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Specialized Dolce Sport



Very decent entry-level, beginner-friendly road bike that's smooth, manoeuvrable and fun to ride

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Dolce Sport is Specialized's female equivalent of the Allez Sport, aimed at the sportive market, commuters and road bike beginners. However, it's designed to be more of an all-rounder than the Allez, with a more relaxed geometry comparable with the Trek Domane or Specialized's Roubaix.

Its Specialized A1 premium aluminium frame, with 'Women's endurance geometry' and a Fact carbon fork with Zertz inserts, is fitted with a Shimano Sora drivetrain, with a wide range 9-speed 11-32 cassette and 50/34 compact chainset – pretty standard for this style and price point.

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With the aim of balancing comfort with performance, the bike has a fairly upright riding position, well suited to road bike newbies, with some neat features for added comfort including curvy seatstays and a sloping top tube.

Specialized Dolce - seat tube junction 2.jpg

Overall, the ride is very smooth; the aluminium frame and carbon fork absorb road surface imperfections with no discernible buzz or harshness. Thin and curvy seatstays help create a comfortable rear end, and form a continuous line with the sloped top tube. This leaves plenty of the 27.2mm alloy seatpost exposed, helping to damp shocks even on very poor road surfaces, working well with the Fact carbon fork and its shock-absorbing elastomer Zertz inserts up front.

Specialized Dolce - fork.jpg

Decent sized chainstays and a large down tube lend rigidity to the bottom half of the frame and the bottom bracket area, helping to transfer power from the pedal stroke, though it's not as stiff as some and acceleration suffers slightly as a result.

Specialized Dolce - bottom bracket.jpg

Generally, the Dolce Sport provides a great riding experience, being reassuringly steady even at speed, though with that upright position I tended to move back in the saddle on fast, flat corners and descents for extra stability. Tight corners at slow speeds posed no problems, and urban riding is no sweat on the Dolce Sport, if you're looking for a commuter bike.

Specialized Dolce - riding 1.jpg

The Specialized Comp handlebar, with its short reach, is comfortable, and the shallow drop makes finding various positions easy without feeling like a stretch. Brake and gear levers are easily accessible, even for small hands. The Specialized 3D stem sits on top of three spacers, should you want to lower the handlebar and progress to a more aggressive riding position.

Specialized Dolce - shallow drop bars.jpg

The bike comes fitted with 25mm Specialized Espoir Sport tyres, following the current trend for wider tyres. They roll well, providing adequate grip on the road, with a wire bead and double BlackBelt protection to reduce the risk of punctures. Wheels are Axis Classics, and performed well enough.

Specialized Dolce - tyre.jpg

I found the Body Geometry Women's Riva Sport saddle, which is used on many of Specialized's women's bikes, comfortable without being too squishy or too hard.

Specialized Dolce - Saddle.jpg

Looks-wise, to my mind the Dolce has a little bit of the mountain bike about it, with Specialized's distinctive curved, sloping top tube like many of its women's hybrids and road bikes, harking back to the early Tarmac design. The internal routing is pleasing and, while the blocky blue graphics aren't too inspiring, look closer and you'll notice the paintwork has a subtle sparkle that is rather beguiling in direct sunlight, almost imperceptible otherwise.

> Read our guide to the best road bikes between £500 and £750

To balance the spangly paintwork, the Dolce Sport has a rather pleasing blade-like top tube, which tapers from an oval cross-section at the head tube to an almost flat profile where it meets the seat tube, like someone pinched it.

Specialized Dolce - integrated seattube and seatstay.jpg

I was between sizes, so ended up a little cramped on a 51cm frame. Generally speaking, it didn't hamper my enjoyment of the bike, which is smooth, nippy and fun to ride on the open road and in town. Overall, it's an excellent entry-level bike that will not disappoint as a sportive machine or commuter ride.


Very decent entry-level, beginner-friendly road bike that's smooth, manoeuvrable and fun to ride

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Make and model: Specialized Dolce Sport

Size tested: 51

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

CASSETTE Shimano, 9-speed, 11-32t

CHAIN KMC X9, 9-speed, w/ reusable MissingLink

CRANKSET Shimano Sora, 50/34T

FORK Specialized FACT carbon, alloy steerer/crown, Zertz

FRAME Specialized A1 Premium Aluminium, Women's Endurance Geometry, women's fully-manipulated tube sets, 1-1/8" lower bearing


FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano Sora, braze-on

FRONT TYRE Specialized Espoir Sport, 60TPI, wire bead, double BlackBelt protection, 700x25mm


HANDLEBARS Specialized Comp, short reach

HEADSET 1-1/8", integrated sealed Cr-Mo cartridge bearings, 20mm alloy cone spacer, w/ 20mm spacers

INNER TUBES Standard, Presta valve

PEDALS Nylon, loose ball bearings, w/ reflectors


REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano Sora, long cage

REAR TYRE Specialized Espoir Sport, 60TPI, wire bead, double BlackBelt protection, 700x25mm


SADDLE Body Geometry Women's Riva Sport Plus, steel rails, 155mm

SEAT BINDER Alloy, 31.8mm

SEATPOST Specialized Sport, alloy, 2-bolt, 27.2mm


STEM Specialized 3D forged alloy, 4-bolt, 6-degree rise

TAPE Specialized Roubaix, w/ 2.5mm gel pads

Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?

Specialized says: "The Dolce is the perfect bike to introduce you to the sport, or take you to new levels of confidence on your cycling journey."

I would agree with this – it's a neat, comfortable, good quality and attractive bike, well suited to commuting or weekend riding and sportives.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Attractive frame with smooth welds that, along with the carbon fork, absorbs bumps in the roads as well as providing a relaxed yet responsive ride.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Specialized A1 Premium Aluminium frame with a FACT carbon fork with zertz inserts.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

'Women's endurance geometry" means a fairly relaxed riding position designed to be comfortable over long rides.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

The bike was fine in terms of height and reach – a more relaxed riding position than some road bikes.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

The ride was smooth and comfortable, with little of the buzz you find in some aluminium frames.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

The bike was stiff enough to be responsive, but not so stiff that it was uncomfortable. It didn't feel like a sprint machine, but for long rides and commutes you might not want this.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Acceleration felt fairly efficient, with just a little flex soaking up some energy.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?


How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

The bike felt easy to control – not twitchy at all.

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The drivetrain

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Wheels and tyres

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Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? No

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

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Use this box to explain your score

It's a well-designed aluminium-framed road bike that hits its mark as a beginner-friendly ride, with quality components and neat design features.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 0  Height:   Weight:

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for:   I ride:   I would class myself as:

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