Like a good saddle, shoes that disappear during the ride are the kind of thing that makes every ride better. No hot spots or numbness, no pinching, and not having to constantly wiggle around to stay comfortable…these are the measures of comfort I seek in a good cycling shoe, and the new Specialized S-Works Torch delivers them.
The tech details of how they’re constructed and where they differ from the S-Works 7, Ares, and Exos shoes is in our launch coverage. Here’s my review, with actual weights, and why I plan on keeping these in rotation for a long time…
S-Works Torch Shoes Details
I requested something other than white, because I have a lot of white shoes already, and can’t complain about the “Oak” colorway that arrived. That said, Specialized color-coordinated the BOA wires in white on the white shoes, and they’re incredible looking.
Specialized says they went for a classic look, and they achieved it. Minimal branding (which is even less obvious on the black and white colors), clean lines, and a simple aesthetic that goes with anything. Or any brand bike. If only I could have them in every color…
Despite the simple appearance, there’s a lot going on that makes these special. Compared to the SW7 shoes, the last and carbon sole are wider at the ball of the foot, which provides more breathing room. This is enhanced by their insoles, which us a “Metatarsal Button” under the mid-foot to spread the foot bones out a bit. It’s tiny, but seemingly effective.
I put a lot of hours in these shoes before ever reading the PR materials, but can honestly say that all of the goals they mentioned, they have achieved. Things like an asymmetrical heel counter seem to work, even if it’s not distinctly apparent on the ride.
What is immediately apparent is the lack of pressure points. Two simple BOA dials don’t seem fancy, but their placement and wire routing combine with really smart padding and support structures to hold the foot snug without being uncomfortable.
New materials and well-placed padding have eliminated the rigid edges of the SW7. While I never had any real issues with the S-Works 7 shoes (and actually really like the SW7 Lace), these are noticeably better.
And easier to adjust than laces, obviously. I like the dual-direction dials and don’t miss the quick release click of other BOA options. And I really appreciate the ability to micro-adjust in both directions while on the bike.
The padding through the heel cup and along the upper edges is soft, with rounded edges. The BOA system’s contact points all have broad platforms under them. Combined, any hard points or pokey spots that would dig into my foot are gone.
The new outsoles are sleek. No more trusses, but also less venting. There’s a small intake port at the front, but no exit port. Both toe and heel have rubberized sections to make walking easier, and the front of the toe has a slightly reinforced material to combat scuffs.
S-Works Torch Shoes Actual Weights
Claimed weight is 225g for size 42. My 47EU test shoes came in at 274g and 272g, which is about 18g lighter per shoe than the Specialized Ares, and only about 7-8g heavier per shoe than the SW7 Lace shoes I’m testing.
S-Works Torch Shoes Ride Review
Visually, the shape just looks like a foot. Nice wide toe box, slightly curved shape, etc. Notice how there’s zero bunching in the material in front of the lower BOA wire…that’s the beauty of this design, it keeps the foot snug while providing plenty of room for the forefoot to relax.
While the Ares is aimed at sprinters, the Torch does just fine holding the foot in place under spirited efforts. I never felt like I needed to cinch it down tighter for a county line sprint or interval efforts.
My longest ride in them so far was about four hours moving time, with lots of stopping and photographing, and ending at a brewery…total time in the shoes that day easily hit 6+ hours, but no complaints from my feet.
Other rides have been shorter, from 80 minutes to just over two hours, and the consistent and comprehensive comfort is impressive.
For most riders, the new S-Works Torch is probably the better choice than the Ares, though both now sit at the top of Specialized’s road shoe hierarchy. They’re an all ’rounder that also delivers high performance, and my hunch is the new design will inform lower priced Pro and Expert models in short order because it needs to – they’re expensive, but also that good.
Retail price is $450, which they admit can be a “painful credit card swipe”, but add that they should look and feel just as good two years from now as on the day you buy them. I hope they do. I’ll report back then.