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Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoes



Good entry-level option now with a Boa dial closure, but only for SPD-SL cleats

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoe is an affordable and comfortable entry-level design, now with a Boa dial closure.

  • Pros: Boa dial closure, looks more expensive than it is
  • Cons: No longer takes SPD cleats

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.

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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.

Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoes - sole toe.jpg

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.

Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoes - boa dials and strap.jpg

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.

Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoes - sole heel.jpg

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.

Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoes - side.jpg

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.

Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoes - toe.jpg

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.

Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoes - heels.jpg

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.

> Buyer's Guide: Essential advice for choosing the right cycling shoes

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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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.

Specialized says:

"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?

From Specialized:

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)

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Usual high Specialized quality build here.

Rate the product for performance:

Nothing annoying.

Rate the product for durability:

They still look like new.

Rate the product for fit:

I'd prefer a bit more width in the front.

Rate the product for sizing:

Pretty much bang on. Certainly not a small fit.

Rate the product for weight:

Not bad for a Boa shoe at this price.

Rate the product for comfort:

Again, would prefer a bit wider.

Rate the product for value:

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.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 46  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

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.

Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.

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Freddy56 | 4 years ago

I have the 2018 version of these and still look class. Not sure why anyone who has SPDs would use them, plenty of MTB and touring shoes have carbon soles where the cleat would be recessed.

Super shoe and great price.

cdamian | 4 years ago

Shame about the SPD version. I ended up getting the Specialized Expert XC, which is similar to the Torch 3.0.
The Comp would also be an option.

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