The big red 'S' is an iconic symbol in cycling - and the Specialized 2017 women's road bike range is looking not a smidge less show stopping than we'd expect.
Specialized have been building bikes for decades. They've also remained dedicated to building women's frames where they feel they're required since the early 2000s.
High tech, data informed frames
Being one of the largest brands in cycling, Specialized have access to some of the most forward thinking technology. On their most recent addition - the new Ruby of 2017 - they partnered with McClaren (those people what make fast cars). And it wasn't their first time.
The brand purchased Retül fit systems back in 2012. Now they use the body measuring technology to carry out their own Body Geometry fits. Data from every fit - currently over 34,000 - is entered into a database and used to develop new and existing frames.
When it comes to deciding if women's models are needed, or if men and women want the same fit and layup from a bike, this is proving hugely insightful. This approach has already been seen at play in the way the brand maintained the geometry of the 2017 women's Ruby, whilst revamping the men's Roubaix - and we expect to see more changes in future bike-generations.
All the choice in the world...
The range Specialized carry comprises 237 different bike models. If we count each size and colour option as its own model (and many of them do feature altered carbon lay ups for different frame sized), that's 1215 separate options.
We visited the brand's UK HQ last week, to have a look at the full range - and we've brought you a round up of the stand out women's models. These are the Amira, the Ruby and the Dolce. In some cases, little has changed - in others, the model has been completely reshaped. Where there are unisex frames we also think are worth taking a look at, we've pulled those out too.
Here we go...
Specialized Ruby Road bike models for 2017
The Ruby is the model that has seen the most change for 2017, so we'll start with the sportive ready beauty. We reviewed this new incarnation of the favourite endurance model here.
Future Shock suspension
The key take away is that the bike features 20mm of front end suspension.
Specialized worked with McClaren Applied Technologies to develop what they're calling 'Future Shock Suspension'. The idea is that the system suspends the rider, allowing them to drift over bumps and uneven roads without suffering from the fatigue and loss of speed that poor surfaces create. This dampening of roughness makes for impeccable handling, especially on descents. Specialized say this is also their lightest model so the climbing is pretty good too.
The seatpost clamp has also moved lower into the frame, which means that there's more flex and fewer vibrations are transmitted to the rider's derriere.
In keeping with the comfort focus of the bike, this is an endurance platform. It is designed to put the rider into a fairly upright position that allows all-day riding without aches and pains. By comparison, the men's Roubaix model has been given the same suspension treatment, but its fit has been completely reworked to make it closer to that of the aggressive Tarmac. So if you want a race bike for cobbles, then you might want to look over the divide and into the unisex options.
All of the bikes feature a carbon frame and disc brakes, in sizes from 51 to 58 . The larger models are a brand new addition for 2017 after taller women found it hard to get hold of women's bikes.
The model options
S-Works Ruby eTap, £7500 (black/red)
This is the ultimate treat! Wireless shifting, with SRAM Red hydraulic disc brakes, Roval CLX 32 Disc wheelset, S-Works Carbon Hover bars which raise the front end slightly, S-Works Turbo 2Bliss Ready 26mm tyres, a Specialized Ruby saddle with the Specialized CG-R seat post that you'll find on all models to reduce vibrations even further. The 'SWAT box' that handily stores tubes, co2 and a tyre lever in the frame is included. The chainset is compact, with an 11-28 cassette.
Ruby Expert Ultegra Di2, £3800 (blue/yellow)
Just one notch down, but quite a bit cheaper. This model features Ultegra Di2 shifting, with Shimano Ultegra Di2 disc brakes. You get DT R460 Disc wheels with Specialized turbo pro tyres in 26mm. From this model downwards, all cassettes are 11-32 with a compact chainset. The hover bars are alloy and saddle is the Body Geometry Ruby, as per all the models excluding the Elite. SWAT box is included.
Ruby Expert, £3200 (grey/silver)
On this model you lose the Di2 and hydraulic discs, but still enjoy a Shimano Ulegra groupset with flat mount brakes, DT R460 Disc wheels. You still get your SWAT box included here.
Ruby Comp, £2400 (white)
If you like a pure, white frame - this one is for you! The groupset is a Shimano Ultegra and 105 mix, but you've still got the same wheelset, tyres, handlebars and finishing kit as the Expert.
Ruby Elite, £1900 (pictured)
Offering cutting edge McLaren/Specialized technology, at a fraction of the cost, is the Ruby Elite. And it's got to be said - it may well have the best point job of the lot. The groupset is largely Shimano 105, but with a Praxis crankset and Tektro mechanical discs, which is where the cost saving measures come in. The wheels are Axis Elite Discs, with Specialized Turbo Pro tyres, the alloy hover bars and Lithia Expert Gel saddle.
Specialized Dolce Road Bike models for 2017
Confession: I'm biased. The Dolce was my first adult bike - it was a present for my 21st birthday. It's fair to say it changed my life. It's not really fair to say that another, similar road bike wouldn't have had a similar affect, though.
