The 2022 Allez Sprint is Specialized’s latest high-performance aluminium road bike.
While Specialized took inspiration from the original Venge aero bike for the previous Allez Sprint, this latest iteration has more in common with the Tarmac SL7, Specialized’s current all-rounder road bike.
In fact, it has identical geometry to the Tarmac and its aerodynamic tube shapes are borrowed directly from the WorldTour-level carbon bike. (You can read BikeRadar’s news story on the 2022 Specialized Allez Sprint for full details).
Can it compete with its more expensive sibling in the real world? While I’ve only spent a limited amount of time riding this bike so far (look out for a full review in due course), my initial impressions suggest it can.
It’s carrying a little extra weight versus the carbon Tarmac, and the average wheels and tyres don’t do the frameset justice, but this is one of the best aluminium bikes I’ve ever ridden.
Specialized Allez Sprint Comp – what I like
Out on the road, the new Allez Sprint feels remarkably similar to a good carbon road bike. If you blindfolded me, I’m not sure I could tell you the bike was aluminium rather than carbon.
Comparing it to a carbon bike might seem a bit silly – that’s obviously not the point of this frame – but, like good carbon bikes, the Allez Sprint manages to blend stiffness under pedalling with a ride that’s still comfortable, and that’s impressive.
It handles really well, too. The relatively steep seat and head-tube angles, the tight wheelbase and the racy fit all make the bike feel fast and exciting, but it still gives you the confidence to rail corners.
In terms of build, we have the £2,650 / $3,000 / €3,500 / AU$4,200 Allez Sprint Comp, with a Shimano 105 R7020 groupset and basic alloy wheels. This is the only complete build available in the UK at the time of launch.
If it’s not to your taste, the Allez Sprint is also available as a frameset, which costs £1,599 / $1,700 / €1,500 / AU$2,400.
A more expensive LTD build, with SRAM Force eTap AXS (in a 1x configuration) and Roval Rapide CL carbon wheels, is also available in the USA, Europe, Pacific, Taiwan and Japan.
I can’t really speak highly enough of this current generation of Shimano 105. Ultegra used to be the budget racer’s choice, but the performance of the R7020 groupset is just so good, it’s hard to justify spending more for something that isn’t going to make you any faster.
You get 52-36 tooth chainrings up front, with an 11-28 tooth cassette out back. That’s fairly aggressive gearing these days, but on a bike with racy aspirations like this, it makes sense.
The bike is specced with a medium-cage rear derailleur, though, so you could swap in a larger cassette if you wanted to.
The Specialized finishing kit is all good-quality aluminium stuff, and the Specialized Power saddle is still a firm favourite here at BikeRadar.
If you want to change the stem or handlebar to optimise your fit, that would also be very simple because the front end uses standard, non-integrated parts (with the exception of the headset, headset cover and compression plug, which manage the cable routing).
On the subject of cable routing, it’s clean if not quite Tarmac clean, mainly because the Allez Sprint doesn’t use the more expensive cable-tidying stem found on the Tarmac.
The relatively wide cable paths play nicely with mechanical gear cables, though, and I haven’t noticed any deterioration in shifting quality so far.
Upping the tyre clearance to accommodate tyres up to 700 x 32c (on rims with a 21mm internal width) is a smart decision that massively improves the versatility of a bike such as this.
Specialized Allez Sprint Comp – what I don’t like
If there’s a low point of this build, it’s the wheels and tyres.
The wheelset is made up of a set of DT Swiss R470 rims built around basic Specialized hubs, with Specialized Turbo Pro clincher tyres, in a 700 x 26c size.
Both are absolutely fine, but – like lots of bikes at this price point – this frameset is dying for something faster.
With our size 56cm test bike weighing 8.8kg, it’s also fairly heavy.
It doesn’t feel at all sluggish when you’re riding it, though, and that’s actually a little lighter than the Cannondale CAAD13 Disc 105 we tested last year. However, there are also plenty of road bikes at this price point that weigh less, if that concerns you.
Subjectively, I would have loved Specialized to have gone with an anodized silver colour scheme, like the 2015 S-Works Allez. I think that finish really celebrated the fact that the frame was aluminium, rather than hiding it away under paint.
There are two paintjob options for this build and six for the frameset, though, so I’ve no doubt most will be able to find something they like.
While the Allez Sprint is undoubtedly far cheaper than a Tarmac SL7 (the cheapest Tarmac SL7 build costs £5,000), it’s still not a cheap bike, and the competition to be the best road bike under £3,000 is fierce.
Its closest competitor on paper, the Cannondale CAAD13 Disc 105, costs £350 less, for example.
Looking at carbon bikes, the £2,700 Boardman SLR 9.4 AXS Disc Carbon (our 2021 Road Bike of the Year), squeezes in a carbon frameset, a SRAM Rival eTap AXS wireless groupset, an impressive set of wheels, and weighs around 700g less.
Alternatively, an equivalently specced Canyon Ultimate CF SL 7 Disc, for example, costs £551 less (£2,149), is claimed to weigh around 600g less, and comes with top-of-the-range Continental GP5000 tyres.
Of course, the Allez Sprint frameset uses innovative construction methods, which arguably make it stand apart from other bikes at this price point.
Value is also relative and perception makes a big difference – aluminium is often perceived as a budget material, but this bike presents the argument that it doesn’t have to be.
Its price therefore reflects that ambition, as well as the research, development and manufacturing processes, that have contributed to it achieving what it does.
It’s also true that bike prices have generally increased across the industry in recent years, for a variety of reasons, so the Allez Sprint isn’t alone in that regard.
At a basic level, the 2022 Allez Sprint proves aluminium can still cut it as a frame material for race bikes.
To misquote Keith Bontrager: Aero. Light. Cheap. Pick two. With the Allez Sprint, you’re getting aero and cheap (relative to a Tarmac SL7).
At this price point, good carbon road bike options are plentiful. But, if you think all road bikes look the same and want something that stands out from the crowd, the Allez Sprint undoubtedly has something different about it.
It’s never going to trouble the UCI weight limit, but swapping in some better wheels and fast tyres could likely make it the Tarmac SL7-lite it clearly aspires to be.
And I’m really looking forward to doing just that, so look out for a full review in the future.