Just in: £500 Specialized Allez

Loving this £500 starter from Specialized

by nick_rearden   May 6, 2010  

It seems only yesterday that an aluminium bike with Shimano's STI combined shift and gear levers would have cost close to £1,500. Here we are in 2010 and Specialized, who have been resolutely turning out racing bikes all through the bad years when only about ten a year were sold, find themselves in the middle of a veritable firestorm of enthusiasm and they are - as they say - good to go.

Big numbers mean efficiencies. They've had years to tweak the details and Shimano have crept the lovely STIness down the range until we have this 8-speed 2300 gear set. For the life of us, apart from the lack of 9 or 10-speed, we can't work out why it's much cheaper than Sora, Tiagra or even 105. Thank goodness seriously revamped 105 is shortly arriving because this 2300 set is so good. We'll see how it does longer-term. Meanhile, this seriously red, 9.8Kg, £500 Allez is turning heads and we're looking forward to riding it.

We're not saying that Specialized is the only company that's been making racers for over 35 years, even when mountain bikes seemed to be the be-all-and-end-all among the bike companies, but it is true to say that their sheer momentum does seem to be helped by their not having to start from scratch now that road bikes are big news. Their founder Mike Sinyard was a road racer, cross rider and tourist himself in the 1970s and early on was very active in developing "Specialized" brand road kit. The Allez model name was first used on a road bike in 1984.

With the saddle height set up, the handlebar centre is only 75mm below the level of the saddle which is comfy considering the bike looks like it's doing 100mph. You could take out some of those spacers to lower the stem if you wanted a racier angle of attack but, bearing in mind the frame has plentiful mudguard clearance and bosses to attach same, it's clear Specialized has a utilitarian alter ego role in mind for the Allez.

The bowed top tube is designed to make a feature out of what is sometimes thought of as a downside to sportive-style road bikes; that the accentuated slope upwards to raise the handlebars marks the rider out as non-serious. Specialized's various professional racers have done well enough on this shape to put away that argument.

The frame sticker usefully shows the 'real' size of this Allez frame even though the seat tube is actually only 52cm long. The sloping and bowed top tube has the dual benefit of keeping the frame low and arguably lighter and stiffer at the back end while taller at the front to facilitate a comfortable riding position, despite its racy appearance.

Aluminium frames have been criticised very justifiably for being unduly harsh in their ride quality but manufacturers have got clever about how to manipulate the big tubes to provide stiffness where it's desirable - no-one wants a frame wobbling through 45mph corners - and comforting where it matters to save your poor sorry arse when you're on mile 94 of your first Century. The skinny bits that hold your back wheel on and make it behave while you're powering 300 watts (yeah right - ed) through the chain off to one side, the seat and chain stays, are a more complicated matter and here frame builders are rightfully nervous about shaving strength. Here Specialized have curved the stays to tune in some compliance without compromising the necessary strength and stiffness. We'll have to see how that works out.

Note the clever little chaincatcher. Despite aspiration to the sportive market, Allez doesn't come with a 'compact' chainset and a little 34 tooth inner chainring, Specialized opting instead for a racing 39.

Fully integrated headset bearings are de rigeur on pricey rigs these days but good to see on this £500 Specialized where they've done a better than average job of fairing in and tidying up the top of the headset bearings and the the inevitable stack of removable spacers beneath the stem. Full marks for attention to detail.

We're going to get all enthusiastic about the discrete little rubber-capped, threaded eyes where you can attach mudguards. This can only mean that Specialized is one Californian company that appreciates it rains in some of their markets. Plus there are ample clearances beneath the brake bridge and fork crown to fit 28mm tyres or mudguards and probably both if you want to convert this into some kind of rapid transit device - that's a commuter bike when it looks like this.

19 user comments

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How cool is this? Anne at Specialized UK dug up this link because she thinks the first Allez was 1981

http://www-hsc.usc.edu/~rpinder/Allez81-86.html

The case for the defence is shaky as I'm going from my memory of a particular trade show. It's not a shade of red you'd forget, is it?

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
6th May 2010 - 11:37

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The only eyelets I can see are on the rear. Nor does there appear to be any chainstay bridge. Looks like it is set up for a rack rather than mudguards. So not as verstile as a Giant Defy, Genesis Aether or Genesis Equilibrium.

posted by handlebarcam [527 posts]
6th May 2010 - 14:58

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Doesn't look like there's much wrong with this bike at all. At only 500 (and I do mean 'only') it could bring a whole new wave of riders into the sport. I'm all for that! Good to show that good road bikes don't have to be expensive.

