The Torch range aims to offer more comfort with similar performance to the S-Works range and Specialized has certainly provided that
New for 2017 is the Specialized Torch shoe range that not only aims to simplify the American brand’s range so it is easier to understand, but also provide as much comfort and performance for a competitive price.
S-Works is the pinnacle of the Specialized brand. In the particular the S-Works 6 shoes are totally performance led and so does compromise comfort levels.
This shows in my review and when speaking with many of my close friends that use the shoes, they’ve suggested the heel cup is too narrow and unforgiving or that there is a pinch at the top of the foot where there is a lack of material.
That’s where the Torch shoe range comes in.
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The Torch range; consisting of a entry level 1.0 (£80), a mid range 2.0 (£150) and what I’m testing here, the Specialized Torch 3.0, topping the range. Important to see here is that the top of the range 3.0 stops at £200; £110 cheaper than the S-Works 6.
I’m not a big fan of black shoes, I see them as very ‘old school’, so I was a little disappointed to see a black pair arrive – please take note shoe brands! However, the Specialized Torch 3.0 shoes do come in a rather nice Limon (lime green), which stand out.
However, once I was past my retro black shoe / white sock combo, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of comfort the Specialized Torch 3.0 shoes provided.
Comparing directly with the S-Works sibling, you’ll notice a drastic change in the way the heel cup feels. It has a much more relaxed fit and isn’t as narrow as the more expensive counterpart.
It isn’t as stiff either and is much more forgiving meaning a lot more comfort around the heel.
The other comfort improvement is the upper and I experienced no pinch across the top of the foot, which I tend to get using the S-Works.
What I’d usually say here is ‘now, with that comfort comes a penalty with stiffness and performance’. Well, it’s is true that it is a step down in terms of outright stiffness but not as much as you’d expect.
The US company uses a carbon composite sole for the Specialized Torch 3.0 shoes. It gives the 3.0’s a 8.5 stiffness rating (it’s 13 on the S-Works 6’s). This downgrade in stiffness wasn’t that noticeable compared with that huge increase in comfort, so I don’t see stiffness as an issue at all.
What it does mean, however, is great all round comfort with enough performance to reap the rewards of your efforts. Usually I need to adjust my shoes a fair amount but these Specialized Torch 3.0 I just chucked on, tightened up and left them until I got back home from my ride.
The two Boa dials work as expected, offering good overall closure and security too.
The Specialized Torch 3.0 shoes have a welded upper of TPU and mesh at the front and a synthetic leather at the rear, which helps keep the price down, along with the FACT carbon composite sole. Though £200 is still a huge cost for a pair of cycling shoes.
The question is that are they worth the money? Well, yes. I don’t think you lose enough performance to worry about the lack of stiffness and the comfort is very good too. They do a good job at feeling better than the £200 price tag suggests, but we do need to remember it’s still a lot of money.
The Specialized Torch 3.0 shoes weigh in at 250g for a size 42. Sizes are available between 39 and 49 with half sizes between 41 and 45.
That is pretty on the money, though Fizik and the R5B weigh in similarly for less money, although don’t perform as well.
The Torch range as a whole is very good. Specialized has noticed that the S-Works platform maybe a little too race focused and lacks some comfort. It also realised that some of its grouping of products was confusing and has simplified them. Ultimately the Torch 3.0 shoes are a good comfortable road shoe that offers a good level of performance.