Specialized Allez Sprint
The aluminum Allez is our privateer pick — and not the pro choice — only because of the price. The truth is that the Specialized-sponsored pros on the elite domestic teams of Astellas and Elbowz are racing it this season.
Closer to home, VeloNews news director Spencer Powlison credits the bike’s remarkable agility with helping him avoid a scary crash when a rider went down right in front of him during a local category 3 criterium.
So, yes, the Allez Sprint’s handling is spot on, as would be expected of a stiff frame with a 73-degree head tube angle mated to a 58-millimeter trail figure. Specialized’s designers enhanced this with a geometry that helps the rider weight the front end, with a steep 74-degree seat tube angle and a stack height that is a full centimeter lower than even the race-oriented Tarmac’s. For those with proportionately short legs, the seat tube angle will be an added bonus, as it positions the rider over the bottom bracket.
Best of all, the frame construction is up to the task. The Allez’s front end deflected only 0.37 millimeters in our test. By comparison, the stiffest bike in our 2016 Buyer’s Guide, the Felt F2, deflected 0.38 millimeters. That means the Allez has the stiffest head tube we’ve tested this year.
But as responsive as things may be up front, this aluminum frame (it boasts an S-Works carbon fork) shines even more brightly under power. According to Specialized, the bottom bracket (0.2-millimeters deflection in our lab testing) is 30 percent stiffer than the old Allez and on par with the carbon Tarmac. In our testing, the Tarmac measured 0.3 millimeters of deflection. So Specialized may actually be understating things here.
So the comfort thing: Yes, aluminum has a reputation for harshness and, yes, the Allez transmits more road vibration than a good carbon bike. But it is in no way uncomfortable. In fact, we have to say the Allez is a good reminder of just how much more alive a good metal frame feels than even a high-end carbon one. There’s just a more direct connection to the road.
Of course, wheels are hugely important in terms of road feel. We raced the Allez with Roval Carbon CLX60 wheels, which were snappy but harsh. Swapping them out for straightforward alloy rims and 25-centimeter tires at 80psi, we were able to tackle even dirt roads.
Currently, the Allez is only available as a 1,150-gram frameset (including the S-Works fork, carbon aero seatpost, and headset). Complete bikes will be available in model year 2017.