BIKE WE LIKE
A much-loved aluminium stalwart gets a total makeover for 2018
WHAT IS IT?
The Specialized Allez has been around for a few years now and is undoubtedly one of the world’s most popular bikes. In essence, it’s the affordable aluminium sibling to the carbon Tarmac, aimed at those who don’t want to spend thousands on a high-end, race-focused machine but still want to ride something that will both perform at a high level and get heads turning with its looks. And on that last point, the new Allez Elite hits the bullseye, drawing admiring comments when we took it for a test ride on the Ridelondon-surrey 100 sportive last month, the light blue frame offset by punchy fluoro red highlights. It’s a stunner.
SO, WHAT’S NEW?
The Allez has been thoroughly revamped for 2018. Across the range, the frame is now made using Specialized’s own E5 Premium Aluminium. Shaped and profiled tubes are joined using Smoothweld technology, which lives up to its name, and fully internal cable routing adds to the bike’s neat appearance. The fork is now a full-carbon FACT model, shaving further weight off the front end, and geometry has also been tweaked, bringing the bike closer in style to the endurance-focused Roubaix than the racy Tarmac, with a taller head tube, longer chainstays and more relaxed fork angle giving the bike a more comfort-oriented ride – but by no means a slow one. As well as shedding 500g from the previous model’s weight, the frame has been tested in Specialized’s own wind tunnel (or ‘win tunnel’ as the brochure has it) – one of the benefits of being created in the same R&D facilities as the firm’s high-end racing bikes.
WHO IS THE BIKE AIMED AT?
Specialized reckon the Allez is the perfect place to start for anyone who is ‘just finding their cycling legs’. User-friendly geometry means it’s easy to feel at home on this bike. A real all-rounder, it proved totally at home on the varied terrain of Ridelondon – agile on twisting city streets, fast on rolling suburban roads and country lanes, and light enough to get us over the hills without trouble. Perhaps the only thing we would change is the saddle, but then saddles are always very much a matter of personal preference. So, an ideal bike for taking on summer sportives, but with features such as the concealed mudguard mounts, it could equally do service as a fast commute or winter training bike.
HOW IS IT SPECCED?
Shimano’s ever-dependable 105 groupset provides the gear shifters and mechs, used in conjunction with a Praxis chainset, a KMC chain and Tektro Axis brakes, which all perform reliably. At the rear, an 11-32 cassette gives a wide enough spread of gears to get you out of most situations – and we have to admit to finding that 32-tooth sprocket handy when tackling the fearsome gradients of Leith Hill. Finishing kit is mostly own-brand alloy parts, with the shallow drop handlebars proving comfortable whether on the tops or drops, and we’re confirmed fans of the S-wrap bar tape. Wheels are built around dependable DT Swiss sealed hubs that are likely to last well, and the tyres are Specialized’s own Espoir Sport model in 25mm width, a decent budget option that you won’t be in a rush to upgrade.
HOW MUCH WILL IT SET ME BACK?
The Elite shown gets you a pound change from £1,000, pitching the bike perfectly at those looking to buy on the Ride To Work scheme – or indeed anyone after a great value bike that’s beautifully put together and lots of fun to ride. It sits at the top end of the standard Allez range, which starts at £599.