Walkable, pedalable shoes from the Big S.
Among the trends that fall under the Enduro banner, there are a number that really should be welcomed: sturdy-but-light tires, improved head protection, and shoes that are stiff for pedaling and durable without making dabs or hike-a-bike uncomfortable- or dangerous. Specialized’s 2014 S-Works Trail shoes fall solidly into the last category. A shoe ombining “the light weight and performance of an XC shoe with the durability, grip, and protection aggressive trail riders demand” sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it?
In order to make the most of our legs, the S-Works Trail is built upon a full FACT carbon sole with a Stiffness Index of 12. (That’s two steps stiffer than 10.) In order to get the most out of the soles, Specialized’s Powerline design tailors the carbon layup to be stiffest where pressures are greatest: under the big toe, ball of the foot, and the heel. Unlike so many disco booties that will do their best to punish you when not riding, the sole is covered by a moderately aggressive rubber tread, maximising off-bike traction. Toes and the shoes themselves are protected by a substantial molded rubber bumper while the asymmetric cuff helps to protect ankles from cranks, seatstays, and (for the clumsy among us) the opposite foot.
Don’t laugh- kicking yourself in the ankle hurts.
Closure is handled by two Boa S2 closures and a single Velcro strap. The Boas are sort of a love/hate item- but they are lightweight, low profile, and guaranteed forever. They’re also small enough that bringing a spare along on big days is not an issue. An updated Body Geometry SL footbed is included as well, providing better arch support than most shoes at any price.
The 370g/shoe weight (claimed, size 42) is reasonable if the shoe is as durable as claimed. Looks sit somewhere between trail and XC- but the S-Works Trail should probably be paired with baggies to be on the safe side. Colours include Ti/black, white/black, and black/black- the last also being available in wide sizes. Of course, Specialized’s flagship line has never come cheap: United States MSRP is $350 (we’ve been promised UK pricing in a day or two). Look for these in your local shop around October.