First look | Specialized’s new S-Works Recon XC shoes, plus gravel-specific Recon ADV

Specialized updates its flagship cross-country shoes and adds a gravel-specific model to the line-up

Specialized Recon S-Works gravel cycling shoes (4 of 10)

Specialized has announced an update to its Recon mountain bike shoe range.


The update includes the successor to the top-of-the-range S-Works Recon mountain bike shoe.

Alongside the new S-Works Recon, Specialized has announced the addition of Recon ADV – a gravel-specific shoe that, according to Specialized, is designed to be comfortable off the bike.

Both shoes are now available, with the S-Works Recon priced at £385 and the Recon ADV at £200. International pricing is TBC.

Strapless security

The Boa dials feature metal internals for increased durability.

Focused on cross-country racing and gravel riding, the S-Works Recon shoes range are the flagship models in Specialized’s off-road range.

The new S-Works Recon shares a lot in common with Specialized’s S-Works Torch road shoe. Like those, the Recon has also ditched the toe box strap that was present on the previous model.

Specialized says the new Boa routing offers similar levels of support as the previous model, and felt the strap was no longer necessary for a secure fit.

The cleat plate features two mounting settings, allowing for the cleat to be positioned near the middle of the foot.

High-density lug grips sit on either side of the cleat. These feature interchangeable plastic shims, which adjust the height of the lugs. This enables you to adjust the pedal and shoe interface.

Specialized says this gives a “road-like pedalling platform”, as contact with the pedal can be increased.

For those with different leg lengths, Specialized has made a cleat shim that raises the pedalling platform. These are available through the brands’ Rider Care team.

The rubber grip on the insole will provide grip when searching for the pedals.

The sole is largely exposed carbon, with a rubber tread at the toe and heel for grip when off the bike.

A rubber strip features on the instep to protect the sole when searching for the pedal, while also adding grip for those clipped-out-panic-descents.

Carbon soles and increased weight

The S-Works logo is more understated than on the previous model.

Specialized says it used 100,000 scans collected in its Retül fit database to offer design the standard and wide versions of the shoe.

The carbon outsole features an internal I-beam for added stiffness and strength. Specialized says this reduced the need for additional bracing.

Specialized claims the weight of a single size 42 shoe is 280g. On our scales, a size 42.5 weighed in at 287g, which is admirably close to the claimed figures.

This is 10g heavier than the previous model, which had a claimed weight of 270g for a size 42.

The insole features a metatarsal button in the middle of the sole.

The insoles feature a 1.5mm varus wedge, longitudinal arch support and a metatarsal button – all of which are claimed to aid comfort and power transfer.

The upper of the shoe features perforations for breathability and a dappled finish similar to a golf ball.

Specialized S-Works Recon will be available in either black or the white pictured.

Walkability and fashionability

Yes, gravel-specific shoes are a thing.

The Recon ADV is Specialized’s new gravel-specific shoe.

Unlike the S-Works Recon, Specialized says the Recon ADV puts fashion and walkability at the top of its priority list.

Specialized’s SlipNot rubber compound is used on the sole for added grip when off the bike, and the shoe features more rubber than on the S-Works on the toe and heel.

We thing the lugs on either side of the cleat look similar to rim brake pads.

The shoes are designed to flex a small amount just behind the toe box, while still providing a stiff sole at the ball of the foot, for increased comfort when walking without compromising on performance while pedalling.

Articulation at the front of the foot allows for natural walking.

Similarly to the S-Works Recon, the Recon ADV features a laser-perforated upper with a microfiber backing, which is said to aid breathability while keeping spray at bay.

Like the outgoing Recon, the shoes use laces.


The Recon ADV is priced at £200, and will be available in black and grey.