Home
Verdict: 
Light, stiff and insanely comfortable
Weight: 
476g

These S-Works 6 shoes from Specialized, the latest in a long line of top-end carbon fibre-soled race models, are among the best performing and most comfortable I've ever tested. They're very light, very stiff and, I repeat, really rather comfortable. They're not cheap, but if you can find the money, they're among the very best performance/race shoes currently available.

The shoes feature a new FACT Powerline one-piece carbon fibre sole, completely redesigned from the previous S-Works shoes. The profile is lower, so less stack height, and the rear section is tapered in a way that sees it providing better support for the back of the foot, with a new moulded heel cup that Specialized calls the PadLock heel. It really does work, they cup and support the back of the foot extremely well. There's no heel lift at all.

> Find your nearest dealer here

As well as the redesigned sole, there's the all-new upper. Specialized has used a fabric called Dyneema Cubic Light. A fancy name, and apparently it's the same stuff used by NASA for its space shuttle parachutes. Certainly an impressive factoid for the club ride.

Specialized’s new S-Works 6 road shoes 5

The benefit of this fabric, and the reason Specialized has used it, is that it has very little stretch, and this helps power transfer. It's not used over the entire shoe, mainly just the midsection to provide extra support. It's combined with a regular synthetic microfibre material, which does have a bit of stretch. Essentially, the shoe is rock solid where it needs to be for pedalling efficiency, with stretch where needed.

Closure is via a pair of Boa S2 dials and one short Velcro strap, a carryover from the previous S-Works shoe, which distributes pressure across the top of the shoe extremely well. The fit is so good, though, that you don't need to cinch the dials up that tightly for regular riding. The dials are easy to operate; rotate one way to tighten, the opposite to loosen.

Specialized’s new S-Works 6 road shoes 2

The sole is drilled for regular three-bolt cleats, with titanium inserts to save weight and boost durability. Alignment markers help you get the cleat position exactly right across both shoes. There's a small, and to my mind rather pointless, vent at the front of the foot. More usefully, there's a rubber toe bumper and heel pad for easier walking, and to save damaging the carbon sole.

Specialized’s new S-Works 6 road shoes 3

The combination of the new carbon sole and the revised upper means power transfer is noticeably improved over the previous S-Works shoes. The upper hugs the foot much more securely, with no tightness or pressure hotspots, and no heel lift. The carbon sole perhaps isn't the outright stiffest on the market, but it certainly doesn't lack stiffness when you launch a sprint or give it the full beans up a climb.

> Check out our guide to the best road cycling shoes here

Fit is obviously a personal thing, but these shoes fitted my feet exceptionally well. At this sort of price you might expect some level of heat mouldable customisation, but the fit and comfort of these shoes is so good that it's really not needed. In fact, I found them more comfortable than some mouldable shoes I've previously tested. It's like they've been shrunk onto my feet. Comfort for even the longest rides is outstanding.

At 476g for the size 45s tested, they're right up there with the lightest shoes this sort of money can buy. You really do notice that (lack of) weight when riding: pedalling feels about as effortless as it's possible to get.

Verdict

Light, stiff and insanely comfortable

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Specialized S-Works 6

Size tested: 45

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?

Specialized says: "The advantages of the next generation S-Works 6 shoe can be summed up in two simple phrases''explosive speed and superior comfort. The speed comes as a direct result of great fit and better connection, delivering more efficiency and power to the pedal. The new PadLock heel, combined with revolutionary strong and lightweight materials in the upper, creates a snug fit that is incredibly secure. Result? You have a shoe that helps transfer more of your energy into the pedals when you crank up the watts. Add to that the legendary performance and adjustability of the dual-Boa® closure system and the S-Works 6 becomes more than just a shoe, it allows you and your bike to work seamlessly together with maximum efficiency."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Body Geometry sole and footbed are ergonomically designed and scientifically tested to boost power, increase efficiency, and reduce chance of injury by optimizing hip, knee, and foot alignment.

Our stiffest and lightest FACT Powerline™ (patent pending) carbon plate to maximize power transfer: Stiffness Index 13.0.

