› The rad­i­cally up­dated Allez looks like a lot of bang for your bucks

Cycling Plus (Malaysia) - - ROAD TEST -

he Allez is a fa­mil­iar sight on Bri­tain’s roads. In its many guises it has been around for decades, first as a skinny-steel af­fair in the 1980s, and lat­terly as the en­try point to the world of Spe­cial­ized’s big­tubed alu­minium road bikes.

For the last few years the Allez has been recog­nis­able by its arched top­tube and dan­gling ‘wash­ing-line’ rear brake cable. Un­til 2017. For 2018 the Allez is all straight lines now; no curves. Other changes in­clude the move to full in­ter­nal ca­bling – very neat it is too – and the wel­come, ver­sa­til­ity-in­creas­ing ad­di­tion of

Trear rack mounts to go with the neat mud­guard fit­tings, and room for ‘real’ mud­guards. We’ll deal with the groupset first. As with all our six bikes it’s based around Shi­mano’s eight-speed Claris, with Shi­mano’s fa­mil­iar STI com­bined shift and brake levers. It works well, though lacks some of the ‘feel’ of the com­pany’s higher-end kit. The Allez’s 50/34 chain­set and 11-32 cas­sette com­bi­na­tion of­fers a wide range, with max­i­mum help up hills and a more-than-ad­e­quate top gear for sprint­ing and descend­ing.

All six test bikes have threaded bot­tom bracket shells and square­ta­pered bot­tom brack­ets; not glam­orous but func­tional and much eas­ier for the home me­chanic to re­place than press-fit. The Allez has Tek­tro brakes, like most of the six, and the al­ready-fit­ted car­tridge blocks are a nice touch.

But Spe­cial­ized has achieved some­thing else no­body has man­aged here: a full-car­bon mono­coque front fork. The FACT fork’s steerer is a fair bit beefier than last year’s too, go­ing up from 1-1 1/8in to 1 1/8-1 3/8in. Con­sid­er­ing this is the least ex­pen­sive bike here that is quite an achieve­ment, even if the sub-£1000 Allez range had an ini­tial re­call to re­place the orig­i­nal forks. The car­bon con­trib­utes to front-end com­fort,

For 2018, the Allez is all straight lines now; no curves

the pro­por­tions add pre­ci­sion to the han­dling, which is bet­ter than you might ex­pect on an en­try-level bike.

An­other change is that Spe­cial­ized, us­ing its mas­sive

Retül bike-fit­ting data­base, has length­ened the head-tube by 2cm. It’s still not as ex­treme as the Marin’s but is a tad longer than the more en­durance-bi­ased Fuji’s, so more in all-rounder than all-out race bike ter­ri­tory. But with frame an­gles around 73 de­grees and a 100cm wheel­base the ride is still rea­son­ably lively, and that taut­ness is em­pha­sised by the dropped rear seat­stays, as pi­o­neered by BMC back in the day, which cre­ate a tight and ag­gres­sive rear tri­an­gle. The frame is stiff enough for out-of-the-sad­dle climbs and gear­ing low enough for seated as­cents. A win-win.

In spite of the Allez’s raci­ness it has plenty of com­fort, helped by the pop­u­lar Body Ge­om­e­try sad­dle and the 25mm Espoir tyres (26mm in re­al­ity). And ev­ery lit­tle helps. There is room for 28mm rub­ber, though you may have to forego mud­guards.

It’s al­ways hard to up­date such a de­servedly pop­u­lar prod­uct, but af­ter a blip Spe­cial­ized has got it spot on with the new Allez. The ride has been ‘mod­ernised’ with slightly less racy ge­om­e­try, but it hasn’t lost its dy­namism. Rack mounts add com­mut­ing ver­sa­til­ity, and the fork, wheels and tyres are at the up­per end of what you would ex­pect for £750, let alone £599. It looks great too.

Be­low The rear has fit­tings for mud­guards and plenty of space to in­clude them Bot­tom Tek­tro dual-pivot brakes are in charge of stop­ping

In spite of the Allez’s raci­ness it has plenty of com­fort

FOR A LOT MORESPE­CIAL­IZED ALLEZ SPRINT COMP £1600Spe­cial­ized’s top-level S-works FACT fork, car­bon seat­post and Shi­mano 105. Very racy in­deed.

FOR A LIT­TLE MORESPE­CIAL­IZED ALLEZ SPORT £799The same frame with swankier nine-speed Shi­mano Sora and Praxis’s classy-look­ing Alba chain­set.

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