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The Specialized Torch 1.0 is an affordable, practical shoe from a company with an excellent footwear pedigree. The ability to choose your cleat design makes them a decent investment.
Last month Dave reviewed the top-end Torch 3.0, a £200 borderline-super-shoe with tech to match. The Torch 1.0 here is its knockabout cousin: heavier, rougher at the edges with fewer refinements, but still plenty capable of keeping up.
The obvious difference between the Torch 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 models is the use of Boa dial closures over Velcro – making micro-adjustments on the fly a simple act on the pricier models. If you aren't one to be tightening your shoes in anticipation of a bunch sprint, this is likely not a reason to sink a ton of extra cash into your footwear.
Less obvious but much more likely to affect your decision process is the fact that only the Torch 1.0 reviewed here can take two-bolt cleats – beloved of touring cyclists and increasingly anyone not wanting to fall over in a cafe or driveway. road.cc co-founder Big Dave finds two-bolt cleats perfectly adequate – so unless you're capable of a sustained 500 watts or have a team car following you on daily rides, you might like to consider them an option.
Fit-wise, I've always got on with Specialized shoes. I have a pair of suede mountain bike ones from 2000 that just refuse to die, and can be worn all day. The Torch 1.0s are a tad narrow for my borderline-Hobbitish appendages, but that's with the most excellent Defeet Woolie Boolie socks onboard. I didn't feel any actual discomfort though, even on four-hour-plus rides.
The front strap offers little-to-no width adjustment across the forefoot, so if they feel tight or loose at the outset I doubt you'll remain friends without also adjusting sock thickness. The insoles are pretty thin, and not of the mouldable type so you may find more support with an aftermarket pair if needed. The heelcup isn't tight, but I didn't feel my foot lifting under heavy loads.
The Torch 1.0 nylon sole has a 'stiffness index' of 6.0, as compared to the 8.5 of the £200 carbon 3.0s. Could a mere mortal with an FTP of 250-ish watts notice the 1.5-worth of difference? I'd suggest not.
Likewise, could you spot the extra 50g per shoe over the 3.0? Once on your feet and clipped in, I wager anyone to tell.
The design is inoffensive if a bit golf shoeish, what with all the holes; this is a shoe leaning towards warmer weather, and I definitely plumped for toecovers in anything less than about 12°C, but then I do run cold. The subtle grey strip around the heel is reflective, aiding low-light visibility from the rear and side. Available in black, 'Team Yellow' or the tested white, that's your sartorial bases covered.
Out on the bike, the Torch 1.0 kept my feet happy through middling autumnal rides of up to four hours' duration, paired with toe covers. Off the bike, my body remained vertical despite using three-bolt cleats, thanks to the rubberised heel and toe bumpers. I never felt the need to adjust the Velcro mid-ride, probably aided by the synthetic upper which – as synthetics tend – doesn't stretch.
All in all, for £80 the Torch 1.0 is a solid option for a shoe you can use with different cleat designs, for faster or slower rides. They're comparable in price with Northwave's similar Sonic 2s, but £10 more than Shimano's RP1s – though you only get two straps with those.
A good choice to consider, offering multi-cleat bolt patterns, a no-nonsense fit and acceptable features
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Torch 1.0 shoes
Size tested: 45
Tell us what the product is for
They are for riders on a middling budget who don't want to significantly compromise performance.
Specialized says: "Take the performance and Body Geometry ergonomics of our high-end road shoes, put them in an affordable design, and you basically have the Torch 1.0 Road shoes. They have Velcro® closures for a customizable, adjustable fit, a comfortable design, and a composite outsole that provides just the right level of rigidity."
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.
With a 6.0 Stiffness index, the injection-molded nylon composite sole is engineered to be moderately stiff and plenty light.
Three-strap offset Velcro® closure for a superior fit.
Synthetic upper with mesh venting for supple feel over the foot.
Reflective heel elements increase your visibility to motorists in low-light conditions.
Three-bolt and two-bolt cleat pattern fits all major road and mountain pedals.
Approximate weight: 290g (1/2 pair, Size 42)
Solid build feel as to be expected from Specialized.
Not the stiffest or snuggest shoe, but good enough for most.
No scuffing evident after a month's wear.
Could have been a smidge wider for me.
The EU45 suited me perfectly.
Not overly portly.
Could be a bit more shaped, especially in the footbed.
With the option for two cleat types, they are a good buy.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
The white synthetic uppers cleaned up well, not holding stains from road muck.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't complain, but didn't set my feet on fire (in a good way).
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Nothing stood out beyond the cleat choice.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Maybe too many holes. But I do have cold feet.
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 overall score
These are a good shoe – £20 cheaper or with an improved fit/bit more insulation and they'd fare better in the score, but then might be a bit warm.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling