In our latest edition of staff bikes, I (Jamie) take you through my new build that will be starring in crit races and upcoming YouTube videos alike (hopefully, the videos will be more successful than my crit racing to date!) There are some interesting component choices to talk through, including Magura brake callipers and a custom 3D-printed part...
You may have already spotted the new Allez in a recent build video (above), and now the final touches have been made, so here it is!
Aluminium bikes are back in business, if they ever went away (just don't tell Steve Thomas)... and the 2022 Specialized Allez Sprint is dubbed as an alloy superbike.
When we tested the Comp build of the bike, we were mightily impressed by the snappy handling and racey geometry. This is all too often lost on alloy bikes, as they sit further down the range than their carbon counterparts.
All of this (and a good deal) was enough to make me overlook those rather scruffy-looking welds and spend my own hard-earned dosh on a 54cm frame in the Chameleon colour scheme.
The beady-eyed amongst you might have noticed that I should, according to the Specialized's size guide, be riding a 56cm frame; but with the seatpost near its minimum insertion point and a nice long stem fitted, I much prefer the feel and aesthetic of a smaller frame. You'll also find many of the pros doing the same in order to get a smaller headtube (I am absolutely not a pro, to clarify).
Anyone looking to purchase a new frame should also consider the hidden cost of all the little bits you'll need. It turns out that Specialized - I assume to cut costs and waste - now supplies frames with very little. There are no grommets for Shimano Di2 and the SL7 stem doesn't ship with the cable clip that screws to the underside, To give two examples.
We'll get all the moans about Specialized out the way early: why oh why aren't the parts to integrate the front end made commercially available? When the bike was released it was the first thing that sponsored team Legion did, and the first thing that I, along with many others wanted to do (the original set-up is shown below with mechanical gearing).
Specialized found the best of both worlds regarding integration on the SL7, tucking the hoses out of the way but allowing stem changes and bar removal without fully re-hosing the bike.
Specialized also did all the hard work on the Allez, channelling the hoses down through the frame and using oversized headset bearings, but missed the final step for riders wanting to use electronic gears (i.e the majority). To add insult to injury the four-hole headset cap that ships with the Allez frame is heavily optimised for euro/US setups, where the left shifter goes to the rear brake, compromising cable run when set up UK-style.
Luckily, the solution really is very simple... even I can do it! Run an SL7 stem with cable/hose guide underneath and use an aftermarket headset cap. This meant I set about 3D-printing one for myself, but since then they have popped up online, such as this one from Raceware.
The front end is completed by a pair of Pro Vibe Aero Alloy bars and Shimano Ultegra R8070 Di2 shifters. Carbon bars can improve ride comfort but for racing, many riders prefer alloy for impact protection and lower cost.
This is an 11-speed groupset for maximum compatibility with my other bikes, and as most of the wheels we get in to test have an 11-speed freehub body, it means that these can be set up with minimal faffing.
I tend to reverse-wrap my bars, starting at the centre and working down to the drops. Wolftooth bar plugs are still present, which are designed for both mtb and road bars but seem a bit loose in this particular bar.
Moving on to the rest of the groupset, much of it is Ultegra R8070 but with Quarq DFour 91 cranks. I find this an extremely reliable power meter, and fitted to them I have 53/36T chainrings. It's not a standard set-up but one that I've found gives me a greater range of gears without compromising the steps in between gears or shifting.
Other changes include a Sigeyi direct-mount mech hangar and a Sram XG1190 cassette. The chain is a Dura-Ace R9100 with Silca hot melt wax to prolong its life, which I will be publishing a review of very soon; in fact, I have quite a few things to review! These Hunt 60 Limitless carbon spoke wheels, for example, impressed us in our latest wheels testing video and are super wide to aid stability. Oh, and the saddle is also on review. It's a Fizik Vento Argo R3 Adaptive and is 3D-printed to offer tuned compliance in different areas.
Other drivetrain components include Enduro Bearing's new XD-15 DUB bottom bracket and ceramic jockey wheels. These don't come cheap but do offer a lifetime warranty; hopefully that won't be needed while I take on this road salt season.
Now my favourite bit, these Magura MT8 SL FM callipers which are lighter than the Shimano counterpart and have funky-coloured Iris titanium screws mounting them to the frame, and the Torx head on the pad retaining pin prevents it from rounding off. These are borrowed from the world of off.road.cc, where using Magura callipers and Shimano shifters is much more common. It even has a name: Shigura.
These are set up using Magura hoses, but when it comes to this sort of thing online forums are your friend! I've found these to work excellent with the MT900 XTR rotors (160mm front/140mm rear) with no rubbing and consistent, powerful braking.
Finally, we have a bit of a bodge. My Chinese copy bottle cage likes to eject bottles at the most inconvenient moment, and behave much better with borrowed hairbands! Elite Leggero bottle cages are on order, which are my personal favourites and yet to let me down.
The full build spec and total weight can be found below:
What components would you switch out, or which frame would you have chosen instead? Let us know in the comments section below. Don't be shy, I have thick skin...
Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...