Four Allez models make up Specialized’s entry-level road bike range for 2009. They are designed to be light, stiff and efﬁcient – essentially, race-ready out of the box, although the vast majority are going to be pressed into service for general road duties. The upright ride position of the top dog Elite Double won’t suit everyone, but you can’t argue with the forgiving ride quality, and Shimano 105 kit packs on value.
Handling: Fairly upright riding position and forgiving frame make for a comfortable ride
The Specialized has a high front end which gives an upright riding position. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Well, we certainly felt we were getting more air than usual on the chest, increasing the wind resistance. The bars are low-drop, so even when you go down to the ends, your body position isn’t that ﬂat. If you’re after an extremely aggressive setup, you’re making things hard for yourself here.
On the other hand, lots of our test riders found the Specialized very comfortable, especially for long rides. You can sit there and spin in that position without your back ever griping. A supportive, just-soft-enough saddle and gel-padded handlebar tape help, and the carbon back end smooths over rough roads well. When you’re comfy you can get the power in more effectively, you’ll feel like riding for longer and you may enjoy yourself more.
The Allez bowls along on the ﬂat just ﬁne. When you throw in the extra power you don’t get quite the snap of some lighter bikes, but the steering is pretty accurate.
Hit the climbs and that higher than average front end can again make an impact. Some testers found it hard to get right over the bars to muscle the Allez about as much as they wanted on out-of-the-saddle sections. Still, the 34T chainring matched up to the 27T sprocket will get you up even the tough stuff while seated without too much trouble. We wouldn’t say that the Allez is remarkable on the climbs – it would need to lose a bit of weight off the wheels for that.
The fairly upright riding position and forgiving frame make this a very comfortable ride.: the fairly upright riding position and forgiving frame make this a very comfortable ride. www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk
Chassis: Highly manipulated alloy tubes keep strength high and weight low, build quality is excellent
The heart of the Allez is its E5 aluminium frame which comes with a massively oversized down tube and Specialized’s distinctive arcing top tube that slopes steeply southwards for a low standover height.
The Allez’s head tube is long at 205mm, although it’s still 20mm shorter than you’ll ﬁnd on the equivalent size from Specialized’s Roubaix range. But, especially with a 20mm cone spacer on top of the integrated headset, the front end is certainly tall.
You get carbon wishbone seatstays out back and the legs of Specialized’s in-house fork are carbon too. It’s all neatly done with smooth joints and a tidy ﬁnish.
Just in case you forget the name..: just in case you forget the name.. www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk
Equipment: Shimano 105 gearing produces its usual exemplary performance and in-house kit is second-to-none
The groupset is nearly all Shimano’s top-value 105 kit, although the brake callipers are no-name copycats and the compact crankset is also a downgrade. Though it’s from Shimano, you don’t get the lightweight rigidity of the hollow forged arms on higher end options so it would be our ﬁrst upgrade.
The Shimano 105 shifters and mechs work together to provide as-soon-as-you’ve-thought-it changes up and down the 10-speed cassette, and our fears about the unbranded anchors proved unfounded. You can leave your braking late in both wet and dry conditions and know you’ll get strong, predictable stopping power, adding to your conﬁdence on the descents.
Mavic’s CXP22 rims are no lightweights but they stayed true for the duration, while Specialized’s own cartridge bearing hubs ran smooth from the off.
The Mondo Pro tyres don’t offer the same level of puncture resistance as you’ll get with Specialized’s Armadillos, but they still provide good protection and excellent all-weather grip.
Shimano r535 double chainset: shimano r535 double chainset www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk