A romantic intro of the first time I realised how excellent the Specialized Allez is would be fantastic. But honestly, it was the moment that I saw it. There is a distinct feeling which is most comparable to having way too much coffee when you ride a new bike – and even more so when the bike is a very fine example of stellar engineering.
Who It's For
It’s difficult to pinpoint the target market for the lowest end Allez – which is the one I am reviewing today. Whether it is for the new cyclist, returning cyclist (like the bubble wrap man!), or upgrading cyclist that doesn’t have a chunk of cash to spend.
Because of the ‘racing’ geometry of the Allez – caused primarily by the relatively long top tube – it does hurt your triceps after about 20 miles for the first few rides but quickly feels natural.
The Base: Frame And Forks
With its frame and forks being made out of aluminium, a fairly light and fairly strong material – the frame and forks are just that. Fairly good.
However, it is easy to get caught up in the nitty gritty of material composition – but let’s face it, what really matters is what these specs mean in practice on the road.
The frame feels stiff and the connection between the frame and forks strong, as it corners like an obedient – but elegant – dog. A corgi perhaps?
As mentioned before, the Allez series all have a geometry aimed more towards racing than touring due to their shorter top tube making the riding position more ‘aggressive’.
No matter how great your frame and forks are, without equally great components it doesn’t really mean much. With a mostly Shimano 2300 load out, you’re not getting the best components in the world – but you can’t expect that for £550. But when snobbery is put aside, the 2300 groupset really isn’t as terrible as a lot of people like to tell themselves after spending £1500 on their Ultegra Di2 groupset.
I haven’t had any slips, and they have remained calibrated and make for a swift change. Changes can be a bit clunky on hills if you change more than 2 cogs at once, but again, it is what you expect on a £550 bike.
The Axis Classic wheels follow a now-fimiliar pattern. Good, but not great. They are relatively heavy, but seem to be quite good in the strength department – which is what you need with the roads in Britain.
Fitted to the wheels are the Espoir tyres, and so far they have been quite grippy and despite riding over glass, thorns and road-side debris they have remained inflated.
But you know what’s cooler than the Specialized Espoir tyres? The Continental Gatorskins. Okay, maybe I’m a bit late on the train for The Social Network quotes, but it is true. The Espoirs are a great starting tyre – decent speed, good puncture protection, and they come fitted to the bike. But when you are getting more comfortable, switching to the Gatorskins will really help in the speed and durability areas.
How She Looks
Aesthetically, the Allez looks fantastic. Black and silver are its main trademark colours, and although this seems a bit boring – they are used tastefully and excitingly. The way that the curves of the bike all fit together really is incredible; the Specialized design team have done an awesome job here. One of the best parts of these colours is that the Rapha gear looks so fly alongside the Allez. I’m just waiting for Rapha pink bar tape…
On The Road
The Specialized Allez rides superbly for a bike in its price range. It feels surprisingly light, and playful enough to avoid any close shaves – but at the same time cornering is easy and feels safe.
The Bottom Line
To be honest, compared to the wealth of much more expensive bikes available, I didn’t have high hopes for the entry level Specialized Allez Compact before reviewing it. It has, however blown me away in every area.
For £550, you can’t go wrong, and it is a good starting point if you are into upgrading. So far, I have upgraded the Tektro brakes to Shimano 105s for better braking power and switched the tyres over to Continental Gatorskins.
Full Spec Sheet:
Frame Specialized A1 Premium Aluminium, fully manipulated tubing with smooth welds, 1-1/8" lower bearing Fork Specialized Aluminium fork, alloy steerer and crown, 1-1/8" Headset 1-1/8" sealed Cr-Mo cartridge bearings integrated w/ headset, 20mm alloy cone spacer, w/ 20mm of spacers Stem Cast alloy, 4-bolt, 31.8mm Handlebars Specialized Comp, 6061 alloy, shallow bend Tape Specialized S-Wrap Brakes Tektro dual-pivot Derailleurs Shimano 2300 Shift Levers Shimano 2300 STI Cassette Shimano HG-50, 8-speed, 12-25 Chain KMC Z51 Crankset Shimano 2300 compact Chainrings 50/34 Bottom Bracket Sealed cartridge, square taper, 68mm Pedals Nylon flat test ride, loose-ball, w/ reflectors Wheel Set Axis Classic Tyres Specialized Espoir Sport, 60TPI, wire bead, double BlackBelt protection, 700x25c Inner Tubes Standard presta valve Saddle BodyGeometry Riva Road, Cr-Mo Rails, 143mm Seat Post Specialized Sport alloy, 27.2mm Seat Binder Alloy, 31.8mm