Specialized’s Allez bikes have developed massively over the years, always taking their design cues from models much higher in the range and consistently offering some of the best value out there.
The Sport, one step up from the entry-level Allez, is available with either a double chainset or, like ours, a triple.
Ride & handling: A lack of energy caused by extra weight is offset by comfort
Although the frame and forks are light, build makes the Allez Sport a middleweight rather than a featherweight – our 58cm model hits the scales at 20.9lb (9.52kg).
The upshot is that it doesn’t accelerate with the zeal of the Boardman, although the impressive frame stiffness does mean it responds reasonably well when you crank up the effort. It’s certainly up for it, if lacking the energy of a bike a couple of pounds lighter.
Upgrading the wheels would improve climbing prowess, but in the meantime, the low gears provided by the triple chainset will get you up anything short of a sheer cliff without too much hassle. If you don’t think you need the leg-up, you can save yourself 30 quid and a few grams by going for the double chainset option instead.
Where this bike really scores, though, is in terms of comfort. The slightly higher-than-normal front end means your ride position is a little more upright than usual – not much, but enough to notice.
That makes it a touch harder to get into a low, ﬂat-backed ride position if you ﬁt tri bars but, on the other hand, you’re not constantly bent double during everyday riding, taking the pressure off your back and improving your view of the road ahead. It's still a racy set-up; the geometry is also used by Specialized on their top-level Tarmac race bikes, it’s just not as extreme as some.
Just as importantly, the frame and fork dissipate shock well and, as usual with Specialized, the contact points are excellent. The hollow centre section of the Body Geometry Rival saddle keeps you smiling even on long and lumpy rides, while the wing proﬁle at the top of the handlebars provides a fabulously comfortable hand rest.
Too bad it doesn’t leave you much round-section space for bolting on tri bars. The handlebars are low-drop too, which will again please those riders who are after a more relaxed position.
Chassis: A bowing top tube gives a low standover height
The Allez Sport's distinctive frame is made from Specialized’s A1 Premium aluminium, neatly welded and carefully ﬁnished with a classy white paint job.
The meaty down tube – ovalised up top but almost square by the time it approaches the bottom bracket – provides a ton of rigidity through the centre section of the bike, while the bowing top tube drops considerably towards the seat tube junction.
This gives you a low standover height, so getting your feet down without whacking your crotch is never going to be a problem if mounting or dismounting on race day doesn’t go precisely to plan.
The head tube is a tad higher than average – 20.5cm on our 58cm frame. That’s a couple of centimetres shorter than the one Specialized use on their Roubaix range of endurance bikes but a couple of centimetres longer than tubes you’ll ﬁnd on a lot of similarly sized road bikes.
The carbon-bladed fork is exactly what you’d expect on a bike of this price.
Equipment: Different shifters will take some getting used to
Most of the Allez’s groupset components come from Shimano’s Sora range – a level lower than the Boardman’s Tiagra.
It’s still 9-speed, and the rear mech is Tiagra, but the shifters don’t operate in the same way. Rather than pivoting behind the brake lever, the shift lever sits inboard and higher up, and you press it with your thumb. That’s ﬁne when you’re riding on the hoods, but it’s almost impossible to get at when you’re down on the drops. It’s not a deal breaker, but we ﬁnd the Tiagra system just that little bit easier to use.
The other notable feature of the gearing is the triple chainset, which provides you with a range of low ratios to keep you grinding up the slopes.
The wheels aren’t especially light, but they’re sturdy enough. And Specialized’s Mondo tyres do a good job of minimising ﬂats.
Most of the other kit is from the in-house range too, which is good news; Specialized’s component standards are always high.