Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bike Review - Specialized Allez Sport 2015

The very first Specialized bike I rode was a Allez Sport 2014 . This was before we started dealing with Specialized bikes at TBA. Till that time I used to believe  Aluminium is harsh. That ride changed my opinion. During the short  spin I had to recheck a couple of times that the frame material is not carbon! Two things stood out tall - the compliance with respect to road vibration and the acceleration ! That was the bike which got me excited about the brand. 

The specialized Allez Sport 2015

About 3 months later, we got our 2015 Allez Sport Demo bike. I got a chance to test it for a few training rides (a 3 hr zone 2 ride, hill repeats at whisper valley).The review was done on a 52cm demo bike of The Bike Affair. My ideal size on this would have been 54cm, but wasn't too bad for testing.

Geometry

The Allez Sport 2015 - the bike I test rode.

The Allez is Specialized's Aluminium series in the race geometry. A 52 cm bike has stack/reach ratio of 1.36 indicating a low and aggressive geometry for racing.It is surprising to have a race geometry frame with such a comfortable ride. The shape of the hydroformed tubes in the front triangle could be one of the factors contributing to the ride quality.
Specs
 
Wheels - The wheels are made up of 32 H double walled rims, which is excellent for training rides. They roll quite well and are solid. I hit a pothole pretty hard and the wheel was perfectly true. However when you are looking for an upgrade or go for a race, swapping to race wheels would be the biggest gains at a budget.

Groupset - The Allez Sport comes with Sora groupset. We felt that the same groupsets on the Allez shifted better and smoother than those on a few other brands of bicycles. The quality of cables, cable routing and usage of more complete groupsets probably contribute to this. The gear ratios with 50/34 chain ring and 12-27 cassette should be fine for an all round ride with decent hills.
Shifting is fast and crisp
Nice to see Shimano Sora crank instead of some no name crank that have
only 'Shimano' on it, which is  what we  mostly see paired up with Shimano Sora shifters.


Brakeset - Even on the steep downhill section  of the whisper valley ( In case you are not from Hyderabad, Whisper valley is a km long  hill  - the steepest in this part of the city ), I was always in control. The brake set did inspire confidence. Notice the clearance even with a 700x25c tire . Extra clearance will ensure your wheel won't get accidentally jammed when you ride through dirt and muck.

The Axis caliper brake inspired confidence, and we were quite happy about it.


The Ride 

Like the 2014 Allez, the bike handled bad surfaces exceptionally well. It felt super responsive and my legs immediately felt connected to the bike.  It had excellent acceleration and responded immediately to any attacks that may be needed in a race. The bike felt well balanced and was confidence inspiring when getting out of the saddle.

However, my legs seemed to be  little bit more loaded throughout. In contrast to bikes like the Bergamont Prime 6.4 which encourage more of a tempo ride, the Allez is very springy. But frequently I couldn’t continue the rhythm on a long climb or on a tempo ride.

This behaviour was confounding me. I was wondering whether it was just some crazy feeling, wrong size or is there a logical explanation to it? While I was reading more about the geometry, frame stiffness etc, I stumbled upon an article which mirrored my views. The simple explanation is that when the frames flex with our pedal forces, the flexing and rebounding of the frames could help smoothen out the dead spots and have an easier, faster ride (referred as planing). I still don't know the reason. Maybe the Allez frame is a little too stiff for me ;-). Hurts the ego a bit, but shows that there is scope for improvement for me.

By the way, it is interesting how different frame sizes alter the fundamental behaviours of bikes. I will be digressing if I step into that now, but be assured I will cover that soon in a separate blog.

Expensive Buy ?

At close to Rs 90,000 with a sora groupset, the bike might seem a bit costly if you were to compare bikes with similar group sets. However, look beyond the surface, and the picture is quite different. Specialized tends to invest  more time and energy into the frameset rather than just picking up a run of the mill frameset and installing  high end shifter and derailleurs ( which unfortunately is the trend). Unlike many other brands, specialized balances out the whole experience by providing decent brake sets, wheel sets and cranksets. 

The 700x25c Allez sport tire doesn't compromise on speed while providing puncture protection.

Have you ever lost a bar end plug on a ride? Not with the Allez.
 
Their commitment to the product also includes every small aspect - be it the saddles (Specialized Body Geometry Toupe Sport) , tyres(Specialized Espoir Sport 700*25c with double black belt puncture protection) , the bar end plugs or the small padded insert underneath the bar tape. The saddles/tyres are the most neglected and quality is outright ridiculous in many other brands.

So if you were to look at the complete bike( the frame set, wheels, tires, saddles, cranks  etc)  and the quality of all the components, it is excellent value for money.

Highly recommended!

Snapshot

What I liked
  • Excellent ride quality
  • Best in class vibration damping. Handles broken surface exceptionally well.
  • Attention to details like saddle, tires, bar end plugs.
  • 32 spoke bomb proof wheel. Comes with the peace of mind that it is really tough to get the wheel out of true.

What I wished for
  • Really nothing I can think of

The Verdict

Generally in India we get only endurance geometry bikes at the lower end. It is pleasing to see a good race geometry road bike being offered at the starting range (the Specialized Allez C2 2014 starts at Rs.62,680, Sport 2015 is Rs.89,900). Just as if to answer your next question ( which probably is "Are we ready for race bikes in Indian road conditions?") The frame smoothens out vibrations and you will experience much lesser road buzz. Combined with excellent pair of wheels, tyres and saddle, there is hardly anything that needs to be changed for your training rides that include bad sections. Thus it is an excellent choice for someone interested in racing, but still wants a comfortable bike over long distances.


Reviewed  by Gokul Krishna, Photographs by Dipanjan Chakravarti
Gokul has owned and ridden Cannondale CAAD 8, Orbea Aqua,  Merida Ride 100, Bergamont Prime 6.4 , Velocite Geos and Fuji Touring at different point of time.

7 comments:

  1. Where to get one of these in india, I need to buy a road bike and the contenders are giant defy 3, trek 1.2 and allez

    ReplyDelete
  2. Specialized bicycles are available through dealers in Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The very first Specialized bike I rode was a Allez Sport 2014 . ... sroadbikes.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have the same bike, but why is there a ditch on the seatstays behind the small chainring? I thought only my bike has that until i found your picture

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have the same bike, but why is there a ditch on the seatstays behind the small chainring? I thought only my bike has that until i found your picture

    ReplyDelete
  6. This blog has greatest deals about road bike and the details about bikes are great. i really appreciate for your great blog.


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  7. Hi I really appreciate your blog which is specially for the bike.
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