This entry level to Specialized Allez ownership is very impressive, right through from a great frame to the excellent finishing kit for just £599, making it one of the best sub-grand bikes out there. The only thing letting it down is the fact that the new fork doesn't take proper mudguards like the frame (though we're told the 2019 model's fork will have full mudguard eyelets).
- Pros: Excellent ride quality and fun from the alloy frame, Claris offers quality shifting
- Cons: Replacement fork lacks mudguard eyelets
I first rode the new Allez back at the beginning of the year – the Elite model – and I was very impressed.
If you haven't read the review, basically Specialized has taken its aluminium race bike and slackened off the angles a little, raised the front end, extended the wheelbase and given it mudguard mounts, to create a bike that is set up perfectly for commuters or winter training. It achieved all of this without losing the Allez's fun and appealing ride. Good work.
After that review, though, things went a little bit pear-shaped, with Specialized having to recall the bikes because of issues with the fork. The replacements have no mudguard eyelets, though. You can fit guards via clips, but it's not the same really, is it?
That, to be honest, is the only criticism I have for this Allez. That's how good it is.
The first time I went out for a ride on the Allez, it was just going to be a quick blast around the block to make sure everything was set up right... 20 miles or so and back home.
It was so comfortable and fun to ride, though, I was out for three times that, and rolled home with a massive grin on my face. Yeah it was warm and sunny, which always helps, but I thoroughly enjoyed being out on the bike. It's simple to ride and easy to control which meant I could focus on the scenery and just enjoy the experience.
The handling is pretty neutral, which will suit commuters tackling the same route day in, day out in a range of differing weather conditions, and carving your way through traffic if needs be, but if you've had a challenging day and need to blow off some steam you can stamp on the pedals and really go for it on the way home.
It's an exciting bike to ride and you'll easily get that little adrenaline giggle when you really push it. If you're confident, you can definitely take a few risks.
The overall weight is 9.6kg which for a £600 bike is pretty impressive. It climbs well and acceleration doesn't really feel like it is hampered.
Still think alloy frames are harsh? Well, ride one of these and you'll realise they definitely are not. I rode the previous E5 model in 2017 on a 215km audax with not a single twinge of discomfort, and this new model continues that theme.
Frame and fork
The Allez uses Specialized's own-spec E5 Premium aluminium alloy tubing in various shapes and diameters, finished off with decently smooth welds and what I consider to be a very nice paintjob. If you don't like the bright orange, there is a black/grey option.
Up front you get a tapered head tube but in the slightly different 1 1/8in to 1 3/8in size compared to a lot of bikes. There are plenty of options on the market when it needs to be replaced.
The down tube uses a large square section for stiffness and the chainstays are suitably beefy to deliver the power transfer from your legs to the pedals.
For this redesign Specialized has dropped the seatstays lower for aerodynamics; it's not a major concern for this type of bike but hey, every second counts. They are thin, too, which brings a little bit more comfort to the rear end.
It's good to see a threaded bottom bracket shell on this type of bike, plus you get rack mounts on the seatstays too.
The fork is a full carbon fibre option, which is impressive for the money. Like I said earlier, it doesn't have mudguard eyelets which is a shame but it is plenty stiff enough for riding quickly through the bends while descending.
Some might smirk at the thought of using a Shimano Claris groupset, but I tell you what, it's a good 'un.
You're getting the same looks, shifting and feel as you'll find with Sora and Tiagra but you're sacrificing a few sprockets on the cassette. If you aren't aware, Claris is 8-speed, Sora 9-speed and Tiagra 10-speed.
The Sunrace 11-32t option gives you loads of gears top and bottom, even if it is a little gappy between the sprockets.
Paired to this is a Shimano RS200 crankset, which uses a square tapered bottom bracket and 50/34t chainrings. It's pretty old school but it works and the shifting was absolutely fine. An upgrade to a Claris R2000 chainset and bottom bracket would set you back around 90 quid if you wanted to go for the whole groupset look. It'd bring the whole bike bang up to date too.
Specialized has specced Tektro dual pivots for the braking and they do a decent job. They aren't the best out there, but they offer a degree of power and feel that isn't scary if you find yourself braking consistently in traffic.
The rest of the kit is own brand: the handlebar, stem and seatpost. It's all alloy and does a decent job.
You also get a Specialized Body Geometry Toupe saddle with steel rails, which offers plenty of comfort.
Wheels and tyres
The Axis Sport wheels use a 20-spoke pattern at the front, and a 24-spoke setup at the rear. They aren't the lightest, but I never felt that they hampered the ride at all. They stayed true throughout testing and I'd only upgrade for something lighter when they wear out.
The tyres are provided by Specialized too: its Espoir Sport models in a 700x25mm size. They are wire beaded so quite heavy and a change to something folding and lighter would make a big impact, although I wouldn't be in a massive rush. Grip is decent enough, wet and dry, and rolling resistance is all right too.
One of the Allez's main competitors is the Vitus Razor VR, a very good bike that costs just 99p more. It, too, has lost the mudguard mounts of previous models but offers a great ride. It's a fair bit heavier than the Allez at 10.6kg but it does get a full Shimano Sora groupset.
