Product Review: Specialized S-Works Road Shoe

Choosing a good cycling shoe is one of the most important choices a cyclist can make in terms of comfort and increasing performance on the bike. I had always heard good things about the S-Works Road shoe, so was looking forward to trying them out.

Due to having a high arch and wide foot, I have a difficult time finding cycling shoes that fit my feet well.  When I do find a favorite shoe, I have been known to stock up on spare pairs just in case it is discontinued and will wear the same model for years. Upon trying on the Specialized Women’s S-Works Road shoe for sizing, I was pleasantly surprised at how well they fit and how comfortable and light (215 grams) they felt right out of the box.

Installation of my Speedplay cleats to the FACT carbon sole was a breeze.  The 3-bolt cleat pattern also fits Shimano SPD-SL, Look and Time.  The FACT carbon sole has Torsion Box technology which consists of a carbon fiber layup with vertical sidewalls and a proprietary foam core to maximize stiffness, while reducing weight.

In addition, the S-Works Road shoe features a Varus Wedge built into the outsole which is 1.5mm taller on the inside of the shoe. This provides better alignment of the knee and foot and increased efficiency. The angled feeling of the Varus Wedge took a little getting used to during the first few rides, but I could immediately feel an increased power output to the pedals.

Asthetically the design of the S-Works Road shoe is very sleek with clean lines and graphics. You will not find the standard Velcro straps or ratcheting system closures on the S-Works Road shoe, but instead will find the high tech Boa technology with Top dial locks and Boa laces. The micro adjusting Boa closures allows the rider to make small adjustments that can be easily tightened and loosened on the fly while riding for that perfect fit at all times during the ride. This is nice on long rides when you want to loosen the shoes as your feet swell and also a great feature when you want to tighten down the shoes a little before a hard effort.

After a week of one to two hour rides to get used to the shoes, I took the plunge and wore them during a 100 mile beach ride with Team riders Michael Smith Larsen and Frank Sarate. I have to admit I was a little nervous for several reasons:  First, it had been a while since I did 100 miles and secondly, my general rule of thumb is to ease into a brand new model of shoes that I have never worn over a period of time with rides that are not quite as lofty as 100 miles after only one week of wear.

Not only did I surprise myself by feeling good for the duration of the ride, but I was really impressed with how comfortable the S-Works Road shoe was for the entire 100 miles. I did not get the usual hot foot or numbness 80 miles into it that I have gotten with my other shoes. The ventilation is very good with vents on the toe, tongue, sides and outsole, which keeps the feet cool. To prevent hot spots and numbness, the S-Works Road shoe features the Body Geometry Metatarsal Button in their Body Geometry Footbeds which lifts and separates the metatarsals (long bones of the forefoot) which eliminates compression of the nerves and arteries and prevents discomfort.

The S-Works Road shoe includes the Red BG High Performance Footbeds, which is Specialized’s stock body geometry footbed with longitudinal arch & metatarsal button support. The footbed also is available for $ 50 in Blue for riders with a flat to standard arch and Green for riders with standard or high arches.  Even though my arch is pretty high, I have been very happy with the standard Red BG High Performance Footbeds and have benefited from the increased power and comfort they provide.

The S-Works Road shoe fits and looks great, is very comfortable and increases the efficiency and power of every pedal stroke. Overall, I absolutely love the S-Works Road shoe. It has quickly become my favorite cycling shoe and I will be wearing them well into the future.

The S-Works Road Shoe retails for $ 360.00 and can be found at Cynergy Cycles and other Specialized dealers.

By Christy Nicholson,

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