Feel that your shoe is too hot? For most riders, that’s likely a minor inconvenience. But if you’re a pro racer battling it out, day after day, you may be tempted to take matters into your own hands. That seems to be one of the big motivators behind the new Specialized S-Works Vent shoe.
They say their pro riders were making modifications to their shoes for hotter races like the Vuelta and the Tour Down Under. Looking to provide a better option, Specialized started with their lightest sole and worked up from there.
Beginning with the FACT Powerline carbon sole developed for their radical EXOS shoes, the Vent takes advantage of, well, the large vents in the sole. In spite of those huge holes, Specialized managed to give the carbon sole a stiffness factor of 13 which is equivalent to the SW6 road shoes (but slightly less than the SW7s).
Of course, gaping vents in the sole will do no good at all if they’re blocked by a solid insole. So the Vent includes insoles with a perforated top layer and an open honeycomb pattern at the front of the insole.
Knit shoes have become popular because they’re very breathable and comfortable, but they also result in a lot of stretch and moisture retention. That brings in the industry’s favorite stretch-proof space-age material, Dyneema. Using it to create a mesh that won’t stretch, but will still conform to your foot, the Vent simultaneously provides the ventilation and power transfer desired (required?) by their pro riders.
In testing, Stephen Quay decided to let thermometers do the talking and slapped some stick-on baby thermometers on his feet. Then with an S-Works Vent on one foot and an S-Works 7 on the other, he rode up a local climb on a 100°F day.
The results indicated that the S-Works Vent was 3-4° cooler than the SW7, and Vent humidity tested lower as well – with 10% across the board, where the SW7 ranged from 30-60%. That seems to confirm that a more ventilated shoe is a drier shoe, which should be better at preventing hot spots and blisters on long days in the saddle.
They all come together and stay put with dual BOA S3-Snap dials and their Pad-Lock heel cradle. Claimed weight is 230g per shoe (size 42), retail is $425/pair. Available in sizes 36 to 49, half sizes from 38.5 to 46.5.