SPE­CIAL­IZED ALLEZ ELITE

£999 › The long-es­tab­lished Allez has had a ma­jor over­haul for 2018

Cycling Plus - - ROAD TEST -

The Allez has been part of Spe­cial­ized’s line-up since the 1980s, when they were skinny steel af­fairs. More re­cently they’ve been the en­try point to Spesh’s big-tubed alu­minium road range, echo­ing the com­pany’s car­bon Tar­macs and recog­nis­able by their arced top-tube.

The Allez Elite has had a makeover for 2018. It’s shed nearly half a kilo, the head-tube has been height­ened by 10mm, the seat­stays have been dropped rad­i­cally, and Spe­cial­ized’s Axis wheels have been re­placed by DT Swiss’s wide, tube­less-ready R460 rims. New rear rack mounts up the ver­sa­til­ity and there are neatly hid­den mud­guard mounts. The ca­bles are con­cealed, run­ning dis­creetly through the frame. Cru­cially it gets 11-speed Shi­mano 105 rather than 10-speed Tiagra, and while it now costs £100 more than the 2017 model, we reckon that looks like money very well spent.

There are two schools of thought for putting to­gether a £1000 road bike you can buy from your lo­cal bike shop. Board­man goes for a car­bon frame with lower-level com­po­nents; Spe­cial­ized max­imises the kit qual­ity and stays with alu­minium. The over­all weights are so close you don’t no­tice, while the ta­pered full car­bon fork and sim­i­lar cock­pits en­sure there’s lit­tle dif­fer­ence dis­cernible through the han­dle­bar.

Shi­mano 105 is great to see, and while we’re nor­mally cyn­i­cal when pre­sented with a chain­set de­vi­a­tion, the Praxis Alba of­fers a classy, in­dus­trial look and shift­ing we couldn’t sep­a­rate from 105. The 11-speed setup al­lows a widerang­ing 11-32 cas­sette with­out un­wieldy jumps be­tween gears. Want help on hills? That 32-tooth sprocket is your best friend.

Frame an­gles through­out the range are around 73 de­grees, and the length­ened head-tube puts the rid­ing po­si­tion in line with the

en­durance-flavoured Board­man; not full-on racy but enough to put you slightly more up­right.

The rest of the changes have had pos­i­tive re­sults, with this model up­ping the through-the-sad­dle com­fort com­pared with last year’s, pre­sum­ably those dropped seat­stays com­ing into play. Spe­cial­ized’s Toupé sad­dle proved pop­u­lar, and the 25mm tyres size up big for a frac­tion more com­pli­ance. But this Allez hasn’t lost its pre­de­ces­sor’s sense of power and ef­fi­ciency. The tight rear end is stiff, the ta­pered car­bon fork pre­cise in its han­dling and those wheels feel stiffer than last year’s Axis hoops, with lit­tle flex ev­i­dent. You can sit and spin up hills in that granny gear, and hit ev­ery apex con­fi­dently de­scend­ing.

It can be a risky busi­ness re­design­ing some­thing with such a suc­cess­ful record, but that risk has paid off, and the new Allez Elite is a de­light. It’s kept the ef­fi­ciency but is now lighter, more com­fort­able and more ver­sa­tile. We think the pale blue and light red model looks bet­ter than the more muted af­fair we tested, though sadly Spe­cial­ized couldn’t get us one in time. Bah! Our tester also likes the fact that the Allez has – fi­nally – lost that ex­ter­nal rear brake ca­ble that used to hang, wash­ing-line-like, un­der the top­tube. Yes! Add in a great ride that will en­com­pass com­mut­ing, fit­ness rid­ing, club runs and win­ter train­ing, with the op­tion of go­ing tube­less, and Spe­cial­ized has im­proved on an al­ready fine bike.

Be­low 2018’s Allez Elite sees DT Swiss tube­less-ready R460 rims Bot­tom Praxis Alba chain­set de­vi­ates from Shi­mano 105, but worked well

The Allez Elite has had a makeover for 2018

Want help on hills? That 32-tooth sprocket is your best friend

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