The Specialized Allez is a well-balanced road bike that lends itself to a bit of everything and anything regardless of the experience of the rider. The neat and tidy alloy tubed frame is built with a full carbon fork, there's rack and guard mounts for added utility. The Shimano Sora 2x9 gearing provides reliable shifting across a good range. Overall performance is let down by the Axis brakes which could be better, even at this price point.
Goldilocks geometry to suit range of riding
Full carbon fibre fork
Guard and rack mounts broadens to commuter and winter bike
Reliable gearing with good range
Toe overlap on smaller models
Performance of stock brakes
Harsh feel to the ride on rough roads
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The Specialized Allez has been one of the most popular road bikes for many years. It’s versatile, value for money and benefits from a whole lot of trickle down R&D from the high end of Specialized’s range. But being up at the top is a big reputation to live up to, especially now the big brands struggle to offer the value for money that they once did.
There are three Allez models available as part of the larger range of Allez and Allez Sprint bikes. We’ve been riding the mid-range Allez Sport to see how it compares to the rest of our best cheap road bikes and whether it still deserves its lofty standing.
Specialized Allez Sport: construction
Central to the concept of the Allez is its balanced geometry which lends it to all types of riding and riders. In other words, it’s a bike that will do a chunk of everything without any major sacrifices to position and comfort. This is a road bike that’s designed for an experienced rider who wants one do-it-all bike or someone who’s starting out and wants to give everything a try.
For those who like the numbers, the 56cm frame has a stack of 596mm and reach of 385mm with a head angle is 73.5 degrees. For a point of comparison the Allez Sprint, which is based on the geometry of Specialized’s Tarmac aero sprint bike, is a longer and lower (398mm reach, 558mm stack).
The first thing that strikes you is what a neat and tidy bike the Allez is; straight lines, simple tubes, neat welds, semi-internal cables and smart finishing kit. Our test bike’s British Racing Green paint job added another level of class (if green isn’t your thing, the Allez Sport is also available in pale blue or pale grey).
The Allez Sport’s components favour a solid performance with easy care and maintenance. The lightweight alloy frame is complemented by a full carbon fibre fork. There’s a threaded Praxis bottom bracket, Praxis double crankset (50/32t) and Shimano Sora 9-speed gearing using a Sunrace cassette (11-32t) and KMC chain. Wheels are Axis Sport with Specialized’s long-favoured cup and cone bearings. Caliper brakes are also from the in-house brand. Bars, stem, saddle and seatpost are all Specialized branded.
Rack and fender mounts give the Allez great flexibility to double up as a commuter bike and run full-guards through the winter.
Our 52cm test bike weighed in at 9.3kg which is about what we would expect at this price point.
Swinging your leg over the Allez it instantly gives you the feel of a fun and responsive bike you want to ride. Once you’re up to speed and rolling through the lanes, it’s easy to think you’re riding a much more expensive machine.
There’s a connected feel between pushing on the pedals and what you get back out of the bike. I really loved the responsiveness of the ride, it made me want to get out the saddle on every hill so I could power up and over. Granted, its overall weight does mean it takes a bit to accelerate but unless you’re riding alongside someone much faster, it’s not something that jumps out at you.
I found the position of the Allez instantly comfortable. There’s always an element of luck in this but there’s lots of scope to tweak the position of the front end and saddle for you to achieve a feel that suits you. Handling is great, it’s reactive and responsive and overall a fun ride.
The one major downside of the geometry – for the smaller framed bikes at least – is toe overlap (when your foot is forward and the wheel catches your toe when turning the bars). This was the case on the 52cm frame I tested. I didn’t find this a problem when riding (when you’re riding at speed you lean the bike to turn rather than significantly turn the bars) but if you’re looking at a smaller frame and are considering using guards, wearing overshoes and / or riding where you’re doing a lot of slow speed manoeuvring (like commuting through traffic) it’s certainly something to watch out for.
The frame feels pretty stiff which is great in terms of power transfer to the pedals but not so good in terms of comfort and traction on rough roads. Together the frame, seatpost and bars do give quite a harsh feel (think speedy go-kart rather than lush family saloon). I was really impressed by the Body Geometry Bridge saddle which removed much of the buzz at the back end and the carbon fork certainly does a job to settle things at the front end. Sadly the S-Wrap bar tape doesn’t offer much in terms of cushioning for your hands. Changing the tape over to one with more cushioning would be a cheap and easy way to improve the comfort of the bike.
A bike review wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the wheels but actually there’s not a great deal to say about the Axis Sports except that they performed in line with the rest of the bike, an ideal at any price point. This also gives you the option of a future upgrade or perhaps a speedy Sunday-best wheelset for fast mile crunching.
The range of the Shimano 2x9 speed Sora gearing matched all that I would want to do on the Allez and was plenty enough for a day in the rolling hills. The 9-speed cassette does mean there are some bigger jumps compared to a more costly 10 or 11 speed set-up but the increments seem well balanced, and went entirely unnoticed by me on the road.
The hoods were well shaped and comfortable, surprisingly close to some of the higher end Shimano offerings.
If I was being fussy, shifting felt (and sounded) pretty deliberate, not aided by the sound being amplified through the frame. The heaviness of the shift did make it harder to quickly click through the gears - I do have relatively small hands though so I may find this more of an issue than many others. I did need to make a few tweaks to compensate for early cable stretch and to better align the limiter screws but otherwise I didn’t have any issues.
Sadly the overall performance of the Allez was let down by its Axis 1.0 brakes, even considering the price point. Spending time getting the alignment as exact as I could improved things a little but not a great deal. Braking was a case of slowing to a stop rather than hauling them on to a skid. At lower speeds and a little anticipation the performance was ok. I wasn’t overly concerned riding in traffic, but on longer descents I did take things pretty carefully as didn’t trust them to stop if and when I needed. I didn’t try different brake pads but this would be my first port of call to improve performance. The other option would be to swap the whole rim caliper for something else.
At $1,400/£1,159 the Allez Sport sticks its head above the $/£1,000 parapet and to a point where riders will demand much more spec and performance. It also makes it by far the most expensive of our cheap road bikes. Alternatives at this price include Trek’s Domane AL 3 Disc which has an almost identical specification aside from the Tektro mechanical disc brake which will attract many.
The Allez Sport is an excellent option do-it-all road bike regardless of whether you’re just starting out or a more experienced rider. Its balanced geometry and reliable componentry makes it just as capable as a fast commuter as it does out on the Sunday club run.
The quality build and finish of the frame gives the Allez Sport a real sense of quality. It also gives a perfect platform for future upgrades if you want to take your riding further and faster. If I could choose my first road bike again, this would be it. I’d probably still have it too.
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