We stand by our perspective that the S-Works 7 Road Shoe is the thoroughbred you want for years of season-long cycling, and the S-Works Vent is another option for pure summer cycling, but when you want the lightest, coolest, and perhaps the most comfortable World Tour level performance shoes made, the 150 gram(!) Specialized S-Works EXOS may just stand alone. Not only will it turn pedals, but also heads. There have been lighter shoes made, but none lighter with a BOA closure system, and none (even custom built shoes) with the comfort, fit, and benefits that Specialized delivers with their Body Geometry applications. Yes, there is a bevy of high technology here, but the shoe team has never forgotten the rider or pro cycling's punishing requirements. The S-Works EXOS Road is a complementary system of component technologies, materials, and lab and real world tested health considerations. Besides, building a super light, fully functional, sexy road shoe is fun!
Not only are they ridiculously light, but they still have all the features that are synonymous with the S-Works label. They’re still at that World Tour performance level, with comfort and reliability. To get the weight down to the 150-gram mark without sacrificing power transfer, the team implemented all the engineering bells and whistles one can think of. And when that wasn’t enough, they thought up some more. The vented and ported carbon outsole was developed using an advanced form of Finite Element Analysis and pressure mapping to reduce material where it wasn’t needed. This allowed them to keep crazy-high outsole stiffness numbers too with the FACT Powerline™ carbon plate rating out on Specialized 15.0 scale with a Stiffness Index of 13.0. Only the S-Works 7 Road is higher, but when over the years you have raised the original 10.0 stiffness scale to 15.0, that speaks more to superlative engineering and materials than any judgement of the original scale. We are talking major stiffness here.
Yet the sole is just complementary piece of the puzzle. Stiffness without proper fit, support and comfort is wasted. For the uppers, the team completely removed the traditional heel counter. With a little help from the upper's space-grade Dyneema® mesh and some CubicTec reinforcement, the heel molds to, and cradles the back of your foot, so nary a watt is wasted. The upper is super strong, supple, and perfectly cut to coordinate with the single dial BOA® IP1 Fit System. The draw of the wire utilizes anatomically informed anchor points and guides diagonally off the bone structure to draw the upper together for fantastic fit, security and comfort, while the dial allows for on-the-fly micro-adjustment. Lastly, a new Warp Sleeve vamp was developed and added to the Form Fit last with the unique concept that the toe box could discarded, and this further cut down the weight and increased the comfort. The Body Geometry sole and footbed then populate the internal experience. The Longitudinal Arch, Varus Wedge, and Metatarsal Button offer incredible benefits. Each one of these features have been ergonomically designed and scientifically tested to not only boost power, but to also increase efficiency and to reduce the risk of injury by optimizing hip, knee, and foot alignment.
To round out the build of the S-Works EXOS Road Shoe, you have to look at the details. Specialized delivers non-slip, replaceable heel tread with internally recessed screws for security. Most superlight shoes avoid such a replaceable part in favor of a few less grams, but the EXOS was made to be ridden and is far more durable than a single season shoe. Titanium alloy cleat nuts were used in the outsole, and these can be adjusted for fore-aft cleat positioning of the 3-bolt standard road set-up.
Not everyone can, or is willing to make such an investment for a road cycling shoe that may be used just a few months of the year, but that is a decision for you. If you take your cycling seriously, and feel like an unmatched balance of performance, comfort and light weight would truly enhance the height of your season- racing or not- then you have to strongly considers the S-Works EXOS Road Shoe. The "return" on your investment is a level of personal satisfaction only you can evaluate. At Excel Sports, we have had numerous regulars over the years who have spent more on superlight custom shoes that may be great for a season, but just don't hold up. Specialized has been delivering and supporting top-level S-Works products for decades, with superior materials and reliable builds that are punished in the crucible of the pro cycling world. Facts are facts, and the experience, quality, and laser focus on innovation and excellence are why we carry Specialized, which we feel was a great investment. Are you ready to make the S-Works EXOS Road Shoe yours?