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Specialized Allez Comp review

15 Aug 2016
Verdict:

This budget-conscious Specialized Allez Comp is an alloy racer that has always been a big hit.

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,200
For 
Fun and racy frame
Against 
Wheelset on the heavy side

The Specialized Allez has been around in one form or another since 1981. For 2016, the Allez Comp heads a smaller range, with the stated intention of providing a responsive and compliant ride that’s as at home on a 100-miler as it is in a criterium race. Equivalent frame geometry to Specialized’s race-proven bikes, allied to a stiff front end and the inherent sharpness of an alloy frame could help it live up to this promise. Its spec makes it ripe for upgrading as your riding improves, but is it too much of a compromise as it stands?

The frame

Specialized’s Allez Comp Smartweld frame is constructed from E5 aluminium, incorporating (as the bike’s name suggests) clever welding technology. Its hydroformed top tube and down tube are rolled at their ends, before being welded inside a forged 120mm head tube. The idea is that the rolling of the tubes at this junction creates a stiffer front end, while retaining the lightest possible overall weight. The FACT carbon fork is the same as you’ll find on the firm’s high-end S-Works models. With a sharp head angle and a relatively short wheelbase, the numbers promise race-ready agility rather than a leisurely cruise.

Specialized Allez Comp Smartweld wheels

Although 2mm shorter between the wheels, this bike shares much of its geometry with Specialized’s more readily raced S-Works Tarmac, with identical head tube, chainstay and fork dimensions. Of all the similar bikes we've tested, the Specialized’s frame is the most visually pleasing – a sumptuous, brushed alloy finish with pin-sharp detailing and smooth welds all make this bike something to drool over. The question hanging over the alloy construction of this bike is whether the fork and seatpost are good enough to dampen some of the road buzz often more prevalent in metal frames than their carbon counterparts.

Components

Specialized has fitted an FSA Gossamer Pro compact chainset to the Allez. It gives away a bit of weight to an equivalent Shimano 105 set-up, but in our experience it has  proved to be durable over time, if a little workmanlike in its operation. Married to 11-speed 105 shifters, with its gear cables running externally below the down tube, barrel adjusters allow for easy adjustments on the go. An 11-28 105 cassette gives the Allez an identical gearing range to the Trek and Vitus bikes in this test.

Specialized Allez Comp Smartweld 105

Shimano 105 levers are married to an FSA Gossamer Pro chainset that adds a tough of weight but remains robust and reliable.

Above the top tube, all you see is Specialized’s own finishing kit, and some of it is spot-on. The Body Geometry Toupe Sport saddle is one of the most comfortable perches we’ve ever used (we know top-level racers who won’t use anything else). The Specialized stem and compact bars combine with the short head tube to create an aggressive riding position that some will love, but others may find uncomfortable on long days out. The overall impression is that the components are decent but could do with upgrading to match the frame.

Wheels

Specialized Allez Comp Smartweld fork

It's no wonder Specialized hasn't painted over its welds - they are as smooth and neat as you'll find on any alloy bike.

The Axis 2.0 wheelset is only available on Specialized bikes – you can’t buy them separately from a dealer – and they’d be one of the first things we would upgrade. Our set, with Specialized’s own Espoir Elite tyres, tipped the scales at 2.98kg, which is pretty hefty, although they give the impression of being highly durable. If the weight wasn’t already a sticking point, we also encountered some rub from the rear on the Axis rim brakes fitted to the Allez when lumbering up some steeper climbs. Performance of the brakes was more than satisfactory, however. Those Espoir tyres, although again not the lightest, proved puncture-proof throughout our testing, and offered surprising amounts of grip, especially on damp roads.

The ride

Specialized Allez Comp Smartweld review

Just 10 miles into a 50-mile test loop, it’s already obvious this frame is one of the stiffest, most purposeful bikes of its peers. It honestly feels as responsive as Specialized’s own Tarmac race model. Sharing its geometry with the Tarmac also creates a head down, bum up riding position, perfect for attacking corners, rather than rolling round them. Great if you’re a rapid rider; perhaps a little wearing for long days in the saddle. Vibrations from the road are isolated to a degree by the excellent carbon fork, but not eliminated totally when riding on the hoods. The stiff alloy stem might have something to do with that. The feeling of connection with the chainset that we experienced on the Trek’s 105 set-up isn’t there on the FSA unit, either. We could sit on that Toupe saddle all day, though.

Although the groupset is a little mix-and-match, the Allez Comp has all the makings of a reliable bike for year-round riding. The frame offers a sound basis for a great bike; with some sensible upgrades further down the line, this is certainly a bike that will grow with you. With its aggressive geometry it could even be the bike to start your race career, if you were thinking of taking the plunge next spring.

Frame - High quality alloy with a racer's geometry - 9/10

Components - Decent kit but not at the level of the frame - 7/10

Wheels - Robust but heavy - riped for an upgrade - 6/10

The ride - Nimble and sporty, it begs to be ridden fast - 8/10

Overall - 7.5/10

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 538mm 532mm
Seat Tube (ST) 480mm 475mm
Down Tube (DT) 622mm
Fork Length (FL) 368mm 370mm
Head Tube (HT) 120mm 120mm
Head Angle (HA) 73 72.2
Seat Angle (SA) 74 73.4
Wheelbase (WB) 972mm 973mm
BB drop (BB) 72mm 71mm

Spec

Specialized Allez Comp Smartweld
Frame E5 premium aluminium frame, Fact carbon fork
Groupset Shimano 105
Brakes Axis 2.0
Chainset FSA Gossamer Pro, 50/34
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-28
Bars Specialized alloy
Stem Specialized forged alloy
Seatpost Speciliazed sport alloy
Wheels Axis 2.0
Saddle Body Geomery Toupe sport
Weight 8.22kg
Contact specialized.com

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