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  1. #1
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    Help spend my money: '14 E5 Smartweld w/ Ultegra or '13 Tarmac w/ 105?

    Anybody out there put significant miles on both the Tarmac and E5 Smartweld Allez or 105 and Ultegra groupsets? I'm looking to get a new road bike and want to get some thoughts from bikeforums members before I drop $2G. I have done test rides on both and feel some some differences, but I'd like to hear about the subtleties noticed from owning the bikes. For some background I've owned a few Allez and Tarmacs over the years and my most recent bike was a Sora equipped 2013 Allez Sport. I typically ride 30-50 miles an outing and do about 1-4 outings per week. Mostly solo rides and a few group rides - no racing but I like to go fast. Both of the contenders are about the same price:

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bik...litemidcompact
    1.jpg

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bik...z-expert#specs
    2.jpg

    I've been reading about the "smartweld" technology but I can't decide if it's noteworthy improvement or just mostly marketing.
    From the Specialized videos such as this they would have you believe that aluminum is making a comeback, though carbon seems to be the industry standard for a reason. I'm guessing the 2014 Allez probably hasn't been ridden much but maybe it's similar to the '13 S-Works Allez.

    As far as the components go, I've found anything below Sora leaving something to be desired. 105 seems to be a sweet spot between performance and value, but I'm not sure anything above that will really be noticeable. Anyone feel a noticeable difference between a bike equipped with 105 compared to Ultegra?

    Any faults or follies with them you notice after putting on a few hundred or thousand miles? Anything else I'm missing before I go place an order?

  2. #2
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    Tarmac... yes the new Ultegra 6800 is much better than its predecessor but 105 isn't a bad groupset at all. Plus I'd take carbon over aluminum any day unless it was a caad. Plus upgrading a groupset is cheaper than a frame.

  3. #3
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    What specifically do you like about the CAAD better than the Allez? from the pictures it looks like the CAAD has a more traditional shape, for example it doesn't have a sloping top tube.

  4. #4
    Arrogant Roadie Punk save10's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrtrinh View Post
    Tarmac... yes the new Ultegra 6800 is much better than its predecessor but 105 isn't a bad groupset at all. Plus I'd take carbon over aluminum any day unless it was a caad. Plus upgrading a groupset is cheaper than a frame.
    i hate my smartweld....its like riding a station wagon


  5. #5
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    Wow that's a rad build! Did you get some kind of custom paint job?

    Any reason you chose the station wagon smartweld over a tarmac?

  6. #6
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    Not hating on the Allez at all. But given the circumstance of the Op where he can pick up a tarmac or an allez for the same price I think the tarmac is a more sensible pick even though it has 105. Beautiful bike btw, your allez is one of my favorites of all time.

    And to the Op. You mentioned you've had both allez and tarmacs? Over the years you dont prefer one over the other?

    Quote Originally Posted by save10 View Post
    i hate my smartweld....its like riding a station wagon


  7. #7
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    Honestly I don't have a strong preference for one over the other. The only time I've thought "Man I wish I was on a Tarmac" is while accidentally going over the occasional pothole or through a section of tree root plagued bike paths. In those cases it would definitely be better to have a carbon frame, but that's probably >1% of my riding. Other times I'm glad I'm on the Allez because it feels like I'm getting a better bang for my buck.

    I suppose my hesitation with the Tarmac is fear of getting a "budget" carbon bike with 105/Tiagra. Then of course the hesitation with the Allez is getting something with an outdated frame material.

  8. #8
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    Get the Tarmac and have the shop install 6800 cables on it. I run 5700 105 w/ 9000 cables and it shifts pretty good.

    You can always save up for 6800 and wait for a good sale from one of the online UK based shops. PBK had 6800 groups as low as $590 shipped a couple months ago. Sell your 105 group for ~$300 and your net cost for the ugprade won't be that high.

  9. #9
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    I'll have to look into these cables because I've never even noticed what kind of cables come on the bikes.