Dyneema® Cubic Tech™ directional fibres are thermo-bonded to create no stretch zones for ultimate connection.

Independent Boa® S2-Snap dials for on-the-fly micro-adjustment, backed by the Boa® Lifetime Guarantee.

PadLock moulded heel and one-piece stroble upper for superior fit.

Titanium alloy cleat nuts can rotate to position pedal/cleats 5mm rearward.

Non-slip, replaceable heel tread with internally recessed screws for security.

Form Fit last with roomy toe box for ultimate connectivity and comfort.

Three-bolt cleat pattern fits all major road pedals.

Approximate weight: 224g (1/2 pair, size 42)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for fit:
 
10/10
Rate the product for sizing:
 
10/10
Rate the product for weight:
 
9/10
Rate the product for comfort:
 
10/10

How do they make them so comfortable?

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

I'm not pretending they're fantastic value for money, but if you compare them to other similar priced shoes (which you must) they perform extremely well.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Very easy.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Do everything expected of a top-end race shoe.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Fantastic fit.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Lots of money.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

Yes they're a lot of money, but then so are all top-end race shoes that are this light and stiff. But these are among the best performing and most comfortable I've ever tested.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking

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.

9 comments

Avatar
peted76 [1208 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Would love a pair, however I struggle to justify over my £85 Bont Riots - are they that much better?

If not these S-Works 6 shoes, then in your opinion, what else is up there with the very best shoes out there? (apart from Sidi which I just don't like the look of)

I've been eyeing up the Bont Vaypor S with longing eyes for a while... these are also up there.

 

Avatar
bendertherobot [1531 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Pete

loads of choices but I'd say Shimano R321 (though the R171 are frankly a steal) or the Crono Futura2.

Avatar
markfireblade [63 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Dyneema is used in ballistic protection (armour) in our Merlin helicopters (and others) and in those vests that soldiers wear, so these shoes should be pretty bulletproof...

Avatar
hampstead_bandit [614 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

After struggling to ever feel comfortable in Shimano R170 - found the heel cup had a poor grip whilst climbing

I really wanted these S-Works shoes (and found them reduced on an offer) but could not get my feet into the openings with any confidence that I would not destroy them in weeks, even with the help of the experienced sales person at a Specialized brand store.

 

Had the same experience with the S-W mountain bike shoe, which they had at 40% off as it was a 2015 model.

Ended up buying the £160 Specialized Expert road shoe, which is much easier to get on, has a great fit with a Shimano custom footbed and feels plenty stiff when on the gas

//www.beelinebicycles.co.uk/medialibrary/_shadowboxbig/2016/02/04/8d789139/Expert%20Road%20White%202016%20Rear.jpg)

Avatar
Stu Kerton [103 posts] 2 years ago
1 like

[quote=peted76

If not these S-Works 6 shoes, then in your opinion, what else is up there with the very best shoes out there? (apart from Sidi which I just don't like the look of)

 

[/quote]

 

Giro Factor - pure cycling slippers!!

Avatar
Martin Thomas [384 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I'm not a massive fan of Specialized as a company but I can't fault their shoes, which - for my feet at least - are more comfortable than anything else I've tried (including Sidi, although I think Sidis are better made and last longer). My white Spesh 74s are fantastically comfortable, stiff and, in my opinion, handsome. I think cycling shoes are a bit like saddles: once you've found the shape that suits your body, you're laughing.

Avatar
pedalpowerDC [380 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I've a set on order and rumor is that they opened up the toe box a bit over the previous version, which was significantly tighter than the version before that. Let's hope that the heel treads are redesigned to last longer than half a season.

Avatar
DivineChorus [37 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

I'm the same as Hampstead Bandit, really rate the Expert for comfort. I'm looking at buying a second pair soon, my current ones are 5 years old but still going strong.

I tried a pair of Giro Empires, loved the look but couldn't get them to feel anything like comfortable.

 

Avatar
Anthony.C [267 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

That seems to be full price, you can always save a hundred quid by getting last year's model, same with all Specialized stuff.