£1300 › This is not your dad’s Spe­cial­ized Allez

Cycling Plus - - ROAD TEST -

The Spe­cial­ized Allez has been around for years and has al­ways been a safe choice for an en­try-level bike. It’s not cut­ting edge and it’s av­er­age rather than great value for money, but you know that if you sug­gest one to a pow­er­fully built ac­quain­tance, they aren’t go­ing to hunt you down and di­vorce you from your kneecaps for giv­ing them bad ad­vice.

The Allez DSW is not your gar­den­va­ri­ety, trouser-clips-and-hel­met­mir­ror road bike. DSW stands for ‘D’Aluisio Smartweld’, and even a cur­sory look at this bike’s frame will re­veal that there’s some­thing a bit weird go­ing on. Rather than sim­ply stick­ing tubes to­gether at their ends in the con­ven­tional fash­ion, DSW re­lo­cates the joins to op­ti­mise stiff­ness and weight, in­deed Spe­cial­ized says this is the stiffest al­loy bike it’s ever tested. (No, we don’t know how many bikes it’s tested...)

The re­sult is a frame that’s not lumpy in all the usual places, in­stead sport­ing vis­i­ble welded seams that in­ter­rupt the main tubes just be­fore they reach the head-tube and bot­tom bracket area. It’s also one that de­vi­ates rad­i­cally from the usual Allez for­mula by in­clud­ing an aero-sec­tion seat-tube with a match­ing post bor­rowed from the bike’s big brother, the Venge.

All this is in aid of cre­at­ing a cri­terium-rac­ing weapon, and Spe­cial­ized makes no bones about the sin­gle-minded na­ture of the de­sign. This much is ev­i­dent in the ride. With a long reach of 385mm (hor­i­zon­tal dis­tance from bot­tom bracket to cen­tre of the head-tube) and just 533mm of stack (ver­ti­cal dis­tance) on our 54cm test bike, this was al­ways go­ing to be a racy ride. It’s not an un­pleas­ant place to sit, but is an un­com­pro­mis­ing one, of­fer­ing an in­ti­mate and de­tailed ac­count of the road sur­face be­neath you. It’s not the most re­lax­ing ride,

Spe­cial­ized makes no bones about the sin­gle-minded na­ture of the de­sign

and it feels hap­pi­est when you’re trying to rip it in half with all the power your quads can muster. So yes, it’s a race bike, and no, we wouldn’t choose it for putting in big miles.

Spe­cial­ized has taken a piece­meal ap­proach to spec­c­ing the Allez DSW, with a smat­ter­ing of 105 shifty bits, muted but at­trac­tive Praxis cranks, and some Axis own-brand brakes that get the job done but are a lit­tle flexy for our lik­ing. Fin­ish­ing kit is all de­cent stuff and while the ba­sic wheels do lit­tle to sharpen the rid­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, we had no real cause for com­plaint. This bike is beg­ging for a set of bona fide race wheels, not least in aid of aes­thetic har­mony.

Spe­cial­ized could have made this thing black-on-black to hide the welds, but we’re glad it didn’t. It’s a big, or­ange mid­dle finger to po­lite cy­cling so­ci­ety and within its nar­row rac­ing re­mit it works. This is not a bike for shrink­ing vi­o­lets and it would be a mis­take to view this as an en­try-level race bike. If any­thing, it’s a sin­gle-use de­vice for n+1 afi­ciona­dos – you don’t buy the Allez DSW as your sole road bike, you buy it to race mer­ci­lessly ev­ery week­end with­out wor­ry­ing about break­ing some­thing more ex­pen­sive. The only prob­lem is that this spec isn’t re­ally op­ti­mised for rac­ing and un­like US cus­tomers, we in the UK don’t get the op­tion of buy­ing a frame­set. The Allez DSW is a cool piece of de­sign, but the SL Comp spec doesn’t do it jus­tice.

Be­low Good-look­ing Praxis cranks get things turn­ing Bot­tom Welds are re­lo­cated to in­crease stiff­ness and op­ti­mise weight

You don’t buy the Allez DSW as your sole road bike, you buy it to race mer­ci­lessly

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