The S-Works Ares claims to be 1% faster than every previous Specialized shoe

New design focuses on comfort and power transfer to deliver claimed 7-watt advantage

Specialized S-Works Ares shoe

Specialized’s new S-Works Ares is said to be the brand’s fastest ever shoe, offering a claimed 7-watt increase in power to the pedals thanks to a new closure layout and tongueless design.

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That advantage is measured against a shoe with a “traditional” closure system, according to Specialized, whereas the Boa setup on the Ares pulls its cables from both sides simultaneously.

The Ares, which costs £375 / $425 / AU$575, is a new flagship road racing shoe, and it’s already been spied on the Instagram profile of at least one Specialized-sponsored pro rider and elsewhere online.

Aesthetically, the Ares is a departure from previous models, with a side profile that’s ever so slightly triathlon-esque thanks to the way the upper wraps around the top of the shoe, effectively forming wide straps.

The Ares design focuses on comfort and power transfer
The Ares design focuses on comfort and power transfer.
Specialized

The focus is different to previous designs. Where the Specialized S-Works EXOS is aimed at weight weenies and the S-Works Vent is built for hot weather, the Ares aims to offer “the ultimate balance between unprecedented power transfer and all-day comfort”. 

Nevertheless, it’s a respectably light shoe, with the pair of size 44s I have here weighing 520g.

Specialized says that “by triangulating retention across the midfoot and spreading pressure out over a larger surface area, the S-Works Ares essentially limits foot roll within the shoe”.

The placement of the Ares’s Boa dials is somewhat different to the previous S-Works 7 shoe and Specialized has opted for a version of the tech that pulls its cables in on both sides, meaning that it distributes pressure across the foot more evenly.  

The new shoe also gets a “tongueless sock” design, which should enhance comfort because it means no overlapping edges to press into the top of your foot as the shoe tightens. 

The sock is made from super-strong wonder material Dyneema, which has put in appearances in high-end cycling kit from various brands in the last five years or so. 

It almost goes without saying, but the Ares has a full-carbon outsole as well. Bike brands love an arbitrary scale, and this one has a “stiffness index” of 15.0. So there.

Sam Bennett sprinting
Deceuninck–Quick-Step sprinter Sam Bennett played a role in the Ares’s development.
Specialized

The S-Works Ares design was influenced by feedback from pro riders including Deceuninck–Quick-Step’s Sam Bennett, who Specialized describes as being “super analytical”. 

Bennett apparently felt existing designs allowed too much movement of the foot within the shoe, creating the sensation of a lag in pedal stroke during hard sprinting. This is the sort of thing that’s perhaps unlikely to affect the outcome of your club ride, but matters in the marginal-gains obsessed world of pro racing. 

Specialized reckons that the Ares will actually make you faster compared to any of its previous footwear. 

The brand makes the rather bold claim that, compared to shoes with a “traditional” closure system, the Ares offers a 7-watt increase in power to the pedals and will make you 14 seconds faster over 10km.

These numbers come from lab testing, but Specialized hasn’t divulged details of the testing protocol or what assumptions are being made, so it’s hard to know how meaningful they will be in the real world.

Specialized’s marketing material also claims the Ares is “1% faster than any shoe we’ve ever made”. I’ve asked Specialized for more detail and will update this story if it’s forthcoming. 

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The Ares is available in four designs: team (white and black), white, black and red, and black.