So is the Specialized Allez E5 2019 a good road bike to start cycling on? I’ve been riding mine for the last 3,000 miles and have during that time formed a few opinions, the good ones and the not-so-good ones that can all add to your how to start cycling research information and that I’d like to share with you here, Dear Reader 🙂
Welcome along, it’s wonderful to have you here! So, the Specialized Allez E5 2019, here’s what I got for you in this article…
- Pros of the Specialized Allez 2019 Road Bike
- Agile E5 alumimum frame and Specialized’s FACT carbon forks
- Lightweight frameset, 9.6 kg
- That fiery red colorway!
- Decent parts specification for the price
- Cons of the Specialized Allez 2019 Road Bike
- Water ingress (on any wet rides or when you’re washing the bike) through the drain holes on the chainstays
- Poor braking as the Specialized Axis Sport rims shed metal into the brake pads
- Shimano Claris 2×8 groupset offers functional but “gappy” shifting
- Conclusions and recommendation for starting cycling on a Specialized Allez E5 2019
- It’s my first drop-bar road bike in years and I love how the Specialized Allez rides. The E5 frameset is just fab. It’s a whole lotta fun! I’m sure you’d enjoy it to start cycling.
- But looking logically, as a recommendation, I’d say at least consider saving a bit more money to get yourself the Allez Elite version, or notwithstanding, an alternative brand road bike with a 10 speed groupset. Let’s take a look at how I reach that conclusion…
Like most bikes on the planet now, the 2019 Specialized Allez E5 smoothweld frame is made in Taiwan. And that’s no bad thing. As I wrote in my Best Beginner Road Bike Brands article, there’s a huge concentration of production in Taiwan which naturally implies gains in engineering knowhow and production skill, technical expertise and specialization of the workforce. Along with many (probably most if you check the Brands article) Specialized, part-owned by Merida, have capitalized on Taiwan’s bike frame production growth to their own advantage. The Allez 2019 E5 has a lovely look with the patented smoothweld technology that Specialized say creates strength.
I have to agree, the frame looks well. I’m a fan of nicely TIG welded frames with the “stack of coins” weld pattern, but smoothing everything out gives the frame a carbon look. Plus how can you ignore that firey red color. I love it! I’m not one for standing out, particularly because (as you’ll see from any of my cycling videos) I ain’t the fastest nor fanciest rider out there #justforfun. But I found the red hard to resist. Actually I think there’s a benefit in on-road visibility too. I’m not sure. Despite their popularity, I haven’t seen another while driving the car to actually tell! There’s a stealth black frame too if it’s more to your taste 🙂 I find the brightness of the red actually helps set my mood before any ride, it’s true! 🙂 Just pack your tinted glasses haha 😀
Pros of the Specialized Allez 2019 Road Bike
Besides it’s visual appeal, the frame has got a nice agile feeling. By that I mean when you push hard on the pedals, the bike responds well. For me this was specially noticeable on climbs. Of course I came to this from a flatbar road bike so the closest thing I’d have to compare directly to my Specialized Allez was a 1987 Raleigh Banana 2×5 haha. Coupling the E5 alumimum frame to Specialized’s FACT carbon forks makes things feel nimble and responsive. As an aside, and I mentioned in the vid, Specialized use their own unique fork steerer tube taper. While most forks at the moment use 1 1/8 at the stem end to either a 1 1/4 or more frequently a 1 1/2 diameter at the fork crown, Specialized use a 1 1/8 to a 1 3/8 taper. Just one to be aware of 🙂 But if this is your bike to start cycling on, irrespective of having nothing to compare to, like me, you’ll appreciate how easily the bike steers, accelerates and responds to your pedaling. They handle well, climb well, it doesn’t feel like too harsh a ride through the contact points (ie. the butt and wrists)
