Monday, June 1, 2009
New Shoe Review
The contact points with the bike have always been important to me - pedals, shoes, handlebars, even the handle bar tape. Not that I am fanatic about these things - they just need to be comfortable and they need to work. I would rather shell out more for a really comfortable set of handlebars, that I really find comfortable and work for me, than a really fancy frame - ditto for cycling shoes. I last changed my cycling shoes up three years ago. They were the top end model for a very well known cycling shoe maker. They really worked well for me. However, I had read a review last year about the new BG S-Works road shoes by Specialized that intrigued me and I will admit that I thought the Boa closure mech seemed rather functional and cool.
Cool and functional are one thing, but cycling shoes have to fit, and fit well to really work. I knew this, so it was off to my nearest Specialized dealer to try a pair on. Sure enough, the try-on-test at the local dealer was enough for me to give the shoes a go.
Four three years now I have been using Cleat Wedges on the bottom of my shoes between the shoe bottom and the cleat to give me a bit of varus canting - see more on this at the Bike Fit Systems site. Specialized believes so much in this, that all of their high-end shoes have a slight cant built right into the shoe's sole. I normally use three wedges on each foot, and I now only needed two. These thin plastic wedges that cost only a few dollars, can have a dramatic positive impact on comfort, increased power transfer and reduced incidence of knee injuries from cycling. Perhaps the most bang for your bike in cycling!
The first thing that I noticed about the S-Works shoes was the weight - or in this case the lack of weight. Specalized calls the S-Works shoe the lightest production shoe on the market wth a mechanical closure - at 250 grams. My old shoes, a very good shoe as I have noted, felt like bricks by comparison.
The Boa closure was easy to figure out and went on and came off with ease and was easily adjustable on the fly. While I only road ride now, and I know that Specialized has a great Triathlon shoe called the Tri-Vent, the S-Works shoe is also a great shoe for triathlon. I noticed that several top triathletes, who are sponsored by Specialized, are racing in the S-Works shoe and not the Tri-Vent - most notably former Ironman World Champion and main, Specialized triathlon man, Chris McCormack, as well as top Ironman and 70.3 racer, Jordan Rapp. It was Jordan's comments on these shoes that sealed the deal for me. He's meticulous when it comes to this sort of thing. If Jordan says it's good, it has to be good!
The first"Ride" as is normal for me with any kind of new stuff like this is always on the trainer. This way I can fiddle and fine tune things just right before taking something out for a real, real ride outdoors. Cleat positioning and adjustment was very easy and smooth - as I said I reduced by one the wedges that I used between the shoes and my cleats.
The fit is a a bit different than my old shoes - with the S-Works its more glove like and the shoe seems to me overall more anatomically shaped to my foot. Once riding I could seriously note the lower weight of the S-Works shoes. I note this is rotating weight and that's always key weight to try and reduce on a bike. After riding for a bit I felt like the attachment of my foot to the pedal was more positive - which is exactly the feeling that you should get. You want to make sure that all that energy and power the you are putting out with your legs, is being delivered, directly to the bike through the foot and the pedals. When you think about it this way, it's a pretty important contact point with the bicycle.
I have yet to be for a really long ride, but based on what I have seen and felt to date I think that I have found a new favourite, in cycling foot wear - the Specialized BG S-Works Road Shoes!
I am Specialized . . . . . . .well at least my feet are!
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