This article first appeared on BikeRadar.
A new and as yet unreleased climbing shoe with a lightweight upper from Specialized has been spotted at the Tour Down Under.
The unreleased shoe shares a similar profile to the S-Works 7, which was launched during last year’s edition of the race, but features almost no upper structure and a single Boa dial on the tongue.
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The two Specialized-sponsored teams in the WorldTour — Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck – Quick-Step — look to be wearing a new pink-to-orange fade edition of the S-Works 7 shoe along with matching socks at the race. So far, we've only spotted a single Bora-Hansgrohe rider wearing a new pair of lightweight shoes, which are finished in a similar design. The rider in question was also seen fitting a set of Body Geometry SL footbeds to the shoes.
The toebox and structure of the upper on the new shoe looks to be completely replaced by a much thinner material, perhaps constructed entirely using the Dyneema Mesh material used in some components of the existing S-Works 7 shoe.
Initially developed by the American space agency, NASA, for use in parachutes, Specialized was the first cycling brand to utilise Dyneema in a shoe and did so for its incredibly high level of strength and its lack of stretch.
The Specialized Powerline carbon sole used in the S-Works 7 shoe was also the stiffest shoe sole the brand had ever developed, so, in conjunction with a Dyneema upper and secured correctly, the new lightweight shoe should produce excellent power transfer despite the lack of structured support in the upper. However, some of this stiffness may have been lost as the shoes appear to have a cutout section in the sole, presumably to shift more weight off the shoe.
Instead of using the two custom Boa S3 dials as seen on the S-Works 7 shoe, the new lightweight shoe appears to have a single Boa L5 dial, although this isn’t completely clear from the photographs we managed to shoot of the shoes.
The Boa dial is fitted to the tongue of the shoe as opposed to earlier shoes from Specialized, where it is fitted to the outside area of the shoe. This will likely provide a more equal distribution of tension with the single dial and possibly also improve the aerodynamics of the shoe.
The new thin material combined with halving the amount of Boa dials will certainly reduce weight and while this is purely speculation, the new shoe will likely be marketed as a climbing shoe, or potentially one of the lightest shoes on the market, if put into production.
Specialized has not yet announced any details of the shoe but we have contacted the brand for comment and will update the article with further details as soon as we can.
If stiffness levels and power transfer performance can be maintained from the S-Works 7 shoe in the new shoes, could this new minimal design be the future of cycling race shoes? Leave your thoughts in the comments.