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Specialized launches S-Works Vent Evo gravel shoes, takes the range to 10

A close up of a riders black shoes. They are astride a bike on a muddy trail.
(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized has today unveiled yet another pair of S-Works shoes, the Vent Evo gravel shoe, which takes the brand's road shoe of the similar 'Vent' name and adapts it for off-road use. 

Marketed as a gravel shoe but with mention of cross-country mountain biking deeper within the release information, it’s clear Specialized sees gravel as the predominant market for all things dusty at the moment, but these are definitely a shoe for both drop bar and flat bar fans of non-tarmac. 

S-Works is the moniker reserved for the exclusive top tier of Specialized's product portfolio. However, today's launch takes the brand's range of S-Works shoes to 10 in number, alongside the Seven, Exos, Vent, Ares, Seven Lace road shoes, the Recon, Exos Evo and Recon Lace off-road shoes, and the Trident triathlon shoe. There's even another S-Works road shoe seemingly on the way

Nonetheless, the new S-Works Vent Evo mirrors the new S-Works Vent road shoes insofar as Specialized has added a highly perforated mesh in as many places as possible to keep the feet cool. Great if you live in California, but maybe a little chilly if you live in northern England? 

What’s new? 

The S-Works Vent Evo is technically a new shoe, but it borrows heavily from the S-Works Recon shoes and the aforementioned Vent road shoes in both design and construction. This is no bad thing, given the Recon features in our list of the best gravel bike shoes.

Both shoes share the same Fact carbon footplate and grippy outsole with two studs at the front for those who occasionally need to shoulder their bikes and run. Both also feature dual Boa dials and a velcro strap at the toes to fine-tune the fit. 

Despite having the same fit system, Specialized claims the S-Works Vent Evo will fit more feet thanks to a combination of a new last shape (the mould shoes are built around), and the added conformity that comes with using more mesh. 

As is the norm with shoes from Specialized, Body Geometry tech features heavily in the footbed, with a ‘metatarsal button’ to spread the toes and avoid numbness, along with arch support and a wedge to resist pronation.

A heavily meshed shoe with a black heel and red front against a black background

Similar to the S-Works Recon, but with some key changes, the S-Works Vent Evo aims to keep things cool (Image credit: Specialized)

What’s with all the mesh? 

Specialized clearly believes that cooler is faster, which is unsurprising given the company is based in California. For those located in cooler areas of the planet, these might be better reserved as a summer weather shoe given the added levels of ventilation. 

Owing to the rise of indoor cycling and the fact that summers are undeniably getting warmer, having more cooling on the tongue, toebox and the main body of the shoe may not be such a bad idea. It is the use of mesh in almost all possible areas that sets these apart from the Recon.

Given the S-Works moniker, these are also going to be used for racing - or at least riding at a high intensity - for which more cooling, regardless of the ambient temperature, is almost always a good thing. 

It will be interesting to see if the customer split between the Recon and the Vent Evo is broadly based on lines of latitude.

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Will Jones
Will Jones

Will joined the Cyclingnews team as a reviews writer in 2022, having previously written for Cyclist, BikeRadar and Advntr. There are very few types of cycling he's not dabbled in, and he has a particular affection for older bikes and long lasting components. Road riding was his first love, before graduating to racing CX in Yorkshire. He's been touring on a vintage tandem all the way through to fixed gear gravel riding and MTB too. When he's not out riding one of his many bikes he can usually be found in the garage making his own frames and components as a part time framebuilder, restoring old mountain bikes, or walking his collie in the Lake District.

Height: 182cm

Weight: 72Kg

Rides: Custom Zetland Audax, Bowman Palace:R, Peugeot Grand Tourisme Tandem, 1988 Specialized Rockhopper, Stooge Mk4, Falcon Explorer Tracklocross