The Dolce is an aluminum women's road bike that aims to offer a quality ride, without causing you to spend every penny you've got on pay day and live off baked beans and post ride satisfaction for months. The men's/unisex version at a similar price point is the Allez and the two are often considered gender opposites. They're not: the Allez is a much more aggressive bike, the Dolce is more 'heads up' and suited to commuting or endurance riding.
The top end model Dolce Elite E5 comes in at £900. That's still below the Cyclescheme voucher threshold, and you get Shimano Tiagra shifting, plus Zertz inserts in the forks for added comfort. Models start at £525 for Shimano Claris shifting, but you still get the same lightweight aluminum frame.
If you want something a little on the 'different' side, there are the Dolce Evo and Dolce Comp Evo versions. These aim to tick the 'adventure road' box. Both models come with hydraulic disc brakes and 28mm tyres. The more pricey Comp Evo features a Specialized CG-R carbon seatpost for added comfort.
The model options
Dolce Elite E5, £900 (black)
Aluminum frame with Zertz inserts, Shimano Tiagra shifters and derailleurs, Axis 1.0 brakeset, Axis Sport wheels, Praxis Alba crankset with 48/32 chainrings (subcompact) and an 11-32 cassette: that's a wide range of gears to help you up even the steepest climbs. 25mm tyres, shallow drop handlebars and Body Geometry Women's Riva Sport saddle.
Dolce Sport, £675 (pictured)
As per the Elite, but with Shimano Sora shifters and derailleurs - one step down the ladder and 9 speed as opposed to 10 - but still reliable shifting.
Dolce - £525 (white/silver)
Not much has changed, the major difference is the Shimano Claris shifters and derailleurs - these are 8 speed and a little less crisp and satisfying than more expensive versions. The brakes are Tektro calipers, again a slight downgrade - but you also save yourself enough cash to kit yourself out, and you've got a great quality frame.
Dolce Evo Comp, £1500 (black/red)
For those who want to explore. The groupset is Shimano 105, with hydraulic discs, Axis Elite wheels shod with 28mm Roubaix Pro 2Bliss Ready tyres. Shallow drop bars with Body Geometry Myth Comp saddle. You get the same Praxis Alba 48/32 subcompact crankset, with an 11-32 cassette. Ain't no hill you're not getting up!
Dolce Evo, £1100 (silver, black)
The same frame, with similar components, but a Shimano Tiagra groupset with TRP cable operated hydraulics.
Specialized Amira Road Bikes of 2017
If you're a woman who wants to race, then the Amira is the bike that Specialized built with you in mind. The Amira is the model ridden by World Champion Lizzie Armitstead's team, Boels Dolmans - and it's very similar to their men's Tarmac bike. Designed to be lightweight, with impeccable handling, it's perfect for everything from hilly road races to crit races. And of course, it feels amazing to ride even without a number on your back.
The Amira platform has been unchanged for some time, and the frame continues for 2017. Options start at £1500 for the Amira Sport. Here the race winning frame is dressed with a Shimano 105 and Tiagra mix of components which keeps the cost down. At the top of the ladder there's the S-Works Amira eTap for £6,500.
Or... consider the unisex frames
For those that aren't bothered about a women's specific frame, in unisex options there's the Tarmac. This is similar but also features several disc versions this year. Ideal if you don't want to race but want an aggressive ride with all weather braking.
If you want something aero, your best bet is the Venge Vias. This is also available with disc brakes, but starts at £3,900 (and climbs still higher).
On the other end of the scale, is the flagship aluminum model - the Allez. Here you can get an Ultegra and 105 mix groupset, and a frame with aero curves, for £1,500. Ideal for those that expect to be smashing it up on crit circuits, and don't want to buy a new frame if they happen to make unexpected contact with the ground.
The Amira model options
S-Works Amira eTap £6500 (pictured)
This model is the top of the range and features wireless shifting, as the Boels Dolmans riders enjoy as well as SRAM Red 22 brakes, crankset and chain plus aerolicious Roval CLX 40 carbon rim wheels with DT Swiss hubs and ceramic bearings, SRAM BB30. Even the handlebars are carbon (swap 'em if you're racing a lot!) and the saddle is the racey Oura on all models. There's a compact chainset with 11-28 cassette, and fast rolling turbo cotton tyres in 24mm.
Amira Comp Ultegra Di2, £2600 (black/charcoal)
This one is 'almost' the best, and over half the price! You'll get Shimano Ultegra Di2 shifters and deraillieurs, Shimano Ultegra compact cranks and brakes, Shimano 105 11-28 cassette, KMC chain, DT Swiss R460 wheelset, Specialized Turbo Pro tyres, Specialized women's alloy comp shallow drop handlebars.
Amira Comp, £2100 (green/blue)
Just as per the above, but you lose the Di2 for mechanical shifting, and save a few bob.
Amira Sport, £1500 (black with flame pink and moto orange)
If you don't want to go overboard with your spending, this model is the entry level option - but features the same top end, racy frame. The groupset is mainly Shimano 105, with Tiagra brakes and Praxis cranks and bottom bracket. The wheels are Axis Elite's with Specialized ESPOIR ELITE 23c tyres.
So - that's you up to date on the range! You can see all of these bikes and further specification info here. If you are looking for a new road bike, check out these pages: