ORBEA ORCA AERO
The Orca Aero from the Basques at Orbea was perhaps the sexiest race bike launched in all of 2017. With deep tube shapes and dropped seat stays it’s instantly recognizable as an aero road bike, yet there
is still something that stands out from the rest of the “me too” aero road bikes. Perhaps it’s the fact that Orbea designed it to take advantage of the newly relaxed UCI 3:1 tube-shape regulations. Orbea used deeper then 3:1 tube shapes for the new Freeflow fork and chain stay, the latter for aerodynamics, the former for stiffness. The leading edges of the truncated airfoil tubes are also blunter than other aero bikes, giving the bike a muscular stance. At 50 kph the bike shaves 27 watts from your effort. While that can be extrapolated over a 40-kilometer TT, the Orca Aero was built to save watts at 70 kph in a dash to the finish under Nacer Bouhanni. In that world, where the race can be won by margins as thin as a tire tread, the Orca Aero is race-winning tech. $3,000 (frameset only), $8,500 (w/ SRAM Red eTAP); orbea.com
SPECIALIZED S-WORKS TARMAC ULTRALIGHT
The Specialized Tarmac has always stood as a testament to what engineers can achieve when they don’t obsess over every gram. The Tarmac may never be the lightest bike, but it is consistently the best-reviewed all-around race bike, so when it receives a significant update it’s big news. This latest update is all about retaining the bike’s inherent “Tarmac-ness”—just delivering more of it.
As racing has evolved—just take a look at the route of the upcoming 2018 Tour de France—an all-around bike needs to be prepared for cobbles, crosswinds, short climbs at blistering pace and long grinding days with huge elevation gains…and everything in between. A bike that does all of this well is what the new Tarmac is all about.
At 733 grams for a size 56cm, the Tarmac Ultralight is still not the lightest bike in the peloton, but it is the lightest Specialized ever. Bikes this light can often feel shrill, jarring at every tiny bump, crack or surface distress. Not so with this Tarmac, thanks in part to its new seat post, a truncated airfoil that
also increases deflection. With so many team riders regularly training and racing on brutal Belgian cobbles, compliance was critical. Remember, many of Specialized’s WorldTour riders still choose the Tarmac for all but Paris–Roubaix.
Of course, it’s stiffer and more aero too. We’d have to call the bike-launch police if it wasn’t; but what’s more important than any weight loss or stiffness gain is what the dual improvements do to its stiffness-to-weight ratio. As reactive and lively as the old Tarmac was, this new version is next level—simply magic at the pedals.
The aero bump is nothing to scoff at either—45 seconds faster over 25 miles at the real-world speed of 25 mph. The whole front end has been re-sculpted based on a six-month wind- tunnel study, but it was the drag reduction from the lowered stays that really surprised Specialized engineers. Whether you’re trying to make a breakaway stick at your local industrial park or the Tour de France, why wouldn’t you want that help?
Lighter, stiffer, more aero…it’s all great as long as the Tarmac’s legendary handling and overall ride quality is not diminished; and it’s not. We won’t say the bike is any better in the corners since, frankly, the 2015 Tarmac was and is the best handling bike we’ve ever ridden. The new bike retains that level of confidence and precision, just in a package that has raised the bar on the Tarmac’s legendary efficiency at the pedals. $4,250 (frameset only) / $10,500 (w/ Shimano DA Di2); specialized.com
PINARELLO DOGMA F10
The Pinarello Dogma is the most-lusted-after road bike on the planet—at least according to our reader surveys—and it’s no surprise why. It wins races, cuts a beautiful profile and has otherworldly ride quality. The Dogma, like the Tarmac above, has never chased grams and the new F10 frame is still north of 800 grams. Of course, that hasn’t slowed down Chris Froome. The Dogma F8 was the best- selling bike Pinarello ever made, so the F10 did not attempt to reinvent such a round wheel. It takes the F8’s proven performance and makes it a bit lighter, a bit stiffer and bit more aero. Where we felt the bike was a big advancement over the F8 was an area that did not get much mention: ride quality. Where the F8 can feel a bit ragged on the edge, the new F10 is just as precise at the bars, yet feels more composed and refined on the limit. The Dogma F10 mates a bit of the old Dogma 65.1’s refined ride quality, while improving on the racy feel of the F8. $5,950 ( frameset only); $13,500 (w/ Shimano DA Di2); http://www.pinarello.com/en