The biggest challenge for cycling shoe designers is taking a dynamic structure like the human foot, and turning it into a rigid biomechanical lever. Doing so without compromising comfort is even more difficult. But Specialized believes they have created their most efficient and comfortable shoe to date with the 2018 S-Works 7 road shoe.
Almost every aspect of their top level shoe was redesigned from the ground up. The carbon sole retains maximum rigidity with a stiffness index of 15, but is now slightly lighter. Using a pressure mapping system they were able to assess where riders place the most stress on the sole. Where pedaling forces were less severe, material was carved away. Additional analysis helped ensure the sole would survive off-bike flexing like kneeling down to change a flat.
One of the standout features of the previous S-Works shoe is the PadLock heel cup. It holds the riders foot so well it produced measurable power transfer gains, particularly under hard accelerations. For 2018 the PadLock heel cup gets a bit more width to increase comfort. The forefoot is also a touch wider at the outer metatarsal heads. The new shape includes added arch height and should fit more feet without sacrificing performance.
On the sharp end of the shoe, toe room has been expanded with less taper along the leading edge of the toe box. Much of the added room is attributed to the improved Dyneema Mesh fabric used throughout the upper. Layered to offer four-way flex and no-stretch zones where needed, the new material holds its shape well enough to prevent the toe box from collapsing.
Holding the foot and heel firmly in the PadLock cup are all-new BOA S3 micro-adjusters. Specialized worked closely with BOA to create a proprietary mechanism designed specifically for the S-Works shoe platform. The new adjustment dials are fully sealed with machined aluminum knobs. No detail was overlooked in their creation including careful evaluation of the audible clicks. Specialized didn’t want the ratchet feedback to be too loud, nor too faint.
When it came time to redesign the upper, Specialized called in their trusted shoe-guru, Andy Pruitt. Now in his 18th year working with the brand’s Body Geometry projects, his job was to ensure the shoe achieved the optimal level of comfort. According to Pruitt, the key is maintaining blood circulation and mitigating pressure across the top of the instep, or dorsum. Careful attention was paid to seam placement, but the location of the BOA cables was the most important consideration.
A few features carried over from the prior S-Works shoe including the titanium cleat mounting points and replaceable heel tread. The new shoes accommodate standard and custom Specialized insoles for improved fit and performance.
Available in five colors ranging in size from 36 to 49, the S-Works 7 is also offered in narrow and wide widths (black only). Our size 44 test sample weighed just 237 grams per shoe. The S-Works 7 hits dealers in early spring.