Specialized reckon no corners have been cut in the creation of a bike that’s unashamedly ‘entry-level’ yet offers light weight, refinement and reliability. It may seem a brave boast when they say the Allez Sport is ‘just as performance-packed as it is versatile’, but this bike has got previous… We’ve ridden many versions of the Allez Sport, and it’s not to be underestimated…
Forget everything you’ve heard about aluminum road bikes – they don’t rattle you like they used to. In fact, the opening miles on the Allez prove it to be the absolute model of smoothness. And the body Geometry saddle fitted to our test bike is so flexible, it feels almost as if you’ve added suspension beneath your bum.
On the road
After 20 miles on this bike, its defining qualities are easy to discern. Specialized has created an alloy road bike that feels almost like a carbon bike, and one which makes riding a total joy thanks to its well-damped and/or padded contact points and taut frame. Yes, it’s a little weighty compared to a lot of bikes-even lower-end carbon ones that cost hundreds more-but that’s not the whole story.
The Allez’s calling card is the quality of its ride, the comfort with which it can gulp down the miles. Show it a hill and it might take a little while to get into its stride, but the combination of a compact rear frame triangle, solid Praxis cranks and a gloriously wide spread of gear ratios (from 50-11 to 34-32) conspires to provide you with uphill motive force that belies its bulk.
The package feels taut under power, allowing you to throw it from side to side with little power lost. And, once hurtling down the other side of the hill, there’s a solidity to its road-holding that fills you with the confidence do leave the brakes alone and flit from kerb to white line for the quickest route, carrying all the speed you can.
It can be an exhilarating ride as well as a commuter; it holds no unwelcome surprises yet it’s totally surprising in the way that a sub-$1,500 bike could probably be the only bike you own. Unless you really do hanker after a lot more speed and acceleration on rolling roads…
Get your head around this-next year actually marks the 40th anniversary of the Specialized Allez. Given the long history of the model, you’d be surprised if the company hadn’t honed its offering since 1981 to a point where little can touch it on the road.
It demonstrates a near-perfect balance on our test route, and we’re confidents saying that it’d embarrass some road bikes costing double its $1000 price tag. On paper, its steep steering head angle would suggest a response to rider input that’s bordering on ‘twitchy’. Not so.
What it offers is a directness of turn-in allied to a feeling of sky-high confidence that’s down in part to the grip provided by the 25c Espoir rubber. Its tires really do prevent any nasty mid-corner surprises, while its narrow bars with an easy reach combined with its relatively high bottom bracket drop give you all the leverage, comfort and ground clearance you need to carve the tightest turns.
Key to this is that-despite our early doubts-the springy saddle provides enough feedback for what’s going at the rear contact point between rubber and road, while the FACT carbon forks up front let you track your chosen line with minimal intrusion from pock-marked tarmac.
There’s nothing harsh about this bike. It’s smooth, easy-going, and fun when you want it to be. If you’re buying your first road bike, we’d struggle to tell you that it shouldn’t be this one. If you’re in the market for a winter training bike, step this way.
From a distance, you’d be hard pressed to say what the frame is made from, thanks to the extreme neatness of Specialized’s Smart Weld tube junctions. Beyond that, there’s an understated classiness to the can’t-put-your-finger-on-it paint hue (it’s halfway between pearly off-white and battleship grey).
Beyond the aesthetic beauty, gone is the Allez’s curved toptube of old, replaced by a straighten yet still angled, tube. The rear frame triangle is compact, with the seatstays jutting diagonally from the seat tube a fair few centimeters below its junction with the toptube.
The effect of this frame design is to allow your pedaling input to be more keenly and quickly felt at the rear wheel. Specialized’s bladed FACT carbon-fiber forks eliminate a good deal of road chatter and assist a direct steering response when riding while the Allez’s cables are now internally routed.
A 140 mm headtube has grown 20 mm from the last time we rode an Allez Sport, which helps to temper the relatively steep 73° head angle without sacrificing rapidity of turn-in. Crucially, the make-up of the Allez’s alloy frameset is packed with comfort, a far cry from the vibey aluminum frames of old. As it’s also the only bike here to use rim brakes, the wheels are attached at either end with traditional quick-release skewers. How very 20th century!
Shimano’s nine-speed Sora set-up is employed for the majority of the Allez’s groupset. The shifters and both the front and rear derailleurs are from the firm’s lower-level component range, while the Praxis chainset is matched to a budget-friendly Sunrace 11-32 cassette to offer a wide spread of gears to cover most terrain with minimum fuss. Axis rim brakes buck the trend for mechanical discs at this price point, but they’re solid performers, offering decent stopping power and easy modulation offeree.
Specialized’s own alloy finishing kit is used throughout the build. The compact drop handlebars, 400 mm in diameter, are particularly pleasing in use, giving decent leverage and a comfortably padded expanse of bar tape. A 27.2 mm alloy seatpost assists in dialing out a fair amount of the road vibration that alloy frames can offer suffer from, while the Body Geometry Bridge saddle is a remarkably springy perch on which to sit, again nullifying the effect of poor road surfaces.
The Axis wheels have remained unchanged across the Allez Sport’s development in at least the last four years. But, hey, if it ain’t broke… You wouldn’t expect them to be race-ready (and they’re not), but they are utterly reliable, resilient and potentially maintenance-free hoops that’ll see you through many years of happy riding. Their 25c Espoir Sport tires are confidence- inspiring, reasonably grippy for most conditions, and contribute in soaking up road buzz while lessening jarring hits from sub-standard tarmac.
Frame: Specialized E5 Premium aluminum frame, FACT carbon fork
Groupset: Shimano Sora
Brakes: Axis 1.0
Chainset: Praxis Alba, 50/34
Cassette: Sunrace, 11-32
Bars: Specialized shallow drop, alloy
Stem: Specialized, alloy
Saddle: Body Geometry Bridge
Seatpost: Specialized, alloy, 27.2 mm
Wheels: Axis Sport
Tires: Espoir Sport, 700×25
|Size tested: 52||Chainstays (C): 420 mm|
|Weight: 9.16 kg||Head angle (HA): 73°|
|Top tube (TT): 542 mm||Seat angle (SA): 73.2°|
|Seat tube (ST): 490 mm||Wheelbase (WB): 983 mm|
|Stacks (S): 552 mm||BB drop (BB): 77 mm|
|Reach (R): 376 mm|