A few weeks ago, I had my bike over at the bike mechanic’s place. David is an experienced wrench, and has even worked for one of the domestic pro race teams. Now, he’s our very own club mechanic, and I have taken my bike over to his place several times and waited for him to finish up with another club member or two.
This time, we were dealing with my balky front derailleur. He made short work of the repair, but he really wanted me to do something about my rear wheel.
“It’s on its last legs,” he said. “I trued the spokes, but the hub is shot. It’s time to spring for a new wheel.”
We kicked around some ideas for wheels. David, who admits to having champagne tastes when it comes to bikes and components, recommended a high-end wheelset that I just wasn’t going to go for.
He finally agreed with me that a lower-end model would be just fine, and would still be an upgrade from the stock rims that came with the bike.
“I know these are no-name wheels,” I said. “But for an entry-level bike, I think they’ve worked out pretty well.”
My bike is a 2008 Specialized Allez Elite Compact. That means it has upgraded components over the base Allez.
“You know, this really isn’t an entry-level bike,” he said. “Look at what you’ve got.”
He then started at the front and worked his way to the back, pointing out features I’d taken for granted long ago.
“You’ve got a carbon fork,” he said, “but you also have a carbon seatpost and carbon seat stays. The geometry of the bike is race-like. It’s an aluminum frame, okay, but aluminum can take a beating, and it’s relatively light.
“As a matter of fact,” David added, “Dave Wenger has an Alleez.” (David says the “Specialized guys” don’t use the French pronunciation for Allez — ahl-LAY — meaning, “go,” but instead call it the “Al-LEEZ.” I won’t.) If you’re involved in cycling in the Austin area, you’ve probably at least heard of Dave Wenger. He’s one of the top racers in this area.
“Really?” I said.
“Yes. He uses it in local criteriums, where he can really bash it around. Now, it’s been upgraded all around — wheels, drivetrain — but he races an Alleez. That’s really a pretty good bike you’ve got there.”
Well, that made me feel better. I’ve had some components changed on this bike, too — had an Ultegra rear derailleur mounted, although I also downgraded to a Sora shifter. The Bicycling magazine Buyer’s Guide says the current Allez model — the Comp Compact M2 Apex (sigh) — offers “the vibe of a race machine but manners best suited to riders taking their first, exploratory pedal strokes, or to more experienced rouleurs seeking a bike with ride-all-day comfort and enough get-up-and-go for the local Tuesday-Night World Championships.” So, entry level and beyond.
Frankly, I can’t vouch for all-day comfort on this bike. I’m pretty done in after four hours in the saddle. Still, it’s good to know that the Specialized Alleez — excuse me, the Allez — is nothing to be ashamed of when I line up at club rides with the Madones, and the Wiliers, and the BMCs, the Cervelos, and Kuotas some of my fellow riders are taking out.
And a new member who’s been riding with us for just a few weeks decided he needed a better bike than his old steel 10-speed. He bought an Alleez — Allez — too.
buy a wheel set? when you know a local wheel builder?
Jeff A says
Try it yourself. Wheel building can be fun. Just borrow a spoke tensiometer from somebody.
You’re starting to sound like me: a guy who believes he isn’t very cool and then comes to the realization that cool is in the eye of the beholder. Nice post. 🙂