Specialized has launched the latest iteration of its flagship shoe, the S-Works 7, and a new aero road helmet, the S-Works Evade II. The S-Works 7 is said to be Specialized’s stiffest race shoe to date and has new Boa S3 dials, while the Evade II is claimed to be lighter, better ventilated and more aerodynamic than its predecessor.

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed both the shoes and helmet being worn by riders of the Specialized-sponsored QuickStep Floors and Bora-hansgrohe teams at the start of the season, including world champion Peter Sagan. Now we’re able to fill you in with the details.

Before we get stuck into the small print, the S-Works 7 shoes will cost £330 and the S-Works Evade II helmet will cost £200. Both will be available in five matching colours. Right then, let’s take a closer look at the S-Works 7 shoes.

Specialized's top-line S-Works 7 shoe builds on the success of the S-Works 6 (Pic: Specialized)

S-Works 7 shoes - stiffer and more comfortable

The S-Works 7 is the seventh iteration of Specialized’s top-end shoe and follows the S-Works 6 (no surprises there). Specialized has stepped things up a notch with the 7, said to be stiffer and more comfortable than its predecessor, but how so?

First up, stiffness. Specialized has redesigned the carbon fibre sole through pressure mapping and Finite Element Analysis to reduce the amount of carbon in those areas where it’s not needed, and redistributing it to those areas that take a pounding when stamping on the pedals. Take a look at the sole and it’s significantly more sculpted than the S-Works 6, particularly around the outside of the foot.

The result is increased stiffness for the same weight, with the sole jumping from 13 to 15 on Specialized’s own ‘Stiffness Index’. Now, that's a pretty arbitrary number given each brand has its own way of measuring stiffness, but it does provide some context within Specialized’s range. In truth, any improvement in stiffness will likely to be difficult to feel but, more significantly, Specialized says the new design relieves hot spots by better managing pressure through the sole. Claimed weight, by the way, is 224g per size 42 shoe - exactly the same as the S-Works 6. While we're talking about the sole, the cleat drillings are roughly 5mm further back than on the S-Works 6.

The S-Works 7's sculpted carbon sole offers increased stiffness for the same weight (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

As for comfort, the S-Works 7 is designed to have a more forgiving fit than the outgoing 6, with a roomier toe box. The injection-moulded heel cup remains but the cuff is a little more relaxed than before, in response to feedback from some riders that the previous design put too much pressure on the Achilles. The material inside the cuff has also been changed to the same synthetic leather as the S-Works mountain bike shoe, said to be less grippy than previously.

Specialized has also tweaked the Dyneema fabric used on the upper. Previously, there was very little - if any - stretch to the upper, whereas the Dyneema has now been combined with TPU to create what Specialized calls a ‘flexible, sock-like and durable’ design. These updates - the relaxed cuff and updated fabrics - intend to provide a more comfortable experience, while still offering the ‘locked in’ feel of the S-Works 6.

Specialized S-Works 7 shoes, Boa S3 dial (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)
Specialized S-Works 7 shoes
Specialized S-Works 7 shoes
Specialized S-Works 7 shoes
Specialized S-Works 7 shoes

Otherwise, the S-Works 7 is still based around Specialized's Body Geometry footbed design, which offers built-in arch support, a 'metatarsal button' (a plush support roughly under the middle of the foot to increase comfort and reduce numbness, according to Specialized) and a 1.5mm angled wedge on the forefoot outsole to improve hip, knee and foot alignment. The Body Geometry design is based on data from Specialized's custom fit programme with that final feature, the 1.5mm wedge, designed to accommodate roughly 87% of natural population whose feet naturally collapse inwards. It can be neutralised or exaggerated through fit, and Specialized is rolling out a custom footbed programme across its stores (costing £110).

We still haven’t mentioned the most obvious update to the S-Works 7, either: the new Boa S3 dials. This is a proprietary design unique to Specialized, with an oversized and in-line CNC-machined aluminium dial, said to be more robust than previous Boa dials thanks to improved internal sealing. It's also easier to use as a result of the grippy, laser-etched design. You still get the same 1mm micro-adjustability, whether tightening or loosening the wire lace, and the Boa dials are replaceable, as before. The dials are now thermo-bonded to the shoe, removing any stitching, while the tongue is significantly more padded than the S-Works 6.

The S-Works 7 shoes are available in four colours (black, white, rocket red/candy red and acid lava) from sizes 39 to 49, including half sizes between 42 and 46, while a fifth colour (acid lava/acid purple) is available in sizes 36 to 42, including half sizes for 39.5 and 40.5.

S-Works Evade II helmet - lighter, better ventilated, more aerodynamic

That's the shoes covered, but what of the new lid? The S-Works Evade II replaces the original Evade in the helmet line-up, and whereas the original helmet was developed on borrowed time in other people's wind tunnels, the Evade II was put to the test in Specialized’s own ‘Win Tunnel’ (see what they did there?), built in Morgan Hill, California, in the interim. The result, Specialized says, was more time to develop and test the new helmet’s wind-cheating shape.

Specialized S-Works Evade II helmet

Now, the Evade II is an aero road helmet, designed for those long stages where every watt and every second counts. Think a sprint stage at the Tour de France where Peter Sagan is fighting for another green jersey. However, while Specialized wanted to develop a faster helmet in the wind tunnel, the company also wanted to improve ventilation. Think back to that Tour stage, where both comfort and performance over 200km are key. As a result, Specialized also used the wind tunnel to test ventilation, using sensors on a heated mannequin to determine the best layout for vents.

16-01-2018 Tour Down Under; Tappa 01 Port Adelaide - Lyndoch; 2018, Bora - Hansgrohe; Sagan, Peter;

The Evade II is more compact than the original, with a shorter shape and less overhang at the front and back, while the lid doesn’t drop down as much over the ears. Inside, there are deep channels to pull air over the head and out of the rear exhaust ports.

According to Specialized, the Evade II is six seconds faster than the Evade over 40km (as with most aero numbers, we’ll have to take Specialized’s word on those), while using the helmet is said to be the equivalent of riding with a bare head (that’s a claimed two per cent improvement over the Evade, while the lightweight Prevail is said to be seven per cent cooler than riding with a bare head).

Specialized S-Works Evade II helmet

Other updates include dual density foam to bring the Evade II in line with the Prevail. Specialized has used denser foam on the side of the lid, to protect against high-impact kerb hits, and lighter foam across the top where, because it’s spread over a larger area, it is said to better dissipate energy in the event of a crash. There’s also an Aramid roll cage, new padding designed to draw sweat away from the eyes, and a magnetic closure. While the magnetic closure adds some weight over a traditional design, the Evade II is still claimed to be around 20g lighter than the original, mostly thanks to the dual density design.

The S-Works Evade II helmet comes in the same five colours (black, white, acid lava, rocket red/candy red, acid lava/acid purple) as the S-Works 7 shoes, all available in three sizes (small, medium and large).

Website: Specialized