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To Be Determined Journal

To Be Determined is a journal of cycling, adventure and photography, curated by a NYC-based cycling team known as TBD Racing or Team TBD. From criteriums to cyclocross to product reviews and travel diaries, it is all part of the TBD Journal.

Allez! Allez! Two Specialized Allez Sprints

A look at Lucia and Corey's Eye-catching Specialized Allez Sprints

“Two bikes meet on a bridge” could well be the set up to the corniest of jokes (and those who know me well would not be surprised if I dropped an epic groaner at this point), but here, it was the backdrop for a look at a couple of Specialized Allez Sprints, lovingly ridden by Lucia and myself. The High Bridge - NYC’s oldest standing bridge and one open only to pedestrians & cyclists - serves as a connection between the Bronx and Washington Heights, so what better place to showcase our Uptown TBD bikes? Downtown, titanium may rule the land, but Uptown, aluminum is the King in the North.

In casual bike shop talk, Mattie Davitt (of Piermont Bicycle Connection) told TBD racer Liz that, “Specialized has really captured the current zeitgeist of frame styling trends.” Here, Lucia and I take a closer look at what makes each of these whips stand out. (FWIW: both bikes were dropped in the capturing of these images - tho no permanent harm came to either one.)

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Lucia’s Allez Sprint 2019 Red Hook Crit LTD:

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My very first road bike was a black and gray aluminum Specialized Sequoia with bar top brakes. I remember being shocked at the sticker price of $700 given my prior bikes were of the department/toy store variety (anyone remember Caldor?). The ride was harsh, the components were finicky, and I was not jazzed about the way it looked. But, it got me through my first Century and my first couple of years riding in and around NYC. Since then, I’ve owned several carbon fiber race bikes trying to chase weight weenie status. Recently though, I’ve realized that with the type of riding/racing I do most, a bike that handles well and is stable at fast speeds is more important than shaving grams. And, of course, it has to look good, and ideally, be unique.

My teammate Steph Kaplan (who knows a thing or two about bikes) suggested I give Specialized aluminum bikes another chance - technology has come a long way in the decade since my Sequoia! When I borrowed Steph’s Allez Sprint, I was really surprised at how similar it felt to my carbon bike. The ride was not harsh at all (even over pockmarked NYC streets), it handled great at speed and through corners, and when I stood up to sprint, it felt like no power was lost in the transfer from pedals to forward momentum. It’s no secret that the Allez Sprint is a favorite among many local racers, and now I could see why.

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Specialized had been making limited edition Red Hook Crit Allez Sprint track bikes, and luckily for me, also made a handful of road bikes. Coincidentally, the Red Hook Crit is a hometown race that has been near and dear to my heart since 2013, the year I started volunteering as a course marshal, and Red Hook Brooklyn’s Cruise Terminal also happened to be where I found my first kitten, Red. So, it was pretty much fate that when I looked up the design of the 2019 RHC LTD Allez Sprint, it was love at first sight. I mean, JUST LOOK AT THIS BIKE!!! It’s as though a hybrid dragon/unicorn creature lovingly spewed fire vomit onto it! There are whimsical puffy clouds over clear blue skies up front, fading into ice cold silvery mercury water in the middle, and then, POW!, edgy purple daggers soaring above a fiery sunset. It’s a piece of art, and it flies.

Build Details:

  • Ultegra Di2 - 11 Spd (for road bike applications, pry my rim brakes out of my cold dead hands)

  • Zipp 404 NSW Wheels w/ Tubeless 25c IRC Roadlite Tires

  • Portland Design Works Lucky Cat Bottle Cages

  • Zipp Service Course Stem & Bars

  • Supacaz Prizmatik Bartape

  • Specialized Power Expert Saddle

  • SRM Power Meter

  • Speedplay X Pedals

  • Ostroy Designs & Ten Speed Hero Bottles

  • Wahoo ELEMNT Roam Computer

Corey’s Gloss Oil Chameleon / Mint Allez Sprint Disc:

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I love bikes and gear, anyone who has visited my WaHi apartment’s “guest bedroom” can attest to that. I’ve ridden bikes since I was a child, but really got into the go-fast bike genre during the Lance-era of modern cycling (yes, I admit to buying a duo of Treks as a result). I’ve owned aluminum bikes; I’ve owned carbon bikes; I’ve own steel bikes. I’ve found that each has their merits, and, on a given day, I could predict how I would feel at the end of a ride based on the frame I was on. This bike, however, has been a bit of a revelation in some ways. Engineering advances seem to have caught up with riders’ desires, resulting in a frame that’s at least as comfortable over long distances as the carbon one it’s replacing while also giving up nothing in terms of efficiency. Disc brakes: if you’ve ever experienced the joy of carbon wheels in a downpour, you’ll know why I was excited for the chance to get a road bike with discs. Plus, it’s simply a stunner of a frame.

Personal opinion aside, I suppose I knew I had a hot bike when the majority of the [unnamed] racing team spent precious pre-race minutes ogling my ride at a local, abandoned airstrip this summer. Additionally, I’ve been asked if it was a custom paint job and been privy to a rider’s jealousy at being unable to acquire this colorway in anything resembling his size. Upon getting my hands on this Allez Sprint, I sought to build a “racer’s bike”: something easy to service while also being relatively lightweight, stiff, fast, and affordable (in case I had to replace any of the parts, which, obviously, I have). One thing became immediately clear when trying to shoot these pics, however: it is extremely difficult to capture the true beauty of this bike’s color-changing (chameleon) paint.

The most personal detail on my build is the Illinois sticker on the seat tube which pays homage to my home state; one of these has adorned each of my most-recent racing bikes. I went with FSA Wing Compact handlebars and Zipp Service Course CX Handlebar Tape because they have served me well for the past few years, and why mess with a good thing? Despite being a staunch supporter of mechanical groupsets, I was excited to join the modern age and install a Sram Etap groupset, thereby avoiding many of the hassles associated with internally routed cabling while also gaining reliable shifting and light-weight overall. My Reynolds AR41 wheelset is tubeless comabtible, but, here, I’ve mated it with a set of Vittoria Corsa clinchers with latex tubes for near-tubular performance without the hassles or lost brain cells of mastik glue. Finally, I've opted for mechanical disc brakes in the form of TRP spyres for ease of maintenance while conserving the dual piston performance that these brakes provide.

Build Details:

  • Sram Etap - 11 speed bc I can’t afford the new AXS bling

  • TRP Spyre Brakes - Mechanical disc for easier maintenance

  • Reynolds AR 41 Centerlock Disc Wheels

  • Vittoria Corsa Clincher Tires with Latex Tubes

  • Tacx Deva Bottle Cages - Not an exact color match but close enough; plus, they grip bottles relentlessly

  • FSA Handlebars and Stem - Why mess with a good thing?

  • Zipp Service Course CX Handlebar Tape - Proving that Zipp is inevitable

  • Specialized Power Expert Saddle - Taint(ed) Love

  • TBD X Specialized Purist Waterbottles