Specialized claims 99g S-Works EXOS 99 is lightest production shoe ever made

First spotted at TDU, now confirmed

Jack and Joe get hands on with the brand new Specialized Exos

Specialized has today unveiled the S-Works EXOS 99 which at 99g per foot for a size 42 claims to be the lightest production road shoe ever made.

The 99g S-Works EXOS 99 claims to be the lightest production road shoe ever made
The 99g S-Works EXOS 99 claims to be the lightest production road shoe ever made

Limited to just 500 pairs (ever, according to Specialized), the EXOS 99 makes heavy (or rather, light) use of Dyneema Mesh fabric for minimum weight and costs a decidedly decadent £600 / $700 for the pair.

Lightweight Dyneema construction and traditional laces are key to the EXOS design
Lightweight Dyneema construction and traditional laces are key to the EXOS design

There are no ratchet straps or Boa dials, just good old fashioned laces. The sole uses Specialized’s lightest FACT Powerline carbon to maximise stiffness.

The EXOS' cleat nuts are titanium
The EXOS' cleat nuts are titanium

Are the 99s a little too rich for your blood? Well then the everyman S-Works EXOS is for you. These cost a mere £450 / $600 and weigh a claimed 150g per shoe for a 42.

Construction is similar but there’s less of the Dyneema and a Boa dial should make for easy adjustment.

The standard S-Works EXOS gets a BOA dial and slightly less Dyneema
The standard S-Works EXOS gets a BOA dial and slightly less Dyneema

Whichever pair you choose, these are extremely light shoes and while the price is stratospheric, it doesn’t come close to the high water mark of Mavic’s insane Comete Ultimate shoes launched back in 2017.

Will you be sporting EXOS for the 2019 season?

Original story published January 10 2019 continues below.

A new and as yet unreleased climbing shoe with a lightweight upper from Specialized has been spotted at the Tour Down Under.

The unreleased shoe shares a similar profile to the S-Works 7, which was launched during last year’s edition of the race, but features almost no upper structure and a single Boa dial on the tongue.

The two Specialized-sponsored teams in the WorldTour — Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck – Quick-Step — look to be wearing a new pink-to-orange fade edition of the S-Works 7 shoe along with matching socks at the race.

So far, we've only spotted a single Bora-Hansgrohe rider wearing a new pair of lightweight shoes, which are finished in a similar design. The rider in question was also seen fitting a set of Body Geometry SL footbeds to the shoes. 

The toebox and structure of the upper on the new shoe looks to be completely replaced by a much thinner material, perhaps constructed entirely using the Dyneema Mesh material used in some components of the existing S-Works 7 shoe.

The toe box area on the S-Works 7 shoe is replaced with an almost sock-like upper
The toe box area on the S-Works 7 shoe is replaced with an almost sock-like upper

Initially developed by the American space agency, NASA, for use in parachutes, Specialized was the first cycling brand to utilise Dyneema in a shoe and did so for its incredibly high level of strength and its lack of stretch.

The Specialized Powerline carbon sole used in the S-Works 7 shoe was also the stiffest shoe sole the brand had ever developed, so, in conjunction with a Dyneema upper and secured correctly, the new lightweight shoe should produce excellent power transfer despite the lack of structured support in the upper.

However, some of this stiffness may have been lost because the shoes appear to have a cut-out section in the sole, presumably to shift more weight off the shoe.

An area of the sole also appears to have a cut-out section, presumably to shift more weight
An area of the sole also appears to have a cut-out section, presumably to shift more weight

Instead of using the two custom Boa S3 dials as seen on the S-Works 7 shoe, the new lightweight shoe appears to have a single Boa L5 dial, although this isn’t completely clear from the photographs we managed to shoot of the shoes.

The wires and Boa look to tension the central area of the upper
The wires and Boa look to tension the central area of the upper

The Boa dial is fitted to the tongue of the shoe as opposed to earlier shoes from Specialized, where it is fitted to the outside area of the shoe. This will likely provide a more equal distribution of tension with the single dial and possibly also improve the aerodynamics of the shoe.

The new thin material combined with halving the amount of Boa dials will certainly reduce weight and while this is purely speculation, the new shoe will likely be marketed as a climbing shoe, or potentially one of the lightest shoes on the market, if put into production.

Specialized has not yet announced any details of the shoe, but we have contacted the brand for comment and will update the article with further details as soon as we can.

If stiffness levels and power transfer performance can be maintained from the S-Works 7 shoe in the new shoes, could this new minimal design be the future of cycling race shoes? Leave your thoughts in the comments. 

Matthew Allen

Senior Technical Writer, UK
Former bike mechanic, builder of wheels, hub fetishist and lover of shiny things. Likes climbing a lot, but not as good at it as he looks.
  • Discipline: Road, with occasional MTB dalliances
  • Preferred Terrain: Long mountain climbs followed by high-speed descents (that he doesn't get to do nearly often enough), plus scaring himself off-road when he outruns his skill set.
  • Current Bikes: Scott Addict R3 2014, Focus Cayo Disc 2015, Niner RLT 9
  • Dream Bike: Something hideously expensive and custom with external cables and a threaded bottom bracket because screw you bike industry.
  • Beer of Choice: Cider, please. Thistly Cross from Scotland
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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