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Specialized Torch 2.0 cycling shoes review

4 Feb 2020
Verdict:

Mid-price shoe with stiffness-to-comfort ratio that's close to perfect

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£158
For 
Respectably light • Instantly comfortable • Easy to adjust • Not overly stiff
Against 
Slightly stiff tongue, but little else to complain about

Life is all about balance: your work/life balance, cycling/marital commitments balance, er… the delicate balance of power in the Middle East…? You get the idea. But balance is often synonymous with compromise. But the mid-range Specialized Torch 2.0 cycling shoes carry very few – if any – compromises for their £158 price tag.

They manage to strike an enviable balance between stiffness, all-day riding comfort and respectable weight which puts many much less wallet-friendly carbon-soled road shoes to shame.

The trickle down of tech from the Californian firm’s high-end models has equipped the Torch 2.0 with a number of features befitting a £250 shoe.

'With our Torch shoes, we’re always looking to bring as many benefits from the S-Works model to riders at all price points,' says Specialized’s product manager Stephen Quay.

'On the Torch 2.0, the big upgrades were the carbon outsole, IP1 Boa closure with welded guides, and a fully welded upper using the same construction method as S-Works,' he explains.

Dealing with the closure first, I’ll admit a slight hint of ‘snake oil’ wariness when dial closures migrated from motorcycle and winter sports footwear to cycling many moons ago. Mind you, I’m generally a late adopter; I didn’t get my first mobile phone contract until 2008.

But I’m down with the IP1 dials on the Torch. Why? They’re dead easy to adjust – turn clockwise to tighten, anti-clockwise to loosen, pull up to release. Also, this model of Boa dial sits a good 7mm proud of the shoe’s upper, so you’re not fiddling around, blindly attempting to find it with fumbling fingers if you need to adjust the fit on the fly.

Buy the Specialized Torch 2.0 shoes from Evans Cycles for £158

The only thing which feels odd at first on the Specialized Torch 2.0 shoes is the rather inflexible central tongue, but it’s breathable, secure, supple enough in use, and meets the front of the ankle with a much softer fabric material.

The general fit is snug along the midfoot, but with a roomier toebox than previous Specialized shoes I’ve worn; almost to the point that it might be worth sizing down by half a Euro size if you’re ordering a pair online, and place more importance on power transfer than absolute comfort. Better still, visit your local bike shop and buy a pair in person.

'The fully welded mesh/TPU upper let’s us create a zonal supple fit,' add Quay. 'We can create hold where needed but keep it soft where we want increased comfort.' And hold they do, especially at the heel, with zero slip experienced in testing.

The carbon outsole, which scores a 7.0 in Specialized’s ‘stiffness rating’ (equating to ‘moderately stiff’) supplies a platform upon which to lay down power easily and efficiently. It also contributes to bringing the all-up weight of a size 42 shoe down to 237g (compared to a claimed 263g for a Nylon-soled Specialized Torch 1.0 shoe).

Flex is barely felt, but then neither are any hotspots on the sole over a 80km weekend ride on undulating terrain.

The rubberised heel and toe areas of the sole have so far proven slip-free on surfaces ranging from kitchen lino to the flagstone floor of a public house. Just a Coke, mind… life, after all, is all about balance…

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