable tech. To me, the SL6 is just that. Overall a very well designed product, which ended up superior in my shoot-outs.

Like was mentioned, the "organ donor" in this project is my trusty old Tarmac Pro SL3. The componentry I had on it was selected during the years of ownership, and there is really very little I wanted to change on the bike until eventually selling the frame. The bike weight hovered at about 6,86 kg and the bare frameset weight was 1540 g. Because of this history I'm pretty much already set on the components, and this will be sort of a concervative approach to weightweenie. I want a light weight bike, but won't be grinding down every excessive gram.

Build list for this project:
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I'm projecting a weight of less than 6,5 kg for the build. I have already weighed some components, but as of right now quite a lot is based on estimation and weights found around the internet. My calculation says 6410 g at the moment, but my gut feeling is something missing from that. I do have another tubular wheelset (Easton EC90 SL) which is about 50-100g lighter than the FFWDs, but I feel like the 50mm rims will suite the bike's overall look a little bit better. If push comes to shove and I'll end up hanging just over 6,5 kg, I might resort to the EC90s. 8)

Only components I had to order in addition to the frameset were the bottom bracket, the direct mount brake calipers and the bottle cages. I could have gone with the Cane Creek eeBrakes as calipers, but my previous experiences on mixing the brake levers and calipers from different manufacturers have not been very good. On top of that, I wanted to keep the entire groupset aesthetically SRAM, which I think will compliment the frame.

I will be weighing the components already waiting installation in the next five days. Everything should be on hand in the next ten days, as the Pro SL6 (56) frameset was readily available from Spez's European warehouse to my LBS. I will start the build as soon as all components have arrived.
Last edited by Jugi on Sun Oct 21, 2018 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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VTR1000SP2
Posts: 438
Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:21 pm

by VTR1000SP2

While I just got one and enjoy every minute I’m on it, I do agree with you that the Izalco is now dated. Another point I have to agree with is that the SL6 is the epitome of functional art.

I like what you’re doing here and I’ve subscribed. Good luck with the build and the adventure.


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by Weenie


Jugi
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:10 am

by Jugi

Weighing in (the components)

Well, as it turns out a 6,5 kg bike is not easy to slap together by using parts just laying around. Go figure. :wink: Most of my quoted or estimated weights were below actual numbers. Here are the components (which I have right now) and previous quoted weights respectively.

Groupset

SRAM Red eTap front derailleur (167 g, quoted 159 g). Original attachment hardware replaced by previous owner.
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SRAM Red eTap rear derailleur, short (240 g, quoted 236 g)
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SRAM Red eTap levers (268 g, quoted 265 g)
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Quarq Red 172,5mm 110BCD GXP cranks with Rotor Q-Rings 52/36 chainrings (751 g, quoted 740 g)
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SRAM PC-1130 chain, cut to length (246 g, quoted 256 g)
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SRAM XG-1190 11-26 cassette (160 g, quoted 155 g)
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PowerCordz, Jagwire and Nokon brake cable housings, built to estimated length (39 g)
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Jagwire brake cables, cut to estimated length
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Wheels

FFWD F5R + F5C with Schwalbe One 22mm and Continental (Sprinter) Gatorskin 22mm (2060 g)
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FFWD + DT Swiss RWS QR skewers (97 g)
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Similar pair of tires as on the wheelset, one used and one new (580 g)
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So the wheelset ends up at about 1480 g without tires, skewers or cassette (estimated 1400 g)

Others

3T ARX II 100mm 17° stem, old model with F3's longer underside bolts (133 g, quoted or estimated 120 g)
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F3 Cycling Form mount (29 g, quoted 25 g)
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AbsoluteBlack Top cap (4 g, quoted 4 g)
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(This is supposed to be a picture of a) 3T Ergonova LTD 420mm handlebar (186 g, quoted 185 g)
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3T Corius Team black handlebar tape, uncut (75 g, estimated 85 g)
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Shimano PD-6800 pedals (263 g, quoted 258 g)
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So far the QR skewers were the biggest surprise. I hadn't really paid attention to them before, but a 50 g saving could be had there without affecting performance too much or breaking the bank. In my estimation the wheelset as a whole was the biggest miss. I bought the front wheel originally as a pair for a rear disc and the rear as a F5C 28 hole rim only at a very reasonable price, then just built it up as a pair for the front F5R. So such a wheelset has not been available as is. I may have to resort to the Easton EC90 SL set to get this thing down to a reasonable number. Also, my rough estimation for the tires was about 240 g a piece. 290g seems to be closer to actual. Lighter tubs will be something to consider if I want to drive the weight down further, as that would be beneficial for reducing the rolling mass as well.