Helping to facilitate this agility is the frameset’s lightweight credentials. On my scales the Specialized Allez weight in kg is around 9.6 kg, that’s 21.2 lbs in old money 🙂 So it’s not superlight. For me, as a beginner (or more specifically a returner) to road cycling, it’s more than light enough. Of course if you decide to upgrade parts you’ll likely prune that weight back even more. I did that with the tires. While the stock Specialized Espoir Sport didn’t give me any issues with punctures for the first 1,000 miles or so, I didn’t feel the grip, especially in the wet was as confidence-inspiring as I’d like and nor was it at the level I’d got used to running a set of Continental Gator Hardshell tires on my flatbar bike. So I swapped them out for a set of Vittoria Rubino Pro G+. The Espoir Sport tires that came stock weigh in at 740g for the pair – mostly because they’re wire beaded and not kevlar beaded. REplacing them with the Rubinos saved around 300g. Nothing amazing, but it all adds up! 🙂
The rest of the Allez 2019 specification is comprised of fairly decent parts for the price. I’ve found the Shimano Claris 2×8 speed groupset to be reliable and perform their job without any complaints. I’ve ridden the bike in a good deal of gunky weather and they’ve managed with nothing more than a wipe, a degrease and lube on the pivots. The STI shifters work fine too. The brakes are Tektro dual pivots, I think they’re perfectly fine too. I’ve had braking issues, but that’s an issue with the Specialized Axis Sport rims – see cons section for detail! Other than that, the Specialized finishing kit – bars, stem, seatpost and saddle all do their job without fuss or complaint. I’m happy! 🙂 Well… There are a few things that have bugged me over the last 3,000 miles. These may be simply a QC issue. Again though, something to be mindful of in case it’s a unilateral issue…
Specialized Allez 2019 Road Bike Issues I’ve Encountered…
While I think the E5 frame is super, I’ve been having an issue with the drainage holes where the chainstays meet the rear dropouts. On wet rides, or when washing the bike, water does get into the drainage holes. Now, if you’re a seasoned cyclist you may indeed be aware of drainage holes for their intended purpose – drainage! But you may not know to tip up the bike onto its rear wheel after a soaking to let the water drain out. I didn’t! I’ve been cycling for what seems forever on different types of bikes and have never noticed this previously on other bikes. As I say, this could be a non issue. My concern is for other beginners, not knowing about this means that water ingress from wet (potentially salted roads) can stagnate inside the chainstays. If you live in a dry climate no problem. If you store your bike in a heated or dry space, no problem. If, like me, you’re in a wet (UK) climate and store the bike in the quite moist haha garage, then knowing about this might spare you issues down the road 🙂 So not so much a major issue or anything, more an fyi.
For me, my 2019 Allez has suffered from poor braking from the get-go. I’ve explained this a bit more on my Specialized Allez 2019 Review video. Essentially I “ran out of road” on a steep descent towards a junction on one of my first rides. Now could this have been user error? As a seasoned disc-brake user, possibly #mybad. But I’ve also had rim brakes back in the days of single-pivot braking that worked just swell and inspired confidence in late braking if necessary. This hasn’t happened on the Specialized Allez. Okay so where am I putting the blame? If you check the video you’ll see it’s squarely on the Specialized Axis Sport rims.
And how do I justify this “bad rims” claim? Well, following the “running out of road” scenario, I upgraded the stock brake pads assuming them to be substandard. But that didn’t fix the problem, the braking was still poor. I did that a few times before swapping the Tektro calipers which I have to admit looked perfectly fine to me. But I went as high up the tree as I could and got a set of Ultegra calipers. Still the braking was poor. I conclude the rims to be the source of the issue after getting the cheapest, rideable single speed road bike off Amazon and swapping its calipers for the now spare Tektro ones off the Specialized Allez. Guess what, that cheap bike brakes wonderfully. While my Specialized Allez still doesn’t. Flecks of metal are coming off the rims and embedding in the pads – every set of pads I’ve tried! This means the brakes grind on the rims rather than pressing against them. Result: poor braking. So, Specialized Axis Sport j’accuse! 😀 To this point, that’s still an unresolved issue. I mean the brakes work, they just don’t work very well. And they certainly don’t work as well as a set of Ultegra calipers with high-spec pads ought to!
