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  1. #1
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    Tarmac SL3 Pro vs SL4 Pro vs SL4 S-Works

    I currently am riding a Specialized Tarmac SL3 Pro and have an oppotunity to upgrade to a SL4 frame. I can upgrade to a SL4 Pro frame for about $500 or to a SL4 S-Works frame for about $1000.

    I am really quite happy with my SL3 Pro but this seems like too good an opportunity to pass up.

    Frame weight is not an issue for me but the responsiveness and ride quality of a frame is. If you are familiar with these 3 frames, please give me some feedback to help me with my decision.

  2. #2
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    go with the SL4 Pro

    The Pro frame is barely heavier than the Sworks (and furthermore weight is not an issue for you). Pro frame has a heavier carbon layup that is more resistant to impact, which is a plus IMO. Pro also is more supple. As for responsiveness, geometry is the same, so the two frames will pretty much behave the same (as geometry is the dominating factor here).

  3. #3
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    SL3 10r frame is stiffer than the SL4 10r version. There's a lot of articles out there on the differences, but I would be tempted to see "S Works" going down the tube for nothing more than "cool".

  4. #4
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    Tarmac SL3 Pro vs SL4 Pro vs SL4 S-Works

    Are they both press-fit Bottom Brackets? If not go with the one that's threaded.
    "Five and Dime, all the time!"

  5. #5
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    Is your SL3 Pro threaded or not threaded? I specifically purchased a threaded one and I'm also not sold on internal routing, so the SL3 was a go for me. I believe all the SL4 are over-sized BB's w/ internal routing.

    I like to upgrade, so I can understand your itch.

  6. #6
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    My existing frame is not threaded.

    I'm also not sold on internal routing. If there's no real advantage with the SL4, I'm happy to stay with my SL3.

    Improvements that I would like to see would be more stability in descending (although I like quick handling at slower speeds), a little more vertical compliance (this is not a big deal). If the SL4 also had a snappier ride, especially the S-Works with the higher grade carbon, this would be a deciding factor. I've ridden Cervelo R3 and R3 SL and thought the SL had a snappier, more lively feel. I had the same experience with Trek Madones where I thought the same of the higher grade carbon frames.
    Last edited by CA343; 04-29-2013 at 06:37 PM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by new2rd View Post
    SL3 10r frame is stiffer than the SL4 10r version. There's a lot of articles out there on the differences, but I would be tempted to see "S Works" going down the tube for nothing more than "cool".
    From everything I've read (FWIW) the S-Works SL3 is overly stiff compared to the S-Works SL4.

    I've not read that the same applies to the Pro SL3/ SL4 level bikes, and my 2011 SL3 Pro isn't (IMO) overly still/ jarring.

    That said, I've experimented with tire pressures and think that has more bearing on ride quality than any minor frame differences.

  8. #8
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    S Works SL3

    My two cents:
    There are a few bike manufacture's that are taping into the electronics "got to have the latest version" mentality. Specialized in one of them; I've had my S Works SL3 since 2010. It's been a love affair. Although I've considered an SL4, the slight difference is not worth the add'l cash. Just because it feels a bit different didn't necessarily mean it's "better" either. The difference is hard to quantify as someone referred to above. IMO, the SL3 is such a stellar bike, any improvements will be in the form of slight tweaking here and there. Hardly a reason for me to make the leap. Besides, the SL4 assumes you'll go Di2 route, which at this point I'm not considering. If I was at the top of my game on the racing scene where milliseconds count (maybe) I would consider, but not at my level. I'm just a weekend warrior, wannabe, poser, quasi-racer. I'll keep my SL3 for now and enjoy.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Tarmac SL3 Pro vs SL4 Pro vs SL4 S-Works-s-works-sl3.jpg  

  9. #9
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    I think the differences between the 3 and 4 are a smaller diameter tapered head tube, and possibly head tube length (height)
    I've been riding a 2009 tarmac with the 1.5 inch lower bearing rather than the reduced 1 3/8" with the 4. I've read that this change increases comfort, without reducing front end stiffness/performance.
    I too am a big fan of my tarmac, and have enjoyed it since 2009. I'd planned on upgrading frameset several times. But I wasn't looking for a "like" frameset, and didn't have 5 grand for something truly "special" like a Parlee, Colnago or Pinarello.
    Instead, I bought a stiff tubeless wheelset, and could not be happier.
    I think Specialized Tarmac Pros, and S-works framesets are outstanding, from 2008 till present. I would upgrade to a sick set of wheels on your current bike, which would probably transform your ride, that you currently enjoy, moreso that using the same components on a newer Tarmac.

  10. #10
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    I sold my 2011 SL3 Pro due to the relatively stiff ride. I loved everything else about it though. Disclaimer: we have some pretty choppy roads where I live, so a stiff race bike isn't the best choice anyway, no matter which brand. I even tried a conventional, 32 spoke 3x wheelset, softer saddle, and 25mm tires ... still felt it in my spine.

    The bike did everything else well though. Handled perfectly, climbed great, and looked good. If I had smoother roads, it would have been a no brainer to keep it in the stable.

  11. #11
    Not a climber
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    I think it's at least worth the $500 to upgrade to the SL4. I went from an SL3 S-works to a SL4 S-works when I got a warranty replacement for a crack in the headtube. The ride quality is definitely noticeable between the two, much more compliant in the ass area when going over cracked pavement or other really rough surfaces. The difference in vibration between the seat and the handlebars is pretty amazing. I don't do a whole lot of descending, but the SL4 definitely feels like it has race car handling when the speeds get high. No regrets with my upgrade.

  12. #12
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    Tarmac SL3 Pro vs SL4 Pro vs SL4 S-Works

    Do you have The Same wheels in The Sl3 and Sl4 S Works?

  13. #13
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    I have a 58 cm Saxo "team geo" S-Works SL3 & 2013 SL4 pro. I have them set up basically identically. I ride daily and I go back and forth between the bikes typically riding one for a month and then switching over to the other. The main difference between the two bikes is the headtube length on the SL3 is 170 mm whereas the SL4 is 190. I ride on some pretty choppy roads as well so I have 25c tires. I gotta say, I couldn't really tell you which is stiffer. Since the recall of the SL4, I am continuing to try to get the headset adjusted so that it doesn't make noise and often I feel like the SL3 shifts better with the front derailleur. I have found myself riding the SL4 more over the last few months and I am not exactly sure why. I recently put a new stem (-6 from -12) on the SL3 to raise it higher in the front. I have two bikes as I got a great deal on the SL3 frame and wanted to build it up. At the end of the day, I would be perfectly happy with one or the other as they are both fantastic bikes.

  14. #14
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    I like the straight fork of the SL4 better as well. It's weird getting used to the huge cobra head tube when you're riding though.



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