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