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Specialized Tarmac Road Bikes With FACT 9r, 10r vs 11r Carbon.


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Specialized Tarmac are racing bikes with the frames and forks made out of carbon fiber. Knowing what bike to buy from their wide range is much more complicated, than choosing one of the alloy Specialized Allez models. I'll brake it all down for you, answering the most common questions:

  1. What is the difference between so called by Specialized FACT 9r, 10r and 11r carbon fiber?
  2. Which of 16 models (!?) should I buy?

Carbon fiber types on Specialized bikes.

There are three different grades of Specialized carbon fiber in 2017: 9r, 10r and 11r. The manufacturer provides very little information on exactly how is carbon fiber used on their frames layup, but we know one thing for sure - the 11r frames have an addition of the highest modulus carbon fiber, 10r the intermediate one and the 9r frames are made of the lowest modulus fibers. Here's what it means for the buyer:

  • FACT 9r carbon frames - the heaviest, the least stiff, but possibly the most compliant, good value for money,
  • FACT 10r frames - approx. 180 g. lighter than 9r, bit more stiff, more expensive too,
  • FACT 11r frames - approx 180 g. lighter than 10r, the stiffest, insanely expensive.

2017 Specialized Tarmac bikes range explained.

These carbon road bikes come in 16 different versions, but fortunately there are "only" 4 base framesets plus disc brake chassis:

  • FACT 9r carbon frame with threaded bottom bracket - Specialized Tarmac SL4 models,
  • FACT 10r frame with threaded BB - Specialized Tarmac Comp models,
  • FACT 10r frame with OSBB (Oversized BB, pressed bearings) - Specialized Tarmac Expert and Pro models,
  • FACT 11r frame with OSBB - S-Works Tarmac models.


Specialized Tarmac SL4 Sport - FACT 9r carbon, price 2000$


Specialized Tarmac Comp - FACT 10r carbon, threaded BB, price 3000$


Specialized Tarmac Expert - also FACT 10r carbon, but with pressed bearings OSBB, price 3600$


S-Works Tarmac - FACT 11r carbon, OSBB, 8000$

The above pictured bikes are the cheapest models based on each frameset. As you can see, the price range is HUGE, but we'll get to that in the second. Now the disc brake Tarmac models:


Specialized Tarmac Comp Disc - FACT 10r carbon, threaded BB, price 3000$


Specialized Tarmac Expert Disc - 10r carbon, OSBB, price 3900$


Specialized Tarmac Pro Disc Ultegra Di2 - FACT 10r, OSBB, price 6000$


S-Works Tarmac Disc eTap 32 - 11r carbon, OSBB, price 9500$

What Tarmac should I buy?

Specialized offers 16 models at the price between 2000$ and 9500$. Will you actually FEEL the difference riding on FACT 9r or 10r, or even 11r carbon frames? I don't think so. All of these bikes are good quality racing machines, but at least the S-Works models would I leave for pros - it makes sense for Peter Sagan to have stiffer and lighter bikes, even though it costs a lot of money. The average rider won't be able to feel the difference in stiffness or weight during those weekend rides.

OK, what about the Tarmac SL4 with FACT 9r carbon and Tarmac Comp, Expert, Pro bikes with FACT 10r carbon fiber frames? In my opinion, you're gonna have the same amount of fun riding the basic Tarmac SL4 Sport bike, equipped with 11 speed drivetrain, as you'd have sitting on even the mid range Tarmac Comp with the 180 g lighter frame and a little lighter components. You already save a THOUSAND DOLLARS here! If you think about training more and maybe racing in local criteriums, you will always have the option of upgrading your bike. I would also much rather buy 2000$ Tarmac Sport model and some REALLY nice wheels, rather than spending 3000$ on Tarmac Comp and still spin on DT SWISS R460 wheelset.

Specialized Tarmac final buying advice:

  • buy Tarmac SL4 Sport if you really want to have a carbon bike and a lot of money left in your pocket - for some upgrades, training camp, power meter or for your wife ;)
  • buy Tarmac Expert if you're strong rider planning to race a lot and you don't want to lose your time for upgrades,
  • buy Specialized Tarmac Comp Disc if you need a lot of stopping power in dry and wet conditions,
  • buy S-Works Tarmac if you have a sponsor and your FTP is way over 350 Watts.

photo credits: specialized.com

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  • 2 years later...

I have a Specialized Roubaix Sport 2019 which is supposed to be made of Fact 9 carbon. It has Fact 10 marking on the seat stay. Is it only the seat stay that is 10R or the whole frame. 

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