You know there is bliss in ignorance. You don’t know how great something is if you’ve never had it. I had no idea how important it was to always wear bike shorts until I actually had bike shorts to wear, I had no idea how great good bike shoes were until I had some, but I didn’t know how much was missing until I got some Specialized Expert Road shoes.
I’ve been using Specialized Comp shoes for the last 4 years, they were very comfortable, but stretched out, worn out, and the 3 velcro straps that closed the shoes are outdated. My friend Jason recently sold me some Specialized Expert shoes that he found too large. They use a boa dial closure and a single strap and are size 45 instead of size 46.
When I was 280 pounds the 46s were a good fit, but just a tiny bit big, now that I’m 227 the 46s are a lose fit. Crazy to think even your feet loose weight. The Boa strap is such an improvement over any kind of strap. Its super easy to adjust and tighten on the road and most importantly they pull evenly all up and down the shoe.
Specialized body geometry shoes have a built in varis wedge which adapts an unevenly canted foot to the pedal. On other shoes I’ve used in the past the outside of my foot would get hot and painful. It turns out that my feet are canted so they don’t sit flat on the pedals. I was able to fix this with LeWedge cleat shims which help spread pressure to the inside of your feet. Since most people have this problem Specialized builds in a mild correction into their shoe and I had no problem with my new shoes either. I just bolted on the cleats and rode, haven’t made a single adjustment yet.
Now about that stiffness index, my old shoes had a stiffness index of 7. I’ve always thought that was funny. Cycling manufacturers are obsessed with stiffness, everything is stiffer and lighter every year, but actually putting a stiffness index on a shoe? Its a good idea but just a little too much marketing for me.
I laughed out loud when I saw the bottom of my new shoes have a stiffness index of 8.5 I tried to figure out just how much more efficient and fast I’d be with 1.5 times more stiffness at my disposal. Well guess what, you can feel the difference.
The first time I rode with these shoes I could notice that the shoes were firmer, but the real surprise came when I stood to climb out of the saddle, I started pulling up with my up stroke and yanked the back wheel off the ground and dropped it a few inches to the left, it kind of scared me. The shoes were so stiff and so well-connected that one foot could yank the back wheel off the ground.
I have since learned to use a little less force in my upstroke and I’m wondering what would happen if I had the Pro model shoe with a 10 stiffness index, is it so stiff I could kick through brick walls, or would it be so stiff that my back wheel would just spin?