Review: Specialized S-Works Road Shoes

Reviewer: David Quigley

The most popular elite level racing shoe in the world ?

Like most men, I am a creature of habit with shoes. If something works, I don’t need 15 different pairs in different colours for different occassions and so despite having a stable of exotic carbon dream bicycles, I always only had one pair of shoes. Recently however my old Pearl Izumi carbon soled racing shoes were showing some signs of wear.

For a start, they used to be silver, but now they were a muddy grey and it had become quite impossible for someone with no prior knowledge to discern precisely what colour they had originally been. They had also developed big holes down at the front where the upper was coming apart from the sole. Initially I was glad of the extra ventilation, however even I had to concede defeat when I realised that my shoes looked like they were talking if you viewed me head on in a sprint.

Keith Gater had been boring me to tears about these swanky Specialized shoes he had gotten, so off I went to my local bike store and ordered a pair. The first thing that struck me about these shoes was the cost. €220. I can never get on to the missus again. The second thing that struck me is that if a skinflint like Gater was spending that on a pair of shoes they would have to be fairly spectacular.

The shoes themselves are crazy light, 470grams for a pair in size 43.5, only custom built bonts and their ilk are better. For a mainstream shoe that is quite simply a class leading weight.

So… they look great in both the black version and the white version, they are super light, whats the catch (apart from the cost) ? Well they look pretty thin and flimsy so they will surely be uncomfortable right ? Wrong. I don’t know how they did it but Specialized have done it again with their Body Geometry program because these are the most incredible shoes I have ever ridden.

There was literally no break-in period. I am usually reluctant to change shoes because I find it difficult to get on with most brands and with those I do it takes me several weeks of band-aids on my ankles and Savlon to get used to them. The first time I rode the Specialized’s I forgot I had different shoes on. That’s how good they are. The 12k carbon sole is not just light but it is astonishingly stiff and the BOA lacing system means that a couple of turns of a dial and you literally have a perfect fit. It is as if they are moulded to your feet.

If I had one criticism it would be that the BOA system feels a little fragile indeed the top dial on my left shoe does not open fully (never did) and is a little bit of a chore to get into, but I am assured that a minor adjustment will rectify this. The BOA laces can be replaced and apparently have been improved in the newest version of the shoe.

Overall you have to ask yourself what are you looking for in a shoe ? For me it is comfort, fit and weight and the Specialized SWorks has few equals in any of these categories. Apparently most domestic and pro riders agree with Ryan Sherlock remarking that half the peleton in the RAS had them. They are also the most common shoe in the pro peleton on this years Tour De France. I am quite sure that my next pair of shoes will be Specialized Sworks also (but not until these ones dissolve on my feet).

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