Specialized has released two new sets of climbing shoes, the S-Works Exos and the S-Works Exos 99, claiming the latter to be the lightest cycling shoe on the market while the former is the lightest dial shoe available.
Specialized says the Exos 99 shoes will have a very limited run of 500 pairs globally, with the brand guaranteeing them to sit at 99g in a size 42 – although we haven't had a pair on our own scales.
This limited run is because of the Exos 99s extremely technical outsole, which is 20 per cent lighter than the 'standard' Exos which itself retails at £450 and weighs 316g per pair in a size 43. The Exos 99 will set you back a whopping £600.
While the S-Works Exos uses one Boa dial to tighten the shoe, the Exos 99 uses laces; a distinction that allowed Specialized to cut weight out of the tongue construction, removing some of the bulk from the top of the foot.
Meanwhile, the Exos moves away from the zonal closure system of the Specialized S-Works 7 and the more secure fit that it can offer.
However, Specialized says that the single dial offers the best compromise between a light weight and on-the-fly adjustment. The IP1 Boa dial sits directly on the tongue, where the brand says it should help to provide a more even tension across the top of the foot.
The carbon outsole on both shoes has been tweaked slightly, according to Specialized. Similarly to the S-Works 7, the brand was able to use pressure mapping to identify where it could remove weight from the outsole without sacrificing stiffness, and the result is the cutout holes on the sole.
The same Dyneema material as used on the Specialized S-Works 7 is used on both Exos shoes, and it's this that Specialized says has made the new shoes so light.
Whereas on the S-Works 7s, it was combined with a reinforcing material, on the Exos shoes it has been able to combine it with a light mesh backing that meant it no longer required reinforcing, thus dropping weight.
The heel area is also different, and rather than it being injection moulded like on the S-Works 7, it is now comprised of a mixture of Dyneema and a material called CubicTec. Supposedly, this allows the shoe to contour more naturally, creating a very secure fit.
The toe area of the shoes are made up of a flexible, adaptive material that brings the weight down further and should, its claimed, have a 'second-skin' like fit and be more conforming that the S-Works 7s were.
As ever, it's difficult to judge one brand's sole stiffness against another, but within Specialized's range the new Exos shoes sit below the S-Works 7, with the sole ranked at a 13 rather than the latter's 15.
The S-Works Exos and Exos 99 shoes are available from a size 40 through to a 48, including in half sizes, and are compatible with Specialized's custom footbeds, although these will increase the weight significantly.
The Exos will retail at £450, and the Exos 99 at £600. At the moment, the shoes are available in three colours: red, black and grey and black and white.
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