Specialized never rests. No matter how great a product is, no matter how much R&D, testing, and experience goes into a new design, the team in Morgan Hill has learned that sometimes there are massive leaps made in a fairly short time, as well as incremental advances earned over longer periods of time, as well as a combination of both. As deeply experienced cyclists and product nerds, we here at Excel Sports have always understood that even great products sometimes get eclipsed quickly, while others go through long production cycles. It can be said that the market will often determine these variables, but in going back to the continuing belief that improvement and innovation can always take place, Specialized took the highly regarded S-Works 7 Road Shoe and found a way to completely rethink the concept, materials, and design to make a new road shoe that has been Scientifically Crafted to Disappear on Your Feet and Off the Front.
For Specialized the development evolution of the S-Works Torch began over two decades ago with the question, “How can we improve the body-to-bike connection?” In 1997 the company developed the Body Geometry principles to identify a problem, solve it through design, and validate it with science. Every S-Works shoe has been designed with this method, and S-Works shoes have won thousands of pro races, including five of the last seven Men’s UCI Elite World Championships, making them the winningest footwear in cycling. The S-Works Torch is the latest evolution of this legacy. Using biomimicry, data science, and obsessive craftsmanship, the team at Specialized engineered a shoe so thoughtfully constructed that you’ll forget you’re wearing it, while it delivers optimal performance.
Identify a problem, solve it with design, validate it with science. That is Body Geometry. For nearly two decades, Specialized has been obsessed with ensuring the contact points where body meets bike improve performance and never hurt. When it comes to shoes, the company developed three patented technologies to comfortably deliver extra power and efficiency while establishing a scientific process and application that changed the industry.
The first technology is the application of the Varus Wedge. With a 1.5mm built-in Varus Wedge, Body Geometry shoes stabilize the natural movement of your foot and improve foot, knee, and hip alignment, which increases power output and adds an average of 10 seconds to your time to exhaustion during maximum efforts. The second is Longitudinal Arch Support. Body Geometry shoes are designed with patented, molded arch support in the outsole to create a riding structure to prevent foot collapse, increasing power and efficiency. It prevents the arch from carrying load, fatiguing and potentially causing injury, and also serves to keep the foot in a natural shape that transfer power to the ball of the foot, under which the pedal lies, for better power transfer. The third technology is the Metatarsal Button. In conjunction with the longitudinal arch support, the application works by lifting and separating the bones of the forefoot, the Metatarsal Button prevents impinging and compressing nerves and arteries so you can have a snug but proper fit for efficiency, while saying goodbye to numbness and “hot foot”.
The evolution of the FACT carbon base plate was guided by more than 100,000 foot scans from RETÜL fit data subjects. With analysis it was recognized that both a standard and a wide plate reconsideration would best serve the spectrum of human foot shapes. The principal result was re-engineering two new carbon base plates that are 4mm and 7mm wider than those of the S-Works 7, Standard and Wide sizing, respectively. Each plate carries a new “pie crust” edging shape that reduces flex and eliminates bulky material buildup around the perimeter of the plate for a more streamlined construction overall. An internal I-Beam adds stiffness and strength, eliminating the need for additional bracing. The result is a 20-gram weight reduction in the carbon plate itself, despite enhanced efficiency and more immediate power transfer.
Through rider feedback and RETÜL data, it became clear to the design team that a new heel cup system should be implements, and the Asymmetric Heel Cup was born. Specialized identified that more room was needed to accommodate the Achilles in order to increase comfort. The designers solved for that by creating an asymmetric heel cup that provided more room, while retaining a positive connection. Then they validated that the application maintained optimal knee alignment and enhanced comfort in keeping with the Body Geometry principles.
In continuing the overall design development, the team developed the new Crafted Ergonomic Upper. Leveraging data science, the designers refined every detail of the S-Works Torch's upper for improved fit and performance. The BOA® cable is shifted down and angled, preventing lift on the ball of the foot. This evolution negates the need for the Velcro strap of the S-Works 7 while delivering power-enhancing structure and eliminating unwanted pressure or pinching. Proprietary adaptive materials allow natural movement of the foot where needed for comfort, while data-driven zonal reinforcement keeps the foot secured for crisp power delivery and optimal efficiency. Reinforcement over the big toe makes the most of the pull phase of the pedal stroke.
The fact is that every aspect of the S-Works Torch redefines the road shoe for any serious enthusiast or racing cyclist who prizes comfort and feel along with light weight and supreme performance. Even the smallest detail, fabric, and material choice was made to purely service the experience of the wearer. That such a clean, stylish design was also achieved is just an added benefit and you can embrace a shoe that embraces you.