The Specialized Allez is a versatile, entry-level bike that gives the rider a feeling of speed but also comfort. Just as important is its potential for upgrades as the rider improves.
Superb quality frame
Confidence and stable ride
Shimano Claris hoods are very comfortable
Full carbon fork
Wide ratio cassette means clunky shifting
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The Specialized Allez is well placed as a either a budding rider's first bike, a seasoned rider's winter bike or even a suitable commuter, considering it can accommodate mudguards and even a rack. The latter is especially true considering its price falls well within the Cycle to Work scheme.
Specialized Allez: Frame
In the summer of 2017 the Allez range received a sizeable update, meaning that the latest generation has dropped seatstays and smaller tubing, making it similar to the higher-end Specialized Tarmac, the Diverge and even the Specialized S-Works Venge. In fact, Specialized says that it redesigned the bike's geometry using its vast Retül bike fit database, the same as it did the Tarmac and Venge.
The ranges of course differ in terms of materials, but it wouldn't be fair to label the Allez as simply being made out of heavy aluminium – it's had its fair share of hard work put into its design, too. For starters it has a thin-walled aluminium frame to try and keep its weight down which it partners with a full FACT carbon fork, which is very impressive at this level.
I'm especially impressed that the rear brake cable is run internally through the top tube, giving the bike the looks of a more expensive model. Bikes are usually quite heavy at this price point so the Allez's 9.35kg doesn't surprise me. Besides, I think the weight is mostly being carried in the Axis wheels, which felt quite sluggish, rather than in the frame.
Specialized Allez: Comfortable and sporty
Nevertheless, the Allez's ride quality is very good, offering a comfort that wouldn't be amiss on an out-and-out endurance bike. Despite the best efforts of the wheels the bike's sporty feel isn't compromised and it reacts to rider input and handles very well.
Once you're up to speed and on rolling roads the bike feels spritely and sporty. On my commutes through London I found it easy to keep it at 30kph, and it felt comfortable on longer rides, too. It gives that addictive road bike feeling of speed and makes you want to shift up and put the power down. Even when it's slammed, its tall geometry on the front end spares your back and shoulders from the grief of long hours in the saddle. And while it's fair to say that it doesn't exactly dance up the climbs, an area where it is definitely hindered by its weight, a wide spread of gears does do a good job of making climbs manageable.
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The Specialized Allez uses an eight-speed Shimano Claris groupset which partners a 54/30 crankset with an 11-32 cassette. As I mentioned, this does provide a broad range of gears – enough to get up most climbs – but it does mean bigger jumps between gears than on 10 or 11-speed bikes.
However, I was impressed by the ergonomics of the groupset, though, and the hoods feel small and comfortable in your hands and add to the overall aesthetic of the bike, which isn't something you often get to say about lower tier products. They're not actually dissimilar to the mechanical Shimano Dura-Ace ones at the very opposite end of the product line, which is impressive considering the difference in price and technology between the two groupsets. It's small details like this that make a bike a joy to ride, not least because it's comfortable but also because it looks great.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the Tektro rim brakes, which have quite a lacklustre performance. On the initial pull of the lever there's very little braking power, meaning you carry on travelling longer than you expect before the brakes start to slow you down. It doesn't instil confidence and they would be my first choice of component for upgrading, especially if you're riding in heavy traffic where very sudden stops are an unfortunate inevitability.
As I previously noted, I'm also not very impressed with the Axis wheelset. These aluminium wheels are heavy, sluggish and contribute to the deadened quality to the Allez's acceleration, which I'm sure would otherwise excel. Incidentally, the same frame is shared between this Allez and the Specialized Allez Elite, so it's a good platform from which to upgrade components.
It's exactly this which makes the Specialized Allez such a good bike. If it's your first bike it's a great performer and has the capacity to be upgraded as you progress.
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