Review: Specialized S-Works 6 Women’s Road Shoes
Specialized have always had a comprehensive women’s range, paying great attention to developing products for women of all abilities and at different price points. The Specialized women’s S-Works 6 shoes sit squarely at the top end of their road shoe range and that’s reflected in the rather enormous price of £310. As someone who wears trainers rather than Jimmy Choos that’s a price I find hard to swallow but unfortunately, top of the range carbon soled cycling shoes do tend to cost a bomb and the price is actually comparable with similar shoes from Rapha, Sidi, Lake and Shimano.
But enough about money. What are they like?
Worn by the women’s pro-peloton, the S-Works women’s road shoe are designed to deliver unrivalled performance at minimal weight. The shoes are built around Specialized’s light and stiff FACT Powerline carbon soles. The upper is uses a synthetic microfibre from the midsection onwards which is light, breathable and has a little give, for comfort. The midsection is constructed using Dyneema® Cubic Tech™, an ultra lightweight material that uses thermobonded directional strands of fibres to create a fabric with no stretch.
Because of this, they felt quite unlike any other shoes when I slipped them on. The upper is very light and slim and feels almost like a kind of shell or exoskeleton that encases the foot. You might imagine that this makes them feel peculiar or uncomfortable but quite the opposite is true. The superb shape holds the foot in a way that feels secure without any pressure points, like a hug. It’s pretty extraordinary.
The shoes are fastened using a Boa laceless system and a velcro strap. The two Boas are great for microtuning your fit and you don’t need to do them up tightly. You can also adjust them easily on the move with one hand. The Velcro I’m less convinced by – I have normal width feet and didn’t need to pull the strap across at all, which means there’s a big bit of uncovered Velcro that’s going to get dirty and look rubbish. I have a real pet hate of uncovered Velcro!
The toe box is good and roomy which I really like. It could be a little too big if you have really narrow feet but then you’ve got that Velcro to tighten things up. The heel cup is quite low yet holds the heel superbly – there’s no heel lift at all.
On very long rides I did feel some discomfort under the ball of the foot, probably just because the sole is so stiff. Perhaps a different footbed could solve this problem for me. Obviously, there’s not a lot of flex in the shoe which is why they perform so well so despite this slight negative, I still feel they’re the best shoes I’ve ever ridden in.
At 386g, these shoes are truly light as air and make your feet feel unencumbered. When it comes to performance, the super stiff sole and non-stretch upper ensure very good transference of power; pedalling feels effortless.
I’d be interested to see how these shoes fare over a year or two but at the moment, I’m not sure I even want to wear them in winter – they’re just so white, fancy and expensive plus I wonder whether my feet would get cold in such light, slim shoes. I might just have to save these for summer,dry weather and special occasions, which is probably what people do with their Jimmy Choos…