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posted by simonmb [360 posts]
6th May 2010 - 14:58

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cycleschemetastico Big Grin !

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posted by Fringe [1081 posts]
6th May 2010 - 15:42

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Only 500 quid, shurley shum mishtake!
That is a very good looking bike and a fantastic colour.
Time to start pleading with the wife.

Did Nightrider 2013 for Parkinson's UK, doing it again this year just for the fun of it and to raise more money.

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posted by jova54 [604 posts]
6th May 2010 - 16:03

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How do you do downshifts on the 2300 levers?

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1334 posts]
6th May 2010 - 16:26

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There's a small release lever on the inside of the STI, you can see it better on this pic:

http://road.cc/content/image/2321-shimano-2300-sti-lever

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7316 posts]
6th May 2010 - 16:40

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cat1commuter wrote:
How do you do downshifts on the 2300 levers?

I think there is a little thumb level at the top of the brake lever, like a cheap copy of the Campag units.

posted by SmallerPlatypus [27 posts]
6th May 2010 - 16:40

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Big combined gear and brake lever just like everything else STI shifts against the spring 'down' to the larger sprockets.

Little stumpy lever right by your thumb on the inside shifts 'up' with the spring to the smaller sprockets. As featured on 8-speed 2300 and 9-speed Sora.

Hated this little lever at first but having ridden a whole lot of 'entry level' bikes lately I've come to like it and, as several Campagnolo-loving chums have pointed out, it's what the Italians do.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
6th May 2010 - 16:43

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And in reply to SmallerPlatypus, it is indeed cheaper than Campagnolo but feels a lot smoother and less 'clunky'. I appreciate what the Campag fans like is that positive sensation and they'll surely be more durable than these 2300 levers. But hey, £500!

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
6th May 2010 - 16:47

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Quite a nice bike and spec.

They basically taken a Trek 1000/1200 application and made it even better and all round use in winter with guards.

Also red finish looks great.

Nice one Spesh-should appeal to beginners and winter training.

Ribble winter trainer with Tiagra is better value but don't know what the frame will be like compared to the Spesh.

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posted by Zaskar [137 posts]
7th May 2010 - 0:01

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It's not setup to take 'guards as handlebarcam has already pointed out which is a shame as it would make a nice commuter otherwise.

posted by simondbarnes [26 posts]
7th May 2010 - 16:11

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I bought one! Had it since August last year where I got it on the bike to work scheme. Great bit of kit. I've done 1700 miles on it so far, and loved every minute. The day after I got it, and not having been road riding for a good few years, I did a 50 miler with no problems. Very comfortable over long distances. My one gripe though is the gearing. If you're doing a lot of flat roads, they're not a problem, but if like me, you enjoy a bit of climbing, they are a little tall for a beginner bike. I've just changed to a compact chainset up front and a smaller cassette at the rear, which has made climbing a whole lot easier. I've had no problems with the frame or kit so far, and am keeping this as a winter/training bike when I've paid for it on the scheme. Highly recommended Smile

edited to add: I've had crudcatcher race guards on over winter with no issues.

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posted by cw42 [25 posts]
7th May 2010 - 17:05

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Hmm, I bought an Allez 3 years ago and they seem to be going backwards in terms of tech.

Mine came with a Sora Hollowtech 2 chainset and 9 speed Sora STI for the same price...

I'm still fond of the Allez range though. Great bikes!

posted by Pifko [86 posts]
7th May 2010 - 18:14

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Great value but I think its a mistake not to have a compact chainset.

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posted by TheHatter [810 posts]
7th May 2010 - 21:25

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True, there isn't enough clearance for a full length mudguard under the brake (unless it's the new Mr Crud which doesn't need the brigde). The Specialized Secteur (£50 more) is designed to take full length guards

posted by jellybike [4 posts]
9th May 2010 - 13:32

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Trust me, there is enough room under the fork crown and beneath the rear brake bridge to fit a full length mudguard. When the sun comes out I'll add another picture. That'll be mid-June then.

posted by nick_rearden [859 posts]
9th May 2010 - 14:27

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Picked mine up this week. Lovely bike.

posted by Super Domestique [1598 posts]
15th July 2010 - 9:53

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The link above to Rich's 1984 Allez melted my heart.

Bikes today may be more functionally efficient, but give me the elegance of a fluted seatpost, quill stem and downtube shifters any day.

posted by FMOAB [230 posts]
6th October 2011 - 23:22

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