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Specialized releases a shoe designed for long distance cycling events

Specialized has taken inspiration from Audax and randonneuring long-distance cycling events for its new Audax shoes, employing technology found in its race shoes but with a focus on comfort for longer rides.

Audax, non-competitive long distance cycling events where cyclists must complete the course within a specified time limit and with regular checkpoints, have many fans in the UK. Not as many as those doing sportives, but if you like your rides long, then Audax is the way to go, with most Audax cyclists thinking nothing of doing 300, 400 or 600km over a weekend. 

Comfort is a priority over stiffness for Audax cyclists and Specialized has employed its familiar Body Geometry technology in the new sole and footbed but with a wider fit and low profile heel for better all-day comfort.

Specialized hasn’t ignored weight completely, and a Powerline carbon/composite sole keeps the weight low; the company claims 500g for a pair of size 42 shoes, which is pretty flighty.  The shoes use a single Boa S2 dial atop a velcro strap in combination with two further velcro straps. The Micromatrix synthetic leather upper is perforated and there are vents in the toe area.

The sole has a regular 3-bolt drilling compatible with most standard road cleat systems. That does seem a strange choice by Specialized however, because it's common for Audax cyclists to choose mountain bike shoes and two-bolt cleats because the shoes can be more comfortable, with a bit more flex in the sole compared to a road race shoe, and because the treaded sole allows for easier walking, which with cafe stops and village halls an essential part of an Audax events for both tea and cake consumption and checkpoints, is vital. 

That could well limit their acceptance among the existing Audax scene, but could prove to be popular with cyclists leaning towards adventure and gravel bikes such as Specialized’s own Diverge model, which blends versatility and ruggedness into a bike that can tackle any sort of road or trail, and want a more relaxed shoe, both in terms of fit and comfort and also style.

Anyway, we’ve got a pair winging their way into the office soon so we’ll be able to have a closer look at them and let you know what they’re like, and if they're any good or not. Specialized offers the Audax shoe in various colours - Red, Black, White and Baby blue, and they cost €250. More at www.specialized.com

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

32 comments

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menthel [11 posts] 2 years ago
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Agreed that 2 bolt spd would have been more sensible (for me at least!). Much easier to walk in- I would find a comfy pair of properly stiff 3 bolt shoes rather than spend on these. That said I use spesh mtb 2 bolts at present which are superb.

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RobD [578 posts] 2 years ago
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The white with black lining ones look pretty smart and understated compared to a lot of shoes out at the moment, shame they seem pretty expensive.

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GREGJONES [298 posts] 2 years ago
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A nice idea, but when shimano can produce shoes with both 3 and 2 bolt plates underneath, why didn't specialized?

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amawby [89 posts] 2 years ago
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Presumably they will now threaten to sue anyone using the word "Audax".

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timb27 [139 posts] 2 years ago
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Shame, a 2 bolt version of these would be perfect for me, except they seem a bit expensive given the sole is less stiff and (presumably) doesn't need to be carbon?

A lightweight 2 bolt road friendly shoe that doesn't cost the earth. Is that so hard? I had a pair of Spesh BG Elites that were ideal, except they stopped making them (according to the shoe shop salesman they were 'lethal' as they had no tread for walking).

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flobble [129 posts] 2 years ago
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Simply putting 2-bolt holes in the sole doesn't solve the problem.

The advantage of 2-bolt SPD cleats is that they can be recessed into the sole so that when you're walking, it's the rubber sole that touches the ground, not the cleat.

The disadvantage is that the pedal/shoe contact area tends to be smaller which can cause hotspots on the sole of the foot. On a 600km ride, that matters. When I was riding Audax, I switched to a 3-bolt shoe for this reason, and put up with the walking problems that ensued.

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alotronic [538 posts] 2 years ago
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Yeah they didn't really research that much did they? Generally most riders wear MTB shoes due to the recessed cleats. You can get extremely light and stiff MTB shoes, so not much of an issue is it? As above, those with hot foot generally use 3 bolt road cleats. I have never thought of needing a softer shoe for Audax. A more waterproof one, yes :0

As you often spend time in cafes that normal people also use you end up using shoes that don't destroy the carpet - because it's polite and you don't want to ruin the organisers rep with the cafe owners. That's also why some organisers insist on mudguards - as well as rider etiquette it also stops you putting your muddy arse all over the cafe furniture.

Having said that I love the bodyfit stuff and the boa enclosure is also great.

Still, it's a sign that Audax might be getting more popular - please add your 'it's not what it was' comment below  3

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birzzles [130 posts] 2 years ago
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The first gen boa shoes worked with 2 bolt - they are brilliant. Completely fail to understand why they dropped them in favour of 3 bolt. Missing out on a whole market.

