We Indians are inherently afraid of buying road bikes because of the “ideal” road conditions we have here. The common misconception people have about road bikes is that they cannot handle our roads. This is true… to a certain extent. It all comes down to the heart of the bike – the frame. Specialized is amongst the elite few bicycle manufacturers who make really sturdy, well-built bikes. These road frames are capable of handling the daily abuse that our roads subject them to.
If you’re looking to jump into the vibrant road bike scene and are in the market for a high-performing yet entry-level road bike that won’t burn a hole in your wallet, then you’re likely to find what you need in the Specialized Allez Road Bike series. The Specialized Allez series has several bike models to choose from, but we will deep-dive into the E5 Sport model in this review. The Allez Sport is one level above the basic version (simply called the Specialized Allez) but has a few interesting upgrades that we think are worth considering.
Specialized Bicycle Components or simply Specialized is an American brand that designs and manufactures bicycles, cycling components, and cycling apparel for riders and cycling enthusiasts. Renowned across the globe for their quality and expertise, we’re super stoked to have an extensive selection of Specialized products in India for our riders.
SPECIALIZED ALLEZ E5 SPORT ROAD BIKE OVERVIEW
Regardless of its “entry-level” price tag of around Rs. 73,000/-, the Allez E5 Sport is an absolute performer. It’s a high quality, super-fast, comfortable race bike that can take you fast and long and yet, the Allez E5 Sport is the perfect entry-level road bike to invest in if you’re just getting into road biking. Even if you plan to do longer rides or get into racing, the Allez is the perfect bike. It could also make a good commuter if you’re up for it.
The bike frame is one of the most important parts of your bike. It is the heart and soul of the bike. All its characteristics are defined by the frame. Which is why it’s important that you choose the right frame for you and your riding style. The right size, fit and geometry is crucial for your overall comfort and riding ease and efficiency. Being the only part of the bike that you really do not upgrade, choosing the best frame is the basis of your entire road biking experience.
The frame is super stiff and quite lightweight for a bike of its class. The seat tube and bottom bracket junctions are especially stiff for the most efficient power transfer. You’ll notice this when you get off the saddle and put down some serious power through the pedals. The frame is incredibly responsive and accelerates rapidly when you want to get a move on. This is where we felt that the new lightweight Sora crankarms really shine through. They showed no signs of flex during our tests. It’s also good to know that the bottom bracket on the Allez is Shimano’s new Hollowtech II BB. This bottom bracket is said to be stiffer, lighter and slightly more compact than previous iterations. It’s also an external bearing bottom bracket so you don’t have to worry too much about gunk or water making its way in.
The front fork is another area that Specialized has paid close attention to. A full FACT Carbon fork does duty on the Allez E5 Sport and provides the best comfort and performance. The paint finish is top-notch too. The signature glossy red fork and all-black frame with the red Specialized decals are sought after by many riders.
Another reason that this Allez lives up to its racy name is because of how well it handles. The front end feels light and flick-able – not so obnoxiously light that it gets uncontrollable but just the right amount of nimbleness. The weight distribution between the front and back of the bike is really well balanced with respect to the overall handling characteristics of the bike.
COMPONENTS ON THE BIKE
The Saddle, Cockpit components, and tires are all critical components that make up the bike. They not only make our ride safe but also deliver higher levels of performance.
A lot of the components on the bike apart from the groupset are manufactured by Specialized themselves, unlike other brands that choose the OEM route. Specialized has gained popularity over the year for their Body Geometry (BG) touchpoints. These parts include the saddles, grips, and handlebars. These Body Geometry parts are products that are ergonomically designed and scientifically tested to increase performance, improve comfort, and reduce chances of injury. Designed by a passionate group of physicians, engineers, and athletes all Body Geometry approved designs are rooted in science so that riders can be one with their bikes.
