Light, stiff, and comfortable; these S-Works shoes are a common sight in the pro peloton, and you’ve only got to ride them to the end of your road to realise why.
As you might be able to guess from the name, the Specialized S-Works 6 road shoes are the sixth incarnations of the Californian company’s top of the range footwear, and those years of development certainly don’t appear to have gone to waste.
Worn by Albert Contador on his way to Giro d’Italia glory and Peter Sagan during his successful World Championship challenge, it’s no surprise that power transfer is one of the strong points of the Specialized S-Works 6 road shoes. The FACT Powerline carbon sole is a completely new addition from the old model and is uncompromisingly stiff, while the thin footbed makes sure that nothing is lost in this area.
However the key to the excellent power transfer as actually elsewhere, in particular the narrow heel, which really clamps your foot in place to prevent heel slippage. The slightly shiny area on the inside of the shoes is also made from a thermo-bonded fabric which is apparently impossible to stretch, and must also have contributed to keeping by feet firmly in place even when pulling up on the pedals in a ridiculous style in an attempt find a weakness in these shoes.
One problem with the old S-Works shoes was that while the rest of the Specialized shoe range had a fairly standard fit, the S-Works shoes had a very narrow toe box which could mean discomfort on longer rides for riders with wider feet.
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Thankfully this sixth generation goes some of the way to solving this problem. The toe box is still far from the widest on the market, but is at least brought in to line with the rest of the Specialized range, making it much easier to make the step up if you own one of the American company’s cheaper models.
This improved comfort on longer rides is also helped by the choice of retention systems on the Specialized S-Works 6 road shoes. Like on the old models, Specialized has used a combination of two dials with a velcro strap across the toes for extra security. And these are the latest Boa dials, meaning that you can both tighten and loosen in increments, allowing you to get the perfect fit whether you’re out all day in hot conditions, or preparing to unleash a race-winning sprint.
If there is one flaw it is only a minor one, namely that the secure fit means that you have to loosen those Boa dials off all the way before extracting your foot, which is something you could do without at the end of a hard race. The price is also hard to ignore, but if you’re after one of the best pairs of cycling shoes on the market, then it’s a price worth paying.
The Specialized S-Works 6 road shoes are possibly the ultimate performance cycling shoes. The power transfer is faultless, there's plenty of adjustability, and the fit is much improved compared to the old model. The only downside is that this performance doesn't come cheap.