The new Specialized Allez Sport is a budget-friendly road bike that will suit cyclists looking for a slightly more relaxed ride. The handling is composed, making it an ideal first-time road bike, and mounts for mudguards and a rack mean it can do the commute too.
The weight is respectable for the money and while the wheel/tyre package won’t set hearts racing, the frameset is more than worthy of upgrading down the line.
The 2023 Specialized Allez also ditches rim brakes, and is more like an endurance road bike than ever before, with space for 35mm tyres boosting versatility.
For 40 years, the Allez has offered new cyclists a familiar name to pick when buying their first serious road bike. Likewise, an experienced rider in need of a reliable winter steed often chose an Allez.
So, is this still the easy choice it once was?
Specialized Allez Sport spec details
The original steel Allez was launched in 1981, and an aluminium version has been in the range for a whopping 29 years.
In that time, there have been a few changes, but with the latest model, there is a very big one – the 2023 Specialized Allez is now only available with disc brakes.
I have no issue with this in principle. Disc brakes are really good at slowing you down in a controlled manner in all weathers, allow for wider tyres to be fitted and don’t add much weight.
I use them on my own bikes and I don’t think I’d ever go back to rim brakes.
Unfortunately, though, dropping rim brakes from a range often means riders lose a lower-priced option.
In 2017, you could get an Allez E5 for around £500 (albeit with a budget spec). Six years of inflation, soaring costs across the bike industry, and the addition of tech such as disc brakes, means the cheapest Allez available now costs £1,100.
Even the outgoing range of Allez bikes had a sub-£1,000 option. To lose this is a real shame, but it’s reflective of a wider trend in the industry.
35mm tyre clearance
A big advantage of the switch to disc brakes is the space for wider tyres. While the old Allez E5 came with 26mm tyres fitted, there was only space for 28mm. That was limited largely by the rim brake calipers.
Now, however, Specialized has boosted clearance so you can fit 35mm tyres (or 32mm tyres with mudguards or fenders). My test bike has 30mm Specialized RoadSport tyres fitted, which leaves enough space for the Specialized Plug + Play V2 mudguards.
It is this clearance, rather than any clever carbon layup or aluminium alloy tube shaping that will most affect the comfort of a road bike. The tyres, after all, are your only suspension on a rigid bike.
1,350g alloy frame
The frame is a real highlight of the 2023 Allez Sport. At a claimed 1,350g, for an unspecified size, it’s respectably light, especially considering the price.
Specialized has used butted and double-butted E5 alloy tubing, with the frame treated to the same Finite Element Analysis (a virtual modelling tool used to test how products react to forces and vibrations) found on its carbon frames.
This, Specialized claims, ensures it offers “the light and lively ride riders demand with the durability Allez is famous for”.
The finish on the frame is good. The chunky welds are uniform and the glossy paint pops nicely in daylight.
I did, however, find a large piece of paint flaked off where the non-driveside mudguard stay attached to the fork. There was also a little paint inside some of the bolt threads.
While that might seem like a small detail, you can easily cross-thread a bolt if the threads in the frame have paint blocking them. And then if you do get the bolt in straight, the paint can make the bolt hard to turn.
My trusty Kinesis 4S Disc, which is another versatile machine, had similar paint issues and carries a claimed weight 200g heavier.
Trek, meanwhile, says its latest Emonda ALR weighs 1,257g. That’s not a lot less, especially considering the frameset alone costs £1,300.
Once you add in the Allez’s full-carbon fork, you’ve got a frameset that’s worthy of some upgrades in the long term.
Rack and mudguard mounts
If you want to commute by bike, mounts for mudguards and a rack for carrying pannier bags are, in my opinion, essential.
Thankfully, the Allez continues to offer dedicated mounts for both.
The rear mudguard is particularly secure, attaching at the bottom bracket, via a hidden point on the seatstay bridge and then low down on the seatstays.
These have been integrated tidily into the frame and fork, so they’re not unsightly should you not be using them.
Specialized Allez Sport geometry
Getting the geometry right for a bike such as the Allez is a tricky balance. You need something fun enough to excite experienced riders, while providing enough stability and comfort to not overwhelm newer riders early on.
I think Specialized has got the balance right here. The Allez Sport feels planted when cornering and I was happy to dive for a late apex on a long left-hander.
In a size 52cm, the Allez gets a stack figure of 552mm, which is 35mm taller than the SL7. The head tube angle is slacker at 71 degrees than the SL7’s 72.5-degree figure. The Allez’s head tube is 27mm longer and the reach is shorter at 364mm than the SL7’s 383mm.
This slows down the handling and puts you in a slightly more relaxed riding position. As a result, I felt I was sitting back into the bike more than I would on a typical race bike.
For first-time road rides, ticking off long winter miles and getting through the daily commute, the relaxed riding position is absolutely ideal.
