Another list member and I are putting together an "Early Allez" web page. I'd love to get pix of your friend's bike.
3Rensho built some of the Allez model from about 1982 to 1984. In an email to me, Bryant Bainbridge, former CR list member and sales exec at Specialized in the era, listed the following as Allez builders, but wasn't specific about the years: "San Rensho, Miyata, Shin Nomura, Toyo, another Japanese maker that escapes me and later at Giant in Taiwan and by Dave Tesch in California for a very limited run."
The earliest versions have a decal on the chainstay that says "Designed by Tim Neenan". It has since been my _assumption_ that Neenan designed the geometry of the first bikes and perhaps built prototypes, but the early production models were built by 3Rensho.
The first thing to look for is an SE sticker on the top tube. The SE was built by either National (Panasonic) or Miyata, depending on whom you ask. It's confusing to many people, because other than the small SE sticker, the graphics package for the 1983 and 1984 bikes is the same for both Allez SE and Allez models. If anyone has a 1984 or so Miyata Pro or Team I'd like to see pictures of the lugs, chainstay bridge and drop-outs to see if there is any shared DNA with the SE. SE's also have serial numbers, while the 3Rensho do not.
So, assuming it's not an SE, here are some things that indicate a 3Rensho build:
Most Significant Features: - Long lug points, extreme thinning. If you are familiar with 3Rensho bikes, these are unmistakable. - The offset fork crown - blades forward of the head tube center when viewed from the side. The crown and the lugs are the clearest indicator of a 3Rensho build.
Ancillary Features: - Chrome dropout faces. I've seen both Campy and Shimano d/o's on 3R-built Allez. - Cylindrical chainstay bridge (not hourglass-shaped) - No "S" in fork crown - Slightly metallic red paint - the SE's were non-metallic. If it's factory paint and it's not red, it's not a 3Rensho.
One I owned, that I believe was a 1982, had a lower-case, sort of cursive "allez" logo in the graphics, and engraved in the seatstay caps. John Vu's bike that was linked to earlier is an odd hybrid, in that it has these seatstay caps, but the later '83-'84 graphics package, with the "jagged" Allez logo. I think this makes it a late '82 or early '83.
Here's John's bike again: http://flickr.com/
Link to my 1984 3Rensho Allez: http://www.wooljersey.com/
Here's Rich Pinder's 1984 SE: http://www-hsc.usc.edu/
If anyone has any additional or contradictory info, please let me know.
van nuys, ca usa