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First Look:

The Specialized S-Works EXOS Road Cycling Shoes

Have you always loved the idea of super lightweight road cycling shoes, but are put off by laces and would still like to retain the style, security and practicality of a Boa dial? At 150 grams per shoe in a size EU 42, to be exact, the Specialized S-Works EXOS Road Shoes are for you. Maintaining high stiffness, and the same excellent power transfer of the S-Works 7, Specialized somehow managed to shave off around 80 grams per pair while maintaining breathability and durability; the EXOS offer a breakthrough in climbing shoes and are made to look fast and go faster.

Fit

If you’re already a fan of the S-Works range, then you’ll find that as you slip the shoes on, the shape and internal volume will feel similar. However, tighten the single Boa dial and you’ll instantly notice there are also some vast differences. The unstructured upper conforms better to your foot, adapting as you pedal so you’ll almost forget you’re wearing them at all. If you're someone that's ever struggled with pressure points or hot spots from their cycling shoes, you're likely to benefit from the far softer material.

Specialized S-Works EXOS Road Cycling Shoe Upper

Dyneema Mesh Upper

When you hold these shoes in your hand, the weight (or lack of) immediately jumps out at you. It's the upper material that's largely responsible for this while giving the EXOS its unique aesthetic. Specialized was the first cycling brand to use Dyneema Mesh in their shoes. One of the world's strongest materials, it's malleable and adaptive, but doesn't stretch when pulled. 

The combination of Dyneema and a backing mesh negates the requirement for any extra reinforcement, which significantly reduces weight. Together with an innovative and adaptive material covering the toes, these shoes offer second-skin comfort and top breathability.

Specialized S-Works EXOS Road Cycling Shoes

FACT Powerline™ Carbon Outsole

In a collaboration with the creators of the Rider-First Engineered™ Tarmac, Specialized developed a new carbon outsole specifically for the EXOS range. A pressure mapping technique enabled them to remove weight while retaining stiffness, which explains the vented cutouts. 

The FACT Powerline™ carbon plate has a stiffness index of 13. This number correlates with the amount of deflection under a 40kg load, and makes the outsole slightly more flexible compared to the S-Works 7 - comparable to the S-Works 6. However, this flex is minimal and the sole is still extremely stiff. You’ll appreciate that tiny bit of extra give on long hot climbs.

Specialized S-Works EXOS Road Cycling Shoe Heel Hold

Patterned Dyneema Heel

Heel hold is excellent, but very different from the S-Works 7’s. The heel counter has been removed and instead, patterned Dyneema and a CubicTec™ overlay hold your heel in place. The result is a softer yet more conforming fit that’ll make your foot feel locked in without restriction.

Specialized S-Works EXOS Road Cycling Shoe Boa Closure

Boa Closure

With minimal weight being an obvious priority, these shoes no longer use a zonal closure system. Instead, a single IP1 tongue-mounted Boa dial pulls the laces in from both sides, and you can both tighten and loosen incrementally, and pop-release the laces. This new system feels fully secure and supportive around the midfoot.

Of course, there’s a lot to love about the S-Works 7’s and, although the EXOS is not a successor but a specialist climbing shoe, some of the technology has been transferred to this latest model from the flagship range.

Specialized’s Body Geometry design ethos is present in the included BG+ footbed, scientifically proven to optimise the alignment of your hip, knee and foot. If you’re a rider that needs extra support, then you can still add any Specialized custom or semi-custom footbed or forefoot wedge to personalise the fit further. 

With the ability to replace both the Boa dials and the heel lugs, you can be sure to get many seasons of use out of these shoes. 

The Specialized S-Works Exos Road Shoes are engineered for comfortable climbing. The supremely light construction combines with a plush closure system that delivers a bespoke and supportive fit, mapping to the contours of your foot. Your feet will feel light and nimble on the pedals, yet thanks to the breathability and adaptive nature of the upper, they will also be protected from the heat. Although not a replacement for your everyday riding shoes, they’re sure to become your go-to pair for special days on the bike, and when the time comes to launch for the summit, all your power will be translated to speed on the road. 

Shop the Specialized S-Works EXOS Road Cycling Shoes

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About the Author

  • Cat Gaskell
  • Height: 165cm
  • Weight: 53kg
  • About Cat Gaskell : After being a runner, 3 years ago Cat discovered cycling and has never looked back. A member of the content team here at Sigma Sports, when not at work Cat enjoys training and racing at Herne Hill Velodrome as well as on the road.

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