Editor’s note: Since testing, certain 2018 Specialized Allez models have been subject to an important safety recall. Voluntary action from Specialized has seen the company recall approximately 13,000 bikes due to a manufacturing defect in the fork crown of affected bikes. For more information on this recall please visit this article.
The Allez has been part of Specialized’s line-up since the 1980s, when they were skinny steel affairs. More recently they’ve been the entry point to Spesh’s big-tubed aluminium road range, echoing the company’s carbon Tarmacs and recognisable by their arced top-tube.
- The Specialized Allez is one of our key bikes for 2018. We've collated eleven bikes that we believe you should know about in the coming year. Some are super bikes, while others might display great value for money, but they all have one thing in common — they're all important bikes that show how incredibly varied road and mountain biking is today.
The Allez Elite has had a makeover for 2018. It’s shed nearly half a kilo, the head tube has been heightened by 10mm, the seatstays have been dropped radically, and Specialized’s Axis wheels have been replaced by DT Swiss’s wide, tubeless-ready R460 rims.
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New rear rack mounts up the versatility and there are neatly hidden mudguard mounts. The cables are concealed, running discreetly through the frame. Crucially it also gets 11-speed Shimano 105 rather than 10-speed Tiagra, and while it costs a little more than the 2017 model, that looks like money very well spent.
There are two schools of thought for putting together a road bike at this price point that you can buy from your local bike shop. Boardman's trademark Team Carbon goes for a carbon frame with lower-level components; Specialized maximises the kit quality and stays with aluminium. The overall weights are so close you don’t notice, while the tapered full carbon fork and similar cockpits ensure there’s little difference discernible through the handlebar.
Shimano 105 is great to see, and while I'm normally cynical when presented with a crankset deviation, the Praxis Alba offers a classy, industrial look and shifting I couldn’t separate from 105. The 11-speed setup allows for a wide-ranging 11-32 cassette without unwieldy jumps between gears. Want help on hills? That 32-tooth sprocket is your best friend.
Frame angles throughout the range are around 73 degrees, and the lengthened head tube puts the riding position in line with the endurance-flavoured Boardman; not full-on racy but enough to put you slightly more upright.
The rest of the changes have had positive results, with this model upping the through-the-saddle comfort compared with last year’s, presumably those dropped seatstays coming into play. Specialized’s Toupé saddle proved popular, and the 25mm tyres size up big for a fraction more compliance.
But this Allez hasn’t lost its predecessor’s sense of power and efficiency. The tight rear end is stiff, the tapered carbon fork precise in its handling and those wheels feel stiffer than last year’s Axis hoops, with little flex evident. You can sit and spin up hills in that granny gear, and hit every apex confidently descending.
It can be a risky business redesigning something with such a successful record, but that risk has paid off, and the new Allez Elite is a delight. It’s kept the efficiency but is now lighter, more comfortable and more versatile. I think the pale blue and light red model looks better than the more muted affair we tested, though sadly Specialized couldn’t get us one in time. Bah!
I also liked the fact that the Allez has – finally – lost that external rear brake cable that used to hang, washing-line-like, under the top-tube. Yes! Factor in a great ride that will encompass commuting, fitness riding, club runs and winter training, with the option of going tubeless, and Specialized has improved on an already fine bike.
BikeRadar would like to thank Brittany Ferries, the Commune of Peille, France, and Kieran Page at La Maison des Activities de Pleine Nature de Peille for their help and support during our Headline Bikes test.