The Specialized Allez range consists of great entry level first road bikes and crit racing machines - we explain what's available to help you choose the right model for you
The Specialized Allez road bike has stood the test of time as a model family, with early versions appearing as far back as the late 1970s. It’s a well known, and well loved, platform that provided the first springboard into cycling for thousands of riders – and it continues to do so.
Whilst some models within the family are still purpose designed to provide an excellent introduction to cycling, the range also includes some race tuned machines designed with full throttle riding at front of mind.
The Specialized Allez 2017: highlights and prices
For 2017, the range consists of five key standards – with prices ranging from £575 to £1650. The three more value orientated models, under the name ‘Specialized Allez E5’ represent the traditional Allez values, whilst two top end ‘Allez DSW SL Sprit’ models take on a much more race focused approach.
Being a consistently best selling bike for the American giants – and indeed for retailers all over the world – the Allez has received a lot of design hours.
The Allez E5 bikes enjoy geometry not a million miles from the WorldTour race proven Specialized Tarmac – providing a quick, nimble and fairly aggressive option where most entry level road bikes favour a more sportive orientated layout.
Pitched as a welding technique designed to re-invent the way alloy was viewed as a frame material, its a form of welding that moves the joint away from high stress areas, providing, in their words a better “balance of strength, rigidity and weight”. Effectively it makes the front end lighter and stiffer.
None of the Allez bikes have eyelets for pannier racks or mudguards – but with a backpack and a pair of the many clip on mudgaurds on the market, the Allez E5 models can make good commuters and all sit below the cycle to work voucher threshold. However, the frames are more often favoured by those entering cycling with sport and fitness aims whilst the SL Sprint models really are race first bikes.
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Here’s a look at the key models in the range…
Specialized Allez E5 road bike: £575
Available in a head turning red or more understated black, the entry level E5 retails at £575, sitting at a very wallet friendly price point for a quality road bike.
Specialized have fitted the basic requirements: a carbon fork and seat post – these will reduce vibrations from the road and cut the overall weight and are expected on any road bike over £500.
The levers an derailleurs are Shimano Claris 2400 STI – giving you eight gears with a Sunrace 11-32 cassette and 50/34 rings on and FSA Gossamer Pro chainset – this gear set up offers you lots of options in the hills but the wide spaced cassette will feel clunky to racers who want to find the ideal cog.
The brakes are Tektro calipers, with Axis Sport wheels and 25mm Espoir Sport tyres – these are all reliable and trustable, though far from premium.
Specialized Allez E5 Sport road bike: £750
Moving one step up the run, the Allez E5 Sport comes in at £750 and features the same frame as the entry level model, with refined components that will drop a little off the wight and make shifting crisper.
The crankset, shifters and derailleurs are all Shimano Sora, this time with a nine speed 11-32 cassette – one extra gear is afforded by the slightly higher end set up.
The Axis Sport wheels are joined by Axis 1.0 rim brakes, which will be just a little crisper than those on the cheaper model.
Specialized Allez E5 Elite road bike: £900
Topping out the Allez E5 family, dressed in a dazzling white paint job and improved components for £900.
The key distinguishing feature is the addition of Shimano Tiagra shifters and a 12-28, 10 speed cassette. The greater number of gears, coupled with a narrower range cassette, will provide smaller gaps between gears whilst still leaving plenty of downshifting potential in the hills. A Praxis bottom bracket and chainset still comes with a 50/34 compact chainset.
As per all models, the saddle, stem, bar tape and handlebars are all provided by Specialized – who invest heavily in their BodyGeometry technology designed to offer a more anatomically optimised experience.
Specialized Allez DSW SL Sprint Comp: £1500
The Allez has always been considered an excellent option for an entry level criterium racer – owning to the geometry and resilient properties of alloy. With the SL Sprint models, Specialized took it up a gear to create a race-first model.
The frame is lighter and stiffer, thanks to the use of Smartweld technology at junctions. The geometry has been tweaked, with a shorter stack, and indeed a shorter reach and wheelbase. All this adds up to a more head down, nippy ride.
This is really more of a crit machine than a ‘fist bike that could do alright in a race’. In fact, Specialized used this frame to make limited edition fixie bikes for racers at the Red Hook Crit – and racing doesn’t really get more aggressive than that.
Specialized call this the ‘stiffest alloy bike we’ve ever tested’ – with influence coming from the World Tour winning Tarmac and fork sizes that alter in line with the frame size for improved handling.
An aero curve at the downtube is complimented by a Venge carbon aero seatpost. The Praxis chainset features a semi compact 52/36 chainset with an 11-28 cassette (racers might want to adjust that). Axis 2.0 brakes complement a Shimano 105 set up with Axis Elite wheels and 24mm Turbo Pro tyres.
Specialized Allez DSW SL Sprint Expert: £1650
Sharing a frame with the Comp, the Expert version enjoys a Shimano Ultegra and 105 mix, with the higher end spoils featuring in the shifters and derailleurs.
The bike comes in a ‘Gloss Monster Green’ – which matches the team kit worn by riders on the Specialized sponsored outfit ‘5th Floor’, which supports athletes in London and New York.
Which Specialized Allez should you buy?
With five models to choose from, it’s easy to understand the conundrum.
The Specialized Allez E5 models will all be reliable rides for commuting, sportives, club runs or just enjoyable spins around the lanes. The racey geometry means it’s a good bike for someone who wants their cycling to focus more around sport than getting from A to B.
When it comes to choosing between a £575 and £900 spend – it’s all about how much incremental differences in performance matter to you. The more you spend, the lighter the overall bike will be, and the crisper you’ll find the shifting and breaking.
The same logic applies between the DSW SL Sprint Comp and Expert models. These are bikes for racers who are happy to forgo comfort – and the choice between the two price points comes down to how much you value quick shifting when it comes to the race for the line.
A word on the Specialized Allez and the Specialized Dolce
It’s often believed that the Specialized Dolce women’s bike is the women’s ‘version’ of the Allez. Not so.
The Specialized Dolce is the brand’s entry level women’s machine, in the same way that the Allez is their unisex value orientated price point family. However, the Dolce is a much more sportive orientated ride, with a higher stack and shorter reach. Irrespective of average differences in male and female anthropological data, it’s designed to put a female rider in a more relaxed position.
These characteristics, along with buzz dampening Zertz inserts at the fork, make for a smooth and stable ride. However, a female rider after a more race driven bike – a bit like the Allez – may want to look at the Specialized Amira if she were considering a women’s specific model from the range.
Alternatively, the Allez could be tweaked to suit a female form with narrower handlebars, a saddle change, and perhaps shorter cranks for some riders.