Some folks just love lace-up cycling shoes and the Specialized S-Works Recon Lace-Up Gravel Shoe will appeal to that crowd, but also to gravel and mountain riders who prefer a lightweight, slightly more roomy S-S-Works level shoe. Early release reports indicate the fit offers a little more toebox width and volume than the S-Works mountain and road shoes. If this was intentional, it could be because the challenges of riding over loose gravel, broken roads, and whatever else the route throws at you may actually prod the staunchest hyper-thin cycling sock rider to opt for a little more loft and cushion. Gravel events and races also run a long season, so best to enjoy the mud and grime of Spring and Fall while accumulating high mileage and massage bills. But- while the sock question may not actually be an intentional feature, the S-Works Recon Lace-up Gravel may also just be the best option for those with larger volume feet.
Specialized considers the shoe to feature a "timeless look combined with tried and true Body Geometry features and the performance and durability that have become hallmarks of S-Works Recon shoes". Fair enough. Laces are surely somewhat retro on cycling shoes. The clean and simple effect of superior sole and upper technology can add to a classic effect as well, as S-Works shoes do have a minimalistic visual impact. The super stiff and ultra light XC FACT carbon plate it used, with it's Stiffness Index of 13.0, the stiffest mountain platform Specialized offers, so power transfer is optimized. The PadLock heel construction is incredibly effective at cradling and holding the heel, with proven performance while accelerating. The last is Specialized's Form Fit, which is designed with the aforementioned roomy toe box and allows the shape of the foot to conform for great connectivity, while remaining comfortable. Their SlipNot rubber heel and toe tread offers grip and durability, while removeable toe studs offer year round, conditions specific customization- making this a great option for cyclocross as well. Double bows recommended.
The Body Geometry story is no longer questioned, after decades of proven products and continual development as new materials and research come to the fore. These scientifically derived features work with most body types, with some generalization, but it is impossible to have a single system for every human being. Body Geometry features of the S-Works Recon Lace-up Gravel include the Varus Wedge, Longitudinal Arch, and Metarsal Button. As a key construction element of XC FACT carbon plate, the 1.5mm built-in Varus Wedge stabilize 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.
There is no doubt that cycling shoes are one of the toughest gear items to buy, and simply because you have used an S-Works shoe before doesn't mean this one will fit you perfectly. That is the same for any shoe and brand. Hopefully some of the fit information listed here will help. Also, keep in mind that if you are coming from a different brand, Specialized's European sizing (43, 44, 45...) may be slightly different than the brand you have been using, so make sure you look at the combination of US sizing, and if available the centimeter length of the sole across the brands. Those will help you properly size the length of this fantastic S-Works Recon Lace-Up Gravel Shoe.