But look elsewhere and there are signs of what leads to a composed yet fun ride. The bottom bracket, for example, sits lower to the ground with a drop figure of 77mm compared to the SL7’s 71mm.
This sacrifices a little cornering clearance for improved stability at speed – a fair trade given the Allez’s target audience.
A wheelbase figure of 995mm makes the Allez 20mm longer than the SL7, but the Allez’s front centre of 583mm isn’t vastly more than the SL7’s 577mm. This, again, results in a ride that is stable at speed, yet still enables direct handling when you want it.
The Synapse has a slightly shorter stack of 550mm and a longer 376mm reach. The wheelbase is also longer at 1,006mm, which is mostly down to a longer front centre of 602mm.
However, the Synapse is limited to 32mm tyres, no match for the Allez’s 35mm.
|Seat tube angle (degrees)||75.25||75.25||73.25||73.25||73.25||73.25||73.25|
|Head tube angle (degrees)||69.5||70.5||71||72||72.5||73||73|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||77||77||77||76||76||74.5||74.5|
|Seat tube (mm)||430||460||490||510||530||550||580|
|Top tube (mm)||493||500||530||541||556||569||586|
|Head tube (mm)||110||125||140||155||175||195||230|
Specialized Allez Sport ride impressions
Throughout my time with the Allez, I’ve taken it on rolling to hilly test loops, along with plenty of commuting. The Allez Sport has impressed in pretty much every situation.
The well-balanced geometry helps to create a bike that feels stable at speed, while remaining reactive when asked to flick through a tighter corner.
There’s plenty of stiffness in the frame, which is helpful on steeper climbs or when getting back up to speed after traffic lights. This doesn’t translate to a harsh ride, though.
With 30mm tyres fitted, there was plenty of comfort to be found and I didn’t feel much road buzz coming through either the saddle or handlebars.
The compact drop handlebars enabled me to tuck down comfortably out of the wind for efficient riding, but the relatively tall head tube limits my ability to replicate the position on my Specialized Aethos (which has a geometry that mirrors the Tarmac SL7).
This is one area in which my Kinesis 4S Disc works better for an experienced road rider and racer, although more novice riders might not find it such an issue.
With a weight of 10kg for this size-52cm bike without the mudguards (10.7kg with rack and ‘guards), the Allez might not seem like one of the best climbing bikes. However, with the ample frame stiffness and composure on rougher surfaces, it was surprisingly sprightly on faster climbs.
I felt happy to sit in the saddle, keeping a good tempo, before standing up to deliver more of my measly power. On steeper climbs, the weight becomes a little bit more of an issue, but then at 67kg, I’m on the lighter side, so this will affect me more than most.
Given this is a sporty bike, I naturally got lured into racing my mates for town signs and the crests of hills. They’re all better sprinters than I am, but the Allez proved to be no slouch.
The front end was a particular highlight. The tubes up here provided plenty of stiffness for me to haul on the bars in an attempt to generate as much power as possible. This tautness helps to keep the bike feeling snappy and fun to ride.
Generally, the Allez felt taut and efficient. The only notable lowlight in this area is the underwhelming wheels and tyres don’t make for the fastest bike straight out of the box.
Specialized Allez Sport build
Wheels and tyres
This is a tricky criticism to level at a bike designed to meet a relatively low price point, especially when many similar bikes suffer from the same issue. However, there’s no ignoring that the stock wheel and tyre combination holds the Allez Sport back.
The tubeless-ready Axis Sport Disc wheels, with their 24 spokes at the front and 28 at the rear, plus solidly built hubs and alloy rims, are a bit hefty.
Add in the budget Specialized Roadsport tyres and a heavier SunRace cassette and you’ve got nearly four kilos – that’s a real chunk of weight.
The Specialized Roadsport offers decent grip in mixed conditions and has stood up well to the harsh and debris-strewn inner-city Bristol roads, so they score well in that respect.
But the stiff casings felt rather dead. I struggled to gain cornering confidence when pushing descents and, when riding on nicer roads, I didn’t get a sense that the surface had improved.
If you just want a reliable commuter bike and don’t care too much about performance, the stock wheels and tyres are absolutely fine, but for my racier tastes they dull the ride too much and let the excellent frameset down somewhat.
This Sport model is the pricier of the two builds Specialized offers, with 8-speed Shimano Claris R2000 specced on the cheaper Allez E5 Disc.
Coming from 11- and 12-speed bikes, the 10-speed 11-32t SunRace cassette felt as though it had slightly larger gaps between some teeth, and I was frustrated to find myself resorting occasionally to a non-optimal cadence.
But that, really, is where my gripes end. I was thoroughly impressed by the slick shifting on offer, and at no point was the chain chattering along and failing to find the sprocket I’d asked for.
The Tiagra hydraulic disc brakes were very good too. Shimano’s hood ergonomics are excellent, while reach adjustment is available for those with smaller hands and the shifter paddles were easy to find even while wearing winter cycling gloves.