It is a misunderstanding of the 2 bolt system on road shoes to say they allow easier walking. On road shoes it is still the cleat you are walking on, there is no surrounding sole as there is in MTB shoes.

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MKultra [393 posts] 2 years ago
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I think I will stick with black MTB shoes for now.

Lanes covered in cow muck and mud do not go well with pristine white.

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pistol13 [14 posts] 2 years ago
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To echo what everyone else is saying, why no 2 bolt. Really specialized. how are these any different to bg comps, or any other road shoe. Really disappointed in what could be a perfect shoe.

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DaveE128 [981 posts] 2 years ago
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flobble wrote:

Simply putting 2-bolt holes in the sole doesn't solve the problem.

The advantage of 2-bolt SPD cleats is that they can be recessed into the sole so that when you're walking, it's the rubber sole that touches the ground, not the cleat.

Simples - use SM-SH40 cleat adapters - this makes walking easier, although not quite as easy as MTB/touring shoes.

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Chrisbpr [33 posts] 2 years ago
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Echo comment above,but £250...thats a very non audax price and i cant see these exactly flying of the shelves.

i have a set of BG road shoes and they are excellent ,good fit,good price and a choice of two or three bolt fixing..massive fail spech !

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alexb [163 posts] 2 years ago
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Why not match a roadie-styled upper with an MTB sole?
These just look like very understated road shoes with no features that mark them out as "Audax-specific".

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Beefy [381 posts] 2 years ago
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Really good looking shoe for club rides/sportives, feel an mtb sole might be best for there intended route, very tempting for the type of riding I do.

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MKultra [393 posts] 2 years ago
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A lot of XC race shoes are simply the same as a road shoe with a tread and the SPD drilling anyway.

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nowasps [519 posts] 2 years ago
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The plain appearance is superb.

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dafyddp [446 posts] 2 years ago
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My very basic Specialized shoes accept SPDs or Look (I've used them for both), so surprised higher end ones don't as well.

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dafyddp [446 posts] 2 years ago
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My very basic Specialized shoes accept SPDs or Look (I've used them for both), so surprised higher end ones don't as well.

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amazon22 [282 posts] 2 years ago
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This just seems to be going after the Rapha kangaroo skin or whatever crowd. The Shimano RT82 touring shoes are £90 or less - an 'Audax' shoe body with SPD fixings with the added ability to be able to walk as well.

http://road.cc/content/review/90820-shimano-rt82-spd-shoe

I have the previous model, the RT81, and they've been fantastic. I had some Specialized SPD's which gave me hot spots after 30 or so miles - no problems at all with these.

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alexb [163 posts] 2 years ago
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The Giro touring shoes look pretty nice at less than half the price of these.

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hoski [95 posts] 2 years ago
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Audax specific shoes already exist. They're called SPD sandals. And they don't cost two hundred and fifty spondulix.

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therevokid [1017 posts] 2 years ago
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specialized just trying to cash in on another market ....

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Kadinkski [743 posts] 2 years ago
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therevokid wrote:

specialized just trying to cash in on another market ....

How very dare they!

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bikeandy61 [538 posts] 2 years ago
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Like the idea of the wider fit as I have to wear a size 10 to get the width for my size 9 feet. Look good in an understated way but have to agree with all other criticisms. IE why no tread and why not 2 bolt. Are these really gravel grinder shoes being marketed in Europe as Audax/Randonee models?

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Blackhound [459 posts] 2 years ago
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Happy with my Specialized sport mtb shoes which I have used in various audaxes and 4,000+ miles on the Tour Divide route over a couple of trips. They are a third of the price as well.

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harman_mogul [303 posts] 2 years ago
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+1 for the Shimano RT82

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Batchy [392 posts] 2 years ago
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harman_mogul wrote:

+1 for the Shimano RT82

I have reverted back to SPD 2 bolt cleats. I find the Shimano RT 82 shoes to be the ideal mate for Shimano A600 pedals. The shoes are very comfortable, reasonably stiff and good looking. The pedals are only a couple or so grams heavier than Durace SPD-Ls and are built to Ultegra quality. The RT 82 cost me less than £70 and I have seen the A600s at £45. This combo is suitable for Audax, Sportive or even race use. Oh, and I do not do Duck waddles when I walk across the cafe/teashop floor !

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harman_mogul [303 posts] 2 years ago
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+1 for all that

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Jack Osbourne snr [682 posts] 2 years ago
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A guy on an Audax wearing 3-bolt cleats in called a roadie.

As mentioned above, an ideal Audax shoe is an XC mtb shoe... With or without carbon sole. Light, adjustable, stiff and walkable.

These shoes are about as Audax-specific as a pair of Zipp 808's.

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dassie [153 posts] 2 years ago
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£250!? Think I'll stick with my all season, black Shimano XC50N MTB-style - that I can't fault, and which can be had for <£70...

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