The Specialized Allez Race C2 is a fine example of the company's ‘innovate or die’ mantra, even though a lot of its innovation is very well hidden.
- HIGHS: Outstandingly characterful, endlessly enthusiastic frame dressed in decent kit for the money
- LOWS: Sparky handling might alarm less aggressive riders; absence of rack or mudguard eyes
- BUY IF… You want a bike that you’ll be absolutely gagging to ride at every opportunity
Drop out the full carbon fork and look inside the frame and that's where things get interesting. Rather than using open-ended tubes carefully cut to butt against other tubes to form a very shallow weld seam, Chris D’Aluisio and the Specialized design team have developed ‘Smartweld’.
This uses pre-formed ultra-thin tubes with bulkheads at each end to create a large, flat butt joint between each tube. The extra metal means the frame isn’t that light, but it increases junction strength and reduces tube wall thicknesses elsewhere.
The results are obvious when you dig your spurs in. Those thin walls combine with the tapering curve of the leaf spring-style top tube and super-skinny seatstays and genuinely seem to catapult you forwards.
The spring-loaded effect even seems to help fill in the normal speed lull between the power phase of each turn of the cranks at slow revs. Despite an average weight the dynamic frame loves to be danced up hills out of the saddle. It urges you to attack until it snaps the elastic on the other bikes and heads for the summit solo. It’s equally effervescent in sprints, out of corners or anywhere else your combative urge comes out.
The stout-legged, tapered Tarmac fork adds precision to the equally rapid and responsive handling to create a ride that feels far more alive than that offered by any budget carbon bike.
While the frame tends to skim over rather than soak up rough sections, the long skinny seatpost helps to reduce road buzz enough to limit rough road fatigue when you’re cranking out the watts in the saddle. The adjustable Elite-Set stem also allows finer tuning of the ride position than spacers alone.
Shimano’s 10-speed 105 groupset does its usual reliable job and Specialized’s tyre and wheel pack are par for the price, but the new Allez frame is definitely worth significant upgrading if you get the funds.