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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

Pro Bikes, June 18, 2007

Tom Boonen's Quickstep-Innergetic Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL2

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James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Third time's the charm

By James Huang in Valloire, France

Campagnolo Record Skeleton-D brakes
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Is your bike this clean before every ride?
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Specialized uses the full width of the bottom bracket shell
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Unidirectional carbon is used throughout
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Fork tips also appear to be aluminum
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Boonen used a 39/53T chainring combination
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What Boonen sees on a typical day at work.
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A Record rear derailleur
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The seat tube transitions from round up top
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We're only into the middle of the 2007 season, but Quickstep-Innergetic superstar Tom Boonen is already on his third frame model since his team switched its bike sponsor last year from Time to Specialized. Boonen started out on a relatively off-the-shelf S-Works Tarmac SL that the company beefed up a bit with some additional carbon plies to better handle his power output. That frame was apparently good in terms of overall stiffness and comfort, but its slightly shorter cockpit dimensions relative to what Boonen was accustomed to proved to be a bit much for his back to handle.

Boonen has always run his bikes on the long side in terms of handlebar reach not only for his rangy 1.92m (6' 4") height, but also to accommodate his decidedly aggressive positioning. The fit of his bike has now become an even higher priority than before given his recent back issues. Boonen never really settled in on the geometry of his new extra-large Tarmac SL, and switching frame sizes was not a viable option.

"The problem, like if you're tall and you start to push your back a little bit too hard, if you're too short on the bike, it always gives me problems and I have a really sensitive back," he said just prior to the final stage of this year's Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré in Valloire. "The old carbon one never suited me because the measurements were wrong [for me], but the frame was ok. [Specialized] also made a special frame in the old type for me; it was a little bit heavier, a little bit stiffer, so that was ok, but the measurements were one centimeter and a half too short. If I had to go to the extra-extra-large, the head tube was too high for me. I started having really big problems after Milan-San Remo with my back, and I already had a 15[cm] stem on and everything, then I said, 'I need to have another bike'."

Specialized undoubtedly needed to address the needs of the man who is arguably the biggest star in cycling today, but throwing together a new carbon mold and layup schedule in short order is no small feat. In the interim, it built a custom aluminum frame from its existing E5 tubing that included a 13mm-longer front end. Unfortunately, while the spot-on geometry provided some welcome relief for his back, the increased rear end rigidity had the opposite effect: "The aluminium one, I always had back problems because it was so hard."

Fast forward to the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré: Boonen arrived with that same custom aluminum frame again, but the only service it saw this time around was atop the team car as Specialized accelerated its product development cycle just for Boonen and delivered to him what our sources say is the 2008 S-Works Tarmac SL2.

The new frame utilizes the same longer geometry as the temporary aluminum bike and retains its stiffness characteristics, but now is better able to soften the blows of the road. According to Boonen, "So now they made this one especially for me with the [new] measurements, and that's very, very good. It rides a little bit different from the aluminium one; it's more comfortable, but it's very stiff."

'Stiff' certainly seems to suit the new bike's appearances; the top tube, down tube, and chain stays are dramatically oversized relative to the original Tarmac, and the front end now uses the de rigueur oversized and tapered 1 ⅛"-to-1 ½" steerer tube for additional front end rigidity and steering precision. The shaping in the bottom bracket area has also been tweaked from last year, and the seat stays, while still relatively slender, now take a decidedly straighter route from the seat tube down to the dropouts.

Otherwise, Boonen's bike is kitted out in the same fashion as it has been all season: Campagnolo supplies its completely Record group (including its new Ultra-Torque crankset instead of the Specialized-branded FACT carbon unit); Fulcrum provides the Racing Light carbon fiber tubular wheelset; and other bits are filled in by FSA, Selle San Marco, Look, Tacx, and Cateye.

So is 'Tornado Tom' happy with the finished product? "Yeah, yeah, so now we have to win. If you're tall it's always a big problem, but now it's fixed." If it does turn out that the bike was a major source of problems in Boonen's early campaigns, the rest of the peloton had better watch out for the rest of the season!


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Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL2
Fork: Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL2

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.92m (6' 4"); Weight: 82kg (181lb)
Seat tube length, c-c: 535mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 585mm
Top tube length: 595mm (horizontal)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 800mm
Saddle nose tip to C of bars: 640mm
C of front hub to top of bars: 583mm

Bottom bracket: Campagnolo Record Ultra-Torque
Campagnolo Record Ultra-Torque, 177.5mm, 39/53T
Chain: Campagnolo Record Ultra Narrow
Front derailleur: Campagnolo Record QS
Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Record
Brakes: Campagnolo Record D-SKELETON
Levers: Campagnolo Record QS Ergopower
Rear sprockets: Campagnolo Record steel/titanium, 11-23T


Front wheel: Fulcrum Racing Light tubular
Tyres: Specialized tubular

Bars: Aluminum, traditional bend, 44cm (c-c) (unmarked)
Stem: FSA OS-115, 140mm x -6°
Headset: Custom 1 ⅛”-to-1 ½”, cartridge bearing
Tape/grip: Specialized S-Wrap

Pedals: Look KeO cr-mo
Seat post: Carbon fiber with alloy micro-adjust head (unmarked)
Selle San Marco
Bottle cages: Tacx Tao
Computer: Cateye Mity 8

Total bike weight: 7.78kg (17.15 lb)