SPECIALIZED S-WORKS TORCH ROAD SHOES REVIEW
The Torch gets the S-Works treatment.
The Specialized footwear team has been on a seemingly endless winning streak. They have been launching new models but this time, they are giving the Torch their ultimate upgrade. The Torch has been the brand’s bread and butter road shoe with prices ranging from $120 to $230. Now they go all out with the S-Works version that will set you back $450.
So why have Specialized shoes been doing so well you might ask? It’s simple, they are the Google of cycling fit data with their Body Geometry technology offered for over 20 years. Simply, they scan and save more feet and bike fit data thanks to their Retul system than anyone else. The data is then used to create, refine and optimize every shoe. The new S-Works Torch is no different and thanks to the data and team’s knowledge, this could be their best shoe yet.
The fit of the new S-Works Torch is slimmer than the S-Works 7 and S-Works Vent, and more in line with the ultra-light S-Works EXOS which is tighter just behind the toebox. While much of the S-Works 7 tech is from 2018 and the upgrades to the S-Works Vent came in 2020, in our opinion it has remained one of the best offerings in the market.
The Torch is definitely an all-new design and from our first few rides makes small improvements over the 7. There are two significant differences from the SW7. The first is that the Torch removes the toebox strap and only has two CNC’d alloy BOA S3-Snap dials per shoe. The top dial cable now runs through two loops on the tongue to help retain the position. Both of the dial cables can be removed from the loop guide for easier on/off fitment.
The second is an all-new carbon plate sole. This is the first S-Works shoe to step away from the design that was launched with the S-Works 7 shoe. The new carbon sole seems to have been aero optimized and has just one under the toe vent. The whole thing is much sleeker and if we know Specialized, probably saves watts.
For us, the biggest difference is hard to see and is how much slimmer the fit is between the arch and the toebox. The upper seems to have less volume for our foot in that area. With the removal of the toebox strap, Specialized seems to have added some structural material that adds retention beyond the two dials. The toebox itself seems to have about the same amount of room but the heel cup is slightly wider but still holds well.
The entire upper is perforated for ventilation. This ventilation is not at the same level as the SW Vent but still seems to work well. The toe of the shoe has a reinforced plastic section that extends the life of the shoe and minimizes damage if you have a bit of toe overlap with your front wheel. The external heel cup is also plastic that molds to the carbon sole. On our shoes, there is no stiffness rating like some of the other Torch shoes have, but they are extremely stiff. For us, they feel stiffer than any of the other S-Works offerings and we wouldn’t be surprised to see it eventually be the base for the entire S-Works line.
For us, the S-Works Torch is a solid shoe that completes the Torch lineup. The fit is a bit slimmer than the S-Works 7 shoe, but many will appreciate that. Dropping the weight of the toe strap probably gave Specialized the ability to add a tiny bit more material to the new carbon sole and stiffen it up. The most notable trend that Specailized continues is the removal of the large and overwhelming branding. The S-Works Torch shoes have very subtle branding, and we think this could give them an edge over the other S-Works offerings with riders who don’t ride a Specialized.
We have always liked the custom CNC’d alloy BOA S3-Snap dials. The 1mm micro-adjustment and easy to feel and turn knob make getting a perfect tension easy, even if you need to adjust it during a ride. Since the fit has changed from the previous models it might be a good time to get your foot measured and even better, consider a set of custom-molded footbeds.
- Full sizes from 36-49
- Half sizes 38.5-46.5
- 5 colorways available
- 460 grams Pair (size 43.5)
- Three-bolt cleat pattern
- proprietary alloy BOA dials
- Price: $450