Specialized Sport MTB shoes
Many touring and audax bikes use equipment designed for ATB bikes, like wise many touring riders also wear clothing that was essentially aimed at the ATB market. Never is this more evident than with shoes, ‘SPD’ styled pedals and compatible shoes being a popular choice, where the cleats are recessed helping off the bike walking of course, with road bike specific styles they are not, so the rider has to waddle around delicately balancing on the cleats when off the bike.
Fortunately many of the ATB shoes these days have fairly conservative styling and have indeed become a common choice for touring and Audax riders alike. The Specialized Sport ATB shoes shown here are one their entry level shoes with a solid and stiff plastic sole, unlike many of the leisure styles that look more like trainers, which although have a stiff sole do allow for some flex for off the bike comfort. In part it is the stiff soles that have made the ATB models a popular choice for many, especially for the higher mileage riders who often prefer something that is more of a cycling specific shoe, yet still offers a recessed cleat.
Another advantage that ATB shoes have over the leisure styles is that they have a race bike style upper, so often with good ventilation and quick drying; something well worth noting should you want to use them on longer cycle tours. ATB shoes, as with this model, are often slightly wider at the toe, this is because as they are aimed at the off road market they have a protective toe box; many road bike shoes are inclined to be narrower in comparison and chose them just for this reason.
Specialized promote these as part of their Body geometry or ‘BG’ range, and are available with different insoles, with emphasis on either high arch, standard or for those with flat feet; the shoes are supplied with a universal insole, the others sold as an extra. Specialized BG centres have a simple device the rider stands on to determine which insole is required. Shims that go under the insert at the heel to correct foot/heel platform are also available to obtain the correct foot alignment; although this takes longer to determine which type are needed and as such have proved less popular.
In comparison to the Sidi shoes they replaced, when I first started using them I did notice that I did feel I was on tip toe far more as apposed to the flat feel of the Sidi. This took a bit of getting used too, that is not to say I don’t like them, since these I have used nothing but Specialized shoes!
For: Stiff Sole, ventilated upper, conservative styling
Against: Not much really, can take some by surprise as they can feel very different.
Value for money: 8