review

Specialized Allez 2020

8
£649.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Massive performance on a minimal budget, but I would like to see a bit more clearance at the front
Excellent ride quality from the alloy frame
Claris offers quality shifting
Fork doesn't have much mudguard/tyre clearance
Weight: 
9,660g

This entry level to Specialized Allez ownership is very impressive, from a great frame right through to the quality finishing kit for just £649, making it one of the best sub-grand bikes out there. There is a return to full mudguard eyelets on the fork, too, although clearance is tight.

I first rode the new style Allez back in 2018 – the Elite model – and I was very impressed.

> Find your nearest dealer here

If you haven't read the review, basically Specialized had 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 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 had no mudguard eyelets – but they are back on this latest version.

Ride

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. 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 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 9.66kg which for a sub-£700 bike is pretty good. It climbs well and acceleration doesn't really feel like it’s hampered too much.

Still think alloy frames are harsh? Well, ride one of these and you'll realise they definitely are not. Specialized has always delivered a comfortable ride from its aluminium bikes and the latest versions of the Allez continue 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 paint job. If you don't like the bright red, there is a satin black option or a Dusty Lilac with graphics that fade from yellow to white.

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.

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. They also feature rack mounts.

It's good to see a threaded bottom bracket shell on this type of bike – the fact that it is designed to take mudguards means it'll probably see plenty of wet weather. Bottom brackets screwed into the frame tend to be more resistant to water and dirt getting in, which can cause creaking in press-fit alternatives.

The fork is a full carbon fibre option, which is impressive for the money. Like I said earlier, the full mudguard mounts are back at the bottom of each leg and when it comes to fitting the guards, things are relatively straightforward.

I offered up an SKS full chromoplastic guard, and the eyelet positions mean there is little fettling to do, though clearance between the guard and the 25mm tyre is very tight. The standard wheels are narrow, which keeps the tyre slim, so if you update to newer, wider rims that expand the nominal size of a 25mm tyre there won't be a lot of daylight left.

The fork itself is plenty stiff enough for riding quickly through the bends while descending.

Groupset

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.

> Your complete guide to Shimano groupsets

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 Claris R200 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 the newer Claris R2000 chainset and bottom bracket would set you back around £90 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.

Finishing kit

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 Bridge 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 okay too.

Value

Competition comes from the likes of Forme's Longcliffe 2, which is exactly the same price.

It is heavier than the Specialized at 10.5kg and the Allez has a better ride feel. On the flip side, though, the Longcliffe can take 28mm tyres with full guards.

> Buyer’s Guide: 11 of the best £500-£750 road bikes

Another option could be the Vitus Razor VR. For the 2020 version it has returned to a design similar to that of earlier iterations, with a longer wheelbase, and the mudguard mounts are back. It's a bit heavier than the Allez, but with a similar build it is just £549.99.

Conclusion

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 the Allez left one of the biggest impressions. If you want year-round usage out of it, though, the lack of guard/tyre clearance at the front could be an issue.

Verdict

Massive performance on a minimal budget, but I would like to see a bit more clearance at the front

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Specialized Allez

Size tested: 56cm

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

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

FORK Specialized FACT carbon, 1-1/8" to 1-3/8" taper, fender eyelets

FRONT WHEEL Axis Sport

REAR WHEEL Axis Sport

INNER TUBES Presta, 40mm 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

CRANKSET Shimano Claris R200

CHAINRINGS 50/34T

BOTTOM BRACKET BSA, 68mm, square-taper

SHIFT LEVERS Shimano Claris 2000, 8-speed

FRONT DERAILLEUR Shimano Claris, clamp-on

REAR DERAILLEUR Shimano Claris, 8-speed

CASSETTE SunRace, 8-speed, 11-32t

CHAIN KMC X8 w/ Missing Link™, 8-speed

FRONT BRAKE Tektro, alloy, dual-pivot

REAR BRAKE Tektro, alloy, dual-pivot

HANDLEBARS Specialized Shallow Drop, 6061, 70x125mm, 31.8mm clamp

TAPE Specialized S-Wrap

STEM Specialized, 3D-forged alloy, 4-bolt, 7-degree rise

SADDLE Body Geometry Bridge Saddle, steel rails

SEATPOST Alloy, 2-bolt Clamp, 12mm offset, 27.2mm, anti-corrosion hardware

SEAT BINDER Bolt-type, 31.8mm

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, "All too often, corners are cut to meet price-points in the entry-level road bike market, but the Allez redefines what it means to be "entry level." Focusing on weight, refinement, and reliability like nothing else in its class, the Allez is the first to make these technologies accessible to everyone. Whether you're just getting into road cycling, commuting, or looking for a new bike, the Allez is just as performance-packed as it is versatile.

For the build, this Allez features reliable Shimano Claris shifting, durable Axis Sport alloy wheels, our new super-comfy Body Geometry Bridge saddle, and well-protected Espoir Sport tires.

Not only does a lightweight 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 and this results in over a 450g (1-pound) reduction in the frame and fork alone when compared to some models of yesteryear.

Entry-level road bikes often times feature either alloy or cheap carbon fiber forks that greatly detract from the overall ride quality. But with a full FACT carbon fiber 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 of your backpack off you and onto a lightweight rack. This not only makes for a good road bike, but it also enables you to transform it into a fast commuter."

The mudguard clearance limits the Allez a little as a year-round trainer but without them it is one of the best-riding entry-level alloy bikes out there.

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 £849, with the 105-equipped Elite coming in at £1,049.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

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

A very good frame in terms of ride quality finished off with a solid paintjob that makes the bike look more expensive than it is.

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 than the previous iteration, although it is still quite race-orientated compared with a lot of endurance bikes.

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

Stack is 596mm with reach being 385mm for this 56cm frame. That is pretty typical of an endurance style riding position with the taller front end.

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?

No, none.

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 Bridge 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 new four-arm Claris R2000 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.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
8/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
8/10

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

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
7/10

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.

Rate the tyres for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
7/10

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.

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
6/10

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.

Your summary

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?

It's of a similar price to the Forme I mention in the review and comes with much the same finishing kit, as does the Vitus I mention too. That one is £100 cheaper, although the Allez is lighter than both.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
7/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

One of the best cheap bikes out there from a rider's point of view. If you want to use full mudguards, though, you are going to be very restricted when it comes to tyre sizes.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 41  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

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,

With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!

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