Allez, allez! You can see why Specialized are such a dominant force in the cycling world when they produce bikes like this. Our seen-it-all-before mechanic George was impressed with just how well thought out the Allez is, and how well finished, too – inside and out. The quality here wouldn't shame a much dearer bike.
With its carbon fibre fork, the Allez could be seen as the Tarmac-junior; yes, carbon Tarmacs are lighter, but the geometry is virtually identical, with frame angles and head tube length the same, the Allez's front end a tiny 3mm shorter. The seatstays are dead straight, there's no extended headtube and no mudguard eyelets, so it may not be the best choice for sportive rides or commuting. What it does have, though, issuperb race bike handling.
The carbon fork and padded gel bar tape keep road buzz under control without separating you from the road, and Specialized's new oversize Tarmac alloy bar is stiff and efficient, combining with the stem and fork for fast, precise handling. The fork and bar are the same as on dearer Allez bikes, and a real treat on a bike at this price.
Rapid direction changes are a doddle and acceleration's not bad, though for such a racy bike the top gear provided by the 50/34-tooth chainset and 13-26t cassette is a little lower than we'd have liked, a 12-25t cassette being a more natural pairing for the compact. The standard 27.2mm diameter seatpost is more forgiving than larger diameter designs.
The Tektro brakes are typical of a £600 bike, but these come with metal cartridges which are superior to the solid rubber blocks of most of the Specialized's competitors. The wheels do the job without raising the pulse, combining stainless spokes with Alex 480 rims. The tyres are a cut above the norm, though: Specialized's own Espoir Sport rubber, the same as on the £900 Allez Elite. These offer great grip in wet and dry conditions and are a top choice for year-round riding.
Though we'd appreciate a higher top gear, it's hard to fault the Allez's ride. Comfortable contact points, great handling, a smooth, fast ride no matter what the road surface is like – all on a bike with ideal handling and perfect geometry for the aspiring roadie.
Hat Tip To: BikeRadar.com Road Bikes & Gear