The 2022 Allez Sprint is Specialized’s latest high-performance aluminium road bike.
While with the previous Allez Sprint Specialized looked to the original Venge aero bike for inspiration, this latest iteration has more in common with the Tarmac SL7, Specialized’s current all-rounder road bike.
With identical geometry to the Tarmac and aerodynamic tube shapes borrowed directly from the WorldTour-level carbon bike, can the Allez Sprint compete with its more expensive sibling in the real world? In many ways, yes it can.
It’s carrying some extra weight versus its carbon sibling, and the mediocre wheels and tyres specced on this build don’t get the most out of the frameset, but the 2022 Allez Sprint is undoubtedly one of the best aluminium road bikes available today.
Allez allez allez
As is often the case, Specialized launched the 2022 Allez Sprint with some bold claims.
Chief among those is the claim that this latest version is “41 seconds faster over 40km than the previous Allez Sprint Disc”.
This is said to be a result of the improved aerodynamic optimisation of the frame tubes, the shapes of which have been copied over (as far as hydroforming and welding allows) from the Tarmac SL7.
Beyond numbers on a spreadsheet, however, Specialized also contends the new Allez Sprint can rival carbon bikes for important characteristics such as stiffness, weight and ride quality.
As with previous versions, the latest Allez Sprint is constructed using Specialized’s D’Alusio Smartweld technology. Specialized claims this allows for stronger and lighter aluminium bike frames.
The welding area can be placed away from stress points (the junctions between tubes), making for more fatigue-resistant frames that are also easier to weld, too.
This is most obvious on the Allez Sprint’s down tube, where the weld has been moved away from the head tube / down tube junction, and instead sits a few centimetres further down the down tube.
Performance benefits aside, much has been said about the attractiveness (or lack thereof) of those welds.
Moving the weld area away from the head tube undoubtedly makes more of a feature of it, and, to be frank, it is a bit jarring in appearance.
However, those also cost £3,025 / £3,999 for the framsets alone, so there’s a large element of ‘you get what you pay for’ here.
An industrial, utilitarian aesthetic isn’t objectively bad either, and I can appreciate the Allez Sprint’s welds are a matter of function over form.
Welds aside, there are two paintjob options for this build and six for the frameset, though, so most will likely be able to find something they like.
That’s a relief too, as I can’t say I love the ‘Glass Oasis / Cool Grey’ paintjob my test bike has. It’s similar to Bianchi’s Celeste Green, but doesn’t hit the same heavenly mark for me.
Like many bikes with light-coloured paintjobs, it’s also fairly hard to keep clean, with oil or dirt marks requiring a decent effort (and usually some solvent) to remove.
The ‘Gloss Purple tint over Chameleon / Satin Chameleon’ of the more expensive Allez Sprint LTD build is stunning, however, and it’s a shame that build or frameset isn’t available in the UK and many other territories.
I also would have loved Specialized to have offered an anodized silver option, like the 2015 S-Works Allez. That finish really celebrated the fact that the frame was aluminium, rather than hiding it away under paint.
Geometry and ride feel
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 quality that’s still impressively smooth.
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.
Despite the fairly hefty 8.8kg total weight of my size 56cm test bike, it doesn’t feel at all sluggish when you’re riding it.
I even set a personal best time on the Cheddar Gorge climb on it during one test ride (with non-stock wheels and tyres – more on this later). While the Allez Sprint is unlikely to become a classic amongst hill climb racers, the main limiter to your climbing speed is, as always, still going to be your power to weight ratio and not the bike.
Compared to the competition, the Allez Sprint Comp is actually a little lighter than the similarly specced 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.
With the relatively narrow (by modern standards) 700 x 26c tyres specced on this build, the ride can tip over into being firm on broken back roads, but it’s a far cry from the ultra-stiff aluminium frames of the past.
Having gambled in trying out a new road during the same ride mentioned above, I ended up on a severely broken road / farm track, which later turned into a gravel track. It was the kind of ‘road’ you see in races such as Tro-Bro Léon or the Rutland–Melton CiCLE Classic, and I was surprised how well the Allez Sprint handled the really rough stuff with only a marginally larger set of tyres (700 x 28c).
I’m not suggesting it warrants a place on our list of the best gravel bikes, but I didn’t come away from that brief interlude feeling like I’d been sat on a jackhammer either.
