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Cory Williams and Specialized partner on Equality S-Works and Torch road shoes

The Legion of Los Angeles rider designed a shoe with style and a message.

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After mulling over the idea for two years, Cory Williams (Legion of Los Angeles) will soon see his ‘Equality’ shoe design come to life in production on Specialized S-Works 7 and Torch 1.0 road shoes.

Cory William and his brother Justin Williams, founder of the Legion of Los Angeles cycling team that recently expanded its efforts into increasing diversity, inclusion, and youth involvement in the sport, have cooked up cycling designs for years. Some make their way into production; some designs exist just on the single piece of equipment they are drawn on; others live as digital design.

Cory Williams got the idea from a Kyrie Erving Nike basketball shoe, the Kyrie 4 Equality Black History Month 2018 edition.

While Specialized will sell the design in the top-shelf S-Works 7 model, Cory Williams pushed for it in the more accessibly priced Torch platform, too.

“[The Torch model] is cool because it grants access to more people, and that was super important to us,” Cory Williams said.

California state champion Cory Williams in the S-Works 7 version of his Equality shoe.

The Equality shoe — which is still a working name at this point before launch later this year — will be Cory Williams’ first production shoe design. It came about through Instagram. Specialized footwear leader Nick Gosseen was scrolling through the app on his phone as he warmed up on Zwift.

“Back in May I saw Cory’s post with the design saying, ‘this is a cool shoe — can anybody help me in getting theses done?'” Gosseen said. “I sent him a direct message on IG: ‘Awesome, how can I help?’ I contacted two artists in house that did the outsole and upper painting, basically on an extra credit basis.”

Specialized sponsors the Legion of Los Angeles with bikes and equipment. But the team does things a little differently than many other race squads as it looks to build community. Last season, for example, Legion gave away a bike to a deserving junior every time they won a USA Crits race — which was about six times. And next year Legion is planning on hosting day camps to get young kids together on the bike outside of the competitive atmosphere of racing.

Justin Williams said the shoe design is a good example of “who we are and what we are doing with the Legion.”

The Equality shoe will also come in a more affordable Torch 1.0 design.

“Cycling has spent too much time looking in the mirror, and not enough integrating into the world. The cycling world isn’t diverse,” he said. “What’s important to us is having equality opportunity and access.”

As to whether the shoe design could be seen as political, Justin Williams was quick to respond.

“People want to make things political, and that’s bullshit,” he said. “Here we are, against all odds, trying to make a difference and show others what’s possible. The shoes are a step in that direction: What cycling can do for everyone is really important. As two kids who grew up in South L.A., it changed our lives. We want to get that message in front of as many people as possible.”

The carbon outsoles were painted at Specialized in California. Photo: Courtesy Cory Williams