Specialized S-Works 6 cycling shoes review

One of the most popular cycling shoes on the market, and it's easy to see why - the S-Works 6 road shoes tick so many boxes

Specialized s-works shoes

When something comes with an S-Works label, you know it's going to be good - and the Specialized S-Works 6 cycling shoes are no exception. A common sight in the pro peloton, these shoes are a sure bet for most riders, their unfailingly positive reputation landing them an Editor's Choice 2017 spot with ease.

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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 been squandered.

Released in mid-2015, the S-Works 6 shoes have been worn by a plethora of top WorldTour riders since then, including two-time world champion Peter Sagan. It’s no surprise that power transfer is one of the strong points of the Specialized S-Works 6 road shoes.

Uncompromisingly stiff

The FACT Powerline carbon sole is a completely new addition this year 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 is actually elsewhere, in particular in the narrow heel, which really clamps your foot in place to prevent heel slippage.

Specialized S-Works 6 cycling shoes

Narrow heel clamps onto the ankle

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 which must also have contributed to keeping our feet firmly in place even when pulling up on the pedals in a ridiculous way in an attempt find a weakness in these shoes.

Comfort levels up a notch

One problem found with past versions of the Specialized S-Works 6 cycling 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 that could cause discomfort on longer rides for riders with wider feet.

Thankfully this issue was well addressed for the most recent iteration. The toe box is still far from the widest on the market, but is now at least brought into line with the rest of the Specialized range, making it much easier to make the step up from a lower model.

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.

Specialized S-Works 6 cycling shoes

Dials and a velcro strap hold them in place

The original release of the Specialized S-Works 6 cycling shoes saw colour options limited to black, white or a more daring orange/red colour. In 2017 you can choose between black, white and red still, or opt for neon yellow or the graffiti-style ‘Allez’ design. There’s also some blue and red fade editions available from certain outlets.

The only flaw we could find in these was that the secure fit means that you have to loosen those Boa dials off all the way before extracting your foot - but this is pretty minor.

The price - £310 - is admittedly 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.

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Symon Lewis joined Cycling Weekly as an Editorial Assistant in 2010, he went on to become a Tech Writer in 2014 before being promoted to Tech Editor in 2015 before taking on a role managing Video and Tech in 2019. Lewis discovered cycling via Herne Hill Velodrome, where he was renowned for his prolific performances, and spent two years as a coach at the South London velodrome.