The 2022 Specialized Allez Sprint Disc is a very fast aluminium road bike that handles brilliantly. The frame is stiff enough to cope with sprints, but it won’t beat you up on a long ride. The hefty weight and high price might put some people off, though.
The original Allez Sprint was designed as a bike for racing the short and twisty courses of the town centre criterium. The geometry made the original very nimble and an absolute blast to ride, but the handling could, for some, be a little nervous. The ride on this new version has been tamed just a little, with geometry identical to that of the Tarmac SL7, and this translates to a bike that is perfectly suited to faster road rides.
Taking the bike out on one such ride highlighted just how good this aluminium racer is. While it isn’t as speedy as a lighter carbon machine up the steeper hills, pretty much everywhere else saw the Allez Sprint easily keeping pace with carbon bikes. The fact is: this bike isn’t going to be slowing you down.
The name is a pretty good indication of what the bike is best at. Get yourself mixed up in a flat-out race for bragging rights at a town sign and the Allez Sprint rewards you with a very stiff platform to lay down all of your power.
It also feels very planted at speed, which goes a long way towards inspiring confidence.
The stiffness of the frame isn’t just good for top-end sprints. It also helps to make the bike feel a fair bit lighter than the 8.7kg weight would suggest. Getting the bike back up to speed when exiting a slow corner is okay, but I feel that the new model is losing something to the version that Stu reviewed back in 2019. A lighter wheelset would certainly help here, but we’ll get to the components later.
Climbing the steeper stuff isn’t where the Allez Sprint shines, though I’d suggest that the build has a lot to do with the underwhelming feel when going uphill. Build the bike from the frameset up with some decent parts and I think it’d fly.
What Specialized has absolutely nailed, in my opinion, is the handling. Giving the Allez Sprint the geometry of the Tarmac SL7 means you’ve got a bike that is designed for handling well in road races. So tip this into a fast corner and the bike tracks effortlessly, allowing you to build your confidence as you push for apex after apex.
Despite the frame’s ability to handle your power, comfort hasn’t been lost. There is, to me, a difference between this and my slightly more comfortable SL7, but I emphasise slightly. The bike comes with 26mm clincher tyres too, so there is plenty of room to make things more comfortable if you wish with a set of wider tubeless tyres.
Frame and fork
Specialized deserves a very large tip of the hat is when it comes to the aluminium frame. Aluminium isn’t the most exotic of materials when it comes to frame design, but there’s no arguing that it’s the most cost-effective way of constructing a bike, hence, it also makes aluminium bikes some of the most affordable. To see a big brand pushing this material into some very clever tube shapes is brilliant to see.
As with the previous model, Specialized has again used its D’Alusio Smart Weld technology and you can see this in the weld points that are shifted away from the traditional tube junctions. Specialized says this allows it to make the tubes lighter and stronger.
According to Specialized the head tube has been cut from a single piece of alloy and then mechanically formed to create a more aero head tube shape with consistent tube wall thickness.
Then there’s the one-piece bottom bracket and down tube, which has been hydroformed from a single piece of alloy.
While that’s all very clever, the weld lines are a bit noticeable, which is disappointing on a £2,650 bike. This is well into entry-level carbon bikes territory, where it’s up against the likes of Canyon’s Ultimate CF SL7 Disc – a far cheaper option, in fact, at £2,099. The higher price alone would make it a hard sell to most people, never mind the messy looking welding compared with the smoother lines of carbon.
What the Allez Sprint does boast is fully hidden cable routing which can, with a decent routing job, create a very clean-looking bike. Specialized has also been sensible and given it a threaded bottom bracket rather than press-fit, for easier servicing and, hopefully, a quieter life.
The fork here is simple. You get the same Specialized Fact 12r carbon model as you’ll find on the Tarmac SL7. It’s stiff and handles braking forces easily.
Another bit of the frameset to be dug out of the Tarmac SL7’s parts drawer is the seatpost. It is carbon, has a flat back aero shape, and can house a Shimano Di2 battery with the Junction A box tucked up inside. It is a seatpost that works well on the SL7, and it works well here, too.
While the aero aluminium tubes might be stealing a lot of the headlines, in my opinion one of the best changes that Specialized has made to the Allez Sprint comes in the geometry.
It’s made this bike into an aluminium version of the Tarmac SL7 and the handling has gone from pure criterium racer, with a super-twitchy ride, to a slightly more stable road racer. I think it is a change that will suit a larger proportion of riders than the old bike.