    I do have the option of getting a '13 Tarmac Comp Mid-Compact with Ultegra and I'm guessing it's going to be at some discount. It's listed on a LBS website for $3200 so I imagine they've probably dropped the price in-store since posting.

  10. #10
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    Honestly... I'd try to find a '14 Tarmac with Ultegra 6800. Shimano's 11 speed groupos are really nice.

    upgrading the '13 Tarmac to 6800 is only cheap if your wheels will take 11 speed cassettes, like Mavics.

    For me... with everything on the cusp of going 11 speed, I'd hate to buy a new bike with 10 speed.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Silvercivic27's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metis View Post
    Honestly I don't have a strong preference for one over the other. The only time I've thought "Man I wish I was on a Tarmac" is while accidentally going over the occasional pothole or through a section of tree root plagued bike paths. In those cases it would definitely be better to have a carbon frame, but that's probably >1% of my riding. Other times I'm glad I'm on the Allez because it feels like I'm getting a better bang for my buck.

    I suppose my hesitation with the Tarmac is fear of getting a "budget" carbon bike with 105/Tiagra. Then of course the hesitation with the Allez is getting something with an outdated frame material.
    1. Riding over a pothole is going to be just as bad on a Tarmac as it will be on an Allez.
    2. Instead of thinking about how you should get a Tarmac, you should be thinking about how you can avoid that pothole next time.
    3. Those tree roots are one of the reasons why I don't ride bike paths much, and it isn't any better or more comfortable on a carbon bike.
    4. "Budget" carbon is still good. There's not that much of a difference functionally from premium layups, and the geometry of the frame is the same. It's mostly a weight thing.
    5. There's nothing magical about a CAAD. It's an aluminum race geometry frame just like many others out there. There are subtle differences, but riding one is not the revelation that all the fanbois make it out to be.
    6. The new 6800 gruppo is amazing.

    God Bless and Good Luck.

  12. #12
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    In a few months I'll be getting the Velocite Selene. It's a much stiffer frame and lighter than both the Allez Smartweld and CAAD 10. It's even stiffer than the SS Evo at both BB and Head/downtube. But reviews say it's a comfortable ride for long rides. It's also much cheaper than either. That's another option if you're not set on getting just a Specialized or Carbon. Triple butted 7005 Aluminum, double weld + peen paint (very durable), hard to pass up if you're looking for a good deal.
    Last edited by zymphad; 02-25-14 at 05:59 AM.

  13. #13
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    I look at it this way...its cheaper to upgrade a group than a frame. If you're going to spend $$ right off the bat, I'd take a nicer frame mated to a lower group. I have a '12 Tarmac with 5700 and it's a superb bike. I'm going to go to 6800 next year but for now...I'm extremely happy with the setup.

    Also take in mind that you may change out "fit" items. I'll take a proper saddle, good pedals, a correct length stem and comfortable handlebars/tape over an upgraded groupset any day of the week. This is what I did with my Tarmac...bought the bike and addressed the: Saddle, seatpost, stem, handlebars...all replaced.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silvercivic27 View Post
    1. Riding over a pothole is going to be just as bad on a Tarmac as it will be on an Allez.
    2. Instead of thinking about how you should get a Tarmac, you should be thinking about how you can avoid that pothole next time.
    3. Those tree roots are one of the reasons why I don't ride bike paths much, and it isn't any better or more comfortable on a carbon bike.
    4. "Budget" carbon is still good. There's not that much of a difference functionally from premium layups, and the geometry of the frame is the same. It's mostly a weight thing.
    5. There's nothing magical about a CAAD. It's an aluminum race geometry frame just like many others out there. There are subtle differences, but riding one is not the revelation that all the fanbois make it out to be.
    6. The new 6800 gruppo is amazing.
    This. There's a carbon and aluminum frame in my family with the same geometry and they ride shockingly similar. Those Allez SW frames are really cool and look great, I was so close to buying one. I'd take a 6800 group on a CAAD10 or Allez SW frame over it's carbon cousin 105 bike, without a doubt.

