The Specialized Expert Road Shoe, falling right in the middle of the Specialized range, we put this shoe to the test across a range of disciplines to see if it could hold it’s own against the majority of race shoes. The Californian giants have made this shoe to target cyclists that want to get from A to B with a bit of pace, whilst looking good at the same time. Designed with lots of the features we can see in some of the S-works shoes, we were eager to give the Expert a try.
It’s no secret that when re-designing the seasonal wardrobe, shoes are one of the items regularly changed. Directly transferring the power from the legs through the pedals, performance is high on the priority list whilst picking your new shoes. Although comfort mustn’t be overlooked. Long days in the saddle are made much easier with a gentle, agreeable fit. And Specialized are certainly one of the firms getting it right.
Specialized describe the Expert to ’embody high-performance comfort and unbeatable value. That’s because we gave them stiff carbon composite soles, Boa® dial closures, and a bevy of Body Geometry technology. They’re everything you need to start throwing down the watts.’ With an RRP of £159.99, they’re certainly not at the cheap end of the market.
The sleek design hugs the foot and can be paired perfectly with Specialized Bodygeometry Sl Footbeds. This lets riders with any foot composition jump straight in. The already built in arch support and forefoot varus wedge supports the inside of the foot keeping the knees aligned and the glutes engaged.
The shoes feature the FACT™ carbon/composite fiber sole which is directionally rigid for outstanding power transfer and comes with a Stiffness Index 8.5. This is a bit behind the S-works 6 12.0 but it’ll still do the job nicely.
The top of the Expert comes with a Boa® IP1 Snap dial closure for on-the-fly micro-adjustment, backed by the Boa® Lifetime Guarantee. It also has a velcro strap down towards the bottom of the shoe. The rest of the upper is a light, supple thermo-bonded material for superior fit. And the whole shoe comes with a weight of roughly 260g (1/2 pair, size 42).
Out of the box:
Unlike the sleek black boxes of the S-works range, the Expert shoes came in the standard Specialized box. Somewhat underwhelming compared to the exciting sight of a new set of s-works. None the less once out of the box these shoes definitely look the part. With a less rounded aesthetic than the s-works 6, the Expert looks defined, simple & effective. Available in both black and neon yellow, we’re really not sure which colour we prefer. Both work very well & look the part.
Defined by a plethora of ventilation, form looks to have followed function in these shoes. With reflective strips on the heal, we feel they look a bit over-ventilated. For fear of using the statement. None the less they hug the foot well, as always the lower Velcro strap is somewhat wasted as is the case with many shoes with a singular BOA dial. It didn’t offer a great deal of support, but the BOA dial made up for that and hugged the foot nicely without any pinch points. The body geometry footbeds add to the comfort of the feet in the shoe as seen through the whole specialized range, although in this particular shoe they offer slightly less arch support.
On to the Bike:
The sole of the shoe certainly feels stiff. Granted it isn’t quite a rock solid as the S-works 6, but through 98% of the ride the stiffness was more than adequate. The shoe hugged the pedals nicely and the power transfer was there throughout the ride. The stack height is slightly more than shoes such as the Pearl Izumi Pro Leader III, although this didn’t make much difference to the performance of the shoe.
The ventilation through the Expert was generally good but we thought more could have been done with vents on the bottom of the shoe to really allow air to flow through to the whole foot. Although the toe vent does offer some ventilation. Comfort can be adapted out on the road with easy changes of the tightness of the shoe. This is where the Boa Snap cable reel comes in really handy. The ability to loosen the shoe slightly at the end of a long ride can come in helpful for those that begin to feel discomfort.
The durability of the shoe is good. The materials aren’t quite up to the same standard as most top end race shoes, although both colours hold well in grittier road conditions. They’re easy to clean and there’s barely any stretch through the materials in the shoe. We wouldn’t expect the materials to be at the top of the market for a mid range budget, but they’re certainly adequate.
The Specialized Expert is a fantastic road shoe that caters to all ranges of abilities. The price tag is a little on the steep side although the shoe performs very well. It doesn’t quite compete with the top of the market, but if you’re not racing week in week out looking for every watt you can save, these shoes are a great purchase. They look the part, are easy to maintain and offer great flexibility out on the road.
- Body Geometry sole construction and footbed: ergonomically designed and scientifically tested to boost power, increase efficiency, and reduce chance of injury by optimizing hip, knee, and foot alignment.
- FACT™ carbon/composite fiber sole is directionally rigid for outstanding power transfer: Stiffness Index 8.5.
- Boa® IP1 Snap dial closure for on-the-fly micro-adjustment, backed by the Boa® Lifetime Guarantee.
- Light, supple thermo-bonded upper for superior fit.
- Reflective heel elements for high visibility.
- Standard Fit for on-bike support and all-day comfort.
- Three-bolt cleat pattern fits all major road pedals.
- Approximate weight: 260g (1/2 pair, size 42)