Regular RCUK readers will be aware of our high regard for a well-made aluminium frame and our refusal to accept the orthodoxy that all carbon frames are superior. Specialized’s jaw-dropping S-Works Allez may be ushered in as case-closing evidence.
Not only is its polished aluminium chassis astonishingly beautiful, but it carries its fair share of technology, too. The D’Aluisio SmartWeld is its trump card: evidence, in the filleted and smoothed welds that unite top and downtube with the headtube, that it’s possible to advance the construction of a material seemingly discarded by the industry as one from which performance road bikes might be produced.
Unveiled last year as the first Allez frame to feature in Specialized’s top-tier S-Works line-up for a decade, for MY2015 it’s offered as a complete bike in Di2-only trim, but two frameset options mean a mechanical transmission is a possibility, too (£1,500 gets you the SmartWeld-ed aluminium frame and full carbon S-Works FACT fork). Naturally, it was the complete bike that awaited us at Specialized’s UK headquarters, rather than a bespoke build assembled by any of the numerous bike fanciers who work there, and is the model pictured. It’s dressed in a full helping of Shimano’s flagship 9070 Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, with the exception of Specialized’s own S-Works carbon crank and CNC-machined rings, in a ‘semi-compact’ 52-36 ratio.
The finishing kit is Specialized too, including the radical S-Works Aerofly handlebar with its distinctive flattened ‘tops’. It rolls on Specialized’s Roval Rapide CLX40 wheelset, replete with toroidal rim profile and carbon-bodied hubs revolving on Ceramic Speed bearings, and shod with Specialized’s flagship S-Works Turbo tyres in what promises to be a luxuriously supple 220tpi.
The S-Works Allez contains more than its share of contemporary touches, including an oversized downtube, tapered headtube (1-1/38″ to 1-1/8″) and pressfit bottom bracket (Specialized’s OSBB system, not wildly dissimilar to BB30). The manufacturer is claiming 1050g for the frame, so far from heavy, despite failing to trouble super lightweight carbon chassis like those from AX Lightness. This is not a machine likely to be selected solely on the basis of weight, however. The distinctive ride quality of aluminium is likely to exert a greater influence, along with the chance to own something slightly outside the mainstream and truly beautiful. Yours for £7,500.