BIKE WE LIKE

A much-loved alu­minium stal­wart gets a to­tal makeover for 2018

Bikes Etc - - DEPART -

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.

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