  15. #15
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    Go with the Allez for sure. The tarmac comes with the fact8, plus the old mold, and layup design, still nice but you're getting old technology.
    "Don't upgrade your ride. Ride up grades"

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by SirHustlerEsq View Post
    I'd take a 6800 group on a CAAD10 or Allez SW frame over it's carbon cousin 105 bike, without a doubt.
    All day every day. Mostly because I like the bang for the buck aspect and the fact that a carbon bike wont make me any more of a better rider and/or allow me to ride any more than i already do.

    Allezs and tarmacs are both awesome bikes and 6800 is pretty nice.

  17. #17
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    That's a more difficult decision than it ought to be. The Allez is definitely the better value and you could leave it alone and be happy with it...whereas the Tarmac almost demands a better drivetrain and wheels for me. How much do you care about the (relatively small) weight difference between the two? How inclined are you want to upgrade either down the road? I don't think you'll be missing out on much, if anything, in ride quality going with the Allez, and Ultegra 6800 is unquestionably superior to 105.

  18. #18
    Redefining Lazy Slackerprince's Avatar
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    FWIW, Neil Shirley, an assistant editor for Road Bike Action magazine, won the King Ridge GranFondo on an Allez. It was an S-Works, but, still an aluminum bike.
    This guy has access to tons of bikes and has won on a Tarmac and a Roubaix, but surprised everyone by riding aluminum, and winning.
    The Allez is a great bike and super value, at any level in the product line.

    S
    Too fat for Castelli

  19. #19
    Senior Member Jiggle's Avatar
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    I have a new 6800 group and a new 5700 group on another bike. No contest, get the 6800. The hood shape on the 5700 sucks, the front shifting on the 5700 isn't in the same ballpark, and it's heavier.

  20. #20
    Senior Member I <3 Robots's Avatar
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    Its depends if you want lower end carbon of high end aluminum.

    IMO...if you plan to race...as in crits...the Allez will be the better choice. Stiff, fast, responsive. IIRC...the Allez will have a slightly lower head tube.

    If you're more recreational...the 8r carbon.
    Cervelo S2 | Zipp | SRAM | Rotor

  21. #21
    Senior Member link0's Avatar
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    I would hands down go with the carbon. It's slightly more comfortable, lighter, and generally more durable in crashes.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by link0 View Post
    I would hands down go with the carbon...and generally more durable in crashes.
    Uhh.. no.

    OP: it's really about the ride you want. The Tarmac will be smoother feeling and perhaps have a better strength-to-weight ratio. The Allez will be stiff and durable. The geometry is the same. 'Smartweld' is really just marketing gimmickry, but now the Allez does have nicer-looking smooth welds (a la Cannondale, which some say weakens the frame). Allezs has been raced to victories under Cipollini (2004) and Tarmacs under Boonen (to name a few). Both are proven bikes and you really can't make a bad choice. Ride both and see which calls out to you.

    My first race bike was an Allez, and I am building up a 2013 Allez thanks to a sweet deal from my sponsor for as my current race bike. I don't find them to be the most comfortable, but I love the snappy feel and aggressive geometry. Reminds me of my track bike. It is a bit buzzy on rough terrain tho.

    To throw a wrench in it - I would also consider a CAAD10 if you're really lusting after the Allez. Also a superb bike. But if the price is the same for either build, and you're not racing, I would go with the Tarmac.

  23. #23
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    I work for a Specialized dealer and have ridden both the entry level Tarmac and the new Allez smartweld. I loved the Allez so much that I ended up buying one for myself and have not regretted it. The Tarmac is a nice bike just be weary about buying a lower end one because they do use a lower grade of carbon.

  24. #24
    Mostly Harmless rjones28's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metis View Post
    Wow that's a rad build! Did you get some kind of custom paint job?

    Any reason you chose the station wagon smartweld over a tarmac?
    That's one of the paint options on the E5 frame. I also have that frame in the same color, but I put Campy components on it. I really like it.
    Quote Originally Posted by truckstop View Post
    getting banned from trollheim. does that mean you win?

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