New for the 2017 season we were excited to try the greatly talked about Specialized Recon Mixed Terrain cycle shoe. Worn by many of the worlds best riders, it’s no great surprise to see yet another pair of Specialized’s shoes right at the top end of the market from the outset. The marketing giants are always quick to ensure their products are in the limelight, on the cameras and putting themselves about. And the Recon Mixed Terrain is no different.
Specialized as always have published a rather romantic description along with the shoe. “When the paved road ends, Recon begins. Designed for riders who take one look at that switch from paved to gravel and say ‘yes please’, the Recon Mixed Terrain shoe is the perfect blend of durable, comfortable, and adventurous”.
Following suit with a lot of their new MTB shoes, the Recon Mixed Terrain features a stiff FACT carbon sole and Body Geometry footbed. Specialized claim you’ll feel a great connection to the bike, which translates to power as you tackle fireroad and paved climb alike. And should you encounter any obstacles that say hike-a-bike, the grippy SlipNot™ tread delivers superb traction for confidently scrambling over the rough stuff. Navigate on road and off with the comfortable and versatile Recon shoe.
Sounds very similar to the 2fo Cliplite, despite having a completely different aesthetic. As well as this it bears a much heftier price tag. Breaking the bank at £200 with a retail currently just under £160, it’s definitely not at the cheap end of the scale. So we’re really hoping it lives up to the above descriptions.
The Recon Mixed Terrain feature Body Geometry sole construction and footbed: ergonomically designed and scientifically tested to increase efficiency and reduce chance of injury. This works by optimizing hip, knee, and foot alignment. These are at the forefront of the shoe market and have been thoroughly designed to stop the niggles setting in.
The two-bolt SPD-style cleat pattern fits all major MTB pedals. And the sole is incredibly stiff. A newly engineered FACT™ carbon/composite sole for power transfer with an acclaimed Stiffness Index of 10.0. This is the same carbon composite sole that features in the Specialized Expert road shoe. Another solid shoe in the opposite disciple. Mixed with SlipNot™ rubber tread for confident traction on all terrain with removable toe studs this allows the shoe to stand out from it’s competitors and maximize traction. This is the same rubber used in the 2fo Cliplite.
The Recon Mixed Terrain comes with an adaptive Fit lace-up with non-stretch, non-water absorbent lace for superb fit. This is paired with a Lacelock™ elastic keeps laces out of the chainrings. Similar to many of the now popular Giro shoes with a more retro aesthetic. Blended with a supple Micromatrix synthetic leather with laser perforated venting and moulded toe kick protection. A low profile heel offers more ankle comfort with 3M reflective collar for that added bit of visibility.
Finally the all new Recon Mixed Terrain tip the scales with an approximate weight of 325g (1/2 pair, size 42). So are more towards the light end of the scale. It certainly has a good specification, but whether or not it performs is a different question.
Out of the Box:
The black/gum colours work well & straight from the box the Recon Mixed Terrain looks the part. Designed for all terrains we weren’t convinced that the shoe would last all weathers. The ventilation was a bit of a give away that water was probably going to penetrate the shoe. But none the less the aesthetic worked well. It’s nice to see specialized branching out from the go to black aesthetic with a hint of colour, although a greater variety of choice would have been appreciated. The more retro, road shoe look definitely isn’t for everyone.
The shoe was incredibly comfortable and easy to find a good fit. The laces aren’t as easy to adjust as the BOA dial shoes, although the level of comfort is far greater. With an almost Italian style handmade finish, the materials are well chosen and feel thoroughly durable from the box.
Onto the Bike:
The stiffness of the Recon Mixed Terrain is definitely the first thing we noticed. Unsurprisingly the sole offers a level of stiffness we’re used to from most road shoes. As it also features in the specialized mid range road shoes, this was to be expected. None the less this is a definite defining feature of the shoe.
The plastic toe studs make the shoe quite slippery in rocky conditions. Which is slightly annoying considering they’re designed to improve traction. Mixed with the lack of waterproofing through the shoe, we expected slightly more from a £200 price tag. The shoe was quickly penetrated by water, ruling the shoe out of the choice for a solid winter shoe.
The materials were durable & the mainly black exterior is easy to clean & didn’t pick up too many bumps & scratches. We wouldn’t recommend this shoe for the grittier of rides or any largely hike-a-bike sections. But for gravel & mixed terrain bikepacking it would make for a great choice, which is exactly what the shoe has been designed for.
The Recon Mixed Terrain is designed for people that like to mix on and off road sections, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a very comfortable shoe, with incredible stiffness and an old school, Italian, aesthetic. The shoe was quickly penetrated by the elements so doesn’t make for a great winter shoe, but the ventilation worked perfectly well in the summer. If you can put aside the £200 price tag, then this shoe would make a fantastic choice.