Specialized has completely revamped its mid-range road shoe lineup with the introduction of the Torch. These Torch 3.0s are the most expensive at £200 and offer excellent comfort with a very stiff carbon sole and easy Boa dial adjustment
Specialized's recent S-Works 6 shoes have been well received with great fit and super performance. Aiming to offer a slice of that performance at a lower price, Specialized has designed three levels of its new Torch shoes for the 2018 season, priced from £80 up to the £200 Torch 3.0 shoes tested here.
'From the outset of the Torch 3.0 Road shoe design process, our goal was to create a performance offering as feature-packed as any top-end shoe. The challenge, however, was pulling this off at a palatable price,' explains Specialized.
The foundation of the new Torch 3.0 shoes is a full FACT carbon composite sole that is given a 'stiffness index' of 8.5, so not quite as stiff as the 13 rating of the top-end S-Works 6 shoes. The soles are drilled for three-bolt cleats with clear markers for lining them up, and a couple of vents at the front and mid-section, while a rubber heel pad makes walking less treacherous.
The upper is made from a combination of thermoplastic polyurethane and a synthetic leather with mesh panels and perforations in strategic places to aid cooling when the temperature increases. A thermo-bonded construction process reduces the weight and gives the shoes a sleek and unfussy appearance.
Two colours are available, the 'limon' here which divided opinion, and a more reserved black. Sizes from 39 to 49 are available.
A padded tongue spreads pressure from the two Boa S2-SV Snap dials which pull two separate wires across the top of the shoe. The dials allow easy micro adjustment in both directions, with the dial pulled upwards to release the tension. A small Velcro strap provides fit-and-forget toe box volume adjustment.
Specialized shoes have long been popular, with good fit and Body Geometry sole tech aiding comfort. The Torch 3.0 shoes are no exception, and after a period of adjustment (it always takes some time to settle into new shoes) these are exceptionally comfortable.
There are some subtle differences from the S-Works 6 shoes but that's probably no bad thing for the sort of people these shoes are aimed at. The toe box is more voluminous than the very low profile S-Works shoe, ideal if you need a bit more wiggle room. The tongue is also padded (the S-Works 6 isn't) and the combination of those two differences does provide extra comfort for longer rides when you're cruising rather than racing.
The FACT carbon sole doesn't have the same stiffness rating as the S-Works 6 shoes, and you can notice this on the bike, but only if you really look for it and swap between the S-Works and Torch 3.0 shoes straight away. That little bit of extra flex, and we're really not talking much, does provide a bit more forgiveness when you're not really pushing hard on the pedals. And when you are pushing hard on the pedals, you're not losing out.
The fit of the shoes is really good. There's ample support from the front to the back to ensure your feet don't shift about in the shoes. I noticed no excessive heel lift during pedalling, thanks to the stiff heel cup and stiff construction of the upper in this area.
The durability of the synthetic upper and this 'Limon' colour has been good. I've pedalled them through monsoons and along mud-covered roads and they've cleaned up just fine afterwards.
Setting up the shoes is easy. There are number markers for lining up cleats, and the carbon sole has three areas of grippy material to prevent the cleats slipping. The heel bumper makes walking across a slippery office or cafe floors easier, and a plastic toe bumper prevents the front scuffing when you put a foot down at the traffic lights.
The twin Boa dials are lovely to use. You can make micro adjustments to either tighten or loosen the shoes while on the move. No problem, no hassle. So good is the fit of the shoes that you really don't need to ramp up the tension that much at all, your feet stay firmly locked in place with no noticeable heel lift.
If you're racing, and you can afford them, the S-Works rank as one of the best high-performance shoes money can buy. But the Torch 3.0 shoes offer a decent slice of that performance that will satisfy most people with a bit more comfort if you're not racing. Despite a few key differences, they really don't give too much away at all.
High performance, great comfort and supportive fit make the new Torch 3.0 shoes a good pick
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Torch 3.0
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?
From the outset of the Torch 3.0 Road shoe design process, our goal was to create a performance offering as feature-packed as any top-end shoe. The challenge, however, was pulling this off at a palatable price.
In order to achieve this, we utilized three strategically placed materials on the uppers that are welded together''TPU and mesh in the front and synthetic leather in the rear. This makes for a more comfortable and supportive front of the shoe. A stiff rear and heel cup, meanwhile, lock down your heel and keep all of your watts going into the pedals as efficiently as possible. This refined upper is combined with our legendary FACT carbon fibre sole to further ensure an efficient power transfer. Finally, we topped the Torch 3.0 off with two Boa® S2-SV Snap dials for zonal closure, and a precise fit that leads to all-day comfort.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Body Geometry sole construction and footbeds are ergonomically designed and scientifically tested to boost power, increase efficiency, and reduce chance of injury by optimizing hip, knee, and foot alignment.
FACT™ carbon composite sole and torsion box construction is directionally rigid for outstanding power transfer: Stiffness Index 8.5.
Dual Boa® S2-SV Snap dial closure for on-the-fly micro-adjustment, backed by the Boa® Lifetime Guarantee.
Mesh, TPU, and synthetic layer upper are placed in specific zones for comfort and lock-down, and are thermobonded for a superior fit.
Standard Fit for support and all-day comfort.
Three-bolt cleat pattern fits all major road pedals.
Approximate weight: 248g (1/2 pair, Size 42)
The thermo-bonded construction delivers a very clean appearance
Granted they're not as stiff or slim fitting as the S-Works shoes but the sole is plenty stiff enough for all but the most demanding cyclists
I've been impressed with the durability so far, they upper cleans up nicely and doesn't scuff or mark easily, the front plastic bumper preserves the integrity at the front if you're constantly putting your foot down at the lights
The fit is up to the usual high level set by all previous Specialized shoes, with a comfortable and supportive Body Geometry inner sole
Sizing was spot on
Comfort is very good, thanks to the padded tongue spreading the pressure from the two Boa dials nicely, and a roomy toebox
Good performance for a lot less cash than Specialized's top-end race shoes
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They clean up really easily
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Decent stiffness and great comfort
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good fit and easy adjustment
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Padded tongue does increase the temperature a little
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
A serious revamp of its mid-range shoe range has brought about good results; they're stiff, supportive, comfortable and easy to adjust
About the tester
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, mtb,
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.