Saturday, August 15, 2009

Specialized Allez Review...

The Specialized...

I have a number of different road bikes, but the Specialized Allez here is probably the most unique bike in my stable. Why? Well, the frame material is similar to my other 'main' bike - a De Rosa Planet - Alu main triangle plus cf fork and rear stays, but the similarities end there. The Allez is very much a criterium machine, IMHO, being a very compact frameset (it is extremely compact in the 54 sloping size pictured here), and set-up with a full Shimano Ultegra Grey group, Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels, FSA bars, and Thomson seatpost and stem. Essentially a no nonsense racing frame (preferably for shorter, nervous races - I suspect that the previous owner used it as a criterium machine).

Yes, previous owner. This bike was purchased through ebay as an occasional use bike that I keep in the US (I regularly vacation in the US, but rarely more than 2-3 weeks a year in total). So I was not really looking for the latest and greatest, but rather a solid dependable bike that would give me little trouble. And indeed it satisfies my needs and more.

The business end...

I was a bit nervous when I unpacked the bike - I suspected that the position would be rather less forgiving than my De Rosa and the stout alu frame (especially the aero downtube) would give an effective but bone-jarring ride. Especially coming from the De Rosa, which is built with U2 tubing... about as noodly as it gets! Well, I was mistaken. This bike, with Elite wheels (as opposed to the 32 spoke handbuilts I usually ride at home), is quite comfortable. While I cannot say that I have ridden extreme distances, it is good for rides up to 80~100 kilometers (or at least, that is the most I have ridden it) without any serious aches and pains. I am not certain whether this has anything to do with the 'zertz' inserts that Specialized marketing types hype up, but I have no complaints comfort-wise.

Columbus Squadre Corse... a little bit of Italy!

This does not limit the power transfer of the frame - it is quite rigid and I have felt no power (not that I have much power!) loss while attempting to power-sprint up the short rolling hills that I ride in South Carolina. And the bike feels even more composed on the flat, where it is simply a joy to pedal hard, reach and maintain quite high 'cruising' speeds in the high 30s to low 40s (kph) with little effort (this is all relatively speaking, of course!).

Now about the groupset. As a proud Italian I am a Campagnolo man through and through. And must admit that I find the Shimano 105 group that came with my Kona to be inadequate the more I ride it... the shifts are clunky, the groupset is heavy and does not stay well regulated (maybe it's me, but this is not a problem with my Campagnolo groups) and... well, the aesthetics are nothing to write home about either.

The Ultegra drivetrain... where all the magical 'go fast' power transfer happens!

So... I was taken aback by how well the Ultegra group on this bike functions. It works the way a high quality group should - effortless shifting, no trouble making it work right, easy to maintain. Really nothing negative to say, beyond the fact that the STIs are huge, but then again, that is coming from a Campagnolo man, and it is the design characteristic of the entire Shimano line. And I do find them quite comfortable (apparently I am one of the few people who have no trouble riding either STIs or Ergopowers, both in terms of comfort and functionality). So, kudos, nothing negative to report on the group front.

The rest of the component set is also without fault. The FSA bars work fine, the massive Thomson stem and very elegant seatpost are excellent, and the Elite wheels have stayed true and spin well. The only complaint I have is the aftermarket Scott seat. I am sure it fits some people well, but any ride over one hour becomes torture. It will be replaced on my next visit with a Fizik Arione to protect my delicate posterior.

So, to sum it all up, if you have not already abandoned reading this post out of boredom: this is a great budget road bike, which will definitely not hold you back at all should you choose to race on it. A fantastic machine that you will enjoy riding many thousands of kilometers, should you so choose. Just remember to get a seat that you can live with!

She's actually quite striking, isn't she?

P.S. Apologies for the pictures - two days of training in the rain will do this... but I preferred to show you what it looks like 'in reality' as opposed to pictures taken following a 'showroom' cleaning session!


  1. I believe that is an S-Works... Tarmac. I'm not sure if their were S-works Allez. The Columbus frames were made special for Specialized. The Aluminum is very high end and customized for the S-works series.
    Awesome racing machines, not run of the mill production bike.

  2. Thank you sir (or madam!). I stand corrected! I will try to do some more research on this and confirm your theory!