Specialized Allez is one of the most popular and well-reviewed road bikes on the market — but with so many models now available and a history than can be measured in decades, which one should you buy? Read on…
There are a lot of tempting options when it comes to choosing a Specialized road bike. If you want optimised aerodynamic performance there’s the Venge. If you want a fast but forgiving ride that offers all-day comfort you have the Roubaix. And if you want a WorldTour-level carbon race machine then the Tarmac will be top of your list. But if you simply want a decent, do-anything bike that won’t break the bank, you should turn your attention to Specialized’s Allez range.
Today, the Allez is among the biggest-selling performance bikes in what is perhaps the most competitive price bracket of under £1,500 / $2,000 / AU$3,000. It has a reputation for not only delivering a great ride but also being great value. A reputation it has earned over a surprisingly long period. What's more, the Specialized Allez E5 Sport won our 2016 accolade for best entry-level road bike.
“The Allez was one of Specialized’s first-ever production bikes along with the original Sequoia sports tourer,” says William Watt of Specialized UK. “Both were introduced to the US market in 1981 and both were steel, of course. They were designed by legendary custom framebuilder Tim Neenan and built by Yoshi Kono, Japan’s most noted Keirin framebuilder, best known for his San Rensho frames.
“At a time when most US brands used frames based on existing factory designs and simply applied the house label, Specialized hired experienced people like Neenan, and later Jim Merz and Mark Di Nucci, to design every bike from the ground up.”
According to Watt, that meant “for the first time, riders in the US were able to buy frames that not only performed as well as the leading European bikes of the time, but did so at a reasonable price.”
Since its launch, the Allez has not only been introduced to the rest of the world it’s also been refined, tweaked and fettled every year. 2017’s Allez bikes are the 36th generation of the frameset and although they’re still made from metal, now it’s aluminium rather than steel, they’re considerably more sophisticated than the original.
The five models in the 2017 Allez range have all benefitted from geometry that’s trickled down from the Tarmac, Specialized’s WorldTour rig. But also the D’Alusio Smartweld (DSW) technology — which uses hydroformed weld joints on the headtube to produce a stronger, lighter and stiffer front end — that was reserved for the premium S-Works models in previous years, has found its way on to more of the affordable Allez bikes.
The Allez DSW SL Sprint Expert (£1,500 / $2,000 / AU$ 2,800) and DSW SL Sprint Comp (£1,300 / $1,700 / AU$2,300) top the Allez range and are both high-performance machines, with the DSW front end and an aero-profiled seat tube and seat post pairing. If you’re looking to for a well-priced, well-honed bike with a competitive streak for racing, these two are well worth a look. Both come with an 11-speed Shimano 105 groupset, Axis Elite wheels and Praxis chainsets.
If you happen to live in the States, you also have the option of the Allez DSW SL Sprint Elite ($1,450), which uses the same frame as the Expert and Comp models but hangs Shimano’s 10-speed Tiagra groupset on it.
For those on tighter budgets, there’s the trio of Specialized E5 Allez bikes. They all use the same frame made from Specialized’s E5 Premium alloy, but don’t get the DSW front end of aero-profiled, rear-wheel-hugging seat tube. The E5 Elite (£800 / $1,150) weds its frame to a 10-speed Shimano Tiagra groupset, the E5 Sport (£675 / $980 / AU$1,300), gets a 9-speed Shimano Sora groupset, and the E5 (£525 / $750) comes with 8-speed Shimano Claris gears.
Finally, for the younger riders out there, there's also the Specialized Allez Junior (£400 / $750 / AU$1,000) which comes in a 44cm frame with 650C wheels. It features an 8-speed Shimano Claris drivetrain, Tektro caliper brakes and Axis Sport JR wheels.