Clearance has also been upped to accommodate tyres up to 700 x 32c (on rims with a 21mm internal width), though, so if you need more comfort then a switch to something with greater volume poses no issues.
|Frame Size (cm)||49||52||54||56||58||61|
|Head tube length (mm)||105||115||133||153||180||200|
|Head tube angle (degrees)||71.75||72.5||73||73.5||73.5||74|
|Вottom bracket height (mm)||266||266||268||268||268||268|
|Вottom bracket drop (mm)||74||74||72||72||72||72|
|Fork rake/offset (mm)||47||47||44||44||44||44|
|Front centre (mm)||575||578||580||592||607||614|
|Chainstay length (mm)||410||410||410||410||410||410|
|Тop tube length (mm)||509||532||541||563||578||596|
|Standover height (mm)||735||755||765||795||815||835|
|Seat tube length (mm)||470||495||510||530||550||570|
|Seat tube angle (degrees)||75.5||74||74||73.5||73.5||73|
|Crank length (mm)||165||170||172.5||172.5||175||175|
|Handlebar width (mm)||380||400||420||420||440||440|
|Stem length (mm)||80||90||100||100||110||110|
|Saddle width (mm)||155||155||143||143||143||143|
|Seatpost length (mm)||300||300||300||300||380||380|
The front end uses standard, non-integrated parts, with the exception of the headset, headset cover and compression plug, which manage the cable routing.
I love that this makes it simple to change the stem or handlebar to optimise your fit.
On the subject of cable routing, it’s clean if not quite Tarmac clean, mainly because the Allez Sprint doesn’t use the same more expensive cable-tidying stem as the Tarmac.
The relatively wide cable paths play nicely with mechanical gear cables, though, and it should be possible to tidy things up even more with some careful fettling and precise adjustments to the cable and hose lengths.
Though I generally think press-fit bottom brackets are better (at least in theory), the switch to a threaded BSA bottom bracket is likely to be a popular one, especially with dedicated home mechanics.
Groupset, wheels and tyres
The Allez Sprint Comp has 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 territories, Taiwan and Japan.
I can’t speak highly enough of this current generation of Shimano 105. Ultegra used to be the budget racers’ 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.
The only notably missing feature is free stroke adjustment in the brake levers, which means there’s no option to adjust the amount of lever travel available before the brake pads contact the rotor. Most people likely won’t even notice this, but it’s worth considering if you’re particularly fussy about your brake setup.
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 such as 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.
If there’s a low point of this build, though, it’s the wheels and tyres.
The wheelset is made up of a set of tubeless-ready 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 – the frameset is dying for something faster to unlock its full potential.
As expected, swapping in a Hunt 54 Aerodynamicist Carbon Disc wheelset, with 700 x 28c Continental GP5000S TR tyres (the non-stock wheels and tyres mentioned earlier), livened things up significantly.
In that configuration, the bike felt race-ready. How much does that setup give up in terms of performance to a Tarmac SL7? Probably not a lot.
Of course, that’s an upgrade that adds just over £1,000 to the total price of the bike, so you’d hope it would make a tangible difference to the bike’s performance, but it does underline the quality of the frameset.
If your budget won’t stretch to posh wheels, then just replacing the tyres is a classic cheap road bike upgrade that can make a big difference even on its own.
Value and standing out from the crowd
While the Allez Sprint Comp is 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.
Trek’s Émonda ALR 5 Disc costs £2,250 (£400 less), but doesn’t feature any aero optimisation and officially only has clearance for up to 700 x 28c tyres. Claimed weight for a size 56cm is also slightly heavier, at 9.04kg.
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 £501 less (£2,149), is claimed to weigh around 600g less, and comes with top of the range Continental GP5000 tyres.
On-paper specifications can only tell you so much, though, and we’ve previously argued high-end aluminium bikes can be better than low-end carbon bikes.
The Allez Sprint frameset also 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 to be a budget frame material, but this bike successfully argues that it doesn’t have to be.
At a basic level, the 2022 Allez Sprint proves aluminium can still cut it as a frame material for race bikes.
It’s carrying a few extra grams, and those with go-fast aspirations will appreciate a wheelset and tyres upgrade to unlock the full potential of the frameset, but the ride quality nevertheless impresses from the first pedal stroke.
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, carbon road bike options are plentiful. But whether or not you vibe with the Allez Sprint as a concept, it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t offer something different from most other road racing bikes. And in an age where many think all bikes look the same, that alone will be enough for some.
|Price||AUD $4200.00EUR €3500.00GBP £2650.00USD $3000.00|
|Available sizes||49cm, 52cm, 54cm, 56cm, 58cm, 61cm|
|Handlebar||Specialized Shallow Drop, 6061, 70x125mm, 31.8mm clamp|
|Tyres||Specialized Turbo Pro, 700x26c|
|Stem||Specialized, 3D-forged alloy, 4-bolt, 7-degree rise|
|Shifter||Shimano 105 R7020|
|Seatpost||S-Works Tarmac Carbon seat post, 20mm offset|
|Saddle||Specialized Power Sport|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano105 R7000 GS|
|Grips/Tape||Supacaz Super Sticky Kush|
|Bottom bracket||BSA threaded|
|Front derailleur||Shimano 105 R7000, braze-on|
|Frame||Specialized Allez Sprint|
|Fork||FACT Carbon, 12x100mm thru-axle, flat-mount disc|
|Cranks||Shimano 105 R7000, 52/36T|
|Chain||KMC X11 Extra Lightweight, 11-speed|
|Cassette||Shimano 105 R7000, 11-28T|
|Brakes||Shimano 105 R7020|
|Wheels||DT Swiss R470 rims with Specialized hubs|