If the quoted weights for other components and frameset hold up, I'm looking at a 6863 g estimation for the complete bike at the moment. That can't be true, as I should be dropping about 250-300 g from the frameset compared to the previous Pro SL3. And that was a 6860 g bike. :roll:

For reference: Specialized Tarmac Pro SL3 frameset with RD hanger, bottle cage bolts, seatpost clamp, expander, top cap and headset (1540 g)
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We'll see how this turns outs. Next up the rest of components and the frameset get weighed, that should happen during next week.

KCookie
Posts: 1240
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2015 9:40 am
Location: Pom living in Australia

by KCookie

Another cheap option would be to change the bar tape. I just bought some Deda for $12AU, and weighs 32g uncut with backing, so I'm hoping the end weight will be 29g or lower. Definitely change those heavy skewers though.

Jugi
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:10 am

by Jugi

Building

Once arrived, rest of components got on to the scale:

SRAM S-900 direct mount brake calipers (314 g, quoted 326 g)
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Elite Rocko Carbon bottle cages (56 g a pair, quoted 42 g)
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Praxis Works BB30 to GXP bottom bracket (with the PF30 sleeve still on, which I discarded) (162 g, quoted 158 g)
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While I was at it, I decided to check the grease level of brand new Enduro bearings in this Praxis Works BB. Both sides looked like this:
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There may be different schools of thought on this, but I prefer the best weather sealing possible on my BB. As the bottom bracket bearings are always running quite a low rpm, I don't there is much harm in making the bearings swim in the stuff. So I put in some more grease to fill the voids.

Finally yesterday I got my hands on the frameset.

Specialized Tarmac Pro SL6 (56) frame, in out-of-the-box condition (including RD hanger, bottle cage bolts, rear brake cable guide and ferrule stops and mechanical RD's housing stop in the drive side chainstay (1000 g)
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My scale was hovering between 1000 g and 980 g, but I think it's fair to call it a 1 kilo frameset. I was anticipating somewhere close to 950 g, so a bit of a disappointed there.

Specialized Tarmac Pro (56) fork, uncut (350 g)
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I had estimated the fork to be between 320-330 g, and after cutting the excess off the crown tube...
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It went down to 328 g.

S-Works Tarmac SL6 20mm offset seatpost (with saddle cradle parts for carbon rails) (175 g, quoted 170 g)
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Right now I ended up at about 4,25 in the seatpost's height scale, so I could easily cut something off it. Right now I'm not planning to do that, but it's a possibility.

So, a bare Specialized Tarmac Pro SL6 (56) frame and fork cut to fit me weighs less than 1330 g. But then some small parts need to be added, as in a headset, a seatpost wedge, a brake arch for the rear brake caliper, an expander and various port + bolts covers (130 g)
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After preparing the frameset for components, it stands at 1460 g
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Only 80 g less than by old SL3 frame with similar small parts attached, and the difference is easily offset by the heavier bottom bracket (SRAM GXP Team vs. Praxis Works BB30 to GXP) and heavier brake calipers (SRAM Red Aerolink vs. SRAM S-900 direct mount). So by upgrading to a frameset three generations further in the deveploment chain, I didn't achieve any real benefits in weight.

