Comfortable, lightweight, efficient
Laces aren’t for everyone
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Specialized’s latest lace-up shoe, the S-Works 7 Lace, is quite light, stiff, expensive, and — in my experience — quite comfortable.
Whereas the S-Works Ares was and is a pretty dramatic departure from Specialized’s long line of footwear, the 7 Lace is more of a refinement — it’s the S-Works 7 shape and sole without the plastic hardware and BOAs on top, and with reinforced eyelets.
As with all Body Geometry footwear, a slight varus wedge is built into the shoe to counter your foot rolling inward under load, and you can customize the fit with various insole heights.
A size 44 is a claimed 236 grams per shoe. I weighed my size 45 test pair at 242 and 244g for left and right.
A carbon sole, titanium cleat nuts, and the elimination of BOA dials all add up to a light pair of shoes. Giro’s Empire SLX lace-up shoes are lighter (as are Specialized’s previous Sub6 lace-up shoes). But Specialized claims it was going for ultimate performance here, not ultimate light weight. I for one appreciate the padded tongue and the non-mushy feel of the upper when tightened down.
The right shoe for you?
Whether this is a great shoe for you depends on your take on the fit, price, and laces.
For most people, Specialized shoes fit quite well. (I’ve been wearing a pair of S-Works 6 long enough that the BOAs are wearing out, so I am definitely in the “Specialized shoes fit me well” camp.)
The 7 Lace has a snug heel cup, a supple upper overall, a padded tongue and a roomy toe box.
The thin upper isn’t really stretchy but it conforms smoothly to your foot.
My only gripe about the 7 Lace shoes, is, well, the laces. I’m not in the “laces are great” camp. Off the bike, I wear slip-on boots and clogs. On the bike, I love the ease, speed, and precision of BOA dials. Laces work well enough, but they take longer and there is no quick adjust to separate sections like you get with BOA dials or ratchet straps. Want to tighten up the top portion mid-ride? Good luck with that.
While the reinforced eyelets are a good thing for durability — my coworker Fred Dreier has torn lace-up shoes yanking them tight — they also add resistance. Read: it takes a minute to get your shoes on and off.
So, yes, laces are a personal preference thing, as are the graphics. (The 7 Lace also comes in white and black options.)
Some people love the look and feel of laces. Underneath booties — which is the only way I’ve worn these outdoors — the 7 Lace are svelter than shoes with fastening hardware on top. Because it’s winter here in Colorado I can’t really comment on the shoe’s ventilation.
The 7 Lace comes in sizes 36 to 49, and in half sizes 38 to 47. A survey of bike fitters and bike shops and a look around at pro and recreational riders tells me that the fit of Specialized shoes works for many people. So really, it’s a simple question: do you like laces on your cycling shoes?