I missed the ServoWave technology I’ve become accustomed to in Shimano’s latest high-end disc brakes (where it improves brake feel from the hoods), but there was still plenty of power and sufficient modulation too.
As noted previously, Specialized has saved some money with a cassette from SunRace, but the 11-32t range works well with the 50/34t chainrings that come on the Praxis Works Alba cranks.
KMC provides the chain and the groupset works quietly, enabling you to get on and enjoy your bike ride.
With a compact 125mm drop and short 70mm reach, the Specialized Shallow Drop handlebar will be popular with riders who want to change their hand position without too much change in their body position.
Choosing a bike saddle is a personal decision, however. The Specialized Body Geometry Bridge saddle specced here didn’t work for me because of the slightly too chunky rear end and soft middle. As a result, it was swapped out for a firmer Specialized Power Pro after the first ride.
It isn’t necessarily a bad design per se, but I won’t be personally recommending it for a spot on our list of the best road bike saddles.
Rack and mudguards
Drop-bar road bikes such as the Allez can make for efficient commuter bikes, especially if, like mine, your commute is on the longer side.
The Allez Sport I tested came with a rack installed in the form of the Specialized Elite Rear, although any standard rack would fit just fine.
It’s an optional extra (which costs £55 in this case), but I wanted to be able to give my feedback on how the Allez Sport fairs as a commuter, so it made sense to have this upgrade from the start.
The rack itself has a solid design and was easy to fit. That said, the stays aren’t designed to be attached to the seatpost clamp (as required on the Allez Sport), so they took a little bending.
The mudguards installed on my test bike are Specialized’s Plug & Play V2 (again, an optional extra at £55 for the set). I found getting the ‘guards lined up straight took a little more trial and error than my Kinesis Fend Off ‘guards, but once installed they were fine.
I would have liked a bit more coverage, especially from the front mudguard to protect my feet from road spray on wet days.
This could easily be created at home with a drill and an old water bottle, but for £55 I’d rather have a less DIY solution.
All in all, they do a decent but not spectacular job. You can, of course, fit almost any other mudguards you like if you prefer something different.
Specialized Allez Sport bottom line
If I had to choose between the Allez Sport and my Kinesis 4S Disc, it would be very hard to look past the additional 5mm tyre clearance and slightly lower weight you get with the Allez.
That said, with the Allez straying closer to endurance bike territory these days, I’d also have to consider the Cannondale Synapse at £1,650/$1,800. It features quality DT Swiss wheels, additional mounting points on the frame and even comes with a top tube bag included.
For me, however, the Allez ticks almost all of the right boxes. While I’m sad to see the rim-brake version gone, the Allez Sport is still an easy choice for an entry-level road bike, an efficient commuter or an all-weather training machine.
|Price||br_price, 5, 3, Price, AUD $2500.00EUR €1750.00GBP £1600.00USD $1800.00|
|Weight||br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 10kg (52cm) – Inc pedals and bottle cages, Array, kg|
|Year||br_year, 5, 9, Year, 2023|
|Brand||br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Specialized|
|Features||br_Features, 11, 0, Features, Mounts for mudguards and a rear rack|
|Available sizes||br_availableSizes, 11, 0, Available sizes, 44, 48, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61|
|Bottom bracket||br_bottomBracket, 11, 0, Bottom bracket, BSA Threaded|
|Brakes||br_brakes, 11, 0, Brakes, Shimano Tiagra Hydraulic|
|Cassette||br_cassette, 11, 0, Cassette, SunRace 11-32|
|Chain||br_chain, 11, 0, Chain, KMC X10|
|Cranks||br_cranks, 11, 0, Cranks, Praxis Alba|
|Fork||br_fork, 11, 0, Fork, Allez Carbon|
|Frame||br_frame, 11, 0, Frame, Specialized Allez|
|Front derailleur||br_frontDerailleur, 11, 0, Front derailleur, Shimano Tiagra 4700|
|Grips/Tape||br_gripsTape, 11, 0, Grips/Tape, Specialized S-Wrap|
|Handlebar||br_handlebar, 11, 0, Handlebar, Specialized Shallow Drop|
|Rear derailleur||br_rearDerailleur, 11, 0, Rear derailleur, Shimano Tiagra 4700|
|Saddle||br_saddle, 11, 0, Saddle, Specialized BodyGeometry Bridge|
|Seatpost||br_seatpost, 11, 0, Seatpost, Alloy 2 bolt|
|Shifter||br_shifter, 11, 0, Shifter, Shimano Tiagra 4700|
|Stem||br_stem, 11, 0, Stem, Specialized Alloy|
|Tyres||br_tyres, 11, 0, Tyres, Specialized RoadSport|
|Wheels||br_wheels, 11, 0, Wheels, Axis Sport Disc Tubeless Ready|