I’ve needed a new pair of shoes for a little while but have put this off for as long as possible in fear of the replacements being no better than the existing. So my thinking was to wait, try a few pairs, and pay what it takes to get the best for my feet. I’ve had this issue with snowboard boots, never managing to find a pair that fit right and that don’t leave me in agony by the end of the day, or in this case the end of the ride.
This method, with a bit of expert help, has landed me with my new Specialized SWorks 6 shoes. They are the 6th incarnation of the SWorks shoe, hence the name, and you can see and feel the refinement, both in materials and the fit. They are packed full of features, Boa closure, carbon sole, narrow heel, non stretch fabric, and a low weight at 224 grams each!
One big positive of the SWorks 6 is that they are designed as part of the Specialized Body Geometry fit system, this is the bike fit system that I recently had applied to me and the Ribble R872. During this fit Andy at Hargroves found that my feet were reasonably over pronated, meaning a shoe like the Sworks would play straight into my needs. The shoe is designed with a sole predisposed to help with over pronation. Insoles come in three heights to match your arch definition and then with toe wedges you can further tune your fit to match your pronation. This has been root cause of my inability to find comfort in my existing shoes, causing pain on the outside of my feet after anything over an hour on the bike.
Moving on from the ability to fine tune the shoes to your feet, there’s a lot more I love about the way these shoes fit. The Boa system makes taking the shoes on and off a breeze, great for someone who is impatient, and gives the same fit results every time. They also allow for easy on the fly adjustment if you need to. Not something I’ve needed as the shoes have sections of a non stretch fabric where the Boas are mounted, meaning the shoes don’t change shape as you ride and power and fit stay consistent. I also have skinny ankles (making for a tough time getting snowboard boots) so I suffer from heel lift in most shoes I own. The SWorks have a super narrow heel cup that actually holds my feet in, but I’m guessing this is fairly common in cyclists hence the inclusion, again helping power transfer and reducing fatigue across the arch of my feet. I’ve not had a shoe with a full carbon sole but the feel is notably different and, combined with the Boa, the stretch free fabric, and the heel cup, makes for a really positive pedal feel. Built into the sole there is a replaceable heel to keep your investment going and titanium cleat nuts that you can rotate to give greater adjustment or replace if they wear. There is good ventilation in the soles and upper so will keep you cool when the weather is hot, but in the winter its a definite overshoe moment as they wont keep you warm or dry. The upper material is thin but is strong and supple, another big plus point for the overall comfort. Its amazing that something so racey is so comfy.
A few things to note though, firstly check the contact of the shoes and your pedals. The shoes contact my Look Keo Max 2 pedals slightly so have started to wear the sole initially but they have now settled. Secondly when using overshoes you may find when pulling the overshoes on you move the Boas, possibly loosening or tightening the shoes accidentally. And thirdly, you will need overshoes if you want to use them in the winter. These are thin, well ventilated, and will not keep your feet warm or dry. They are a race shoe though!
Shoes are quite a personal thing and its down to the fit you need, I’ve covered a few hundred miles in these now and I have not even had to think about it. I feel the design gone into these and the flexibility of specification should allow for most to be more than happy. Yes they are at a high price point, but they are such a comprehensive offering. How many other shoes give you a narrow, regular, and wide fit? high, medium, and low arch supports? an inch of fore aft cleat adjusment? pronated ankle tuning? plus all the other features. Go try a pair! you may never need another set.
Replaceable heel wedge with SWorks detail.
The narrow heel cup, replacement insole with higher arch.
Nice Boa system with strap to dial in that toe box fit.
The small divet where my pedals started to wear away the sole.