Skip to main content

Specialized Allez Sprint drops hammer on carbon

Image 1 of 26

Specialized is upsetting the apple cart somewhat with the stunning Allez Sprint – a brand-new alloy racing chassis that claims to offer comparable performance to carbon frames

Specialized is upsetting the apple cart somewhat with the stunning Allez Sprint – a brand-new alloy racing chassis that claims to offer comparable performance to carbon frames (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 2 of 26

Nope, your eyes aren't deceiving you. There is no front derailleur mount, and no way to install one

Nope, your eyes aren't deceiving you. There is no front derailleur mount, and no way to install one (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 3 of 26

Recent advancements in technology have really brought alloy frames up in performance, and it's no longer viewed as a vastly inferior material to carbon. In fact, Specialized is so pleased with the new Allez Sprint that it's offering a gleaming raw, polished finish on the frameset. And ignore the unsightly zip-ties; those were only present on the prototype. Production bikes have far cleaner internal setups

Recent advancements in technology have really brought alloy frames up in performance, and it's no longer viewed as a vastly inferior material to carbon. In fact, Specialized is so pleased with the new Allez Sprint that it's offering a gleaming raw, polished finish on the frameset. And ignore the unsightly zip-ties; those were only present on the prototype. Production bikes have far cleaner internal setups (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 4 of 26

Much as early TIG-welded alloy frames wore their bulky weld beads with something approaching pride, the new Specialized Allez Sprint frame leaves everything exposed

Much as early TIG-welded alloy frames wore their bulky weld beads with something approaching pride, the new Specialized Allez Sprint frame leaves everything exposed (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 5 of 26

There's a huge amount of weld area for the chainstays

There's a huge amount of weld area for the chainstays (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 6 of 26

Specialized is claiming some impressive stiffness figures for the new Allez Sprint

Specialized is claiming some impressive stiffness figures for the new Allez Sprint (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 7 of 26

Such flowing lines around the bottom bracket wouldn't be possible with a traditional mitered shell

Such flowing lines around the bottom bracket wouldn't be possible with a traditional mitered shell (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 8 of 26

Specialized is sticking with its OSBB oversized bottom bracket design

Specialized is sticking with its OSBB oversized bottom bracket design (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 9 of 26

The aero-profile seat tube is especially curvaceous

The aero-profile seat tube is especially curvaceous (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 10 of 26

The massive down tube bodes well for overall frame stiffness

The massive down tube bodes well for overall frame stiffness (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 11 of 26

Kudos to Specialized for wrapping all of the new Allez Sprint options in pleasantly understated paint schemes. This Allez Sprint Comp will come with SRAM's Rival 1 groupset

Kudos to Specialized for wrapping all of the new Allez Sprint options in pleasantly understated paint schemes. This Allez Sprint Comp will come with SRAM's Rival 1 groupset (Image credit: Specialized Bicycle Components)
Image 12 of 26

The top-end Specialized Allez Sprint Expert will come with SRAM's Force 1 groupset

The top-end Specialized Allez Sprint Expert will come with SRAM's Force 1 groupset (Image credit: Specialized Bicycle Components)
Image 13 of 26

If you ignore the weld beads, you could easily mistake the new Specialized Allez Sprint for a Tarmac

If you ignore the weld beads, you could easily mistake the new Specialized Allez Sprint for a Tarmac (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 14 of 26

At least for now, Specialized will only offer the Allez Sprint in 1x drivetrain configurations with no provisions whatsoever for a front derailleur

At least for now, Specialized will only offer the Allez Sprint in 1x drivetrain configurations with no provisions whatsoever for a front derailleur (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 15 of 26

This is quite possibly the closest we've seen an aluminum frame come to truly mimicking the shape of its carbon counterparts

This is quite possibly the closest we've seen an aluminum frame come to truly mimicking the shape of its carbon counterparts (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 16 of 26

The key to the Specialized Allez Sprint's design is the truly innovative three-piece bottom bracket shell. Each half is separately formed from flat sheet while the bottom bracket sleeve is turned on a lathe. All three parts are mated together and then brazed to form the final structure

The key to the Specialized Allez Sprint's design is the truly innovative three-piece bottom bracket shell. Each half is separately formed from flat sheet while the bottom bracket sleeve is turned on a lathe. All three parts are mated together and then brazed to form the final structure (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 17 of 26

Such shaping hasn't been possible with traditional mitered joints but with the Smartweld concept, aluminum frames can now truly mimic the shape of modern carbon ones

Such shaping hasn't been possible with traditional mitered joints but with the Smartweld concept, aluminum frames can now truly mimic the shape of modern carbon ones (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 18 of 26

The Smartweld bottom bracket shell not only provides a better weld surface for the adjoining down tube but also allows for a much bigger cross-section than you'd normally get out of an alloy frame

The Smartweld bottom bracket shell not only provides a better weld surface for the adjoining down tube but also allows for a much bigger cross-section than you'd normally get out of an alloy frame (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 19 of 26

The welds are still visible after the frames are painted but they're hardly unsightly

The welds are still visible after the frames are painted but they're hardly unsightly (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 20 of 26

Specialized first introduced the Smartweld concept on the Allez's head tube, which is formed as a single piece and features far more complex shaping than a traditional mitered piece

