New bike day is always a good day, and yesterday’s Zwift update included a new bike frame: the Specialized Tarmac SL7! This bike has been making big waves in the “real world” bike industry since reviews began rolling out recently, trumpeting it as the “one bike to rule them all.” In fact, Specialized is discontinuing development of its aero Venge line, since the new Tarmac is nearly as fast as the Venge while climbing better.
Just how fast is the IRL Tarmac SL7? Specialized says it shaves 45 seconds off the previous Tarmac SL6’s time over 40k. (Still 9 seconds slower than the Venge, though.) And the new Tarmac is lighter than the Venge, so it should climb faster. There’s a good reason why many cyclists are lusting after the new Tarmac!
But all those real-world numbers don’t necessarily correlate to performance in Zwift. Instead, Zwift performance has everything to do with how Zwift’s programmers set the frame up in terms of CdA and weight. So everyone is asking: how fast is the Tarmac SL7 in Zwift?
Notably, the frame is available now in the Drop Shop for level 5 Zwifters and above, priced at only 674,500. At such a low level requirement and price, one would think this Tarmac SL7 wouldn’t be quite as fast as frames costing more or requiring a higher level. And you’d be right.
Here’s how the new Specialized Tarmac SL7 performs in Zwift.
Flat (Aero) Performance
The Tarmac SL7 is ranked in the 61st percentile against other Zwift road frames, meaning it’s more aero than 61% of the frames in game. What does that actually mean in terms of seconds? Well, it works out to being 12 seconds slower than the fastest bikes over a ~50-minute flat test course.
Climb (Lightweight) Performance
This is where the Tarmac SL7 shines – which makes good sense. The best climber in game is the Specialized Tarmac Pro, and while the new Tarmac SL7 doesn’t unseat the Tarmac Pro, it is ranked #4 on our list of top climbers.
In terms of actual timings, the Tarmac SL7 is 8 seconds slower up the Alpe than the Tarmac Pro. See our ranking charts for details >
The Specialized Tarmac SL7 is a solid all-arounder, basically matching the performance of the recently-added Cannondale Supersix EVO. The Tarmac SL7 matches the Supersix EVO’s Alpe time while being 1 second faster over 50 minutes in our flat tests. (It’s worth noting that times can vary by 1s thanks to GPS rounding, so this really is a negligible difference.)
Like we said for the Supersix EVO, if you’re looking for a “do it all” bike instead of worrying about changing between aero and lightweight rigs, the Tarmac SL7 is a great choice. And at a level requirement of just 5, the Tarmac SL7 is much more attainable for new Zwifters than the Supersix EVO, which has a level requirement of 36.
Overall, we see the Tarmac SL7 becoming a popular choice in Zwift, especially for newer Zwifters. We’ve now highlighted it in our Zwift Shopping Guide since it’s the first high-performance frame Zwifters can buy.
Share your questions and comments below!
Important note: this post contains speed test results for Zwift frames or wheels. These results may change over time, and a bike’s performance relative to others may also change. We don’t always revise posts when performance rankings change, but we do keep current, master versions of our speed test results which are always available. See the frame charts, wheel charts, and Tron vs Top Performers for current performance data.