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Specialized Allez Sprint Comp review

28 Jun 2022
Verdict:

An aluminium bike breaking genuine new ground, but at a price close to carbon fibre the Allez Sprint is a hard sell

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Stiff, handling, innovative
Against 
Weight, comfort, existential reasoning

The Specialized Allez Sprint is Specialized's take on the high-end aluminium race bike. It features Smartweld, a fabrication process that affords lighter, stiffer frames with more elaborate tube shapes.

As such a frame weighs around 1.5kg, and the Allez Sprint is said to be 41-seconds faster than the model it replaces, thanks to tube shapes borrowed from its big sister, the Tarmac SL7.

Strange as it might sound, the original Allez was steel and hand-built in Japan between 1981 and 1984 by Yoshi Konno, who founded Cherubim and 3Rensho in the 1970s.

Identifiable by its long, pointed lugs and sloping fork crowns, it’s highly sought-after today, the product of a man who learned his craft dismantling and rebuilding old Cinelli frames and who went on to forge an enviable reputation for Keirin-winning bikes.

But success can breed tragedy. Konno was allegedly a hard drinker and this contributed to a car accident in 1995 that left him paralysed and led to the closure of 3Rensho.



Konno died in the late 2000s but his legacy lives on in Cherubim, built by nephew Shinichi Konno and well worth a browse.

As for the Allez, while production may have long left Japan for Taiwan, the marque endures, and 41 years on, Specialized is at it again with this all-new version, the Allez Sprint.

Specialized Allez Sprint: An aluminium Tarmac

While the Allez has long been an entry-level aluminium road bike, the Sprint is a very different beast. To quote Specialized, ‘We tore the Tarmac SL7 apart and rebuilt it in alloy.’

Geometry is identical to the Tarmac save for a 3mm higher stack, and likewise the focus is on weight, stiffness and aerodynamics.

An Allez Sprint frame weighs around 1.5kg and Specialized claims a 41-second improvement over 40km compared to the outgoing model thanks to aero improvements. Stiffness metrics are secret, but I can tell you this is a stiff old bike.

While 1.5kg might not sound impressive, in aluminium terms it is light, especially given the baguette-smuggling down tube and various elaborate tube shapes.

So how has Specialized done it? It’s all down to one man and one technique: Specialized designer Chris D’Aluisio, inventor of Smartweld. Let me explain…

Anyone who has siliconed a bath will know how much silicone disappears between bath and tile, and it’s this that plagues welders. Tubes get mitred together, but complex tube shapes make those mitres difficult to get tight, so extra filler is required.

Smartweld, by contrast, is a fabricating technique that involves hydroforming tubes to have chamfered ends that precisely butt up against each other, thereby creating a groove for the filler.

This creates a stronger joint as there’s more surface area for the filler, while also using less material because the initial joints are tighter.

This process was used on the previous Sprint, but Specialized has taken things a step further by creating single-piece parts for high-stress areas.

The head tube, for example, is made in one piece and includes little stumps of top tube and down tube; likewise BB and down tube are one piece.

This is one of carbon fibre’s greatest tricks: complex one-piece parts with no joins in high-stress areas, and for the first time Specialized is achieving a similar thing with aluminium.

Squint and this could be carbon. Yet for all the performance gains, I was left scratching my head.

Outrageously stiffness

This is a very stiff bike, like accidentally lifting the rear wheel off the floor in a sprint stiff. I’m talking split seconds, but it’s there and is really hard to do on most bikes unless you lean too far forward.

This is a superb bike to sprint on (once used to it), as reactive to pedalling efforts as any bike I’ve ridden, and imbued with sensational handling thanks to that Tarmac geometry.

I was expecting a pretty rough ride, but I was surprised by a firm but not unforgiving feel. It lacked finesse but it wasn’t the harshness I remember from aluminium bikes of yore.

Specialized Allez Sprint Comp verdict

It was all going so well. But then I started thinking about weight, and then price. And then I started wondering: as stiff and racy as this bike is, what’s the ultimate point?

Yes, crit racing. But I don’t race crits, so what’s left? Being different? True, there’s a part of me that loves aluminium bikes in the same way I still keep up with an old, slightly obnoxious friend… I kind of like the implicit two fingers up to the new ways that it represents.

But there is no escaping that the Allez Sprint is £2,650, and for £450 more you can buy a Specialized Tarmac SL6 Sport: identical in spec save for seatpost and bar tape, similar geometry and 700g lighter, with superb ride feel.

Had the Allez Sprint rolled up at £1,800, this would be a hell of a bike. But pitch up at carbon-level prices, especially when the rest of your family is so good at being carbon bikes, and the Allez Sprint turns into a really tough sell.

Pick of the kit

CCN Sew Free Minimal jersey


CCN Sew Free kit, £130/£190, ccnsport.co.uk

It’s pretty hard to do something new in cycling kit but CCN seems to have managed it with the Sew Free Minimal jersey (£130) and Sew Free bibshorts (£190). The name comes from the construction, because with the exception of the stitched-in Elastic Interface seatpad, panels are bonded rather than stitched.

CCN says this makes the garments lighter and more form-fitting. I’d give my assent to both those ideas. The kit is definitely racy yet stretchy enough to be comfortable, and it certainly feels light in that desperately clichéd second-skin kind of way.

Specialized Allez Sprint Comp alternatives

Specialized Tarmac SL6 Sport

Virtually the same spec and geometry as the Allez Sprint but in carbon, the Tarmac SL6 Sport (£3,100) is 700g lighter and though superseded by the SL7, this was once Specialized’s flagship racer.

Specialized Allez Elite

In its non-Sprint guise, the Allez Elite (£1,429) has long been a popular jumping off point for road biking, built around racy but not too aggressive geometry, a SRAM Rival drivetrain and DT Swiss wheels.

Specialized Allez Sprint Comp spec

Frame Specialized Allez Sprint Comp
Groupset   Shimano 105 R7000
Brakes Shimano 105 R7000
Crankset Shimano 105 R7000
Cassette Shimano 105 R7000
Bars Specialized Shallow Drop
Stem Specialized Shallow Drop 3D-forged
Seatpost Tarmac Carbon
Saddle Specialized Body Geometry Power Sport
Wheels DT Swiss R470 rims on Specialized hubs, Specialized Turbo Pro 26mm tyres
Weight 8.8kg (54cm)
Contact specialized.com

Products reviewed by Cyclist are independently selected and tested by our editorial team. Cyclist may earn an affiliate commission if you make a purchase through a retailer link. Read our reviews policy.

Price: 
£2,650

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