Just like Corey (or should I call him “Mr. Sensitive Feet”?), I used to ride some entry-level Specialized road shoes. There wasn’t really a good reason — the price had been right, the fit felt good and I had had good experiences with their mountain shoes in the past. But as this season approached and I started gauging what equipment upgrades could have a significant impact on my riding, a better pair of shoes quickly jumped to the top of the list.
If you think of a shoe as a basic platform from which the energy from your legs is translated into the pedals, you’d want to make sure that the platform is as stiff as possible. As trusty as my old Specialized shoes had been, the plastic sole had just enough give that I knew that plenty of energy was being lost in the flexing. Since I didn’t want to run the risk of a knee injury like Corey suffered when he switched over to Sidi’s, I decided to stick with Specialized and look at two of their carbon-sole models — the BG Pro and the BG S-Works.
It wasn’t a very long debate between the two — the BG S-Works won out, mostly because the innovative Boa rotary closure system (basically a high-grade steel shoelace instead of the standard straps) felt like it applied pressure more evenly across my feet. Like Corey, I had some grief with the standard straps on the BG Pro, feeling like they caused awkward pressure points and numbness along the top of my foot. The Boa system really allows you to ratchet down the shoe fit, and the stiff-as-a-board carbon sole allows for a seamless transfer of power from your legs into the pedals. I also like that higher-end Specialized shoes allow you to add or remove inserts for a better fit. (I changed the main insert for one with a more pronounced arch for more support.)
Maybe the only downside to these shoes is that there is a surprising amount of wiggle room in the toe-box, a strange phenomenon for a shoe that otherwise wraps around your foot.When I pull up on the pedal, I don’t often feel like my toes are taking any of the pressure of the effort. A neutral insert or two could probably resolve the problem, though, again speaking to benefit of having shoes whose fit can be customized with relative ease.
I’ve been extremely happy with these shoes, and since Corey is again on the market, I’d happily recommend them. They’re not cheap — they go for $300 — but Specialized will let you try the shoes for 30 days and return them if you decide they’re not for you. The shoes ended up being for me and I was able to snag them for less than retail, so all in all, I’ve got nothing to complain about.