Specialized Allez Sprint is the 'world's first alloy superbike', according to Specialized
The design draws heavily on the cues laid down by the Tarmac and Aethos
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Specialized has given its Allez Sprint platform a complete revamp, unveiling an all-new construction that’s aiming to pair the durability and accessibility of aluminium with a race-winning level of performance.
Much of the tech – and the exact geometry – has been taken from Specialized’s flagship race bike, the Tarmac SL7. With the Allez Sprint coming in at £1,599 / $1,700 for just the frameset, it’s by no means a ‘budget’ alloy bike, but it still strikes a much more affordable number than the £3,750.00 / $5,500.00 frameset of the SL.
The brand is touting the Allez Sprint as the “World’s First Alloy Super Bike.” We’d suggest that perhaps Marco Pantani’s aluminium Bianchi Mega Pro XL, ridden to victory at the 1998 Tour de France – or the Cannondale CAAD13, a modern day classic with razor-sharp handling – would be among the strongest challengers to the title.
That said, with the concept of ‘super bikes’ still gestating back then, the Allez Sprint does have a fair claim. But what’s changed? What’s new? And how much are the builds? Let’s jump straight into the first of those.
Aero updates to the Specialized Allez Sprint
Specialized is claiming the Allez Sprint as the “fastest alloy road bike in history”, with lessons learnt from the Tarmac SL7’s time in the wind tunnel being fastidiously applied.
Allez through the ages
The Allez Sprint is a race focused version of the longstanding Allez, a hugely popular 'first road bike' with its origins in the 1980s.
1981 Steel Allez: 41 years ago, the original Allez was released. Then made of steel, it was used by racers around the world throughout the decade
1988 Allez Epic: With carbon tubes and steel lugs, the Epic was an almost steampunk elision of modern with tradition.
1994 Alloy Allez: Steel and carbon gave way to aluminium – a first for the Allez range.
2013 S-Works Allez Limited: First application of Specialized’s D’Aluisio Smartweld technology, taking aluminium performance to new heights
2015 Allez Sprint: Perhaps the bike that’s done most in recent years to keep the flame alight for race-tuned alloy bikes, that torch is now being passed on.
A lot of the focus has been on redesigning the headtube, which is “cut from a single piece of aluminium, then mechanically formed to create a more aerodynamic headtube shape”. The process has also allowed Specialized to move the weld points for improved uniformity and a reduction of redundant material – but we’ll get into those details later.
Elsewhere, perhaps the starkest examples of aero tech borrowed from the Tarmac SL7 are in the fork and seatpost – both of which are simply the very same components. But with that new seatpost, the seat tube has been revamped, cutting a sleeker and less chunky profile.
Another big change regarding the aerodynamics is the cable routing, now running internally through the headtube and a newly-designed headset cover. Any stem can be used with the new Allez Sprint, but the cleanest cable routing can be seen on the Allez Sprint LTD model.
All these tweaks add up to a claimed saving of 41 seconds over 40km at approximately 50kph, compared with the previous Allez Sprint. Poetically enough, 41 is the same number of years as the Allez has been in production. Whether the aerodynamics improvements were sculpted expressly to hit this target, or if that explains the reason why 40km was chosen, not 35 or 50km, we shan’t presume.
The ride of the Specialized Allez Sprint
With the geometry of the Tarmac SL7 and Aethos having been the hit it is, Specialized took the approach of not trying to reinvent the wheel for the Allez Sprint. As per the Aethos, both the fit and handling geometry is intentionally identical.
Allez Sprint's racing accolades
At the 2018 US Pro Road Champs, Johnny Brown soloed to Victory on a Allez Sprint, ahead of a full field of carbon bikes.
The Allez Sprint has made repeat displays at the Tour Down Under, with Peter Sagan the first to race the alloy frame there in 2019, with Sam Bennett following up the next year in 2020.
Justin Williams, a founder of the iconic Legion of LA team (L39ION) won the prestigious Tulsa Tough race back in 2019, using the following publicity to work with Specialized on giving an Allez away to a young rider.
With the cut-and-thrust of circuit racing perhaps being the environment where the Allez Sprint most thrives, it should come as no surprise that Colin Strickland’s domination of the Red Hook crits in 2016 were ridden aboard one.
The most observant will note that the stack appears a little different on this model, but once the height of the necessary headset cover is accounted for, the stem’s lowest position is the same across all models.
The previous Allez Sprint had a reputation for being stiff – stiffer even than the Tarmac, according to Sam Bennett at the Tour Down Under in 2020 – so stiff as to impart a harshness that could be quite fatiguing on longer days.
Appreciating that a more comfortable rider is a faster and more powerful rider, Specialized has taken a multi-pronged approach to mitigating this. First, is from that seatpost and fork taken from the Tarmac – along with the aero optimizations, these also boast compliance.
Clearance for up to 32mm tyres allows for wider rubber and lower pressures for soaking up the road’s imperfections, while the seatstays remain dropped well below the top-tube. With the seatpost still being clamped above the top-tube, the effect of the dropped seatstays is likely mitigated over a design with a lower clamp placing, but that’s what Specialized has gone with.
Refined welds on the Specialized Allez Sprint
Specialized has long taken a highly considered approach to the welding of its bikes, with Chris D’Aluisio developing the eponymous “D’Aluisio Smartweld” technique back in 2013.
The idea behind Smartweld is in engineering the tubes to perfectly match each other, rather than relying excess material from the weld to make up the gaps. Specialized argues that this makes for a much stronger weld that requires much less material – with a more robust and lighter frame as a result.
An innovation pertaining to the new Allez Sprint specifically is that the bottom bracket and down-tube are now formed from one continuous piece of hydroformed aluminium tubing, completely obviating the need for one of the joins.
The seat post and chainstays are now all connected much lower down, making for a more elegant aesthetic. But perhaps most importantly, Specialized claims this construction method brings a “ruthless efficiency” and “unprecedented stability”.
Whereas the previous Allez Sprint had a separate piece of tubing for the bottom bracket area, which was then welded to the chainstays, seatpost and down-tube with brutal joins that looked like scars.
Interestingly, the same design cues which were present in the previous bottom bracket design have been applied now to the head-tube. The idea is to move the welds back from the points on the frame which receive the highest stresses. I.e. at the head-tube / top-tube junction and the head-tube / down-tube junction.
You can see on the new Allez sprint that the head-tube actually flows into the top- and down-tubes for a section, before then connecting with the actual top-tube tube and down-tube tube (if you’re still with me). This approach allows Specialized to produce the welds with greater uniformity and requires less redundant material.
And sure enough, the Allez Sprint LTD is claimed to weigh 7.9kg in a size 56cm.
Pricing and availability of the Specialized Allez Sprint
Specialized is selling the Allez Sprint in a frame-only option for £1,599 / $1,700 and with a variety of colours on offer: you can choose from Chameleon Oil Tint, Water Effect, Raw Aluminium/Black Fade, and others besides.
The first fully built option is the Allez Sprint Comp, coming in at £2,650 / $3,000. This comes with a full Shimano 105 groupset, DT Swiss R470 rims laced to Specialized hubs and is shod with Specialized Turbo Pro 26mm tyres.
Although not available in the UK, Specialized is selling the Allez Sprint LTD for $6,800 in the USA, built with SRAM Force AXS in a 1x configuration, pairing a 46t chainring with a 10–36t 12-speed cassette. The wheels are the Roval Rapide CL and are paired with the S-Works Turbo 26mm tyres.
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After winning the 2019 National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Biking Championships and claiming the plushie unicorn (true story), Stefan swapped the flat-bars for drop-bars and has never looked back.
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