In terms of numbers, I’ll pretend that I’ve got a size 56cm on test so that we can compare it to the bike that Stu reviewed in 2019. That came with a stack of 554mm and a reach of 395mm, whereas the new bike gets a bit taller and longer with a stack of 558mm and a reach of 398mm.
Shimano’s 105 R7020 groupset is a very welcome sight and it performs brilliantly, with dependable mechanical shifting alongside hydraulic disc brakes that offer tons of control in all weathers.
We’ve reviewed it so many times before, so I won’t go into detail, but I will mention that the groupset is about due for an upgrade, though who knows when that will materialise.
One change from the previous model comes at the chainset. Gone is the Praxis Works Zayante and in comes the Shimano 105 R7000 model to match the rest of the groupset.
The gearing provides a pleasing balance between flatland speed and enough spin to get you up the hills, with 52/36-tooth chainrings and an 11-28T cassette.
Wheels and tyres
The first place I’d look at spending a bit of money is the wheelset. DT Swiss’s R470 wheels are actually quite good – they’re tubeless ready and have a decently wide 21mm internal rim width – but this bike is crying out for deeper carbon wheels, which I would pair with 28mm lightweight tubeless tyres.
While the wheels are tubeless ready and will serve you well for general riding, the tyres are the Specialized Turbo Pro. This is a tube-type clincher tyre, but even though it’s missing the bead hook to allow you to ditch the inner tubes, I do like it as a fast road tyre.
The 60tpi (threads per inch) casing does mean that it isn’t as supple as a higher-end tyre, but the rubber compound is one that I really like; it offers very good levels of grip in mixed conditions.
On the R470 rims, the 26mm road tyres – likely chosen to help the bike to feel fast – sit out at 27.4mm, but I’d still be looking to swap these out for a wider tubeless model.
Most of the finishing kit is Specialized’s own aluminium stuff and it’s decent but basic, though I did find the Power Sport saddle to be a particular highlight.
The bar is the Specialized Shallow Drop. With a reach of 70mm and a drop of 125mm, it is quite a compact bar that will allow for comfortable changes in hand position.
The bar is wrapped in Supacaz Super Sticky Kush tape which gives you excellent grip, even with sweaty hands, but I would be quick to put something a bit thicker on. Prime’s Comfort tape, which I tested last year, would be a good option.
If you’re looking at the groupset, wheels and finishing kit and getting a spot of deja vu, you’re forgiven. The latest Allez Sprint is dressed up in the same kit as the old model. It is a solid component package, but I was hoping for a little more for the money.
The 2022 Allez Sprint comes with a 39 per cent price hike over the 2019 model; bearing in mind the spec sheet is remarkably similar, even with prices of components rising that’s still a big increase for the frameset.
> Buyer’s Guide: 14 of the best aluminium road bikes
It is quite tricky to make alloy conform to these shapes, though, so some of that can be forgiven, and you’re also paying for the fact that everything, from raw materials to shipping, has become more expensive.
But then, Trek’s Emonda ALR 5 Disc comes with a very similar spec and costs £2,200 (Mat tested a previous version in 2019), while Cannondale’s CAAD13 Disc is £2,300 (another one Mat tested in 2019). Those are two incredibly good aluminium options which are both significantly cheaper than the Allez Sprint.
> Buyer’s Guide: 18 of the best £2,000 to £3,000 road bikes
And as I said earlier, at £2,650 you’re also into the territory of some very good carbon bikes. The Canyon Ultimate CF SL 7 Disc is £2,099 and even comes with Canyon’s CP0030 one-piece carbon bar/stem and 28mm Continental GP 5000 tyres.
The Allez Sprint is a fantastic bike to ride, with excellent handling and plenty of stiffness. It easily matches the Tarmac SL7 on fast group rides, but the weight does mean it suffers a little on the climbs, and at this price there are brilliant carbon bikes to tempt you, as well as cheaper aluminium options.
Fast race bike with excellent handing – the price is high, but so is the performance…
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Make and model: Specialized Allez Sprint Comp
List the components used to build up the bike.
Rear Brake – Shimano 105, Hydraulic disc
Front Brake – Shimano 105, Hydraulic disc
Rear Tire – Turbo Pro, 60 TPI, folding bead, BlackBelt protection, 700x26mm
Rear Wheel – DT Swiss R470 rim, 20mm internal width, tubeless-ready, 24h, Specialized full sealed bearing thru-axle hub, centerlock disc, alloy freehub body, DT Swiss Champion 14G stainless steel spokes, DT Swiss brass nipples.
