CYCLING SHOE REVIEWS
- Straight last
- Stiff carbon-fibre base
- Firm, conformed and well-fitting upper
- Great longevity
- Firm heel cup is love or hate
- Fit is shallow and low profile which won’t suit a lot of foot types.
- Rapha Pro Team Shoe
- Bontrager XXX
Straight off the bat, this is a hard shoe not to like… If it fits. The S-Works 7 is Specialized’s entry into the top-end cycling shoe market and like it’s predecessor, it doesn’t disappoint. Whilst the Exos does sit atop of the S-Works 7 in terms of cost, this is a shoe without gimmicks and is their benchmark shoe for their sponsored riders.
Like the EXOS, the S-Works 7 shares the same straight-last and retains a similar medium to wide profile as the S-Works 7. However, Specialized’s priority is power and performance and as such, there’s no compromise in order to reduce its overall weight like it’s more expensive cousin. The base is very strong and at 250g for a Sz45, it’s by no means a heavy hitter.
The S-Works 7 has a very firm synthetic upper that really holds the foot very well, acting almost like a second skin, and along with two traditionally placed Boa’s on the dorsum of the foot, there is no overthinking. The shoe simply fits well and there’s no need for any more complicated Boa designs like you see on the bottom Boa of Shimano’s S-Phyre. The shoe’s lower forefoot strap however, is quite frankly unnecessary, and ultimately I would like to see it removed and/or replaced with a simple extension of the Boa on future versions.
The overall width isn’t enormous and any foot broader than an E width is likely to find themselves with a little “pinchiness” around the forefoot. The toe box is also quite shallow so when you combine these two aspects, anyone with an existing forefoot injury such as an irritable Morton’s Neuroma might find themselves in a tricky situation. If you’re lucky enough to live outside of the UK, however, a wide version (2E) width is available online. Why it’s not available in the UK is a mystery…
The heel cup of the S-Works 7 is where this shoe starts to show its true colours and for those who’ve tried it, it’s usually the first thing that’s mentioned every time. Unlike Bont and Lake shoes in a similar price bracket, there’s no DIY heat molding option to adapt the heel cup further at home. The shoe’s heel has a plastic exoskeleton similar to that on Rapha’s Pro Team shoes but the fit itself is exceptionally tight giving this shoe an incredibly tight feel and as a result, it’s the shoe’s true Vegemite characteristic. It’s either going to be great or too intrusive.
The S-Works 7 is a consistent top-end cycling shoe that not only looks incredibly elegant but performs incredibly well particularly over time. It’s stiff, lightweight, and has sensible design characteristics that ensure it suits a wide range of foot types.
But beware of the heel cup and its shallow depth. The good thing about these features is that if the show isn’t for you, you’ll know it straight away and it won’t likely come back to haunt you once you’ve already added your cleats and done a measly 100km on them.