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I Will Never Stop Loving the 1st Gen Specialized Allez Sprint

The 2020 Specialized Allez Sprint featured amazing special edition colorways, including this beautiful "Artist Series" frame. I look back at my own past love affair with the 2020 Allez Sprint, marvel at its beauty and design, and kick myself for letting this unique bike go.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Bikes

Sometimes, a bike suddenly reminds you of a long-lost love…

I’ve formed strong bonds with many bikes over the years. One of my greatest loves might have been my 2020 Specialized Allez Sprint. I had lusted over the limited edition “Meet Your Match” colorway since its release, and when a frameset in my size suddenly appeared, it felt like the universe had brought us together. It was meant to be. 

Allez Sprint love

Ugh, I loved this bike.

Our next three years together were beautiful. We got dropped on group rides, lapped in crits, and rode several thousand carb-fueled miles. At one point, I even called the Allez Sprint my forever bike. But unfortunately, no bike lasts forever when you’re a bike geek.

When this pink and green 2020 "Artist Series" Allez Sprint appeared at TPC last week, I was painfully reminded of my long-lost love. Let's take a closer look at what makes this bike so special. 

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The Paint Makes the Bike

Lindsay Martin Allez Sprint paint

How artist Lindsay Martin prepped the Allez Sprint for her unique design. Photo: Lindsay Martin. 

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of the build on this bike. Putting Bontrager components (wheels, bars, stem, and saddle) on a Specialized frame should be illegal, but to each their own. 

It’s the paint that really tugs at my heartstrings. Like my old “Meet Your Match” frame, this Allez Sprint features a limited edition colorway. It was designed by Lindsay Martin as part of Specialized’s “Artist Series” in 2020. On her website, she explained how it came into being:

My design pays tribute to the California wildfires that tore through in late 2018. The fires brought about so much devastation and we all felt the [effects] at the Specialized HQ in Morgan Hill, CA.

California wildfireMartin's inspiration came in a photo she took after the California wildfires. She saw hope and beauty present in the midst of tragedy and destruction. Photo: Lindsey Martin. 

The design is inspired by the landscape after a wildfire; the sharp contrast in color of ash, pink fire retardant, and surrounding plant life. The golden fireweed is the first sign of growth after destruction. This frame is a symbol of resilience, rebirth, and energy. Also, I’m a big fan of matte colors with shiny metallic pops, so I figured I'd jump on the opportunity to make that happen on a frame while I had the opportunity!

Allez Sprint artist paint

It can be hard to feel unique on a Specialized bike. If you ride an Allez Sprint, Tarmac, Diverge, Crux, Epic, or Stumpjumper, there’s a very good chance that you’ll encounter someone on the road or trail riding the exact same bike as you. There’s nothing wrong with that, but some people (like me) just have an insatiable need to be a special snowflake. 

Allez Sprint gold leafFortunately, Specialized often releases limited-edition colorways that allow you to stand out. One of the coolest things is that the wildest designs were often used on more affordable models like the aluminum Allez Sprint.


There was the disgusting yet intriguing Rainbow Trout Allez Sprint frame:Allez Sprint rainbow trout

  These eye-searing Red Hook Crit frames were always high on my wish list too:

Allez Sprint Red Hook Crit

I think my old Meet Your Match frame was one of the all-time greats:Allez Sprint meet your match

I love that Specialized is willing to release frames with paint like this. To own one of these frames feels like a privilege. I used to keep my Allez Sprint near my desk at home instead of the garage, propped up like a sculpture. It was art. 

Aluminum Aero Frames Make Me Tingly

Allez Sprint aluminum welds

Do these aero tubes and welds look comfy?

Aluminum frames often have a reputation for feeling harsh. The original Allez Sprint did nothing to dispel that notion. I often used the words “ass hatchet” to describe the Allez Sprint’s ride quality and when I say “aluminum aero frames make me tingly,” I’m talking about losing sensation in my nether regions due to a lack of compliance. 

I’m mostly joking. The Allez Sprint rode about as well as any other aluminum bike, and I actually found it quite comfortable with bigger 28mm tires and lower tire pressures. But it was still stiff and unapologetic about what it was intended to be — an all-out race bike. 

Mario Cipollini Allez

Cipollini made aluminum look... good?

