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Reviews – Specialized S Works BG Shoes 74 Limited Edition

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After my Body Geometry Fit I have been pretty convinced that the people at Specialized know what they are doing. When I bought my first road bike in 2007 I also bought the Specialized shoes, blindly trusting the advice of the people at the shop.

For the most part while on the bike I have been knee problem free (my knees are kind of a weak spot for me), so something as far as my shoes was right. I had some knee issues while bicycle touring in Sweden two years ago. It turned out the shop had installed the SPD cleat on my left shoe wayyyy off (1.5mm more backwards) Moral of the story if something is wrong my knees will know it, and of course always check!

Once I picked up cycling as my main sport this season I have had one complaint with my old shoes: I just could not get the left one tight enough. Since I do not have a Varus wedge in my left shoe there is quite some space in the toe box and the straps are not able to close down around my foot. So the ankle strap takes most of the load and if it is even 1 notch too loose my whole foot slides forward and my big toe hits the front of the shoe. If I do not pay attention I would pedal with toes curled up and pointing down.

The Boa Lacing Technology

Enter the S Works shoes and Boa lacing. Among all reviews everybody likes the snugness of the closure. Take a look at the PRO peloton and unmistakably you can notice the trademarked two Boa dials on the BG shoes gracing the feet of many riders.

So I have been thinking of an upgrade myself; at ~EU200+ they are not cheap. In addition, I absolutely hate the shiny synthetic mesh fabrics they use on them. This year Specialized released the so -called ’74’ series of products. Eddy Merckx style shoe with modern carbon fiber sole and the Boa lacing coupled with Body Geometry features. As soon as I found a size 47 I ordered a pair.

The poster announcing the 74 line of S Works shoes
The poster announcing the 74 line of S Works shoes

The shoes came in a nice box and included a black microfiber shoe bag.  I transferred my green footbeds and the wedge from my old pair, put new Look cleats on and was ready to go.

My pair of the 74 S Works shoes

I have been riding them for about a week and I can say it is a very nice upgrade.

First, the soles are about 4mm thinner (12mm stack height measured) than my old shoes so I had to shorten the Look cleat screws a bit to prevent them from poking through the bottom of the shoe. Most importantly I had to lower my saddle (and lose a 5mm headset spacer).  The shoes seem to wrap around my foot better and they have a lot less volume than my older pair. The Boa lacing is very nice and I can adjust it while on the bike with neoprene overshoes on! A big plus for those of us riding in sub optimal weather conditions. Being made from kangaroo leather, there is some break-in involved. I feel the ‘new shoe’ discomfort around the tongue, however, nothing out of the ordinary. I am still breaking them in so I have to tighten the Boa dials 2-3 clicks each as my ride progresses. This should get better after some more miles. The nagging toe curling caused by a loose ankle strap of my old shoes is starting to become a thing of the past. I have to think about it but I can relax my whole left foot and just put the power to the pedals. The soles do not flex at all and they feel ‘flatter’ compared to the plastic soles on my older shoes.

Now on to the negative…

The left shoe is still quite roomy in the toe box area, and while I can get it snug with the Boa lacing, the front of the shoes wrinkles and folds up and it sometimes touches the tops of my toes. Annoying, however, not impairing fit in any way. I am thinking of making a 1mm thin plastic shim shaped like the Varus wedge. It would just raise my forefoot slightly without impacting pedaling mechanics/foot alignment, it should improve ‘snugness’.

The other thing is availability; although a limited edition all sizes are readily available through Specialized dealers (up to size 48!). However, in The Netherlands the biggest size available was 46?!?!?!? The logic behind that is mind-boggling, so I had to order my shoes from the UK.

Nonetheless I have been very happy with the upgrade and I would highly recommend the specialized Body Geometry line of shoes.

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