Specialized S-Works Boa shoes - Road Cycling UK

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Specialized S-Works Boa shoes

Specialized S-Works Boa road shoe

Sizes: 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 41.5, 42, 42.5, 43, 43.5, 44, 44.5, 45, 45.5, 46, 47 & 48
Approximate Weight: 610gm (Size 42)
Colours: ‘Roberto Carlos’ silver
Price: £149.99
From: Specialized dealers
Tel: 0208 391 3500

Considering that these shoes were developed with personal feedback from former World Champion Mario Cipollini, the S-Works shoes are quite reserved in design. You’d expect ‘fashionista’ Mario to add a Versace lion motif or a Louis Vuitton print effect somewhere. So the simple lines are quite welcome. OK, so you’re going to look a little like a Premiership footballer in these, you could always wear overshoes (like I have been) if you’re not going so well… but looks aside, how well do they fit?

The Body Geometry programme is one buzz word that comes out of Specialized’s design HQ with plenty of substance. Specialized have been developing products for a few years that make cycling a more comfortable experience (saddles, shoes, shorts etc) the contact points that attach you to your bicycle. They have realised that these things are as important as the bike’s geometry, I suppose that’s where they got the name from…

Now you may well be like me in thinking that laces in shoes were just fine. Velcro seemed a little like a step backwards and then all those ratchets and dials just seemed like over-egging the pudding. But after using Velcro shoes for the past ten years the Boa system is a quantum leap in comfort and is so easy to use. I soon forgot about the hassles of releasing straps from tired feet and wrenching at heels to remove soggy shoes from wet socks. Simply click the red button on the dial and step out, it’s that easy.

The dynamic closure tensioning system is said to instantly self adjust to distribute pressure evenly across the foot, eliminating hotspots and sharp pressure points – which it does – and releasing it is just as simple as winding it up. The high strength, low friction Spectralace cord is exceptionally strong and abrasion resistant, made from Kevlar and will withstand bullets. The dial is well made and can be replaced if you damage it, it looks like it will take a belting if you crash heavily on it.

The F.A.C.T. (Functional Advanced Composite Technology) carbon outsole is very rigid. It allows a stable platform for their varus wedge system. This is something that fit specialist/frame builder (and Body Geometry consultant) Ben Serotta and companies like Cyclefit and Le Wedge have all realised.

Stabalising the feet is key and the foundation for cycling comfort – many riders (including top UK pro Nicole Cooke) have used varus corretcion to assist recovery and prevent further knee injury.

Inside the shoe the ‘contours of the Body Geometry footbed support two key areas of the foot: the metatarsal button, and the longitudinal arch. The raised metatarsal button section in the forefoot spreads the metatarsal bomes to prevent nerves and blood vessels from being crushed during pedaling, reducing “hot spots”, foot swelling and discomfort. The raised longitudinal arch support provides a stable platform to minimize arch flex and improve power transfer and efficiency. That’s what they say in the blurb and it seems to work.

But the critical fit issue is the Varus Wedge implanted into the sole of the shoe.
‘The Varus wedge slightly angles the forefoot to match its natural canted position, bringing the foot into full contact with the pedal and eliminating rotational movement of the knee, shin, and forefoot. Compared to standard cycling shoes, the resulting movement of the leg during pedaling is smoother and better aligned, reducing knee pain and strain.’ Although this is the simple version of a recognised condition, the effect is noticeable and your feet certainly ‘feel’ better aligned. It is worth mentioning that some riders with pronounced pronation or supination will need extra wedging and this is best done by a qualified fit technician or podiatrist.

£150 is a lot of money to spend on a cycling shoe. But Specialized’s range topping road shoe is actually very competitive with similar shoes from Carnac, Sidi, Northwave and Shimano. The S-Works shoes come in a massive range of sizes from 37-48 and with plenty of half sizes that will be a hassle for stockists but will mean you can get the exact fit. Pedal compatibility is straightforward for most 3-bolt and 2-bolt cleat patterns fitting Shimano SPD, SPD-R, SPD-SL, Look, Time and Speedplay.
Spare Parts are also available including the BG Footbed, Boa dial and the Boa Spectralace. Specialized have added some cheaper models too and a standard (non-Boa) Body Geometry road shoe can now cost under £80.

When buying shoes comfort will (and should) be your deciding factor. It’s not all bling and posing in cycling – even ‘tart’ pro-riders like Mr. Cipollini have custom footbeds and lasts made for all their shoes, as they spend an average working week on a bike they need to look after their feet. Mario’s feedback was clearly more substantial as they do fit well. The Boa lacing system is much better than all the velcro and ratchety fitting shoes that I have tried over the years and adjusting them on the road is a major advantage if you have foot issues which other shoes can irritate. Releasing dial on the S-Works shoe after a long ride and stepping out of them is effortless – it’s just a pity my slippers aren’t this comfy.

Good: They fit, perfectly.

Bad: You’ll have to raise your game to justify looking this flash




For more on the S-Works shoe go: here


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