Specialized has announced the S-Works Torch, a new top-of-the-range road cycling shoe said to represent a “new generation of S-Works footwear”.
Rather than arriving as a premium addition to the more budget-friendly Specialized Torch shoe range, the Specialized S-Works Torch replaces the high-end S-Works 7, and is said to address a number of issues some riders had with that shoe.
Key to these improvements is an updated last, modelled from “more than 100,000 footscans” from Specialized’s Rëtul bike fit database.
The uppers have also been redesigned based on feedback from sponsored professional riders, with new materials and an updated, twin BOA S3 dial closure system.
Specialized has also created a new carbon fibre sole, which is claimed to be both wider and lighter than the sole found on existing Specialized S-Works shoes, such as the S-Works 7 Lace and S-Works Ares.
Despite this, Specialized claims the new sole maintains the same stiffness as the previous sole thanks to an internal support structure.
These changes combined are said to make the S-Works Torch a cycling shoe so comfortable that it will “disappear on your feet” while riding, according to Specialized.
Aimed squarely at the “luxury category”, the Specialized S-Works Torch road cycling shoes cost £385 / €440 / $450.
Specialized S-Works Torch key specs
- Price: £385 / €440 / $450
- Claimed weight: 450g (size EU42 pair)
- Twin BOA S3 dial closure system
- Updated last based on data from more than 100,000 Rëtul footscans
- New carbon fibre sole with internal I-beam support is claimed to be wider, 20g lighter and as stiff as the previous-generation sole
- Available in three colours at launch, with more to follow
Under the spotlight
While the S-Works 7 was well received by most (our tester awarded them 4.5 out of 5 stars in our S-Works 7 shoe review), the S-Works Torch is nevertheless said to improve upon that model in a number of areas.
The new last design is wider, flatter and more anatomical than the S-Works 7 last, with a choice of two width options (a last is a mechanical form shaped like a human foot, used by shoemakers to model shoes on).
The standard width option is, for example, 4mm wider at the sole than the S-Works 7, with the wide option gaining an additional 4mm in width (making it 8mm wider than the S-Works 7 shoe).
At the front of the shoe, Specialized has abandoned the toe strap, noting it was somewhat of a “set and forget” feature for many riders.
Following feedback that the heel cup could also prove too aggressive for some riders, Specialized has developed an asymmetric design for the S-Works Torch.
The new heel cup is said to provide a similar degree of support on the inside, but tapers off significantly on the outside edge. This is said to improve Achilles comfort, while still maintaining a secure hold on the rear of the foot.
Up top, new “adaptive materials” are said to “allow natural movement of the foot” for additional comfort, while “zonal reinforcement keeps the foot secured” for optimum power transfer to the pedals.
Notably, Specialized claims the new uppers address the issue of overly stiff material around the foot opening, something our tester noted was present on the Specialized S-Works Recon Lace Gravel shoes.
Specialized also says it has added reinforcement over the big toe area of the uppers, which is said to help “make the most of the pull phase of the pedal stroke” (whether you should be pulling on the upstroke is another matter).
The new closure system still features dual BOA S3 dials (with all-metal internals for increased durability versus standard BOA dials), but Specialized has adjusted the angle at which the wires cross the tongue, and added two retaining tabs to prevent the upper wires migrating from their intended position while riding.
Internally, the S-Works Torch retains Specialized’s patented Body Geometry features – a 1.5mm varus wedge, longitudinal arch support and a metatarsal button – all of which are claimed to help improve comfort or power transfer.
The new sole
Setting it apart from the previous generation of S-Works shoes, the S-Works Torch gets a new carbon fibre sole.
As already noted, the new design is claimed to be as stiff as the Specialized Fact Powerline carbon sole used on previous S-Works models (which had a stiffness rating of 15 on Specialized’s own arbitrary scale), but is 20g lighter despite offering increased width.
Specialized says this has been achieved by more aggressively tapering the rear of the sole, adding a ‘pie crust’ edge and using an internal ‘I-beam’ structure (a beam shaped like a capital I or H) that “adds stiffness and strength, eliminating the need for additional bracing”.
As with previous-generation S-Works shoes, the S-Works Torch gets adjustable cleat bolt holes.
Specialized S-Works Torch pricing and colour options
The Specialized S-Works Torch cycling shoes cost £385 / €440 / $450. As mentioned earlier, that represents an increase in price of £85 / $50 over the launch price of the S-Works 7 shoes.
While undoubtedly upmarket, it’s far from the most expensive cycling shoe Specialized has ever produced. That title is still held by the Specialized S-Works EXOS 99, a £450 / $600 road cycling shoe launched in 2019, claimed to weigh a mere 150g per shoe.
It is also worth noting that the current RRP for the S-Works 7 shoe is £370 / €430 / $430, because the price has increased since it launched in 2018, alongside that of practically everything in the cycling industry.
Nevertheless, Specialized acknowledges “that’s a significant investment for riders, so we’ve worked hard to make sure everything about this shoe lives up to expectations.”
In fact, the tone of Specialized’s marketing materials is not dissimilar to that of the Specialized S-Works Aethos – a bike claimed to offer “the purest imaginable road riding experience”.
The S-Works Torch shoes are being pitched at the “luxury” end of the market, Specialized says. The brand’s use of descriptors such as “elegant”, “sleek” and “refined” shows an ever-increasing eagerness to attract customers from that segment, as opposed to a singular focus on performance (although Specialized does note Mark Cavendish has already used the S-Works Torch shoes to win stage three of the 2022 Giro d’Italia).
The Specialized S-Works Torch will be available in three colours at launch: white, black and a green / black fade.
Specialized says team edition versions, with bigger logos and more obvious branding will be released in September, around the UCI Road World Championships.