Apart from the expander, the frameset was very high quality and nicely finished, as is expected from a big brand like Specialized. The accompanying hardware and small parts were plentiful, but I think an eTap installation has not been thought through when coming up with the parts list for a frameset. I ended up using Di2 accessories:
- a rubber plug in the drive side chainstay to plug that hole completely
- a rubber plug behing the bottom bracket to plug the hole intended for a mechanical FD's cable
- rubber plug below the BB (the plug has a drainage hole)
- a fully closed port cover in the downtube (which would be the spot for mechanical derailleur's cables to go into the frame)
- a rubber grommet in the hole beside FD's braze, which I think it meant for Di2 FD's cable to come out of the frame.

So I ended up with one meaningless hole in a rubber grommet (1 mm diameter). I might just touch that with glue at some point, to prevent sports drink and dirt entering the frame there. The expander gave me some trouble. I wanted to pull it out after first installation but it wouldn't budge without a tool suitable for pulling it out. So it is now in the crown tube for the foreseeable future, if I get it out I'm going to take another 3 mm off from the crown tube. Also, I ended up using the Specialized top cap supplied with the frameset, as the AbsoluteBlack top cap wouldn't fit nicely with the expander and spacer I selected.

As there was no benefit coming from the frameset, my conservative approach to the components selection started to add up. And finally as a built bike, I ended up just over 7 kg
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I quess this build ended up being an interest work in progress. First step will be to drop the bikes weight below 7 kg with these wheels, and then I can start to think about homing in on 6,8 kg with the lighter Easton wheelset I have.
Last edited by Jugi on Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Jugi
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:10 am

by Jugi

End result

I'll let the pics do the talking.

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I went for a 40 km shakedown ride today to check everything is in working order. Winter is coming over here, it was overcast +9°C during my ride so definetly not a proper test ride. On top of that I haven't ridden a proper road bike for the past 1,5 months, so a comparison to anything is quite hard to make. Just today I realized I would have had more or less the componentry available to build two quite similar road bikes on my previous SL3 and this SL6 frame, so it is really a shame I already sold the SL3. Can't make a direct comparison between the frames anymore.

During the SL6's test ride the adjective "direct" kept coming to mind. Power transfer is very direct, and I think that is the biggest difference to the SL3. Many times I thought about the SL3 as a leaf spring, which has good and bad qualities. It wasn't exactly less efficient, it just wasn't so sprightly when putting some pressure on the throttle. Road feel on the SL6 is direct. With 22mm tubulars at 90-100psi, one can definetly feel what is going on beneath the bike at all times. I'm not sure how tiresome that will be on longer rides, but wider tires will definetly cut any harshness out. Steering feel is very direct. The SL3 was quite fast and twitchy and after riding it a lot, I realized I was mainly steering it with input from my hips, not so much with input on the handlebar. The SL6 feels a bit more balanced and more "natural", hence it goes directly where you want it to go, less line corrections needed.

No technical issues to report from the test ride. I had to make a small adjustment to eTap front derailleur's upper limit screw, but that seems to be par for the course with oval chainrings. I'm not sure whether I experienced any seatpost slip, as I forgot to check where the post was when I got on the saddle.

Overall I'm very happy with the bike. And even more so as I didn't hit my original weight targets (not even close), so it leaves something to be desired. I'll be back.

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VTR1000SP2
Posts: 438
Joined: Tue Nov 05, 2013 8:21 pm

by VTR1000SP2

Looks more like a Crit racer than a TransAlp’r


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42.

Kevinch76
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:39 am

by Kevinch76

I have the same frame which I built up recently but its a small one..49cm the frame alone weighs 920gms... my current build weighs 6.85kg.....not far off from yours but making it to go down to about 6.6kg ish...

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Kevinch76
Posts: 79
Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:39 am

by Kevinch76

Plus seatpost and fork...1.48kg.....

URL=http://s1380.photobucket.com/user/kevin ... m.jpg.html]Image[/URL]

happyon2wheels
Posts: 65
Joined: Wed Jan 31, 2018 8:17 am
Location: Denmark

by happyon2wheels

Congratulations on a really good looking bike. I sold my SL5 Tarmac Pro recently and was actually planning on a different brand as replacement, but this has made me seriously consider the SL6 version - even if I would have been similarly dissapointed by the weight difference. You have made a really great build and while not insanely lightweight, I am sure it will be perfect for most situations.

