Under its new Body Geometry label Specialized has responded to the growing demand for custom fit technology on many components including saddles, gloves, grips and now shoes. The line is publicized as being developed by Dr. Andy Pruitt and the hard-working folks at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine.
Their road shoe and triathlon line starts at $90 but eclipses $300 for the high performance racer dubbed the S-Works.
The S-Works is the only model that features Powerzone lacing. This system uses a Boa rotary closure near the top of the tongue. With this mechanism you would only have to reach near the top of your shoe to adjust the fit, which would make on-the-bike adjustments a breeze as well as safer.
With this kind of investment in a shoe it is nice to know that the braided steel lace at the heart of the Boa enclosure system is replaceable for $15 or the lace alone for $12.
While the Powerzone lacing tightens the top and mid areas of the shoe one Velcro strap tightens the toe. Specialized calls it a “set and forget” Velcro that alludes to the freedom of taking your shoe off and slipping it on while leaving the strap closed.
Usually a shoe that uses a mechanical enclosure weighs more, but even with the fancy tune ability the 2009 S-Works still averages 250 grams per shoe (based on a size 42.)
One of the features shaving weight is the full carbon outsole. It is called the FACT carbon sole with rigid stiffness and a longitudinal arch support as part of the design. This also helps turn your flexible foot into a powerful lever.
Just on top of that sole is a 1.5mm “varus” wedge that brings more of your instep in contact with the pedal. Specialized points out that very often a person’s big toe will rest higher than their little toe. When you’re on a bicycle this varus angulation can cause your leg to go out of alignment during each stroke. This can not only hinder efficiency but possibly place added strain on your knee joints.
There is also a raised button in the forefoot that spreads metatarsal bones apart to prevent blood vessels from being compressed during the ride. The unique support of this shoe is intended to reduce soreness and discomfort from hot spots.
Unlike Bontrager’s shoe that customizes the insole with a custom eSole footbed, the Specialized Body Geometry technology allows a rider to customize their insole by mixing a combination of optional footbeds and toe shims.
The footbeds are candy-colored in a range of arch and metatarsal supports. With the right insole matched to your foot Specialized hopes to keep your arch from collapsing while pedaling like it does naturally when you walk. This would improve energy transfer efficiently sending more power to the pedals.
Specialized has created their own “Arch-O-Meter” Mat to help measure your arch. The mat reads the contours of your foot to determine the proper combination of Body Geometry footbeds and wedges to use with your shoes. Correct leg alignment is achieved from the resulting insole and wedge combination prescribed for you.
These Specialized footbeds are $47 a pair and a shim kit costs $37. By comparison a pair of eSole’s constructed from a Bontrager dealer cost around $75 (but sometimes more depending on the shop.)
Like one big vent the tongue is optimized for breathability. Most of the other mesh venting given to the upper runs alongside the upper while the toe has hole punched in the Micromatrix fabric. This material is durable and water resistant.
The rear heel has no promoted features focusing on stability. It appears to be streamlined with the rest of the upper with mesh venting but Specialized does not promote any heel-specific cup or design. Riders with a joy for sprinting may want to try on this shoe before buying.
There is a little lack of toe protection so the S-Works might inevitably get scuffed on the front corners. You might have to enjoy any tarnishing as added character.
For a top-of-the-line shoe the S-Works is available in multiple color choices: black with silver mesh and gold trim, white with black, white with blue and a racy Team Limited Red. Only the blue shoe has blue on the carbon sole, the rest sport red accents.
The 3-bolt pattern for cleats will be compatible with most recent pedals including Shimano SPD-SL, Look and Speedplay. There is also a mountain bike version.
Along with the Boa lace being replacable, the S-Works Heel Lugs can be replaced much like the heel pads on Sidi Ergo 2’s reflecting an increasing demand for rebuild capability.
For now in the Women’s Body Geometry line, there is not a S-Works level model with Powerzone and Boa closure. But who knows, one might be released later.
Weight: 250 grams per shoe, size 42
Sizes: 39-48 (with half sizes from 41.5 to 46.5)
Men’s S-Works Price: $300
Women’s Pro Road Shoe $260