Specialized has given its Torch line of shoes the S-Works treatment, stiffening the sole and switching to a new Boa dial configuration. The shoes come in a standard and wide fit, have a minimalist upper and are priced a bit higher, with one pair now costing you £385.
If you didn’t know, Specialized has a higher tier of products it calls S-Works, applying that to bikes, shoes, helmets, and just about everything it makes. It is generally the lightest, stiffest and fastest of each line. It’s also going to drain your bank account the most, and although the Torch range of shoes start at £99, it now goes up to £385 for this new S-Works model.
> We first spotted these shoes earlier this year
We’ll start with the sole, because that’s where you’ll find a key difference from the S-Works 7 shoe which was, until now, Specialized’s top-of-the-line road offering. Specialized claims that it “reviewed 100,000 foot scans from their RETÜL fit data and recognized that a standard sole and a wide sole would better serve the spectrum of human foot shapes.”
As a result, Specialized has made two new carbon baseplates that are 4mm and 7mm wider than the S-Works 7 for standard and wider sizes respectively. The sole is curved around the edges, which Specialized says reduces flex and eliminates bulky material buildup around the perimeter of the sole.
> Read our opinion on the Specialized S-Works 7 road shoes
Internally, there’s an I-beam for added stiffness, and Specialized claims a 20-gram weight saving here, though it doesn’t specify exactly against what. What it says is that this sole is just as stiff as the S-Works 7 shoe.
Again, looking at the fit data, Specialized claims the new asymmetrical heel cup conforms to the achilles in order to increase comfort. It’s a roomier design than the S-Works 7 shoe, so it may work for riders who found the heel of the S-Works 7 to be too tight.
The upper is a house mix of materials rather than the Dynema elements you’ll find on S-Works 7 shoes. This includes what Specialized calls “adaptive materials.” These, and we’ll quote Specialized here, “allow natural foot movement where needed for comfort, while data-driven zonal reinforcement keeps the foot secure for crisp power and optimal efficiency.”
While the rest of the Torch line features a toe strap, this S-Works version features a simple Boa double dial setup. These are the S3 snap dials and they are very good. We’ve tested them on a few other shoes and they work great with incremental adjustment in both directions, which really makes them easy to adjust on the fly before a sprint. The only thing they lose compared to something like a Li2 dial is the sliding trigger. You have to unroll them.
If you’re familiar with Specialized shoes, you might have heard of the Varus Wedge, Longitudinal Arch, and Metatarsal Button, and they’re all making a comeback with the S-Works Torch shoe.
> Your complete guide to the Specialized road shoe range
The Varus Wedge is an integrated incline, designed to stabilize the natural motion of your forefoot and improve foot, knee and hip alignment. Experts say this will improve power output, but by how much is unclear.
The shoes also get the longitudinal arch which is basically arch support built into the outsole.
And finally, there is the metatarsal button. This is a small bump that sits under your foot and its job is to push your metatarsal bones apart. Specialized says it relaxes the nerves and arteries in the foot and should help prevent hot spots. Those are the claims anyway.
The shoes are now available in a standard fit and a wide fit. They retail for £385.