The Specialized Allez Sprint Comp is an aluminium alloy masterpiece. The ride quality is impressive and the stiffness is right up there with some of the most overbuilt carbon wonder bikes I've ridden. Its welding isn't the prettiest, and if form must match function then you might be disappointed, and it's also lacking a bit when it comes to the finishing kit, but you do get a decent groupset.
- Pros: A proper no-nonsense race bike, great balance of stiffness versus comfort
- Cons: None really, though the aesthetics won't appeal to all
I'm a big fan of the standard Allez, having ridden the E5 Sport model in its previous iteration before hammering around on the latest £599 entry-level model last year. I've also tested the Elite version too.
Those last two saw a tweak to the Allez's DNA, with a swap to slightly more relaxed geometry to tame the steering a little, bringing stability and the ability to take a rack and mudguards. Well, almost... there was a bit of an issue with the fork which led to a recall.
I could understand the changes, after all I'm betting most of the Allez in the world are bought by those relatively new to cycling. Maybe commuting is your thing or you are looking for a decently priced winter trainer; the new Allez caters for all of these.
While I enjoyed the ride of those models, just a little bit of me mourned the sporty ride and fast handling of the previous model. Thankfully, I've found the answer right here.
Specialized describes the Sprint Comp as a 'crit-racing weapon', a fast bike that is going to give you plenty of thrills and excitement when you just want to get out and smash the pedals.
The Sprint has an unbelievably stiff frame brought about, Specialized says, by its use of D'Aluisio Smartweld Sprint Technology. I'll go into more detail in a minute, but basically it means it's moved where the welds sit on some of the most stressed sections of the frame, most noticeably at the head tube and bottom bracket junction.
Acceleration and sprinting are epic against pretty much every alloy bike I've ridden, and powering out of corners whether on the race track or on your favourite section of road will see you grinning like a deranged nutter.
Riding those long descents where the fall isn't quite steep enough to freewheel, and you sprint out of one corner before braking hard into the next one to repeat the process suited the Allez perfectly.
The front end takes everything that the dual pivot brake can throw at it as you scrub the speed into the bend, before the handling takes over to guide you through the apex with impressive accuracy. The S-Works FACT carbon fibre fork gives nothing away as it takes the load from the various directions and just does the job of keeping the tyre on your chosen line.
Its handling is spot on, quick enough to keep you on your toes and get you out of trouble in the blink of an eye, but when you don't want your life to flash before you in a frenzied blur it's sedate enough to take on the smooth and simplest corners without fuss.
It's a confident climber, too, thanks to all of that stiffness, meaning you aren't going to be wasting any energy putting your power through the rear wheel whether seated or out of the saddle.
Even with such a taut frame the Sprint Comp still manages to offer impressive levels of comfort, although it's not quite as good as the Fuji Roubaix 1.3 that I was riding alongside it. The Fuji has the most comfortable alloy frame I've ridden thanks to the way it can damp road buzz without taking much away from the overall feedback of the ride.
The Allez is still a very nice bike to ride – not plush but hardly harsh either. This isn't just an hour-long blast kind of bike, you can cover some decent mileage without feeling beaten up.
Frame and fork
If you've already scrolled through the gallery of close-up shots at the top of the review, you've no doubt noticed the rather obvious welds. If you were paying attention in class, you'll remember that Specialized calls this D'Aluisio Smartweld Technology, and where it is most noticeable is around the bottom bracket (BB).
On most alloy bikes the down tube and seat tube meet with the BB shell and they get welded there. Here, though, you can see that the BB shell has been formed in a complete piece including a section of down tube and seat tube, a bit like you'll see in some types of carbon fibre frame production.
This means that the actual weld to both of the tubes is moved away from the high stress area by about 40mm.
A similar thing happens at the head tube if you look closely. Well, not that closely as you don't need to. The welds throughout the bike are huge, and many of us who are big fans of the metal bike and their simplistic loveliness will find them a bit of an eyesore, even when covered in this beautiful mint paintjob with metallic flip – it looks great in the sun.
If performance is all you care about, though, Specialized says this is the stiffest aluminium alloy bike it's tested and I'd certainly agree it's one of the tightest I've ridden.
As for the tubing, Spesh has stayed with its proven E5 Premium Aluminium, with pretty much every one of them being given the hydroforming treatment to create the aerodynamic profiles.
The seat tube is certainly impressive the way its shape flows this way and that, as its role changes between wind-cheating and stiffness along its length. It obviously allows the use of a teardrop-shaped seatpost too.
The rear end of the frame copies a similar theme, with chunky chainstays for power transfer and thinner seatstays for a bit of compliance and comfort.
At the front the head tube is tapered for stiffness and it blends nicely into that S-Works FACT Fork. As I said earlier, the fork does a brilliant job of balancing all the things that you want in a fork today. It's stiff enough to handle the steering and braking loads while having enough give to deal with road imperfections and keep the tyre on the surface.
