Specialized Allez SE
I watched this vintage Specialized Allez bike, a 1987 version, looking rather forlorn and beaten, sitting advertised at a good price for weeks. For days I looked at its photographs a dozen times, tilting my head to look at the clumsily pictured bike, expanding the images to see fuzzy close-ups of the frame. Strangely, there were two nearly identical marks on the top tubes on both sides, which confounded me for days. I ended up asking its owner what these marks were, and he told me that they were rust spots and that he’d just sanded them down to bare metal. Oh dear,
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
My intention was to repaint the frameset. In fact, I had the really great idea of having it powder coated in that striking Specialized red, the colour that had contributed to the Allez’s success. I made an offer and the owner agreed, I felt he just wanted the bike out of his life. It was 30 minute drive and when I saw the bike, it was pretty much how I imagined: dirty and unkempt, with two shiny marks on the top tube where the owner had indeed scrubbed off the paint with the rust. Nevertheless, I was pleased to finally take it home.
Why Buy an Allez?
Sometimes I think this blog is partly a journal of mistakes and nitwitted decisions on my behalf. Ok, perhaps the frame was worth restoring, powdercoating, even. The rust hadn’t made it beyond the paint and the exposed metal seemed ok, so spending $150 on a new paintjob could still be justified. This is a vintage Specialized Allez, a Jim Merz edition, remember! This version of the Allez is quite rare on the market these days, and it is a well designed, high quality frameset. However, as I handed over the cash with enthusiasm and haste, I had missed the hidden problem that was far more serious.
Can You See it?
Look at the top image of the bike carefully. It may be only 1 – 2mm, but the right fork blade is slightly bent. It begins from just below the fork crown, and extends down much of the blade. Above is a photo of the non-drive side, and the fork on this side looks normal. What we have, then, is a slightly bent right fork blade, visible at certain angles but definitely not straight. In my defence, the photos that the owner took showed only parts of the bike, and when I went to buy it, I stood over it, not away from it. Here’s another lesson when buying a bike. Step back to see it!
One of the tell tale signs of a bent fork blade is difficulty installing the front wheel, as the drop outs will not be perfectly parallel. This is a problem I’ve encountered with this bike, as well as this similarly damaged Peugeot, and the repair necessary may not be as easy as it seems. However, I don’t think there’s so much danger of fork failure if I do straighten this blade; the repair would only mean a correction of perhaps 1mm on one side of the fork. A careful correction, therefore, should be possible.