Go Anywhere (and Have More Fun) With the Allied Alfa All Road
You might look at the Allied Alfa All Road’s disc brakes and generous tire clearance (up to 38mm) and be inclined to call it a gravel bike or an adventure bike. But despite having these features in common with those types of bikes, the All Road is something quite different.
It is a light, road-race-influenced bike with quick steering, a tight wheelbase (its chainstays are 420mm, only 1cm longer than those on the Allied’s rim-brake Alfa road bike), and a bottom bracket with 69mm of drop (similar to a race bike, though its longer fork and the option to add bigger tires would effectively raise the BB’s height). Unlike the stability-forward feel of a gravel bike, the All Road is very lively. With narrower tires, it’s almost indistinct from a road-race bike in the way it feels and moves: it's stiff at the bottom bracket, with efficient pedaling; it’s compliant and very smooth; and it’s sharp, accurate, and intuitive in its handling.
The All Road’s simple, 920-gram (claimed) frame also distinguishes it from the gravel genre. You won't find mounts for fenders, racks, a third bottle cage, or a top-tube bag; it doesn’t have suspension, and it won’t accommodate 650b wheels. It’s just a bike with clean lines and proven geometry without the fluff. That isn’t to say those amenities aren’t desirable, even crucial, for a certain type of rider. But from my experience, it’s mostly the tires—and a bit of help from lower gearing—that make a bike capable off pavement. Despite bike manufacturers’ attempts to convince you otherwise—because selling you two bikes instead of one is in their best interest—a simple tire swap (and, of course, the appropriate clearance) is often all it takes to expand your road bike’s potential. That’s why, if you’re more in the market for a versatile bike (in terms of where it can go) and less concerned about having all those extras, the All Road fits the bill.
You Versus the Peloton: Riding on Flat Roads:
With 25mm Vittoria Corsas, the All Road is a road-racing bike. But throw on a set of 38mm Panaracer GravelKing SKs, and it becomes a gravel bike (race or otherwise). Hell, with 33mm Challenge Baby Limus tires, it becomes a cyclocross bike—or even a sweet singletrack ripper. I rode it primarily with 30mm Kenda Valkyries, which made the All Road a honey badger that didn’t give a shit where I rode it. Best part: Bigger tires don’t change the All Road’s fast and stiff personality; they just allow it to go more places and roll more smoothly. (Check out the world’s best cycling rides and routes, from Italy and Belgium to Arizona and Texas, in Bicycling's book The Cyclist's Bucket List.)
The All Road isn’t the only alternative for a big-tire-ready, disc-brake, drop-bar bike. It may not be the right bike for everyone. But I like it because it feels and handles like the road-racing-style bikes I’ve been riding all my life. Only now it has much better brakes and can fit much bigger tires. It’s a bike that lets me go more places and do things I’d never dream about doing on a typical rim-brake, road-racing bike. And going places is how I have adventures.