With all the aesthetics of a road shoe, the 2017 Specialized Sport MTB Shoe has been designed with performance in mind. Falling towards the cheaper end of the Specialized range, this shoe has been creating quite a stir so we were eager to get out in it. We had our concerns that the shoe would follow suit with the Recon Mixed Terrain we reviewed earlier in the year, although coming in at half the price would make a huge difference.
Specialized’s description of the shoe is ‘Remarkable performance and value make the Sport MTB shoes one of our best-selling pairs of mountain shoes. This durable, lightweight shoe features Body Geometry fit, comfortable offset Velcro® closures, and a sole with improved traction for hiking’.
The Sport MTB is currently retailing at £79.99 making it affordable for the majority of mountain bikers. Compared to a lot of the current specialized shoes, this price tag isn’t going to break the bank or cost you brownie points with your partners.
The Sport MTB features 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 injection-molded nylon composite outsole with rubber tread for moderate pedaling stiffness and phenomenal trail traction: Stiffness Index 6.0. This is far from the most flexible shoes we’ve seen, but we were hoping it was stiff enough to perform as needed.
The Sport MTB is fastened with a three-strap offset Velcro® closure for comfortable fit. And a durable synthetic leather and vented mesh create the rest of the upper. The two-bolt cleat pattern fits all major MTB pedals and the pair tip the scales at roughly 360g (1/2 pair, size 42).
Out of the Box:
This entry level shoe has taken lots of the aesthetic values from the Specialized S Works 6XC, which in turn is very similar to it’s sister road shoe. Mimicking many of the performance features it’s a performance shoe on a budget. The shoe certainly looks slick although certainly won’t appeal to riders that prefer a more skate inspired shoe. We’re slightly disappointed at the lack of colour choice through the range. Black, black and more black. Granted the colour performs much better in MTB shoes due it’s durability and lack of cleaning required, but come on Specialized, push the boat out!
The shoes are incredibly comfortable. As seen throughout the entry level Specialized shoes, it fastens with three velcro straps. This doesn’t offer a great deal of tension across the top of the foot, and there is some movement here. We much prefer BOA dials, or lace up shoes. Although the velcro offers a lot more adjustability on the go than a lace up shoe.
On to the Bike:
The nylon reinforced sole of the Sport MTB was something we were very interested in. And as we expected they weren’t as strong as shoes we’ve tried in the past. But they certainly did the job. Exceeding our expectations from the rubber soles we’ve tried before. Specialized have included this to keep the costs down, and we think they’ve done well for the budget!
There is some reinforcement in the toe which helps with bumps & knocks. And the smooth material on the instep reduces the amount the crank rubs on the shoe having an effect here. The materials in the Sport MTB are very durable & clean off easy. This is something that can often lack in more budget shoes. The only time the difference was noticeable from their S-works counter part was when pedaling hard, as the power transfer just wasn’t quite there.
The ventilation of the shoe is average, and we found that in wet conditions the shoe let a lot of water in. This added to the weight of the shoe considerably, although the shoe did stay dry for longer than a lot of it’s competitors.
Specialized have created the Sport MTB to be a successful entry level shoe mimicking all the best features of the S-Works 6XC, on a budget. The shoe does everything you’d expect an entry level shoe to do, although as expected it wouldn’t be able to hold it’s own against the top of the market. Designed with performance in mind before aesthetic, if you’re looking for a skate inspired, stylish shoe, this won’t be the one.