As for frame details, the Allez is quite simple. You get a couple of bottle cage mounts and, erm, that's it really.
The cabling is semi-integrated, with the rear brake cable passing through the top tube and the mech cables entering at the top of the down tube and exiting about 50mm from the bottom bracket junction weld. Specialized has welded cable guides to the seat tube and chainstays to accept full cable outers under the BB to keep the worst of the road crap out, which is a good touch.
The Sprint Comp has a BB30 press-fit bottom bracket, which might not be to everybody's taste.
Size and geometry
It comes in a decent spread of six sizes from a 49cm through to 61cm, and you can find the full geometry by following the link in the test report section below.
The Sprint Comp is all about performance so it's no surprise that the geometry is suitably aggressive. This 56cm has a stack measurement of 554mm versus a reach of 395mm which gives a ratio of 1.4, bang on race bike territory.
You get a seat angle of 74 degrees and a head angle of 73.5 degrees, which is only a little bit steeper than the standard Allez, but with tweaks to the chainstay length, wheelbase and other bits and bobs the Sprint Comp is a shorter, more nimble machine.
This Allez is based around the solid and dependable but also excellently performing Shimano 105 R7000 groupset and if you haven't ridden it already, all you need to know is it is pretty much the best bang for buck gear system that Shimano has ever made.
It's the perfect accoutrement to a crit machine like the Sprint Comp, with pretty much the same shifting and braking prowess as Ultegra without the cost. Both gear changing and braking are much improved over the previous iteration and it's much easier to set up thanks to redesigned front and rear mechs.
There was a time when nearly every bike came with a different chainset than the rest of the groupset, mostly FSA, but more recently that seemed to have disappeared, with most brands sticking to full systems. A few bikes are starting to creep back that way, though, and Specialized has chosen the alloy version of the Praxis Works Zayante BB30.
Shifting is perfectly good and the chainrings and spider offer loads of stiffness, plus the 52/36 semi-compact setup works brilliantly on a bike like the Sprint Comp.
The only downside, if you are a home mechanic, is that when it comes to replacing the Praxis Works M30 bottom bracket you will need the specific tool, which is pricey for what it is. That said, I've been running a Praxis Works BB through the winter and the bearings haven't struggled with the rain, mud, snow or salt.
Specialized has specced an 11-28 cassette, which again is spot on for the bike and its intended usage.
The rest of the finishing kit is Specialized's own brand stuff, with a simple alloy handlebar and stem up front: a 420mm wide bar and 100mm stem. These change in line with the frame sizes. They do the job but aren't exactly massively inspiring in either a performance or aesthetic point of view.
To suit that aero seat tube the Allez has been specced with an aero seatpost from the Venge, a FACT carbon offering kept in place by a two-bolt clamp where it meets the frame. It didn't slip throughout testing and once set in position I had no need to touch it.
Perched atop it is a Body Geometry saddle, the Toupe Sport with steel rails and a 143mm width. Its padding is quite firm, but thanks to some flex in the hull it is reasonably comfortable, taking the sting out of bumps from the road.
Wheels and tyres
Specialized has chosen DT Swiss wheels, the DT R460, and it's not a bad choice. The shallow rim profile makes them ideal for any occasion and the sealed cartridge hubs run smoothly. With 20 spokes up front and 24 at the rear, they are pretty stiff and stayed true throughout the test period.
In fact they make the perfect training wheelset, but for best days or when racing I'd definitely upgrade them for something more aero or lighter depending on the conditions.
The same goes for the tyres really. The specialized Turbo Pro rubber is good enough: it rolls all right and grip is okay too, but to unleash the true potential of the Sprint Comp then you really need something lighter and tackier to match the performance and handling on offer.
Some people still wince when they see an alloy frame on a bike above the grand mark, thinking it's the preserve of carbon or titanium steeds, but oh how wrong they are.
This is a quality frame capable of mixing it with the best alloy race bikes out there and the price reflects that, even if a lot of Specialized bikes can look overpriced on paper because of their kit choices.
Here you've got that excellent frame and fork shod with a decent set of drivetrain components. Yes, the wheels are 'okay' and the rest of the finishing kit is nothing to shout about, but this bike is so upgradable – which could really bring that 8.34kg (17.38lb) weight down too.
That said, if it's a crit racer-cum-fast road bike you want, it's hard to dismiss the Bowman Palace:R, literally one of my favourite bikes of all time. With its frameset costing £745 and a 105 groupset for around £329, you are going to be able to get a decent set of wheels and some finishing kit to create a decent build with what's left over.
We can't talk aluminium race bikes without mentioning Cannondale and its excellent CAAD12 either. For a 105 build and similar components, you are looking at around £1,500 or £1,700 if you want a disc version. The Allez Sprint Comp Disc is £1,900.
