The S-Works Recon replaces Specialized's S-Works XC shoe as a more versatile yet still high-performance option for trail riding, XC racing, or cyclocross. The shoe was designed to be ultra-light and ultra-stiff, while still remaining comfortable enough for long days of pedaling.
Of course, light and stiff products often have a hefty price tag, and these shoes are no exception at $425 USD. They're available in sizes 36 - 49 in either the black version shown here or in an extra bright 'Rocket Red.'
S-Works Recon Details
• Carbon outsole
• Alloy BOA dials
• Reinforced toe
• Ultra stiff (13.0 stiffness index)
• Shaped heel cup
• Colors: black, red
• 605g (pair, size 43.5)
• $425 USD
That Recon shoes are the stiffest in Specialized's off-road lineup, thanks to the carbon plate that runs the length of the shoe. There's Slipknot rubber on top of that plate at the toe, heel, and around the cleat mounting area for off-bike traction, and it's also possible to screw in toe spikes if things get extra treacherous.
Specialized incorporated the Padlock heel cup that was developed for their S-Works XC and road shoes while carrying over some of the comforts of the lace-up Recon. There's a reinforced toe to help when the inevitable rock strike happens, and the entire outside of the shoe is robustly built and abrasion resistant.
Specialized uses their Body Geometry footbeds in the shoe, and claim that their design provides a great deal of power and efficiency while also reducing the risk of injury. The outsole of the shoe features bonded seams that are held together by alloy Boa dials, which are adjustable in one-millimeter increments. On the Bike Performance
I was pleased to see a new version of the Recon come out. The previous version was my go-to for whenever I didn't quite know what type of ride I was getting into, and I've also had a lot of success with the fit of Specialized's shoes. I have a slightly narrow foot and some weird arch stuff going on, so I'm always on the hunt for shoes that fit well and provide ample support for my foot.
It's worth noting that Specialized also have several different footbeds and shims available for their shoes which help with knee and foot alignment. I always end up swapping out their standard footbeds, which do have more support compared to most other footbeds from other brands, for their next level up of support along with a wedge shim in my left shoe which remedies issues. I transfer this set up to whatever shoes I'm riding and it's a huge boost in comfort, especially on long rides.
For the first several rides, I struggled to get the top of the tongue on the shoes to be comfortable. It felt as if it was digging into the top of my foot and this persisted no matter how I adjusted the two Boa dials. Fortunately, after a half-dozen rides, the tongue eventually softened up and the shoes are now much more comfortable.
One of the features of the shoe that is very apparent is how stiff it is. Compared to any other mountain bike shoe I ride on a regular basis, the S-Works Recon is by far the stiffest and most secure feeling shoe I have. Power transfer to the pedals is apparent, and it certainly feels as if I'm in more of a road shoe chassis than a trail riding shoe - these are the polar opposite of a floppy pair of skate shoes.Off the Bike Performance
The thing about the Recon, or any mountain bike shoe, in my opinion, is that it needs to be functional both on and
off the bike. Having a good amount of traction and some comfort for those times when riding simply isn't possible goes a long way in having a better day.
The S-Works Recon is a stiff shoe to hike-a-bike in, but it's not uncomfortable, doesn't develop hot spots, or make you feel as if you're punishing yourself more than you already are. There is ample traction on the sole for navigating slippery rocks and roots, and while there isn't a ton of trail feel underfoot because of how stiff the shoe is, there is a sense of confidence that, with proper navigation, you're not going to slip on some slick rocks and stack it up midway across a sketchy creek crossing, bruising your elbow, tailbone, ego, all while scratching your fancy new bike and bending a brake rotor... Not that that's happened to me before or anything.Pinkbike's Take