The Specialized headset expander is :evil: -ing difficult to get out once inserted and I have tried many less-than-elegant ways across multiple different frames. Eventually I found a youtube video showing how to get it out by using a large spanner as leverage with a bolt going into the tread and simply pop it out almost as using a bottle opener. In the end I found a different brand expander as I never learned to love the Specialized one.

But all in all a great looking bike!

Jugi
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:10 am

by Jugi

I had some time to spare and as I'm a strickler for details, I decided to see what can be done about the expander.

First of all, it came as a surprise to me this Specialized expander has two cones (upper and lower) which expand the sliced tube from both ends. The lower cone is, of course, threaded and it upper is not.
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All expanders I have previously come across have either had only one cone at the bottom, or an expanding middle part with two separate inner parts on top and bottom. When originally installing this I didn't realize the upper cone was removable (as it came pre-assembled), so I didn't understand how it is supposed to be removed. and where the expansion is happening. Based on a quick Google search for similar items, it seems to be decently light as well. There might be 10-14 g to get rid of with a 3rd party expander so not much. I'd say it's a bit over-engineered for what it is supposed to do, but not too heavy at all. And as the upper part of it gets expanded as well, I didn't mind cutting the steerer so that it is pretty much level with the stem's upper bolt.

So for any future reference for other SL6 owners (or bikes with similar expanders installed), this is what you do to extract the expander:

1. Screw the expander's bolt loose, but don't remove completely.
2. While there is an allen key or similar at the bolt's head, give it a sharp strike with a soft hammer to loosen the lower cone.
3. Remove the expander's bolt. The lower cone will drop into the steerer to be extracted later.
4. Construct a rudimentary "bottle opener":
Image
5. Insert the bottle opener's hook under the upper cone and use leverage to pop it out.
6. After both lower and upper cones are loose, the "tube" part should be possible to pull out with fingers.
7. Fish the lower cone out of the steerer.

hannawald
Posts: 316
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2016 7:28 pm

by hannawald

Nice photos and sharp position:)
So what are your plans for future updates?
There is no BB30 version of the cranks where you can fit your powermeter spider? It may save you a lot looking at your BB weight..
Deda Traforato bar tape, carbonworks bottle cages, Spin stix skewers, lighter wheels, EE brakes, Speedplay zero with aftermarket ti spindles are some options to get it much lighter without affecting performance..you can make half a kilo just with these.

rexyi1990
Posts: 120
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:05 pm

by rexyi1990

rotor qrings fit dzero? how do you do that..?

Jugi
Posts: 163
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:10 am

by Jugi


hannawald wrote: So what are your plans for future updates?
The skewers are definetly on the to do -list. I hadn't given the cranks any thought as they are quite light as is, but you do make a good point about the BB + crank combination's overall weight. I'll have to keep that in mind if I come across a good deal.

Regarding all contact points, I'm going by ergonomics & feel first, weight second. So bar tape, pedals and saddle will most likely remain. I do like Shimano's cleat feel, so if I do come across a good deal on Dura-Aces, that might be something to consider.

The S-900 brakes are a bit heavy, but seem to offer very good performance. The modulation is not as civilized as in disc brakes, but other than that they do offer similar power (at least in the dry).

I do have the lighter wheelset ready (Easton EC90SL) which is about 1300g. I have been speculating on building a newer and lighter set, but it seems like it would get quite costly if I want to preserve at least 40mm of rim depth.
rexyi1990 wrote:rotor qrings fit dzero? how do you do that..?
With some hand tools and elbow grease. Sanded some material of the larger chainring at the Quarq's battery compartment bulge. When I bought the crankset it had 50/34 Q-rings installed, and the previous owner had done exactly that. When I changed to 52/36 q-rings, I decided to do the same. Doesn't seem have any negative effects.

by Weenie


hannawald
Posts: 316
Joined: Sat Dec 17, 2016 7:28 pm

by hannawald

EE brakes are perfect, they brake very well, just expensive.
Deda bar tape is a bit ordinary for touch, that´s true..you may try lizzard skins, it is something like 55g.

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