Specialized has continued to diversify its road shoe range with the release of the S-Works Ares which is focused specifically on sprinting. The shoes are designed to spread pressure when watched down in the final stages of a sprint stage. Specialized claims that the Ares eliminates foot roll, gives a stronger forefoot connection and relieves pressure on the main tendons. The shoes are also 30g lighter than the S-Works 7 shoes while the inner sock is designed to eliminate irritation from the tongue.
The result of these changes, Specialized claims, is a shoe that is "1% faster than any other shoe" that they've ever made thanks to improved power transfer.
Still here? Good. There are quite a few interesting performance claims attached to these shoes and they all apparently stem from Specialized’s work with their fastest sprinter Sam Bennett, who is, according to the Specialized engineers, very particular about his shoes. They said that he was also proficient at articulating what he wanted from his shoes when sprinting in a Tour de France stage.
Specialized kicked off the webinar that we attended virtually with a lovely (honest) picture of Sam Bennett’s foot. Never seen a pro cyclist’s foot? They’re about as wiry as their arms but the picture did show the prominence of the tibialis anterior tendon on the top of his foot. Bennett’s issue was that during a sprint, he would stabilise his foot in the shoe by flexing his big toe. This required the tibialis anterior tendon to lift and press on the top of his shoe, causing discomfort.
Bennett also said that his forefoot would become disconnected from the shoe during the explosive effort of a sprint. Specialized says that the approach to solving these issues was to look at the closure system
Specialized says that their “search for the ultimate balance between unprecedented power transfer and all-day comfort resulted in an entirely new, patent-pending closure architecture.” As you can probably see, the closure system has been moved, the volume adjustment now sitting over to the medial side.
Specialized says that “by triangulating retention across the midfoot and spreading pressure out over a larger surface area, the S-Works Ares essentially eliminates foot roll within the shoe.”
Specialized has opted for a 3mm air mesh Dyneema-reinforced sock liner in place of the tongue that we’d usually see. A few brands have gone done this route, most notably Mavic with its Comete Ultimate shoes. The thinking behind this choice is that it could eliminate irritation in this area.
That white mesh is awfully nice to look at but there is going to come a day when you get caught in the rain without overshoes on. Specialized says that a dirt-repellent treatment has been applied to the mesh to deal with a bit of muck, but they admitted that the material will discolour if exposed to constant wet conditions.
Gone are the shiny Boa dials of the S-Works 7 shoes. They’ve been replaced by the (still Boa) Li2 which Specialized says was chosen for its simultaneous cable pull over the S3’s single-sided cable pull.
The sole remains unchanged from the S-Works 7 shoes. You’re getting Specialized’s BodyGeometry fit with the Varus Wedge, a 1.5mm outward tilt that Specialized says stabilised the forefoot and helps with ankle, knee and hip alignment. Riders can personalise their arch support with three different inserts and there is a metatarsal button which Specialized claims protects the delicate nerves and arteries in your foot by separating the bones of the forefoot.
Compared to the S-Works 7 shoes, Specialized says that 30g has been saved, though interestingly Specialized said that the S-Works 7 shoe will remain in the range along with the Exos as the lightweight option and the Vent as the shoe for the hottest weather.
Want a pair of the S-Works Ares shoes? They come in sizes from EU36 to EU49 with half sizes from EU38.5 to EU45.5. Colour options are Black, Red, Team White or White. UK RRP is £375.
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.