Specialized BG S-Works MTB shoe – £199.99
Specialized’s S-Works tag is reserved for the Californian company’s very best products, and these new top-end mountain bike shoes, with their minimal weight, stiff carbon sole and replaceable tread, thoroughly deserve the label.
We’ve been battering our test pair through enduros, 24-hour races and lots of weekend trail rides over the past six months and have been nothing but impressed. They’re light and incredibly supportive, with Specialized’s Body Geometry ensuring high comfort while the carbon sole delivers impressive power transfer.
A big change made to these shoes is the use of twin Boa dials which, in combination with a small Velcro strap, spread the pressure more evenly across the top of the foot than last years shoes, which used just one Boa dial tightening a length of monofilament line laced several times across the shoe. With two dials, which now also allow a much finer adjustment per click, the upper can be evenly tensioned and separately, as your preference dictates.
On the go adjustment is now much easier too, as the release tab has gone and isntead the dials click in both directions so you can loosen or tighten with a simple twist in either direction. A padded tongue means even with the Boa dials clicked all the way in, for those who like their shoes to cut off the blood circulation to their toes, they’re still comfortable.
The upper is a new lightweight and soft Micromatrix material. It’s proved tough; withstanding some truly nasty ride conditions and some abuse, and the shiny finish cleans up really well after muddy rides. Just as well because white shoes are a pain in the ass to keep clean. Mesh panels punctuate the upper at key points to ensure that on those rare sunny days your feet won’t overheat.
A FACT unidirectional carbon fibre is seriously stiff, there’s no flex no matter how hard you press on the pedals. You don’t want to be walking too far in them though, but when you do stamp on the pedals the power transfer is incredible. Racers will be rubbing their hands together with glee right now, but enduro and marathon riders will also benefit from their incredible efficiency, especially when tired when you’ll appreciate their efficiency.
Underneath a replaceable thermoplastic tread is aggressive though spartan but do offer enough bite when you’re forced to walk. The compound is quite sticky which helps when clambering up a rocky trail. There’s mandatory stud mounts up front too and a set of studs are included in the box with a tool for fitting them.
Both the toe and heel areas are subject to some reinforcing material to ensure they can stand up to some rough use – our pair have barely left my feet since I’ve been testing them and I’ve used them everywhere and without even trying to look after them, they’re still showing little signs of wear.
All that sounds impressive right? And it is, but Specialized’s real trump card is its Body Geometry. We’re big fans of the company’s BG tech, with the canted footbeds, arch supports and metatarsal buttons combining for shoes that are comfortable hour after hour. Additionally there are different insoles available depending on the height of your arch, and how much support you need, so everyone can get comfortable in these shoes. A Specialized dealer will be able to inspect your feet and ensure you get the shoes setup properly.
They’re certainly on the pricey side; £199.99 is a lot of money. Compared to other shoes in the same price bracket though, they compete very well on weight, performance and comfort. For a racer looking for the highest performing shoes for short blasts or enduros, there are few that fit the bill quite as well.
Ignore the price tag and there’s very little to fault, simply one of the highest performing shoes we’ve ever tested.