The Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoe is an affordable and comfortable entry-level design, now with a Boa dial closure.
Last year I reviewed the Velcro-only previous incarnation of the Torch 1.0 and gave them a rating of 'Good', noting the fit was OK, and being able to use SPD cleats increased the value.
This latest version of the Torch drops the SPD cleat option but adds a Boa dial closure – thus eliminating what is a popular cleat choice for commuter and recreational/audax pedals and shifting the Torch 1.0 more towards the 'performance-orientated' cyclist. That is, assuming you consider SPDs to be inferior to 3-bolt SPD-SL 'road' cleat designs, which many don't. You can go down a rabbit hole of SPD vs SPD-SL thinking in Mat's recent report.
One can only assume Specialized has done some homework on the cleat choices of Torch 1.0 buyers and removed the option because few were taking it up, which would save weight and allow budget to go towards the Boa closure.
The Torch 1.0 is Specialized's entry-level three-bolt-cleat shoe, featuring a plastic sole with about half the stiffness of the range-topping S-works carbon models. Unless you're putting out 1,000 Watts in a sprint you likely won't notice, and if you feel you need an ultra-stiff sole to up your mental game of a Sunday morning, these probably aren't the shoes you're looking for.
The uppers are synthetic, with 94 little holes to aid ventilation. Winter kicks these are not, unless paired with a good set of overshoes. The tongue is well padded, with a retaining loop that the Boa wire passes through to keep it in place. The Velcro strap across the forefoot didn't seem to offer much in the way of adjustability, but like any synthetic shoe the fabric's not going to give much so anything's better than nothing if you need to tweak the feel. On the outside there's no longer a reflective heel patch to aid night cycling, which possibly further indicates a move away from the Torch 1.0 being aimed at commuters.
Shoe fit is totally personal and there's no rhyme nor reason why a £250 shoe should feel more comfortable than a £90 one. If Specialized's Body Geometry fit works for you, chances are you'll find the Torch 1.0 comfortable enough. My feet run slightly narrower than a hobbit, so I did feel a bit restricted after a few hours – that was with a thick winter sock on mind. Nothing actually painful though.
Speaking of which, my nominal Euro 45 size suited the indicated 45 size just right. I've always found Specialized's sizing to be fairly accurate, so no change is good here.
The heel cup once again is quite low. I didn't feel any slippage, but I do like a bit more of a snug fit. Again, it's more a personal preference than a performance issue.
Out on the road the shoe was comfortable and innocuous – I didn't feel like a wing-footed god, but then these are £90 shoes. The Boa is the lower-spec type where needing a loosening adjustment means pulling it out so it slackens completely, then you re-tension to suit. I didn't experience any issues with pressure points or whatnot, but again would have liked slightly more width.
Getting a Boa closure at a sub-£100 price point used to be impossible, but there are a few competitors at the £100 mark now, including the Bontrager Circuit which, amazingly, is still the same price two years on, and the Scott Road Comp Boa. Shimano's RP4 SPD-SL shoes are a close competitor but £109.99.
All in all, for £90 the reimagined Torch 1.0 is a good option if you like SPD-SLs and want the more-pro adjustability and look/feel of a Boa closure, especially if you're not too wide of foot.
Good entry-level option now with a Boa dial closure, but only for SPD-SL cleats
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoes
Size tested: 10.5
Tell us what the product is for
They're a shoe for those wanting the more-pro Boa feature but not at a pro price.
"Entry-level" is no longer synonymous with "cheap". The Torch 1.0 is the most feature-packed entry-level road shoe on the market. We threw out the rule-book on entry shoes and equipped this shoe with an L6 Boa® for precise fit. Pair that with our Body Geometry ergonomics and you have the most-comfortable, supportive, and high-performance entry-level shoe in history."
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.
Lightweight Boa® L6 dial closure for on-the-fly micro-adjustment, backed by the Boa® Lifetime Guarantee.
Synthetic upper with for supple feel over the foot.
Three-bolt cleat pattern fits all major road pedals.
Approximate weight: 263g (1/2 pair, Size 42)
Usual high Specialized quality build here.
They still look like new.
I'd prefer a bit more width in the front.
Pretty much bang on. Certainly not a small fit.
Not bad for a Boa shoe at this price.
Again, would prefer a bit wider.
The Torch is cracking value at £90 – the nearest rival is likely the Bontrager Circuit at £99.99, while Shimano's RP4 SPD-SLs are £109.99.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
With a synthetic upper, they washed out fine.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They fitted well enough even in a thick sock and didn't overly upset my feet over long rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The Boa. Snugs up just right.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Ideally, for me the fit could be a bit wider.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, for the first hour or so.
Would you consider buying the product? I'd go for a wider shoe.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they were of a narrower foot, yes.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Torch 1.0 represents good value for money, fit, tech features and performance. Nothing stands out as amazing or rubbish, they're simply good overall – you won't be disappointed.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is: Velocite Selene
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.