Let's go back to the beginning. The Allez has been around for a long time. In the 80s and 90s, it was Specialized’s top-of-the-line steel frame. Eventually, it switched to aluminum. It had a brief moment of glory in the early 2000s under Mario Cipollini, but it was ultimately usurped by the carbon Specialized Tarmac, and relegated to a budget, second-tier bike.  

In 2013 though, Specialized engineers started working on the new Allez Sprint. Unlike its second-tier sibling, this Allez would be aero. There were 3 main goals for this new bike. They wanted an aluminum bike that was as aero as the Venge, as stiff in the bottom bracket as the Tarmac, and within 100-150 grams of the Tarmac. 

The hydroformed tubes were crafted into slippery aero shapes that made the Allez Sprint more efficient than the first-generation Specialized Venge. To achieve the next two goals, Specialized came up with a proprietary welding technique called DSW or “D’Aluisio Smartweld.” 

Smartweld bottom bracketThis is most noticeable on the head tube and the bottom bracket. The bottom bracket is a hydroformed shell made from two hollow halves. It’s brazed down the central seam and then welded to the rest of the frame. 

Smartweld headtubeThe headtube isn't a traditional tube. 

Smartweld technology moves the welds about 10mm away from the traditional weld points, which are the areas of greatest strain. This does two things: it makes the junctions stiffer and it reduces excess material. The extra stiff junctions mean the tubes can be made thinner, maintaining overall compliance. 

The result was a lightweight and decently compliant aluminum frame with a bottom bracket that felt like it had little to no lateral deflection. The bike would accelerate with the best carbon superbikes, as if every watt got pushed straight into the ground. The “Sprint” moniker was well-deserved. 

Peter Sagan Allez Sprint

Peter Sagan rode the Allez Sprint in a World Tour race.

The Allez Sprint officially launched in 2015 as a 1x-only crit-specific bike. Eventually, a regular 2x version came, and then in 2019, it was updated with the disc brake option you see here. 

Racers loved it. It became the darling of the domestic crit scene here in the US. The Hagens-Berman Axeon development team rode it. 3-time world champion and 7-time Tour de France Green Jersey winner, Peter Sagan raced it at the Down Under Classic criterium. For many, the Allez Sprint (and the Cannondale CAAD) made more budget-oriented aluminum frames feel like a legitimate option for serious racers.  

If You Love It, Let It... Stay?

Is love still meaningful and worthwhile if lovers can’t be together in the end? Some of the best romantic movies explore this type of relationship — Mia and Seb in La La Land, Rose and Jack in Titanic, Bodhi and Johnny Utah in Point Break — all amazing pairings torn apart by the tragic powers of fate (or one side's dumb decisions). 
La la land

Do I dream of a life where we stayed together? Yes. Am I still happy? Uh...

When I decided to trade in my Allez Sprint early last year, I felt like Johnny Utah letting Bodhi surf to his death (or maybe I’m Bodhi in this scenario?). “Vaya con Dios,” I said to my Allez Sprint, knowing I would never see it again. I had let one of my most treasured possessions go. 

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For the most part, I’ve been able to move on. I’ve built other bikes. Occasionally though, a beautiful 1st gen Allez Sprint like this will come through our doors, and I’ll be overcome with feelings of nostalgia and regret. 

2020 Allez Sprint disc

Despite being four years old, I’d likely still buy a 2020 Allez Sprint over the updated version released in 2022. Not only is it cheaper, but I think it looks better too. 

2022 vs 2020 allez sprint

2nd gen (left) vs. 1st gen (right). I guess I like em thicc. 

With the 2022 update, Specialized reduced the depth of the tubing. Specialized says the newer frame is 41 seconds faster over 40km. Despite that, I think it’s less pretty. For me, the deeper aero downtube, seattube, and seatpost were part of the original Allez Sprint’s appeal. 

Specialized Allez Sprint Meet your matchA close up of my old Allez Sprint's holographic foil matchsticks.

Then there’s the paint. The latest Allez Sprint colorways just haven’t captured my imagination the way the 2020 options did. I want holographic matchsticks, gold leaf burn zones, and… rainbow trouts, I guess. I still want the Allez Sprint of yesteryear. Why the f*** did I sell my bike? Idiot. I should have never let it go. 

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