Specialized first introduced the Smartweld concept on the Allez's head tube, which is formed as a single piece and features far more complex shaping than a traditional mitered piece (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 21 of 26

When it's fully built, the Smartweld bottom bracket shell has a visible seam but it's still quite subtle

When it's fully built, the Smartweld bottom bracket shell has a visible seam but it's still quite subtle (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 22 of 26

The down tube is truly massive, and closely matches that of Specialized's lighter (but far more expensive) Tarmac family

The down tube is truly massive, and closely matches that of Specialized's lighter (but far more expensive) Tarmac family (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 23 of 26

The huge bottom bracket shell creates room for bigger and taller chainstays than would typically be possible

The huge bottom bracket shell creates room for bigger and taller chainstays than would typically be possible (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 24 of 26

The seatstays are comparatively slim in an effort to help smooth out the ride a bit. Standard center-mount brake calipers are used at both ends

The seatstays are comparatively slim in an effort to help smooth out the ride a bit. Standard center-mount brake calipers are used at both ends (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 25 of 26

The compact dropouts are hollow where they're welded to the adjoining stays. Don't look for fancy internal cable routing here – it's all business with the new Allez Sprint

The compact dropouts are hollow where they're welded to the adjoining stays. Don't look for fancy internal cable routing here – it's all business with the new Allez Sprint (Image credit: James Huang/BikeRadar)
Image 26 of 26

Also available is a bare Specialized Allez Sprint SL frameset with a sleek polished finish that not only looks fantastic but will save a fair bit of weight, too

Also available is a bare Specialized Allez Sprint SL frameset with a sleek polished finish that not only looks fantastic but will save a fair bit of weight, too (Image credit: Specialized Bicycle Components)

This article originally appeared on BikeRadar

Specialized is expanding on the ingenious Smartweld technology it first introduced on its alloy Allez three years ago, now adding the novel construction technique to the bottom bracket shell for 2016. The frame weight doesn't change much but Specialized is claiming stiffness and strength gains that now put the new Allez Sprint nearly on par with the much pricier Tarmac.

The Smartweld bottom bracket shell is a truly brilliant, 'why-didn't-I-think-of-that' piece of engineering, comprising two stamped thinwall aluminum halves and a machined central sleeve that's all brazed together to form a hollow monocoque-like structure. The much bigger cross-sections not only yield expected stiffness increases in that immediate area; they also allow for much bigger down tubes and chainstays for greater overall frame rigidity.

The key to the new Allez Sprint's heady performance claims is the Smartweld bottom bracket shell

Even better, Specialized says there are substantial improvements in strength and long-term durability, too. Welds typically are weak points for the frame since they're generally more brittle than the surrounding tubes and situated at high-stress areas. Smartweld moves the weld beads away from the traditional joint locations, shifting them further down the frame tube and positioning them in between two parts that are more similar in shape and where stresses are substantially lower.

Specialized hasn't yet revealed final claimed weights for the production bikes but the target during the later prototype stage was around 1,100g – almost exactly the same as the current Allez, which only uses Smartweld in the head tube area. That frame isn't exactly renowned for its rigidity but the new Allez Sprint supposedly more than makes up that gap.

Shaping like this was previously only possible with carbon frames

"Ultimate weight wasn't the criteria for this," said Specialized senior advanced R&D engineer Chuck Teixeira, an industry veteran with more than three decades of experience under his belt, much of which was spent at Easton. "This is more of a crit bike so we wanted really good stiffness. That comes at the expense of a little extra weight. We have lots of opportunity to make it lighter. In many of the pedaling tests, it's stiffer than the Tarmac."

As part of that rather narrowly focused design goal, Specialized is launching the new Allez Sprint in just two complete builds and one frameset to start – none of which have provision for a front derailleur. By Specialized's reasoning, bikes specifically used for criterium racing or fast lunch rides simply don't need that wide a gearing range, and the bare seat tube that results looks sleeker and cleaner.

Notice anything missing?

That approach is undoubtedly going to be met with a healthy amount of resistance from riders who might be interested in such an advanced alloy chassis but need more realistic gearing – including us here at BikeRadar. That said, Specialized is already hedging its bets. Front derailleur-compatible Allez Smartweld frames (that are otherwise identical save for the multiple chainring capability) will be released in December, just three months after the release of the 1x-specific 'X1' models in September.

The Specialized Allez Sprint Comp X1 will cost $2,000 with a SRAM Rival 1 groupset. All international pricing is TBC

Smartweld will certainly find its way into other Specialized bikes at some point

"We also have a number of other bikes in line for this technology and this approach is not limited to hardtails, either," Teixeira said. "Ideas are floating around that would make this work on suspension bikes. How fast we move comes down to our aluminum product team's bandwidth and platform strategy. I wish we could do it all tomorrow, but that's just not going to happen."

"The future bikes that we're going to be folding this into – it just opens up a bunch of design opportunities for us to make better and better structures."

Perhaps best of all is that all of this performance is coming at alloy-level prices that plenty of regular riders will be able to afford. Specialized has yet to release full international retail prices for the new Allez Smartweld bikes and frames, but even just based on the US figures, the landscape for value-minded buyers has never looked so good.

For more information, visit www.specialized.com