For an extra £100, though, you could get the Pinnacle Laterite 3, which is a similar bike but with a smattering of Shimano 105 components, although it comes in around the same weight.
Overall, the Allez is a much better bike than any spec list or set of scales will have you believe. I ride many bikes ten times the price of this one but this left one of the biggest impressions. I enjoyed it and was utterly impressed.
Massive performance on a minimal budget, just a shame the fork doesn't take proper mudguards
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Allez
Size tested: 54cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
CHAIN KMC X8, 8-speed w/ Missing Link™
CRANKSET Shimano RS200
SHIFT LEVERS Shimano Claris 2000, 8-speed
FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano Claris, clamp-on
CASSETTE Sunrace, 8-speed, 11-32t
REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano Claris, 8-speed
REAR WHEEL Axis Sport
INNER TUBES 700x20/28mm, 40mm Presta valve
FRONT TYRE Espoir Sport, 60 TPI, wire bead, double BlackBelt protection, 700x25mm
REAR TYRE Espoir Sport, 60 TPI, wire bead, double BlackBelt protection, 700x25mm
FRONT WHEEL Axis Sport
FRONT BRAKE Tektro, alloy, dual-pivot
REAR BRAKE Tektro, alloy, dual-pivot
PEDALS Nylon, 105x78x28mm, loose balls w/ reflectors
SEAT BINDER Bolt type, alloy, 31.8mm
FORK Specialized FACT full Carbon, 1-1/8" to 1-3/8" Taper w/ fender eyelets [sadly, not the case any more]
FRAME Specialized E5 Premium Aluminum, fully manipulated tubing w/ SmoothWelds, 1-1/8"- 1-3/8" tapered head tube, internal cable routing, threaded BB, 130mm spacing
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, "Whether you're just getting into road cycling, commuting, or just looking for a new bike, the Allez is the perfect choice. Featuring a lightweight alloy frame, carbon fibre fork, and mounts for racks and fenders, it's as performance-packed as it is versatile.
"Not only does a light bike feel better when you're climbing up a hill, but it's also essential when you're carrying your bike up to the 5th floor, and this was at the forefront of the frame design. With a redesigned E5 Alloy frame, the Allez features a class-leading weight. Aggressively thin-walled, yet tough, tubes have been implemented to save weight, as well, resulting in over a 450g (1lb) reduction in the frame and fork alone when compared to models of yesteryear.
"Speaking of the fork, entry-level road bikes often times feature either alloy or cheap carbon fibre forks that greatly detract from the overall ride quality. But with a full FACT carbon fibre fork, the Allez is better handling, smoother riding, and lower in weight - floating over rough chip-seal and carving through corners like a slalom skier. For the geometry, we developed the Allez by utilizing our vast Retül fit database. This meant creating a geometry that's sure to cover a broad range of positions, while still providing the performance-minded handling you'd expect from your first bike.
"This Allez also features integrated rack and fender mounts, allowing you to get weight out of your backpack and on to a lightweight rack when you need it. This not only makes for a good road bike, but it also enables you to transform it into a fast commuter. Along these lines, you'll find plenty of clearance for 28mm tires, so longer rides become far more bearable and city streets much smoother. For the build, this Allez features reliable Shimano Claris shifting, durable Axis Sport alloy wheels, and well-protected Espoir Sport tyres."
It is a very good entry-level bike which will also flatter experienced riders.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
This is the entry-level model to Allez ownership. The Allez Sport gets a Shimano Sora groupset and Praxis chainset for £799 with the 105-equipped Elite coming in at £999.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
A very good frame in terms of ride quality, only let down by the fork's inability to take full mudguards.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame uses Specialized's E5 aluminium alloy tubeset, while the fork is full carbon fibre.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The front end height has been increased a bit and the Allez now has a longer wheelbase, although it is still quite race-orientated compared with a lot of endurance bikes.
Full details here: https://www.specialized.com/gb/gb/men/bikes/road/allezelite/133817
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Stack is 570mm with reach being 380mm, giving a ratio of 1.5 in a 54cm size.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, the frame has no harshness to it at all.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness is good throughout the frame and fork.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Well, the chainset isn't the stiffest, but overall considering its weight the bike does feel efficient.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
Yes, a little, but not 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?
A really easy bike to ride quickly.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The Specialized Toupe saddle is a nice place to sit.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
I'd upgrade the chainset to the four-arm Claris option for a little more stiffness.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Upgrade the tyres when they wear out as they are quite heavy.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Using the majority of a Shimano Claris groupset, the components offer confident shifting and a good spread of gears. The brakes are decent enough too.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
They are a solid set of wheels and stood up to any abuse they saw from the road surface. You could upgrade them to something lighter but there is no rush.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
Decent enough performers for a bike of this value, but they are a bit weighty which impacts acceleration. An upgrade to something lighter/folding would be a good move in the long run.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
It's all basic stuff from Specialized but it does the job. The compact handlebar gives you plenty of hand options without requiring any extreme positions.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The £599.99 Vitus Razor VR is better specced for the money, but the Allez wins on ride quality.
Use this box to explain your overall score
One of the best cheap bikes out there, marred only by the fact that the fork doesn't take full mudguards properly.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.