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(The Gear Loop) - When you think about performance road bikes, the mind typically races towards carbon fibre. Seeing as most of the professional peloton is perched atop thousands of pounds worth of the space-age stuff, it’s no wonder even casual riders are looking towards it for performance gains.

But for all of carbon’s positives, it has a few misgivings. The first is the fragility and its inherent lack of robustness, and the second is the price tag usually hung on those super-light, performance steeds. Oh, and it can also be rather harsh on the bum bum. 

The Gear LoopSpecialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc 2022 photo 2

The Allez has always been Specialized’s "entry level" aluminium road bike, lauded for its tough-as-old-boots nature and comfortable ride. However, the Sprint series sees all of those facets injected with a hefty dose of performance.

The previous model was largely based on the same frame layout as the marque’s aggressively aero Venge - albeit fashioned from aluminium. It rapidly became a hit with fixed-gear enthusiasts and Crit racers thanks to its ultra-sharp handling and bulletproof reliability. A bike for the masses? Probably not, but Spesh hopes it has changed that with its latest offering.

The Gear LoopSpecialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc 2022 photo 4

So here we have a new Allez Sprint, but now it has more in common with the impressively decorated Tarmac SL 7, boasts some extremely smart welds and comes complete with an impressive finishing kit with regards to the Comp version. Just how good is it? 

Our quick take

The Specialized Allez Sprint Comp isn't exactly cheap and many owners will likely be looking for better quality wheels and improved shifting at nearly £3,000. But then, a Specialized never has been bargain basement territory, and this frame is a fantastic option for those who like to ride fast, without sacraficing comfort. Proof that carbon isn't always king.

Specialized Allez Sprint Comp review: aero aluminium Allez nails it, but it doesn't come cheap

Specialized Allez Sprint Comp

4.0 stars
For
  • Tidy looks
  • Sharp handling
  • Clever welding
Against
  • Average wheelset
  • Heavier than carbon
  • It’s expensive

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In the Loop

Everything you need to know about the Specialized Allez Sprint Comp in short:

  • Groupset: Shimano 105
  • Brakes: Shimano 105 hydraulic disc
  • Wheels: DT Swiss R470 rim, 20mm internal width, tubeless ready
  • Turbo Pro tyres
  • Bars: Specialized Shallow Drop
  • Specialized Body Geometry Power Sport saddle
  • Weight: 8.8kg (56cm frame)
  • FACT 12r carbon front fork

Design and build

The first place to start with the latest Allez Sprint is the frame and seeing as it’s sold as a frame-only package, we feel most riders are going to get the most excited about the tubular metal bits.

Throwing the same shapes as the Tarmac SL7, Specialized has used what it calls D’Alusio Smartweld technology to get the same aerodynamic gains as the carbon sibling but in aluminium. In fact, the company says this is 41 seconds faster over 40km than the previous Allez Sprint Disc. But then, Specialized could manufacture a tea pot and it would be "faster than anything on earth".

The Gear LoopSpecialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc 2022 photo 16

If you look closely, you’ll notice the welds have now been moved away from high-stress areas - something that is only achievable thanks to Specialized’s proprietary tech. 

There’s a really obvious example just behind the head tube, where the weld has been moved back a few centimetres, so it now sits along the top tube. This admittedly looks a little odd but we’re quite into it. It’s gives the bike a bit of an industrial, manmade feel. Even though it clearly isn’t.

The Gear LoopSpecialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc 2022 photo 14

Our test bike came decked out in the Tarmac Black/Brushed Foil colourway and it’s fantastic. Understated but deeply stylish and with enough of the premium wow factor that has other cyclists nodding in appreciation.

Alas, the frame really is the star of the show here, because the remainder of the finishing kit is average. Shimano 105 is brilliant and very difficult to fault, but with so many riders opting for electronic shifting, it does feel quite basic nowadays. 

The Gear LoopSpecialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc 2022 photo 8

Specialized’s saddle is comfortable enough, but again, nothing to write home about. The aero seat post is a nice touch and the handlebars/cockpit area is comfortable. It's a lovely set-up, but nothing really shines.

Perhaps the easiest and most obvious upgrade here is the wheelset, which we found to let the side down a little. The DT Swiss wheels and Specialized’s own 700 x 26c tyres don’t really live up to the racy aspirations of the frame.

The Gear LoopSpecialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc 2022 photo 17

On the plus side, there’s room for tyres up to 700 x 32c, if you’re in the "more rubber is better" camp, and it wouldn’t require a huge spend to step up to some fantastic wheels, either. We've got a nice round-up of smart rim upgrades here.

Performance 

With its 52-36 tooth chainrings up front, and an 11-28 tooth cassette at the rear, the Allez Sprint Comp signifies its racy intentions. Avid climbers might want to swap out those cogs for something that gives more favourable ratios, but this is designed to be a fast bike.

The Gear LoopSpecialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc 2022 photo 6

Immediately, it felt lively and sprightly when we ventured out on one of our typical routes. Despite being marginally heavier than many carbon fibre bikes in the same price, that weight wasn’t really tangible.

We’ve ridden plenty of aluminium bikes that feel bloated and sluggish, particularly those with more of a gravel lean, but that’s just not the case here.

The Gear LoopSpecialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc 2022 photo 19

The aluminium frame is incredibly stiff, allowing for some fantastic power transfer, but it never felt uncomfortable. In fact, the only times we did sense vibrations and discomfort, we thought it could easily be ironed out with wider rubber and better wheels.

Our local routes are forgivingly flat and designed to be ridden fast. You only have look at some of the Strava KOMs around this way to realise there’s some serious speed and talent in the neighbourhood.

The Gear LoopSpecialized Allez Sprint Comp Disc 2022 photo 26

In our opinion, the Allez Sprint Comp thrives in such an environment. It’s clearly designed to go fast and it’s keen to be thrown in and out of corners. We thoroughly enjoyed blasting around narrow country lanes and keeping pace with folk on far more expensive carbon road bikes but didn't come away feeling completely battered. It's an enticing mix of facets.

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To recap

With the Tarmac SL7 serving as inspiration for this machine, it was never going to be a flop, but Specialized has created a rather smart and impressively robust aluminium road bike in the Allez Sprint Comp. Granted, there is some compromise on wheels and components, but we loved the way this bike looked, felt and handled when tackling our typical routes.

Writing by Leon Poultney.