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.