Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Limited Edition 40th Anniversary Specialized Allez

Specialized Bicycle Imports, now known as Specialized Bicycle Components, or simply as Specialized, got started 40 years ago -- in 1974. To mark their 40th anniversary, the company has created a limited edition series of 74 bicycles made not from the latest carbon fiber that the company's top bicycles are currently known for, but instead they have gone back to frame building master Mark DiNucci to create an all-new forward-looking bicycle made from that most classic of materials, steel.

DiNucci was one of the original frame designers for Specialized, and for these special new bikes, he has created a frame that is not simply "retro," but rather, combines classic lugged steel bike elements with some modern choices-- an interesting blend of past and present, old and new. According to Specialized, "Every tube, lug, and braze-on has been completely reexamined through fresh eyes and carries the experience of our last 40 years of innovation."

The lug designs on the limited-edition bike were designed by DiNucci with contours that look completely new, yet familiar at the same time. The frame geometry looks fairly traditional, though the top-tube slopes gently with a nod toward many of today's frames. Even elements such as the chainstay bridge have been re-imagined -- in this case, an unusual "x"-shaped brace. As a nod to Specialized's past, the bike is being manufactured by Toyo in Japan, which is the same factory that built the original Stumpjumpers. Toyo also built some models for Rivendell, which plenty of Retrogrouch readers can probably relate to.

Though pictured as a complete bike with some non-retrogrouch-y component choices (like those low-spoke-count deep-profile aero wheels), the bike is only being sold as a frame and fork. One could build it up as modern or retro as they desire -- within limits. The fork is designed for a threadless 1-1/8 in. headset, and the rear triangle is spaced for 130 mm hubs. I was glad to see in the photos that it takes a standard threaded bottom bracket. A good thing!

As already mentioned, the series of bikes is limited to just 74 frames/forks. They are being sold through eBay with profits being donated to World Bicycle Relief -- a non-profit organization that provides bicycles to entrepreneurs, healthcare workers, and students in Africa. According to Specialized, the special frames sell for $4000, with $1000 of that being donated directly to WBR. The sale on eBay began September 8th and will run through October 8th (see HERE). As of this writing, one day into the sale, at least 12 packages had already been sold. In addition to the frame and fork, buyers will also receive a Merino wool warm-up sweater with the Specialized logo, matching caps, an S-Works saddle, custom saddle bag, and leather bar wrap.

More Photos:

Notice the tall-profile oval chainstays and the very interesting "X-wing" chainstay bridge. 
Reynolds 853 tubing -- but note that the stickers recall the look of Specialized products of the past.
Pretty seat lug. The seat-stay cap treatment is really interesting -- it's hard to tell in that light, but that cap has a just slightly convex curve, as opposed to concave or flat.
Another really pretty lug shape. Modern, yet familiar.

I think its great that Specialized, in celebrating their anniversary, has chosen to do so with a really top-quality steel frame. Yes, it's a premium price and out of my budget, but it is also a really premium product with profits going to a great cause.


  1. Shame about that top tube - ruins it for me.

    Not that I'd blow that kind of money on what appears to be a pretty ordinary product. Is it powdercoated? The lugs are OK, but I'd rather spend that kind of cash on one of the retro Bianchis. 13 sold now - just goes to show

    1. This bike was the subject of much discussion on the Classic Rendezvous group -- including by some of the very people who worked on the bike, like Mark DiNucci and Bryant Bainbridge for Specialized. There were some people on the CR group who loved the modern elements (such as the x-wing chain stay bridge) and other who didn't like them at all. Re the top tube, that slope is pretty subtle and doesn't bother me -- I have a Rivendell, and it also has a slightly sloping top tube. But other people only want to see a level top tube. Everyone has a different taste.

      About the paint -- it is not powder coated -- but it does appear to be a bit on the thick side. That was discussed on the CR group also. According to Bryant Bainbridge, they had a photo deadline with no painter available and finally found one that would do a rush. It wasn't a painter they would normally use, and when they got the frame back, they were disappointed with the thickness of the paint, but it was apparently too late to do anything about it and they had to use it for the photo shoot. Bainbridge said that the bikes being sold to the public will be painted by an entirely different shop with an elevated level of quality.

  2. 24 sold as of Sept. 13 - 52 cm sold-out. I just received a Lawyerized mass-mailing including a link to the bike, which will no doubt help. I think it's a bit misleading that their photograph shows the frame built-up, too. That is frowned upon. (I know the listing is accurate, but ideally you don't show what is not included).

    It's a weird niche, though. Get a non-custom geometry frame (off the peg) built by who and where? (It's in the original Stumpjumper factory, so I guess I will have to read the comments at CR for details).

    And the verbiage! "...every tube, lug, and braze-on has been completely re-examined through fresh eyes and carries the experience of our last 40 years of innovation..."

    For about half that money, you can get a custom-built 853 frame to your specs (and probably painted a lot better or at least in your choice of colours). Then you can take another $1000 and donate it (tax-deductible, remember) to the charity of your choice. And you're still ahead. I will go to CR and try and understand this better.

    1. Canamsteve--I agree with everything you've said. I guess if I were completely enamored of Specialized bikes and had about $6000 to spare (the cost of the frame plus what I'd probably need to build it up), I might bite. Otherwise, as you say, for the same money, you could get a custom-made frame for less money and still have more than enough to make the donation to the charity of your choice--and, oh yeah, to build the frame up.

      Retro--Whatever the frame's merits, it has a fraudulent premise. While Specialized Bicycle Imports indeed began in 1974, they didn't start marketing (note my word choice) bikes until 1981. Like the parts and accessories they were selling up to that time, the bikes were made for Specialized by builders in Japan and, later, Taiwan.

      I don't mean to dis Specialized as a company: In their early years, they performed a real service in importing bike parts and accessories that were, at the time, difficult to find in the US. My first experience with the brand (still "Specialized Bicycle Imports" at the time) was with their lightweight touring clinchers, which were better than just about anything else available at the time. And, it must be said, their other parts and accessories were almost uniformly of high quality and sound design--and didn't look out of place on classic and classy steel bikes.