Article by Alan Williams.
Specialized announced their completely revamped S- Works road shoe last year, but up until recently it’s been quite hard to get your hands on a pair here in South Africa. So after months of waiting, I was finally able to get my hands on a pair of beautiful white ones.
Ok, so this was not the first time I had seen these shoes in the flesh, but it was the first time I had seen the white ones in the flesh, and they are very impressive. There is a sleekness about them. Everything just says speed and efficiency. These shoes look fast. And they’ll make you look fast.
When I saw these shoes for the first time in the red, I was really struck by the simplicity. The shoe is constructed with a one piece upper bonded to the FACT carbon sole. In a way, these shoes are a super stuff carbon sole, with a bit of stuff on top to keep the sole attached to your foot.
These remind me of the old Lecoq Sportif leather cycling shoes my grandfather owned. Very simple, with performance as the main goal. Sure shoes design and manufacture has come a long way since the 80’s, but Specialized seemed to have taken the simple concept of less is more and made it work very well.
Performance and Comfort
Ok, so first things first, these shoes are light. Very light. Claimed weight of 448g for the pair in a size 42. That’s around 80g less that Giro’s Empire and a staggering 220g lighter than Sidi’s Wire Carbon. It might not sound like much, but when you have to keep kicking a shoe up and down your pedal stroke, the less it weighs, the better.
The heel cup in the S- Works 6 shoes grips like nothing on earth. Even if I try to pull my heel out while pedalling, the shoes hold on for dear life. This is great for your pedal stroke and stops your foot from moving around too much in the shoe.
I initially thought that the rigid heel cup would be very hard and uncomfortable, but it actually works perfectly. I experienced no discomfort. Pardon the cliché, but it fit like a glove.
The upper of the shoe is a one- piece job. These are thermo bonded to the sole. The great thing about this is that there is no stitching in the upper that could cause discomfort. These uppers are very well vented and have no padding, but the padding only adds weight and is unnecessary on a shoe that fits this good out of the box.
The retension system is the new Boa S2 dial system which, as always, performed without fault. The Boa dials also offer great on-the-fly adjustment.
Now for the party piece: The sole is made of Specialized’s FACT Powerline carbon. These soles are extremely stiff. There is absolutely no power that goes to waste. This, however, does not make the shoes any more difficult to walk in than any other carbon soled road shoe.
All in all these shoes are very pro. They combine cutting edge performance with Rolls Royce comfort. But for that you pay Rolls Royce prices. These shoes are not cheap. A new pair of S- Works 6 shoes will knock you back R4999, but concidering that other brands are now getting close to that price with their top offerings, I would personally be willing to spend the extra bit of money for the performance and comfort of these shoes.