Specialized has given its Torch shoe range the S-Works treatment, stiffening up the sole and switching to a new Boa dial setup. The shoes come in a standard and a wide fit, get a minimalist upper and a bit of a bump in price, with a pair now setting you back £385.
If you didn’t know, Specialized has a top tier of products that it calls S-Works, applying this to bikes, shoes, helmets and pretty much everything else that it makes. It’s generally the lightest, stiffest and fastest of each range. It’s also going to drain your bank account the most, and while the Torch shoe range starts at £99, it now goes up to £385 for this new S-Works model.
We’ll start down at the sole, as it is here that you’ll find a key difference over the S-Works 7 shoe which was, until now, Specialized's top-end road offering. Specialized claims it "looked at 100,000 foot scans from their RETÜL fit data, and recognised that both a standard and a wide sole would best serve the spectrum of human foot shapes."
As a result, Specialized made two new carbon base plates that are 4mm and 7mm wider than the S-Works 7 for the standard and wider sizes respectively. The sole is curved at the edges, which Specialized claims reduces flex and eliminates bulky material buildup around the perimeter of the sole.
Internally there is an I beam for extra stiffness, and Specialized is claiming a weight saving here of 20 grams, though it doesn't specify against what exactly. What it does say is that this sole is just as stiff as the S-Works 7 shoe.
Again, looking at the fit data, Specialized claims that the new asymmetrical heel cup accommodates the achilles in order to increase comfort. It’s a roomier design than the S-Works 7 shoe, so it may suit riders who found the heel cup on the S-Works 7 to be too tight.
The upper is a mix of in-house materials rather than the Dynema stuff that you’ll find on the S-Works 7 shoes. This features what Specialized is calling ‘adaptive materials’. These, and we’ll quote Specialized here, “allow natural movement of the foot where needed for comfort, while data-driven zonal reinforcement keeps the foot secured for crisp power delivery and optimal efficiency.”
While the rest of the Torch range features a strap down at the toe box, this S-Works version features a simple double Boa 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 really well with incremental adjustment in both directions which genuinely makes it easy to ratchet them down on-the-fly before a sprint. The only thing that they lose out on compared to something like an Li2 dial is the pull-out release. You have to unwind these.
If you’re familiar with Specialized shoes, you might have heard of the Varus Wedge, the Longitudinal Arch and the Metatarsal Button before, and they all make a return with the S-Works Torch shoe.
The Varus Wedge is a built-in tilt, that is designed to stabilise the natural movement of your forefoot and improve foot, knee and hip alignment. Specialized claims that this will improve power output, though by how much isn't clear.
The shoes also get the Longitudinal Arch which is essentially arch support that is built into the outsole.
And finally, there is the metatarsal button. This is a small lump that sits under your foot and its job is to spread your metatarsal bones. Specialized says that this relaxes the nerves and arteries in the foot and should help prevent hot spots. Those are the claims anyway.
The shoes are available now in a standard fit and a wide fit. They retail at £385.