Overall, the Allez Sprint Comp has its challengers, cheaper or not, but what you have here is one of the best performing alloy race bikes out there, which would even put a fair number of carbon offerings to shame too.
A modern classic when it comes to alloy race frames but the aesthetics of the welds won't be to everyone's taste
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Allez Sprint Comp
Size tested: 56cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
FRAME Specialized E5 Premium Aluminum w/ D'Aluisio Smartweld Sprint Technology, hydroformed aluminum tubing, tapered head tube, OSBB
FORK S-Works FACT full carbon, size-specific taper
BOTTOM BRACKET Praxis 6806 bearings
CHAIN KMC X11 EL, 11-speed w/ Missing Link™
CRANKSET Praxis Zayante, BB30
SHIFT LEVERS Shimano 105 R7000, 11-speed
FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano 105 R7000, 11-speed, clamp-on
CASSETTE Shimano R7000, 11-speed, 11-28t
REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano 105 R7000 GS, medium cage, 11-speed
SADDLE Body Geometry Toupé Sport, steel rails, 143mm
SEAT BINDER Allez Sprint Aero
TAPE Specialized S-Wrap
SEATPOST Specialized Venge Aero seatpost, FACT carbon
HANDLEBARS Specialized Shallow Drop, 6061, 70x125mm, 31.8mm clamp
STEM Specialized, 3D-forged alloy, 4-bolt, 6-degree rise
REAR WHEEL DT R460, sealed cartridge hubs, 14g spokes, 24h
INNER TUBES Presta, 40mm valve
FRONT TIRE Turbo Pro, 60 TPI, folding bead, BlackBelt protection, 700x26mm
REAR TIRE Turbo Pro, 60 TPI, folding bead, BlackBelt protection, 700x26mm
FRONT WHEEL DT R460, sealed cartridge hubs, 14g spokes, 20h
FRONT BRAKE Shimano 105 R7000
REAR BRAKE Shimano 105 R7000
PEDALS Nylon, 105x78x28mm, loose ball w/ reflectors
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, "Climbs, corners, flat-out sprints - the Allez Sprint Comp does it all. Being the most advanced alloy road bike we've ever made, the Allez Sprint is capable as a crit-racing weapon or an everyday road steed. But even better, it performs all of the above at a price that's affordable for any racer's budget."
I think it's delivered on the brief – this is a very good frameset for fast and fun riding.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
This is the only full build Sprint rim brake bike in the range, although it is also available in the Red Hook Crit team colourway as a frameset for £1,350.
There is a disc brake model for £1,900 and a couple of frameset options including a Sagan special.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Not everyone will be a fan of the weld style from an aesthetics point of view, but it is a well-made frame and nicely finished with the cool paint job.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Specialized says, "E5 Premium Aluminum frame with Allez D'Aluisio Smartweld Sprint Technology refocuses weld locations, allowing for more material to be placed strategically for increased stiffness and compliance where you need it most.
"Our top-tier S-Works FACT carbon fiber fork provides incredible stiffness and front-end steering response, while also efficiently absorbing road chatter."
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It has the long and low geometry of a proper race bike and steep head and seat angles to match. Full details are available here - https://www.specialized.com/gb/en/allez-sprint-comp/p/154234?color=23954...
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Height and reach were well within the limits I'd expect to see here, and with a ratio of 1.40 it is a proper race bike.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, comfort is very good considering its stiffness levels.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, its stiffness is one of its greatest attributes.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Again, alongside that stiffness the power transfer is very impressive.
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? Lively.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The bike handles exactly as a race bike should. The steering is racing sharp and allows you to really push your and the bike's limits.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The saddle, considering how firm the padding is, is actually reasonably comfortable if you get on with the shape.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The handlebar and stem are quite basic but stiff enough to match the frameset.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
I'd definitely upgrade the wheels and tyres for better performance.
The frame is amazing, although lighter wheels and tyres would really make a difference.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Shimano 105 always delivers and it's no different here. The Praxis chainset is a good addition, although the added coast of the specific bottom bracket and tools is something to take into consideration for the home mechanic.
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?
The wheels offer decent performance for the budget but they are no more than good training wheels in reality, and the bike is screaming out for a lighter, more aero upgrade.
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?
Overall they do a decent job and you can't knock them for durability, but they are heavy and a little stodgy for a bike of this class.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Simple stuff that does the job, if not exactly exciting.
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?
There is some competition out there, bikes with better specs for the same money.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Sprint Comp's frame is very good, really exploiting the characteristics of aluminium as a tube material, and it comes with an excellent fork. For the money, though, the finishing kit isn't quite where it needs to be, considering the opposition, but at least you are getting a decent groupset.
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.