The Specialized S-Works Torch is an excellent pair of performance road shoes for those wanting a slightly wider fit. They have offered exceptional comfort for my feet while being stiff and, crucially, looking good. All while being ridden through less than perfect conditions.
Okay, let's start with the caveat that all feet are different, and the shape of these might not work for you, as with any shoes at any price. That said, on my little feet, I seem to have found the ideal shape for me.
These offer a secure yet comfortable hold on my feet, are easily stiff enough for my best efforts, don't transmit road buzz, clean up after a rainy ride in seconds and – most importantly for those who are in the market for fancy shoes but don't get on with the S-Works 7s – boast a wider mid and forefoot.
Where there were once only a few choices for those with feet that didn't fit a skinny Italian shoe, the range of wider options is now broad.
Specialized isn't, therefore, doing anything new here, but the S-Works Torch has been designed solely (ha ha!) for riders with slightly wider feet, rather than simply being a wider S-Works 7, Specialized's flagship road shoe that David reviewed in 2020. That's something I really like to see, as it doesn't feel like an afterthought.
Specialized apparently reviewed around 110,000 foot scans from its in-store shoe-fitting service, and ended up making the carbon base plate 4mm wider than the S-Works 7's. While that might not sound like a lot, I found the extra room very beneficial. The wide version boosts that figure by a further 4mm, and it is a move that I can get behind.
The heel is also wider and a little less aggressive in its mission to keep you locked in, yet there was no discernible slip, even as I tried to squeeze out every last watt at the end of my VO2 Max efforts.
I found the S-Works Torch to strike a very nice balance between heel retention and comfort, though I appreciate there will be many of you who had no issue with the S-Works 7 design.
> 24 of the best performance road cycling shoes – get faster with light, stiff shoes
There is also a new asymmetrical heel counter designed to support the medial side of the heel while allowing for a lower collar on the lateral side. You don't notice it while riding, so it seems to work well.
Dyneema is out; Specialized instead uses its own material here. It works well, easily shaping itself to the top of my foot and not budging when out on the bike. The anchor points for the closure dials both have extra support, as do the inner sides of the toe box.
One thing I really love about this upper is how easy it is to keep clean. With very little mesh on show, you're really only going to need a damp cloth to get them looking close to new.
Specialized has used an I-beam construction for stiffness, and it works well. There was no hint of flex and my feet were comfortable on the pedals on longer rides. The replaceable heel tread is good to see, too.
The front, however, could do with a little extra protection. Yes, the design is very svelte, but I'd rather sacrifice some of that for a shoe that doesn't get scuffed up.
As part of the testing, I also had custom insoles made by Specialized. It's an in-store service and costs £125, so it isn't cheap, but if you've got high and long arches like me, it could be well worth your money.
If you don't have silly arches like me, you may well find that your feet are supported just fine anyway.
Here we have the Boa S3-Snap dials and, while they are shiny and work well, they don't have the pull-to-fully-release feature of the Li2 dial. It's a minor quibble, though.
In terms of price, you're at the top end of the market. Fizik's Vento Stabilita Carbon is £374.99 and Sidi's Shot 2s are £395; the only way to spend more is probably to go for something that is semi-custom, like the Lake CX 403.
The price of this S-Works model is silly, but we hear the wider fit is coming to more of Specialized's shoes, so if these are out of your reach, just hang on for an update to the 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 models.
But if you can stomach the cost, these are a lovely pair of performance cycling shoes. They are super comfy, brilliant on the bike, and easy to keep looking fresh.
Comfortable high-end road shoes with a wider fit that is going to please many
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Make and model: Specialized S-Works Torch road shoes
Tell us what the product is for
From Specialized: "The S-Works Torch is the latest evolution of the winningest footwear in cycling. Using Body Geometry together with biomimicry, data science, and obsessive craftsmanship, we engineered a shoe so thoughtfully constructed that you'll forget you're wearing it.
"Leveraging data science, we refined every detail of the S-Works Torch's upper for improved fit and performance. The BOA cable is shifted down and angled, preventing lift on the ball of the foot and delivering power-enhancing structure while eliminating unwanted pressure or pinching. Adaptive materials allow natural movement of the foot where needed for comfort, while data-driven zonal reinforcement keeps the foot secured for crisp power delivery and optimal efficiency.
"Guided by more than 100,000 foot scans from our RETÜL fit data, we recognized that both a standard and a wide carbon base plate would best serve the spectrum of human foot shapes. An internal I-Beam adds stiffness and strength, eliminating the need for additional bracing. The result is a 20-gram weight reduction, enhanced efficiency, and immediate power transfer.
"Following RETÜL biomechanical data, we created an asymmetric heel cup that supports natural knee alignment and delivers the positive hold riders love while enhancing comfort by accommodating more room for the Achilles heel.
"The S-Works Torch is scientifically crafted to disappear on your feet and off the front."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
New upper features reinforcement in key zones while also offering adaptie fit zones to create a disappearing fit on the foot.
Based on data gathered from Retül foot scans, the new base plate is 4mm wider at the ball than the previous generation of S-Works 7 shoe.
By optimizing its construction, the new carbon plate is 20g lighter than the S-Works 7. An internal "I-Beam" ensures it maintains the same stiffness as the previous generation.
An updated last makes use of Retül data to better match the shape of riders' feet, sloping more towards the lateral side to give a snug, close-to-foot fit.
Asymmetrical heel counter supports the medial side while removing material from the lateral side, allowing for a lower collar.
Updated BOA cable routing improves lockdown while reducing pressure across anterior ankle ligaments.
Independent alloy BOA S3-Snap Fit System for on-the-fly micro-adjustment, backed by the BOA Guarantee.
Titanium alloy cleat nuts can rotate to position pedal/cleats 5mm rearward. Three-bolt cleat pattern fits all major road pedals.
Non-slip, replaceable heel tread with internally recessed screws for security."
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Rate the product for performance:
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Rate the product for value:
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Wipe clean. The minimal mesh means there is very little to actually get dirty.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very, very well indeed. These are comfy for long rides and cope easily with hard efforts.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The extra width is everything for me. They just work for my foot shape.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The protection at the front of the sole is rather minimal.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're up there with other premium shoes.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? As soon as an off-road version comes along, I'm having a pair.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Incredibly comfortable road shoes that will be perfect for those looking for something a bit wider than the S-Works 7 shoes.
Age: 27 Height: 177cm Weight: 62kg
I usually ride: Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
I appreciate you including the substantial evidence to backup your claims. Oh wait
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