Like saddles, shoes are always going to be an incredibly personal choice. What suits one person may well be completely unsuitable for someone else, due to foot shape, biomechanical quirks, past injuries or just personal preference. I'm blessed with fairly "standard" feet and suffer from no major biomechanical issues, so I usually find it relatively straightforward to buy footwear for both on and off the bike. This review is therefore based on my personal experience of the BG Spirita Touring Shoe with a fairly neutral foot.
The BG Spirita Touring Shoe is aimed at 'new to intermediate riders' for 'everything from long events to indoor cycling.' With Specialized's BG features and design, it's intended to offer support for the foot, optimized biomechanical alignment, comfort and efficiency while also attempting to deliver ease of walking and reasonably un-techy looks. A tall order!
Finding the right combination of in the saddle performance and walking comfort in a touring shoe can be a challenge. You want a shoe that's stiff enough to make pedaling as effective as possible, yet not so stiff that when you're off the bike you walk like a duck and get sore feet. It's nice if they don't look too obviously bikey too, if you're going to be spending a lot of time sightseeing etc.
The BG Spiritas are reasonably lightweight, and use a three Velcro strap design to secure them. A large portion of the front upper is mesh, while the rest of the shoe is made from a synthetic leather-like material. The shoe uses Specialized's new SlipNot touring sole, optimized for walking, with the cleats sitting recessed into a groove in the centre of the shoe, or there's the option of simply not removing the blanking plate at all and sticking with riding just on flats or with toe clips. There's a 2-bolt SPD-style cleat platform so the shoe is compatible with most types of MTB pedals. Inside, a Body Geometry footbed works to contribute towards a comfortable and biomechanically correct ride, whilst under that is a stiff internal plate for maximized pedalling efficiency.
On first putting on the shoes, I was impressed with the comfort of the design and by the supportive nature of the BG footbed. The fit is fairly average, and those with particularly wide feet may find them a little on the narrow side at the forefoot. There was no heel lift when walking, and the fastenings were easy to adjust and secure. Walking itself was comfortable and felt fairly natural, to a point. It's impossible to make a shoe designed for pedaling efficiency that feels 100% like a normal walking shoe, but these do quite well. The sole was grippy enough to feel secure, and the groove in the centre made for very little cleat/ground interaction- thus preserving the life of the cleats and making walking just that little more pleasant and discrete. Walking around stately homes aware that you may be gouging scratches out of the polished centuries-old floors can be slightly disconcerting.
On the bike, the shoes were a slightly different matter. Pedalling efficiency (with clipless pedals) was indeed not at all bad, with little feeling of lost energy in comparison with more trainer like designs of touring shoe. But, and it's a big but, for me at least the stiffened foot plate did contribute very quickly to soreness under the forefoot. With lightweight socks, this very quickly became unbearable. Even changing to lightweight socks with forefoot cushioning (such as Thorlo Experia Thin Cushion socks) there was a feeling of underfoot discomfort that just niggled at the back of the mind throughout a long day's riding. A shame when you consider how comfortable the shoe was off the bike, and how effective it was for riding. It might be that the shoe would profit from a replacement insole- perhaps even one of Specialized's own. Underfoot soreness is not something I usually encounter with cycling shoes, even over longer distances.
The cost of the BG Spirita Touring Shoe is slightly higher than many other touring orientated shoes on the market, but I'd have considered this to be justified with the inclusion of the BG insole and technology, IF the shoe had been more comfortable on the bike.
Sturdy, good looking and easy to wear off the bike. Shame its on bike efficiency isn't matched with similar levels of riding comfort.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized BG Spirita Touring women's shoe
Size tested: 39
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Aimed at new and intermediate riders for all sorts of riding from recreation and indoor spinning classes to long events and tours.
Fine for shorter rides and spinning classes, but underfoot comfort not up to a really long day in the saddle.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Women's-lasted upper with narrow straps for contoured fit
Stiff injection-molded and glass-reinforced internal plate for on-the-bike pedalling efficiency
New SlipNot sole for off-the-bike stability and comfort
BG footbed and BG enhanced outsole
Synthetic upper with mesh venting at front
2-bolt SPD style cleat plate on outsole- suitable to most MTB pedal designs.
Available in sizes EU36-43
Well put together and nicely finished. Cleat plate on sole easy to remove but also secure if left.
Off the bike walking was easy and comfortable, on the bike pedalling efficiency was good.
Should last very well. Synthetic uppers easily kept clean and in good condition.
Not bad at all. (Size 39- 315g per shoe (without cover plate)
Above average comfort for walking and off the bike, but below average for on the bike pedalling comfort.
Not bad value if you're looking for a pair of shoes for commuting, spinning class or shorter rides, but better value elsewhere for a pair of shoes for long days or weeks in the saddle.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed OK. Fine for short rides but on-bike comfort not good for longer rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Style, fit, walking comfort
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Underfoot soreness when riding
Did you enjoy using the product? Off the bike it was fine, but less so when riding.
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not, as it currently stands.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A well considered shoe that's let down by either a slightly over stiff forefoot plate or insufficiently thick insole.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.