While I’m on the Specialized Axis Sport wheels – being bottom-of-the range wheels has meant some compromises. As you can see from this video where the freehub wasn’t screwed in correctly, the bearings are loose bearings and not nice sealed ones. Fair enough at this price point. But I find they continually work loose meaning I have to readjust the cones more frequently than I’d expect. Might not be problematic for you, but it’s resulted in an annoying rattly ride on several occasions until I can get home and get the cones tightened. Maybe some threadlock might help. I haven’t tried that. I don’t think I should have to! Maybe I’m fussy haha 😀
So my last gripe is with the Shimano Claris groupset. Again, as I mentioned in the video, it’s nothing to do with how the shifters and derailleurs work functionally. Everything on the group works as it should. It’s reliable and I haven’t had to make any major adjustments over the whole 3,000 miles. So what’s the problem? Well, it’s a fundamental issue I have – and I wonder might other riders looking to start cycling. It’s due to the group being a 2×8 – only having 8 sprockets. And what’s the issue with that? Yes, I mean I started on a 5-speed bike as a kid. More recently I’ve ridden a 3-speed internal hub. But it was on my flatbar road bike that I discovered the joys of 10-speed. And I liked it! I found that not only is the actual gear changing much smoother with the Shimano Tiagra 10-speed groupset that I had on that other bike, but the ten sprockets spanning the 12-28 teeth range makes the jumps between each much less noticeable when riding. How do I mean that? Well, say you’re pedalling at 90rpm, changing gear on the 8-speed Shimano Claris groupset – and I checked this today on a ride – means a difference in cadence for the same speed of 10-16 rpm. Now while this happens on any system, having fewer gears does make the jump between gears more noticeable. This means you have to work to build up cadence with each gear change. For me, I never quite seem to be in the “just right” gear. I always feel as though I’m in between.
Is this really a problem? Someone looking to start cycling doesn’t want lots of complicated gears, right? Well maybe that’s true. But I think conversely there’s a chance that the gappy 8-sprockets only that mean having to continually work to maintain steady pedalling might actually lessen the enjoyment of a ride. I’ve noticed sometimes it can try to do that with me. I didn’t have that same issue with the 10-speed Tiagra is all I’m saying. As ever, your mileage may vary as they say! 🙂
Specialized Allez 2019, Conclusions and Recommendations?
Okay, I have no intentions of changing the bike. Not for now anyway. I really like how the bike rides. If it had a decent groupset and better wheels it’d be perfect for me. Frankly I love it! I’m having a blast on it. I haven’t ridden any bike that I’ve owned as much as my Specialized Allez.
As someone who has returned to drop-bar road cycling after a long layoff, would I recommend it to someone thinking to start cycling, or start cycling again? I’d have to be honest and say I’m not sure I would. Why? Mostly it’s the lack of gearing from the Shimano Claris groupset. I discuss my rationale at length in the article on best road bike brands for beginners. I had previously had a minimum price level for a beginner bike. But now, I’d add to that the idea of not going for an 8 or 9 speed groupset. If you can afford a 10 or even possibly at time of writing, an 11 speed groupset, I do believe your rides will just feel that bit nicer. My aim here is simply to encourage you to start cycling or to enjoy your return to it. If I had to make the purchase over again, I’d go a rung or two higher up the specification ladder and get a higher spec bike with a 10-speed or 11-speed groupset. At the minute, I’m looking to upgrade the groupset. The problem is that it’ll cost me much more to do that retrospectively to the Specialized Allez E5 than it would had I bought a higher spec bike initially! But, we live and learn haha. At my age, I ought to know that by now! However, I’m going to continue to enjoy the Allez and when I do upgrade, or should I ever change, believe me, I’ll be posting it here on cyclingquestions 🙂
Thank you for looking in, I really appreciate it! Feel free to subscribe to cyclingquestions on YouTube too for more content. Meantime, here’s that video review of the Specialized Allez 2019…
I also have a teardown, service and reassembly vid of the 2019 Specialized Allez too if you’re interested. Meantime, let me know if you’ve any questions – I’m always happy to help and would be thrilled to hear from you. Until next time, Dear Reader, take care out there, ride safe whatever you’re riding and have fun! Kindest, warmest regards to you, David.