There was a time when budget/entry-level/beginner/whatever-you-call-’em bikes displayed their low-cost credentials. Not Specialized’s super-swanky-looking 2019 Allez, the entry point for Specialized’s road range.
You can forget clunky welds, shonky paint jobs and graphics that look like they were designed and applied by a boozed-up teenager on a Friday afternoon.
- The Specialized Allez is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
This £630 / $840 Specialized Allez is a thing of genuine style, elegance, refinement and some at BikeRadar reckon it’s even better looking than Specialized’s more multicoloured £1,050 / $1,130 Allez Elite. Personally, I love the Elite’s ‘Gloss Storm Grey and Rocket Red’, though this bike’s ‘Rocket Red and Tarmac Black’ pairing comes close.
But this is more than just about good looks. There’s lots going on under the surface of this Allez, which is where it really matters.
The Allez name dates back to 1981, and more recently the Allez has been a stupendously popular bike, an aggressive entry-level aluminium bike with race-inspired geometry, and a machine that has introduced a whole generation of cyclists all over the world to the joys of road cycling.
The frame is not only one of the best-looking ones you’ll find on a bike costing around £600, the whole Allez range received a major makeover for 2018, which is carried into the 2019 models.
This isn’t just a dash of new paint touch-up either, but a top-to-bottom redesign that now includes full internal cable routing, predominantly straight frame tubes and smooth welds.
The most important changes, though, are all beneath the shiny red paintwork, which have made the new Allez even more of an all-rounder, thanks to subtle tweaks to the geometry.
Drawing on information from its massive Retül bike-fitting database, Specialized has created a geometry that it says is “sure to cover a broad range of positions, while still providing the performance-minded handling you’d expect from your first bike.”
Specialized’s designers raised the front end a tad, stretched the wheelbase a fraction and relaxed the angles. None of these changes are dramatic, so the Allez’s always enjoyable and lively ride is still there but the slightly more upright riding position is now more comfortable for longer days out.
The new Allez frameset is also about 450g lighter than its predecessor, which helps to keep its overall weight well under 10kg, which is pretty impressive for a bike at this price.
The new model’s lowered seatstays improve aerodynamics and their svelte lines add some comfort too – a veritable win-win.
Meanwhile, the large squarish down-tube and chunky chainstays help to transfer your power smoothly and with a minimum of fuss. The Allez’s tapered FACT all-carbon fork also contributes to its fine overall handling and descending prowess.
The Allez’s all-round credentials have been further increased by the inclusion of rear rack mounts and very neat front and rear mudguard fittings, and I’m also a big fan of the wide-range 11-32 cassette.
Okay, with only eight speeds there are some quite big gaps as the mech goes up and down the block, but the high top gear and hill-easing bottom gear make this worthwhile. You can sprint with the best of them in the 50×11 top with great poise, power and precision, and spin comfortably up even steep climbs in the 34×32 granny gear.
In fact, the reduction in the number of gears is just about the only difference between Shimano’s Claris groupset and Sora and Tiagra. They feel much the same and shift much the same, and even though there’s a downgrading to an older Shimano RS200 chainset rather than the newer R2000, the shifting was still spot on.
The threaded bottom bracket shell and square tapered bottom bracket are decidedly old school but they do make servicing easier.
It’s no surprise to find Tektro brakes on a budget road bike, but the Allez’s at least have cartridge brake blocks and their performance was fine.
As with its big brother, the Allez Elite, I think this model is also one of the leaders in its class. True, it’s possible to get bikes with higher-level kit costing not that much more, even a few with predominantly Shimano 105 components (the £729 Triban 520 Disc and Pinnacle’s £700 Laterite 3 spring to mind, for example), but not many can match the 2019 incarnation of the Specialized Allez when it comes to ride quality.
Yes, it’s lost a little of its racing edge, but the new slightly relaxed geometry will appeal to a wider range of riders. Cyclists who have lost a little flexibility, those of us for whom comfort is more important than speed and commuters can all enjoy its smoothness as the miles mount up.
It would make a super-poised training and fitness machine, it’s pretty much perfect for sportive-type rides and would also make a fantastic first road bike.
Specialized Allez specifications
- Sizes (*Tested): 49, 52, 54, 56*, 58, 61cm
- Weight: 9.73kg
- Frame: E5 Premium butted aluminium
- Fork: Full-carbon tapered
- Chainset: Shimano Claris, 50/34
- Bottom bracket: BSA
- Cassette: SunRace, 11-32
- Chain: KMC
- Derailleurs: Shimano Claris
- Shifters: Shimano Claris
- Wheelset: Axis Sport
- Tyres: 25mm Specialized Espoir Sport
- Stem: Specialized
- Bar: Specialized
- Saddle: Body Geometry Toupé Sport
- Seatpost: Alloy, 27.2
- Brakes: Tektro
Specialized Allez geometry
- Seat angle: 73.25 degrees
- Head angle: 73.5 degrees
- Chainstay: 41.5
- Seat tube: 53cm
- Top tube: 56.4cm
- Head tube: 18cm
- Fork offset: 4.7cm
- Trail: 5.2cm
- Bottom bracket drop: 7.6cm
- Wheelbase: 996mm
- Stack: 59.6
- Reach: 38.5cm
- Price: £630, $840