Specialized has launched a lightweight mountain biking shoe, the S-Works EXOS EVO. It sits right at the top of the off-road shoe lineup and weighs just 232g for a size 42, or 464g a pair.
At first glance, it looks very similar to its road cycling shoe sibling, the S-Works Exos that was launched more than two years ago. While still being super minimalist, this version is beefed up to stand up to the demands of off-road riding.
It combines the lightweight top half of the road S-Works Exos and the durable bottom half of the S-Works Recon. The top is made from Dyneema fabric, a thin, paper-like fabric that is stretch resistant making it very soft and lacks any form of rigidity.
Even the heel cup where a lot of vertical support is needed is made from Dyneema. Specialized uses a layered design (called Dyneema Cubic Tech) to make the heel cup vertically rigid.
According to Specialized,
“Our designers and engineers maximized the layering properties of this fabric to create a heel pocket that simulates the vertical rigidity essential in a heel counter while allowing the shoe to mold and shape to the foot for superior fit and comfort with a drastic reduction in weight.”
The bottom is a FACT carbon sole with a 13 stiffness index, similar to what’s found in the S-Works Recon. The sole is made from dual-compound rubber where it’s harder at the pedal surface and softer at the toes and heel to allow for walking. They’re compatible with Shimano SPD cleats.
A single BOA Li2 dial sits ride in the top middle section while a protective toe bumper at the front end provides additional protection against scratches.
It came as a little surprise that Specialized made off-road version of the Exos shoes. In my opinion, the S-Works EXOS EVO is more suited towards gravel riding instead of mountain biking from the way the shoe’s upper is designed.
The soft Dyneema material is really comfortable and will suit those who like an unrestricted feeling fit and spin for miles. You won’t feel that the shoe is even there.
But for those who ride with frequent high torque especially in mountain biking, the soft upper layers lack any rigid form and you might find your feel lacking the support it needed.
Pricing-wise, this sits right at the top end of their lineup, and similar to its road sibling, this shoe might not suit most.