Quick Review: 2022 S-Works Tarmac SL7 Frameset


New Bike Day – the most eagerly awaited day for all triathletes and cyclists alike! Unfortunately for me, my latest ‘New Bike Day’ came a little earlier than anticipated thanks to an impromptu cycling crash, fractured neck and written off bike (a bit more on that HERE).

I spent a while researching bikes in order to find a bike that ticked all the boxes. My main requirements were: Shimano Di2 (Preferably 12 speed), an Aero-style road bike, something new or near new and, most importantly, something available fairly quickly with no excessive supply delays.

Unfortunately, that last pre-requisite seemed to be the main sticking point, with most bikes taking in excess of 6-12 months to arrive, and any used bikes I could find very overpriced as a result. I did find a few winners though, and after a week or two had narrowed my shortlist down to a pre-owned Pinarello Dogma F12, a brand new Canyon Aeroad and an S-Works Tarmac SL7 frameset that could be built up by a local dealer.

After much deliberation I settled on the S-Works, and began the task of getting this bike built up by R&D Speed Shop in Claremont, Western Australia.

Through the owner of the store, Dan, I managed to settle on fitting out the bike with Shimano Ultegra Di2 12-speed, S-Works Power Saddle, Roval Rapide Aero Bar and Roval CLX50 Wheels with DT-Swiss 350 Hubs – the end result of which is pictured above (with the exception of the Rapide bars which are on a 6 month back order).

Once the bike arrived, I then spent the best part of staring at the bike daily for 6 weeks, while I waited to get my neck brace off, and have now been able to ride the bike for a few weeks now, which has given me a great opportunity to test the bike over around 450-500km of riding.

My Thoughts On The Bike

First thoughts are the bike is quick, stiff and very comfortable to ride – it feels marginally more comfortable than my previous bike, which was a 2019 S-Works Venge, and that is even while still needing a couple of adjustments to get to my ideal riding position.

Maneuverability wise, the bike handles like a dream, and sticks to the road like glue when descending – it responds to every command with ease and gives a great amount of confidence in the bike (which is a big deal for someone coming back from a big injury like I had).

As per the build I have done on the bike, it weighs in a little over 7kg with wheels, bottle cages, Garmin mount and rear light – much lighter than the previous Venge I had. You notice it on the climbs too!

When it came to color of the frame, I wasn’t exactly spoilt for choice – in fact I had one choice only which was Carbon/Lagoon Blue/Limestone/Gloss Abalone. I wasn’t a fan at first, and was a bit underwhelmed by photos I saw online of the frame set. In person, however, I was blown away! It is stunning and the colors really pop against the black matte carbon. It ended up being one of those lucky situations where I couldn’t choose anything different, and I was thankful for that when I saw the finished product!

A snapshot taken during my bike-fit by Gary Suckling, who is based here in Perth, WA

Groupset wise, the Ultegra R8100 12-speed is a step-up from the R8000 I had on my 3 previous bikes. It gives those couple of extra gearing options and is easily identifiable by it’s large rear derailleur. Unfortunately, in the time I have had the bike, it hasn’t been the most flawless experience with the groupset. For me, the responsiveness to shifting is a little delayed, and I find the bike sometimes experiences ‘phantom shifts’ – either when going over bumps or sometimes with nothing to prompt it at all. I will, of course, get the shop to look at it during the first complimentary service, and hold out hope that this will improve with some minor adjustments – fingers crossed.

Wheelset wise, I asked R&D for a relatively lightweight set of wheels, that will compliment my other set of wheels I own, which are a 65mm deep set of deCADENce wheels. My only other requirement was a nice set of hubs that provided a loud (bordering on obnoxious) hub sound. Dan set me up with a set of Roval CLX50 wheels, with DT-Swiss 350 hubs. So far, these have been the biggest disappointment for me with regards to the build. While aesthetically the wheels look good, both performance and sound-wise, they are a bit of a let down. When rolling they don’t seem to be the smoothest wheels, and the hub sound from the wheels in conjunction with the 350 hubs are non-existent.

Summary – The TLDR version

In summary, if you’re looking for a stiff, lightweight and sexy looking aero road bike, it is more than worth adding the S-Works Tarmac SL7 to your list. While not on the cheap end of things (this build cost me just under $14,000 AUD), it is a high end superbike which will impress even the most experienced and demanding of owners.

While I haven’t tested the bike with a SRAM or Duraace setup, this is definitely something worth considering too – I am hopeful that the Ultegra setup on my bike will improve with a tweak from the shop, however will not be surprised if there are a couple of teething issues with the groupset due to it being such a new product to market.


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