Front Wheel – DT Swiss R470 rim, 20mm internal width, tubeless-ready, 24h, Specialized full sealed bearing thru-axle hub, centerlock disc, DT Swiss Champion 14G stainless steel spokes, DT Swiss brass nipples.
Inner Tubes – Presta, 40mm valve
Front Tire – Turbo Pro, 60 TPI, folding bead, BlackBelt protection, 700x26mm
Chain – KMC X11 Extra Lightweight, 11-speed
Chainrings – 52/36T
Crankset – Shimano 105 R7000, HollowTech 2, 11-speed
Bottom Bracket – Shimano Threaded BSA BB
Rear Derailleur – Shimano 105 R7000 GS, medium cage, 11-speed
Shift Levers – Shimano 105 R7020, hydraulic disc
Front Derailleur – Shimano 105 R7000, braze-on
Cassette – Shimano 105, 11-speed, 11-28t
Frame – Specialized E5 Premium Aluminum Disc frame with D’Aluisio Smartweld Sprint Technology, hydroformed aluminium tubing, tapered head tube, fully internally routed cables, threaded BB
Handlebars – Specialized Shallow Drop, 6061, 70x125mm, 31.8mm clamp
Saddle – Body Geometry Power Sport, steel rails
Tape – Supacaz Super Sticky Kush
Seat Post – 2021 S-Works Tarmac Carbon seat post, FACT Carbon, Di2 Compatible, 20mm offset
Stem – Specialized, 3D-forged alloy, 4-bolt, 7-degree rise
Fork – FACT Carbon, 12x100mm thru-axle, flat-mount disc
Tell us what the bike is for and who it’s aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
From Specialized: “We tore the Tarmac apart, and rebuilt it from alloy with our Smartweld technology. We leveraged every innovation and insight learned during its development to create the all-new Allez Sprint. Whether chasing a National title or attacking your buddies 15 minutes into an ‘easy’ Sunday spin, we won’t be offended if you mistake the Allez for a Tarmac SL7. Some may call it a carbon copy, we call it the World’s First Alloy Super Bike.”
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
You can buy it as a frameset for £1,599, but this is the only full bike in the range.
Overall rating for frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Specialized deserves some applause for creating the tube shapes. They really are very good for aluminium. The fork and seatpost come straight from the latest Tarmac and they’re brilliant, but the messy looking welding is disappointing.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Specialized E5 Premium Aluminum.
Fact 12r carbon for the fork.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Essentially a copy and paste job from the Tarmac SL7. It creates a brilliant road race bike.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Just a little bit longer and taller than the old model. It is certainly an aggressive race bike, so if you’re eyeing it having come from an endurance machine, it might not be for you.
But if you ride a modern race bike and you’re faster a fast aluminium training/winter bike, you’ll be happy.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
For an aluminium bike it was comfortable, and I think you could add in even more comfort with better and wider tyres – tubeless – and a plusher tape.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
There’s no hint of flex here.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
A very stiff bike for sprinting and big efforts. You won’t feel like the frame is letting you down.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Lively.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It tracks through high-speed corners so beautifully that you just want to push more and more.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike’s comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The saddle is ideally suited to the bike, with a supportive shape for riding positions that are low at the front.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike’s efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels would be the first thing I’d change. Get some deep carbon wheels on the bike as soon as you can.
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Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
A solid tubeless-ready design that will serve you well for years, but for this bike I’d want something lighter and deeper.
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Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
Annoyingly not tubeless-ready, but the tyres provide plenty of grip in mixed conditions. The thread count is a little low, so you could make the ride softer with a more supple tyre.
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Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The bar and stem are basic aluminium parts, but the saddle is really good. The Shimano 105 R7020 shifters are quite large, but that is great for comfort.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
The bike is crying out for some deep-section carbon wheels. The DT Swiss R470 wheels are good and dependable, but the bike will come to life with better wheels.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? As a fast winter/training bike, yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It is high for aluminium. This is a good few hundred quid more than the Cannondale and Trek offerings.
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Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a fast bike that handles brilliantly and boasts a solid spec sheet; the price is high, and it’d be hard to convince someone to buy this over an entry-level carbon bike, but the performance is so good that I still think it deserves an 8.
I usually ride: Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 My best bike is:
I’ve been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!