Specialized Expert MTB Shoe Review
It just occcurred to me that I briefly mentioned getting new cycling shoes back in March, but I’ve never said anything about them. My 5 year old SIDI’s had gotten wet a couple of times and being full leather shoes had shrunk, resulting in nearly every ride being an uncomfortable mess. Based on the good luck Pam had with the comfort of her Specialized shoes, I opted to try a pair of Specialized Expert MTB Shoes. I’m happy to say I didn’t make a bad decision.
Based on the type of riding I do, it doesn’t make sense for me to use road shoes. Being a full-time commuter and a tandem captain, it’s more important for me to have walkable shoes with good traction capabilities. I’ve never dropped Pam on the tandem, and I don’t intend to, so when I stop and stand down, I need something that’s going to grip the road and not slide out from under me. Rather than switching between different shoes, I made up my mind a long time ago that MTB shoes were really the only option that I would consider.
But, I want a nice stiff sole to give me good power transfer regardless of the bike I’m riding. Specialized has a stiffness index rating for all their shoes. The Experts have a full carbon sole with a stiffness index of 9 (out of a possible 10). They’re plenty stiff, which really helps during long days in the saddle. At the same time, they’ve got a little bit of flex built into the toes to make them more walkable without your heels slipping up with each step.
The toe box of these shoes is a little longer and wider than I’m used to, but after riding with them all summer I’ve decided that’s part of what makes them so comfortable. When I first got them, I almost returned them because it just kind of looked like they were about a half-size too big. When I figured out where my toes were, however, I decided it was just all the extra room I had to wriggle my toes. The Body Geometry footbed gives them subtle arch support that you don’t notice until it’s not there. For example when I wear my Keen sandals for commuting, the first thing I notice is the lack of arch support!
The tops of the shoes are mostly vented material. That makes them cooler to wear in the summer, and kind of chilly in the winter. That’s a trade-off I’m willing to make. Being primarily built of synthetics, a good drenching doesn’t have nearly the negative impacts as when it happens with a full leather shoe like the SIDI’s I had before. They dry out quickly, and have retained their size, shape, and fit after being soaked several times throughout the summer.
The one disappointment I’ve had with the Experts is that the rubber of their lugged soles is pretty soft. On one hand, that probably contributes to their comfort and traction capabilities, but on the other hand, they’re wearing faster than I would like to see. You can see from the picture above that I’ve got significant wear on my heals after only about 6 months of pretty hard use. Granted, this is my left shoe, which is my step-down side when I stop. I’m sure it gets some road scrape that the other shoe doesn’t, but I’m wondering how many years use I will be able to get from them.
That one aspect aside, I do really like these shoes and would buy them again. They are relatively reasonably priced, comfortable both on and off the bike, and perform the way I expect them to. If you’re in the market for MTB shoes or a good all-around shoe, consider them an option to look at.
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