Specialized Allez Sport

Specialized Allez Sport
Price: £749.99
Test log: Three months of pre-season training in the Essex countryside

Specialized’s Allez Sport sits second in the company’s road range and features a compact aluminium frame bedecked with Shimano’s nine speed Tiagra groupset, carbon forks and, surprisingly at this price, a carbon seat pin.

The frame deserves some attention: it is made of Specialized’s in-house A1 double-butted aluminium and is light, stiff, predictable and comfortable. The tubes are nearly all ovalised along one or more axes to make the frame stiff where it needs to be, notably around the bottom bracket, for eyes-out sprinting. There are some other nice touches too; like the curved chainstays, so you don’t wear the paint away with your heels.

The bits that are attached to the frame (forks, stem, seatpin etc.) are all own brand equipment but would hold their own as aftermarket products. The stem is particularly neat, the steerer tube of the fork is sheathed by an ovalised spacer that sits inside the stem; by twisting the spacer through 180 degrees, you can change the angle of the stem. Added to the fact that you can obviously flip the stem over, it means that you have four possible stem angles at your disposal – a good thing for a new rider just getting to grips with road bike geometry.

The handlebars are again Specialized’s own brand and use the new 31.8mm oversized centre bulge. Call us weaklings (we are) but we’d never really noticed any undue flex in our old standard diameter handlebars so we were unsurprised to find the Specialized’s felt no better or worse than what we’re used to. The shape of the bars is anatomic – they have an angled flat section on the drop of the bar – which some riders (including Mario Cippolini, a Specialized rider for the last few seasons) dislike.

Unfortunately, round-drop bars are becoming increasingly hard to find as manufacturers have shifted the bulk of production over to their new anatomic designs instead. Another point on the Specialized’s bars was that they were very long, putting the brake levers a good two to three centimetres beyond where we would have expected to find them. We got used to it but it is worth taking into consideration if you’re thinking of buying the bike. As always, it’s good to try before you buy and buy from a good dealer who will be happy to change the stem to shorter model if required.

Specialized have been heavily marketing their new bar ‘phat’ griptape recently and the Allez Sport came equipped with the new wonder product. Maybe we’re just lucky but we only suffer from numb hands when it’s cold. If you suffer from hand numbness caused by vibration it’s probably worth having a go with the Bar Phat, but as couple of people commented, it does feel a bit like you’ve just put two layers of tape on your bars.

The Shimano Tiagra groupset performed flawlessly throughout our three-month test, the nine speed drivetrain providing a good spread of gears for every situation. It’s worth noting that while we tested the double chainset model, Specialized also make a triple chainset version for those living in hillier environs. The Tiagra dual pivot brakes worked excellently, actually exceeding the performance of the costlier Shimano dual pivots we normally ride.

Now to the wheels: with 28 radial black spokes on the front and 32 at the back, they sure look the part. Unfortunately, their performance didn’t quite match expectations. After four hours of riding half a dozen spokes in the front wheel had lost nearly all their tension. Fortunately we always prepare for the worst and we had a spoke key handy. The problem was temporarily resolved at the side of the road and we gave the wheel a proper seeing-to once back home. Within a further four or five hours of riding however, the problem had returned and by now the back wheel had decided to join in the fun. Further re-tensioning ensued and the wheels rode well for a couple of weeks before we looked at them again.

There is nothing wrong with the components used to build these wheels – they’re all quality parts from reputable manufacturers. The problems came about because the wheels were poorly built. If we were considering buying this bike we would get the shop’s wheel builder to make sure these wheels were properly tensioned before we left the shop. It’s a five-minute job that would have prevented our little problem from arising in the first instance.

It’s a mystery why manufacturers insist on putting radially spoked front wheels on mid-range bikes. At this price range, customers want performance but above all they demand reliability. Radially spoked front wheels provide neither improved performance nor reliability; the only advantage we can see is that they look the business in brochures.

The tyres on the Allez Sport were Specialized’s own brand Mondo Sports. Specialized tyres have a very good reputation amongst roadies and with good reason: after two and a half months of riding we hadn’t had any punctures at all. Towards the end of December the tyres began to puncture more often, mostly because their grippy compound picked up flints on the wet roads. Still, two and a half months of puncture free riding is good by our standards and when the tyres did eventually puncture, they were easy to get on and off, even with cold hands.


The Allez Sport is a great buy; for an entry level bike it has everything you need including some luxuries usually reserved for far more expensive bikes. The frame is light and stiff and would be equally at home in Premier Calendar road races, as it would be on relaxed café runs or fast commutes. For the more experienced rider, it makes you question why exactly you have been hankering after that Colnago with Dura Ace for so long, when actually, a bike costing £750 can provide such good performance.


VALUE: 4/5

OVERALL: 4.5/5

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