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Specialized Allez Sprint: Everyman aluminium Tarmac with superbike ambitions

Joseph Delves
22 Mar 2022

A superbike for the rest of us, Specialized’s latest machine is cheap, fast, and cooler than carbon

According to its maker, the new Specialized Allez Sprint is an aluminium superbike. It certainly looks the part with a hyper-modern aerodynamic profile, sinuous tube junctions, and aggressive geometry.

The latest in an occasional line of hopped-up aluminium race bikes produced by the famous Californian firm, this new Allez Sprint aims to be both an accessibly priced racer and a showcase for Specialized’s latest aluminium construction techniques.

It borrows the features of the brand’s top-end Tarmac carbon racer almost wholesale including both its angles and, unusually for an aluminium design, its aerodynamic shaping. The result is a bike Specialized says is optimised for pure acceleration.

The disc-only Allez Sprint will be sold in the UK in just one complete build with Shimano 105 costing £2,650, with framesets available for £1,599. US and and European markets, meanwhile, get a choice of two models costing $3,000/€3,500 and $6,800/€7,500 respectively, with framesets priced at $1,700/€1,500.

Specialized Allez Sprint: Advanced alloy technology

In designing the Allez Sprint, Specialized has used all the expertise it has developed in creating aluminium road bikes over the past few decades.

 

If you’re too posh to concern yourself with anything but the most rarified carbon machines, you might be surprised at how clever they’ve become.

Just because the last aluminium bike to win the Tour did so in 1998 doesn’t mean alloy-based technology has stood still. Employed on top-end mountain bikes until more recently, still used across the majority of bikes sold, and honed further in other industries, what’s possible with metal has come on immensely.

Crucial to creating the new Allez Sprint has been two advanced aluminium working processes: hydroforming and Specialized’s own Smartweld construction.

The first of these involves using high-pressure hydraulic fluid to press material into a die. Allowing engineers to create complex shapes and precisely control their thickness, it’s a process used extensively on the Allez Sprint.

But not only is each component now more highly wrought, there are also fewer of them. So rather than every tube being separate and requiring joining to the next, many sections are now created in a single piece. In fact, if the bike were to arrive as an Airfix kit, you’d probably be surprised at the limited number of components that make up the frame.



Take the head tube. It and the first few centimetres of the top tube and down tube are created from a single lump of highly worked metal.

The same goes for the down tube, which also emerges from the die with the bottom bracket shell already in place. This not only cuts down on weight but allows for greater tuning of the bike’s ride characteristics.

Joining together, this reduced number of component parts is Specialized’s Smartweld technology.

Complementing the complex shapes, this process was initially intended primarily as an aesthetic treatment for the brand’s aluminium bikes.

Using smooth welds to join closely aligned surfaces, the increased interface between each part means the weld itself is under less stress.

It also means that the welding material has less gap to fill. Often referred to by welders as ‘welding in space’, using the weld itself to fill voids between tubes isn’t a particularly attractive proposition. However, when joining tricky shapes, it’s sometimes unavoidable.

Instead, this necessity has been almost completely avoided through clever designing of the junctions. Resulting in a join with less movement, the finished product looks neat and, thanks to a reduction in unwanted flex, far more resilient according to Specialized.

Specialized Allez Sprint: Carbon-esque and aerodynamic

Improving the bike’s function while simplifying its production, both technologies help power an increasing number of Specialized’s more entry-level bikes.

By comparison, the Allez Sprint offers the brand an opportunity to push both production methods to their limits.

One upshot of this ability to create intricate shapes from aluminium is that the Allez Sprint can now compete with its carbon siblings in terms of aerodynamics.

In fact, at first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a carbon bike. The oversized down tube, fat chainstays, smooth head tube, and bladed seat tube all look almost indistinguishable from those of the Tarmac SL7.

With the carbon fork and seatpost from that bike dropped directly into the Allez Sprint’s frame, even an expert eye would struggle to tell the two apart from a distance.

The Allez Sprint is also one of a handful number of aluminium bikes to have spent significant time inside a wind-tunnel. The result is that Specialized claims these recent improvements should be good for a saving of 41 seconds over 40km compared to the previous (and already quite pointy) Allez Sprint Disc.

At the same time, while the frame won’t run the carbon Tarmac quite as close when it comes to weight, Specialized promises that careful component picks could see you build it to under 8kg.

Specialized Allez Sprint: Built for racing

Off the back of these features and following in the tyre tracks of the previous Allez Sprint builds, Specialized is marketing this as a race-ready bike. This contrasts with the standard Allez, which is very much aimed at road cycling beginners. 

Already used by UCI Continental team Legion of Los Angeles, the new Allez Sprint’s focus on stiffness and acceleration should make it perfect for criteriums or just outsprinting your  pals. All considered, it looks a pretty competitive package.

Aiding the bike’s slippery nature and handsome appearance is its intelligent internal cabling system. This sees its cables emerge from under the bar tape only to quickly disappear into a specially designed top cap beneath the stem.

Providing almost all the benefits of a fully integrated system without the misery of having to chase your cable through the cockpit, the bike’s standard threaded BSA bottom bracket should be equally popular with mechanics.

As you’d expect for something so achingly up-to-date, the Allez Sprint is disc brake-only with flat mounts and thru-axles, keeping everything solidly in place.

Specialized Allez Sprint pricing and availability

Unlike our American and EU-based fellows, UK riders will find the Allez Sprint available in a single Shimano 105-equipped Comp model or as a frameset including the fork and seatpost. 

A rare machine that pursues accessible pricing and race-winning functionality with equal vigour, the Allez Sprint Comp costs £2,650, while the Allez Sprint frameset is £1,599. 

Other territories get the option of the all-singing, all-dancing purple LTD model pictured above with SRAM Force eTap AXS and deep section Roval carbon wheels, priced at a decidely less accessible $6,800/€7,500.

All models are available now.

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