Saddles are often a sore point for most riders. The Specialized Body Geometry saddles are medically optimized for comfort and safety by preventing nerve damage and numbness. We love the fact that Specialized invests heavily into understanding rider sit bone measurement and constantly iterates on their saddles. The handlebar tape is comfortable and plush for Indian road conditions.
The stock pedals that you get out of the box for the Allez are basic Nylon pedals that most new bikes roll out with. Most riders immediately upgrade to a clipless system depending on their pedal and cleat preferences.
Wheels are important – they heavily influence the handling and responsiveness of the bike. A good set of wheels can be an important upgrade to any road ride. Good wheels are light, stiff, help you climb better and improve aerodynamics to power along on the flat without breaking a sweat. Durability is also an important aspect.
The Allez comes with an Axis Sport wheelset that uses a 20-spoke pattern at the front, and a 24-spoke setup at the rear. Axis is an in-house brand owned by Specialized. The Axis sport wheels are solidly built and provide good rolling on the flats. They aren’t the lightest wheels around but are durable and bomb-proof. Great for training, commuting and weekend riding. A standard cup and cone bearing is what you get on both the wheels. This is a basic yet highly serviceable bearing type.
Good tires are an absolute essential when looking at a new road bike. We rode the E5 Sport on a variety of terrains and found the tires to be quite compliant and grippy. They are on the heavier side but that is something you can sacrifice for great puncture resistance. The Specialized Espoir Sport tires (700 X 25C) are a really solid pair of training tires. If you do plan to race you’d want to upgrade to something with a higher TPI and a faster rolling compound and tread. For most riders, however, this should suffice.
Specialized has an Allez for everyone – catering to everyone’s requirements, needs, and budgets. The E5 Sport, in particular, is equipped with the latest generation 9-speed Shimano Sora groupset. An 11-32t cassette is what you will get stock on the bike. This 11-32t combo is a sweet spot for most riders as it offers a good balance between the ability to do flats and climbs. The new Sora is a smooth-shifting drivetrain and offers accurate shifts. This Sora crankset is now similar to the Tiagra crankset and similarly the 105 crank. This means that it’s slightly more performance-oriented than before and slightly lighter too.
Shifts are jumpy but that’s only when you get to the lower ratios. The higher gears are relatively smooth between shifts. An amateur racer or long-distance rider will definitely find this groupset adequate as it offers a good range and a medium cage will allow for some changes based on the rider’s preferences.
Specialized believes that the “rider is the boss”. That is why they offer a global Lifetime warranty on all their frames. Other Specialized-branded products are covered by a two-year warranty. It’s important to note that the lifetime warranty is applicable only to manufacturing defects and not on wear and tear parts or accidental damage. Also, the lifetime warranty refers to the lifetime of the product under normal usage scenarios.
Frame: Specialized E5 Premium aluminum
Forks: Specialized FACT full carbon
Brakes: Axis 1.0
Groupset: Shimano Sora
Wheels: Axis Sport
Tires: Espoir Sport, 700x25mm
Saddle: Body Geometry Toupe Sport
Weight: 9.60kg (approx)
The Specialized Allez E5 Sport is the perfect road bike for the rider who wants a versatile bike at a pocket-friendly price. The Allez E5 Sport is a bike that can get you into competitive racing or even the leisurely weekend rides. The bike comes well kitted from the factory but there are a few places we felt there could be improvements. A lighter, sealed-bearing wheelset could definitely improve the ride quality and even acceleration. Everything else is as good as it gets in this segment.
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WHAT I LOVE ABOUT CYCLING
I’m an avid mountain biker and I like riding fast and flowy singletrack. As I keep riding, I continuously work on honing my riding skills. I like to ride whenever possible, especially with friends. I also like to influence folk into getting to ride more often.
Working on bicycles has also been a keen interest of mine for quite some time.
DISCIPLINE: Mountain biking and Road biking
CURRENT BIKE: Merida One Twenty 9.600 & Specialized Allez Elite DSW
DREAM BIKE: Santa Cruz 5010