Specialized is launching two versions of its Recon shoe today. Two very different versions. On one hand, you have the super high end S-Works Recon SL. On the other? That would be the Recon ADV shown here.
There are so many different ways to ride dropbar, gravel, or mountain bikes that there isn’t one best shoe style for the job. Fortunately, there are plenty of options — including these two from Specialized.
Balancing style and function, the new Recon ADV should check a lot of boxes for various riders. While it’s considered a “gravel” shoe, the ADV seems like a great option for anyone spending long days on the bike while needing a shoe that’s comfortable walking around off of it. Whether that means endurance gravel events, bikepacking, or just out exploring all day, the Recon ADV should be up to the task.
Unlike the BOA-equipped S-Works Recon SL, the Recon ADV relies on classic shoe laces. While not as quick to put on or take off, the laces offer a lightweight, adjustable closure that is easily repairable wherever you are.
Hidden amongst the Recon ADV are fit details pulled from years of Body Geometry development. The unassuming insole includes longitudinal arch support, a metatarsal button, and the shoe integrates a varus wedge to keep your feet in the best position while pedaling. There is also substantial (but soft) shaping around the inside of the heel cup to help keep your heel in place.
Sizing seems to be right on the money as I’m most often a size 41.5, and this pair of 41.5s fit great. Even for someone with fairly wide feet, I found these to have plenty of room in the toebox to be comfortable.
Specialized Recon ADV Actual Weight
Speaking of weight, the Recon ADV is fairly impressive at 303 g per shoe (size 41.5) when compared with the S-Work Recon SL. For double the price, you end up with a shoe that is 288 g per shoe (size 43).
Performance Pedaling but Still Walkable
Built with a carbon sole, the Recon ADV is no slouch when it comes to pedaling efficiency. But that carbon plate end just forward of the cleat pocket allows for what Specialized calls its STRIDE toe-flex technology.
The tech allows for exactly what it says: a flexible toe to make walking more comfortable. In addition, the tread pontoons on the toe are raised from the cleat pocket, which allows the shoe to sort of rock forward when walking, before ever flexing the toe.
That tread is also extremely grippy thanks to the Greater SlipNot rubber tread. I appreciate how the rubber flows from the front of the shoe to the heel, which gives you a grippy spot under your arch if you miss a pedal, or have to scramble to keep moving without being clipped in. You won’t find any replaceable parts or optional toe spikes here, but that’s part of what makes them lighter and more affordable.
The Specialized Recon ADV aren’t exactly affordable at $225, but they’re substantially less than the $450 S-Works models. Offered in three colors, the Recon ADV will come in full sizes from 36-49, and half sizes from 38.5 to 46.5.
Overall, you get a very comfortable gravel/adventure shoe with a supple, laser-perforated microfiber upper, and a TPU mudguard in a stylish package. If a lace-up adventure shoe is your speed, these are definitely worth a look.