One of the driving forces behind the success of Specialized and their zealous relationship with top cyclists has been the drive for innovation in design, materials, and application. The commitment of Specialized to a scientific approach and in-person fit experience combined with incredible input from their pro cycling teams and athletes over decades has allowed the engineering and design teams to continually work from a detailed foundation that was built from innovation and allows for informed iteration and improvement as technologies and materials advance. Welcome to one of the few situations where this process has been walked back in some way, the S-Works 7 Lace Road Shoe. Yes, laces. No incredible BOA retention system, but a recognition that many cyclists do actually prefer a lace-up shoe, albeit one with all the proper technology and design that truly works. Every feature, material, and component of the S-Works 7 Lace Road Shoe is premium grade and essential to the overall performance and the model takes the performance of the winningest road shoe in the world and combines it with laces to create one of the most supple and adaptable uppers for next-level fit.
The S-Works 7 Lace fits like a leather glove, but you know, for your foot and made of engineered mesh and carbon. But laces have more to bring to the party. The removal of plastic hardware also shaves considerable weight. One size 44 S-Works 7 Lace weighs a feathery 236 grams, so you’ll be looking good and feeling good when the road points uphill. The synthetic upper moves and conforms where required, but is strong and stable where it needs to be, and retains a consistent flex and feel. The informed, yet simple shape of the lace system offers 12 separate points of tension adjustment to dial in the perfect hold across the entire foot. The set-up is wonderfully effective though users will want to experiment with lace tension for best feel and control. These non-stretch laces provide an even hold across the entire foot that stays consistent. Every aspect of the shoe is complementary in some form, and it is most clearly demonstrated within the front and rear fit relationship. At the rear, the PadLock™ heel construction cradles the heel so it can't slip and reduce energy. This is proven to improve acceleration. and locks the foot into the shoe in a comfortable manner, accentuating the fit of the rest of the upper and lace system.
Body Geometry features of the shoe include the Varus Wedge, Longitudinal Arch, and Metatarsal Button. As a key construction element of FACT carbon outsole, the 1.5mm built-in Varus Wedge stabilizes the natural movement of your forefoot and improve knee alignment by creating a natural with the inner portion of the foot raised that 1.5mm from the outer portion. This creates a more natural position and angle, which also can improve power and efficiency. The Longitudinal Arch is comprised of two aspects. First is the molded arch support in the outsole itself. The second lies within the arch of the insole. The Body Geometry footbeds are available in three arch height options to best support the natural shape of the individual, preventing arch collapse and again creating an optimal foot support for power delivery without fatigue. The Metatarsal Button is also in the insole. It lifts the foot under the zone to the rear of the toe bone structures, creating a more natural shape. The foot, like the hand, has a natural curve- it is not flat. If the foot is too compressed, the structure flattens, with the potential to impinge nerves and surety of reducing blood flow, which results in numbness and potential damage. You can see the progression of the support and comfort choices made to ensure foot health and performance. This is Body Geometry, and it has improved cycling experiences for countless individuals.
From the foundation of the ideas and execution to the foundation of the shoe the excellence continues. The FACT carbon optimizing process has delivered the FACT Powerline™ carbon outsole. Specialized has increased their sole stiffness chart over time with such improvements and this model delivers a 15/15 rating. While rigid and shaped for impressive and unmatched power transfer, the carbon also can mitigate vibrations transferred through the pedals, but also creates the base for the Body Geometry elements. The outsole features a forward facing vent which allows air into the sole and under the footbed to assist in keeping the foot as cool and dry as possible. The cleat mounting zone is for the 3-bolt pattern all major road pedal systems can attach to via titanium cleat nuts. These rotate to allow for 5mm of adjustment rearward, and have reinforced bases to be safe and secure under the carbon. Composite heel and toe zone prevent the carbon from damage when stopping or walking. The rear is replaceable.
Value in any product is tied to the user's assessment to desired performance and results, which in a shoe also factors in fit and comfort. Fit is truly an individual preference and requirement and lace shoes bring back a historical option that some people simply prefer. Specialized has gone as far as any company is developing cycling shoes with a fit that works for more foot shapes and sizes, and the materials and features of the S-Works 7 Lace Road Shoe certainly make this an option for most people. It is beyond a doubt one of the most informed and well executed cycling shoes over made.