Well…. The latest beast is back home after its first ride.
So I’ve been wanting a new road bike for quite some time now. My old one was one of the first bikes I ever bought. It was used when I bought it, and I put quite a lot of miles on it over the years. I replaced everything except the frame and fork somewhere along the way. So this year I finally pulled the trigger, and I knew the guys up at Spokes in Wheaton, Il were the guys to go to.
After all my research I decided on the Tarmac. I had contemplated the Venge as well. However, what sold me was that the Venge did not have a similarly equipped bike with UDi2 and I kind of had my heart set on trying out the electronic shifting. So I ordered the Tarmac, and Alex at Spokes sized me up and fit me. You should know that process couldn’t have gone smoother with the guys up at Spokes.
Now, I’m not exactly a stranger to higher end bikes. I have a higher end TT bike that I’ve been training and racing with. But some of the technology today was new to me. The Tarmac itself is just a great bike. There’s no doubt! So what I’ll be focusing on here is the UDi2 group set, the disc brakes, and the Roval wheels.
I’ve had the pleasure of riding a lot of different group sets. I’ve ridden red, 105, and some campy over the years. The UDi2 was completely different for me. In my experience Shimano was alway a clunky definitive shift, SRAM was much smoother, but not as definitive. I always liked the smoothness of the SRAM but on a TT bike I wasn’t always sure I went one gear or two. With Shimano there was never a doubt, especially on the TT shifters. To be fair, the SRAM double tap on a road bike might be more definitive than I know. Either way, I would describe the UDi2 as smooth like SRAM. As for definitive, it definitely is definitive by default, because with every touch of the button it always shifts without fail. It took a little getting used to the two buttons for up/down, but by the end of a 50 mile ride I had it down pat. It really was incredible. The mechanical shift was the norm for so long, and it worked well. But this electric shift is just REALLY nice. I can’t say that I “need” it. But now that I have it I don’t know how I’m going to like going back!
I have a similar feeling about the disc brakes. I’ve ridden hydraulic disc on my MTB. So I knew they would be good on the road bike, and they were! Stopping power is greatly increased, and I know from the MTB there will be added benefit in a variety of riding conditions. I would imagine this is the way the industry will go in the future as well. I can see all kinds of doors opening for wheel and bike design since the area in the frame where the mechanical brakes mount don’t have to be reinforced, and wheels don’t need a braking surface. I would look out for more advancements on this in the near future. The only complaint I would have is the pads do vibrate a little at times, but barely noticeable unless your on a really rough patch of road. I imagine there is a slight disadvantage for weight and aerodynamics too. However, I don’t see it as enough of a hinderance to worry about it over the added benefits.
Lastly, I wanted to mention the Roval wheels since there’s always a lot of emphasis put on wheels, and most people change the wheels that come with the bike at some point. In short, I won’t be changing these wheels. In the car world they always refer to the noticeabilty of increased power gains as “the butt dyno”. I think that applies here too I don’t have any fancy equipment to test this stuff in a wind tunnel. However, I have seen differences in wheel upgrades on my other bikes and I know what my butt dyno tells me. Especially from aero differences. The wheels on the Tarmac are 45mm deep. IMO that’s just deep enough to see some aero benefit and added stiffness, but not deep enough to make them unmanageable in windy conditions. The day I took the Tarmac for its first ride was very windy here in Chicagoland, where it frequently gets that way! Not once did I feel the wind blew me out of control. The wheels felt just as stiff and responsive as other non-deep wheels I’ve ridden, and definitely stiffer than the set of Jet 9’s I have on my TT bike. I really noticed the difference anytime the road turned up to a climb. The bike as a whole was more responsive than anything else I’ve ridden. They ride smooth and feel like they cut through the wind well too. So I have no complaints on these wheels at all!
Overall, I’m thrilled to be riding this Tarmac this season. My road bike always seems to see the most use of all my bikes, and I’m glad to finally have a great bike for all those miles. The Tarmac itself is a stiff, responsive bike. The flat black paint is perfectly awesome. The thing looks fast just standing still! Just look at it! Thanks to the guys at Spokes Wheaton for the great service and support! I’m looking forward to a great season on my Tarmac!