I’ve done enough rides now on the Specialized mountain bike Sport shoe to know what I think about it. They are good, not great, but good. I had some Specalized Comp MTB shoes around 15 years ago that were a naturey green and brown, and though my memory may not serve me as well they were better then these and about 40 dollars cheaper. In fact those shoes are so popular that they are available all over ebay. Maybe I should have bought some of those.
The Sport is pretty much the cheapest shoe that Specialized offers and it’s 100 bucks. It has a plastic sole and 3 Velcro straps and its black. Like all specialized shoes it has the 1.5 degree varus wedge built into the sole which works excellent for me and just about everyone else in the world. You can put cleats on them, that’s about it when it comes to technology. They feel pretty light and weigh in a 350 grams for a small pair according to the website.
Lets start with looks, the shoes look good, they’ve got that carbon stealth look, all black and grey, subdued branding. They say sport in small letters so they don’t scream out, I’VE GOT ENTRY LEVEL SHOES!” The black of course is great, except when it gets dirty, which is why I prefer a dirt colored shoe since I rarely wash them. Still the plasticy materials clean up nice.
Next lets go to the sole. The sole is a plasticy rubberized material it seems tough enough to me and if offers a good grip on slick stuff. One rider told me that the traction knobs on his sport shoes broke off early, but so far mine seem stout.
So really the most important thing, comfort and fit. That’s where these shoes lose points. Comfort wise they are great when pedaling at he beginning of the ride. I want a mountain bike shoe that’s stiff enough for good and comfortable pedaling but flexible enough to scramble up 20 percent rocky trails when I’ve got to dismount. They do that OK, but the straps don’t seem to offer a secure fit, especially when walking.
The biggest issue I have are the straps. they are simply not long enough. When I pull them tight there isn’t enough Velcro catching to get a real secure lock and over the course of the ride they get looser. Since so much of hook part of the Velcro is exposed to trail conditions it’s always muddy so When I try to tighten them later in the ride they won’t hook up. Later in the ride they seem too loose.
If you’re thinking that I bought shoes that were too small, I tried both 46 and 45. 46 were a bit long but the straps were equally as short as the 45s which felt just right in length. I wear 45 in most shoes including Specialized road shoes.
So why are the old specialized shoes better. They were dirt colored for one, but more importantly they had two long straps that worked better, and even more importantly they had laces under the straps. Velcro straps on mountain bike shoes just aren’t that good of an idea, especially for the top strap.
The 150 dollar comp shoes include a boa enclosure for the top strap. This is probably a much better system, but I’d be worried about breaking it since I bash my shoes alot, also the shoes look pretty much the same other than that boa, which isn’t worth 50 more dollars. For 120 dollars they have the 2FO cliplite lace up shoes which looks like a pair of running shoes with cleat holes.
After about 10 harsh mountain bike rides where the shoes were subjected to mud baths, creek crossings, and multiple rock bashing’s they are cleaning up very well. The materials seem to be tough, and I don’t believe durability will be an issue. If they hold up they will be well worth the 100 bucks. I’m hoping to get years out of these like I did my last pair of specialized sport shoes.