While they’re incredibly light – 215g for these size 45s – Specialized puts much more emphasis on the aerodynamic benefits of its new S-Works Sub6 shoes.
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The smooth sole, streamlined heel bumper and slender heel cup all play their part but the biggest gains are owed to the switch from Boa dials to laces and the Warp Sleeve cover. The latter is like a cut-down overshoe that fits snugly around the mid-foot and only covers the laces, smoothing airflow. Without the lumpy protrusions of two Boa dials underneath, Specialized says you can save 35 seconds in 40km at race pace compared with the previous S-Works 6 shoe.
The lace holes have a clever non-slip design that makes it easier to get the tension right. Like the Boa version, the fit is exceptionally secure and you need far less tension than with most other shoes. The heel and ankle fit is particularly aggressive and over-tightening quickly makes it painful. You soon learn what’s needed and then they’re comfortable for several hours, though I tend to save them for racing and pick up a friendlier shoe for training.
The obvious downside of laces is that you can’t quickly adjust them mid-ride, or release them at a café stop, whereas it’s a doddle to reach down and add or remove a click of tension with Boa dials, another reason that we save these for racing.
The Sub6 is extremely light and immensely stiff, so climbing and sprint efforts are undiluted between foot and pedal. Most of the venting in the upper is covered by the Warp Sleeve though some remains open over the toes and there’s a small vent in the sole under the toes, too.
Racing on a warm day, I didn’t notice my feet get sweaty as they can inside TT overshoes. The sleeve is hard to fit the first time but then you can leave it in place and simply fold it down to pull up the laces.
We haven’t tested the claimed savings in a wind tunnel ourselves but we’ve used these shoes for a couple of TTs with good results. While this isn’t a shoe that I’d want to wear for huge training rides, café runs or commuting, it has firmly established itself as my default race shoe.