In our ongoing mission to get more customers trying and rating product, this year we are providing a selection of bikes to be reviewed over time.  Here Simon Bennett tells us his first impressions of this Specialized Allez 16 road bike:

At last SUNSHINE!! I’m just back in from taking advantage of it, spending this morning cycling around East Lothian. I’ve been doing a fair bit of training recently, doing between 100 – 150 miles a week and trying to get in better shape for the up coming season of sportives.

The bike seems to be handling the milage ok, especially given some of knocks it’s taken on the poor roads. The brakes have got a bit soft and the gear shifting needs some attention, but generally standard maintence. Although there is a fair bit of squeeking and groaning coming from the headset, which is a bit of a worry. (Will let you know after a service whether this is anything major or not.) Also need to replace rear brake blocks, which have haven’t lasted too long, but have taken some abuse over the few months I’ve had the bike.

I have a few niggly problems with the bike, the seat isn’t comfy for me over longer distance, but I do tend ride on the nose of the seat a bit more and the nose lacks padding. The cables at the front end could do with tidying up, I’ve had to use a cable ties, but it’s a basic thing that spoils the overall look of the bike.

I took the bike to Pitlochery a few weeks ago and did some of the Etape Caledonia route, including the main climbs, taking in Queens view and Schiehallion. (see pics)  I found when it got really steep I was running out of gears. As a result I’m planning on replacing the rear cassette with one with more teeth to see if that helps. I’ve got a new Sram cassette and new Sram chain, which should work ok with the shimano components already on the bike. It was hard going at times and despite my numb arse the views were amazing and in 45 miles of cycling we only saw a handful of cars.

Less than a month now till the Etape Caledonia!! I’ll be back on the blog to let you know how my first event of the year goes and hopefully have some pics taken on it.