Which one would you buy & why?
£269 for the sport 1
£389 for the Allez 16 (2010)
Is it worth the extra for the Allez??
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.
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. Fabian Cancellara put paid to that when he won Paris-Roubaix on his own similarly-shaped Specialized.
Frame sticker usefully shows the 'real' size of this Allez frame even though the seat tube is actually only 52cm long. 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.
We're not saying that Specialized is the only company that's been making racing bikes for nearly 40 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 for us, the handlebar centre is only 75mm below the level of the saddle which is remarkably comfy considering the bike looks like it's doing 100mph. Obviously, 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 that Specialized have a utilitarian alter ego role in mind for the Allez.
Fully integrated headset bearings are de rigeur on pricey road 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 inevitable stack of removable spacers beneath the stem. Full marks for attention to detail.