Today, Specialized Bicycle Components announces the S-Works Ares Road Cycling shoe release, claiming the sleek, dual-BOA dial shoe as the “most efficient and powerful performance shoe ever made.” The Big S touts a “1% faster” tagline based on science. 1% may make a difference to the elite of the elite, but how does that translate to mere mortals? Although a test sample has yet to arrive, a dive into the specs and studies behind the S-Works Ares may reveal helpful tidbits.
The First Specialized Shoe to Use the BOA Li2 Dial Platform
The Ares is the first Specialized shoe to adopt the BOA Li2 Dial Platform. The pair of low profile dials adjust in both directions for convenient fine-tuning regardless of conditions. BOA engineers built the Li2 with unprecedented durability and resistance to impacts, abrasion, and infiltration by dirt.
Specialized went a step further with a patent-pending closure architecture. Instead of retention cables going straight across the midfoot’s top, Specialized triangulated these cables, creating a larger surface area for force and pressure. The goals were to create more effective power transfer and reducing pressure points to improve comfort. This configuration also helps eliminate the foot rolling within the shoe.
Specialized Body Geometry
Specialized also bestowed it’s long-running Body Geometry, a concert of technologies aimed at better biomechanics, power transfer, and comfort. A 1.5mm varus wedge tilts the foot outward for better alignment of the hip, ankle, and knee, which helps eliminate power leaks and lessens the chances of injuries. A patented longitudinal arch is molded into the midsole to help support the midfoot with further personalization afforded by three different insole heights. Finally, a Metatarsal Button keeps the bones of the forefoot spread to protect sensitive nerves and arteries.
I have been running S-Works Body Geometry shoes for the past two years. These road shoes are my first from the brand. I can attest that the Body Geometry works; I used to run custom orthotics in my cycling shoes, but the Body Geometry, along with deliberate pedal stroke work, eliminated a 25-year dependence on orthotics. And all this was even more remarkable, as I was recovering from a string of knee surgeries, so the alignment was critical to my return to full-tilt cycling.
Comfort Begets Power
Specialized outfitted the S-Works Ares with a tongueless design, opting for a Dyneema-reinforced “sock.” This eliminates a potential source of pinching on the ankle flexor tendons. This, combined with the triangulated closure architecture, points towards the brand’s “1% faster” phrase. Pressure mapping at consistent power outputs showed a 20% increase in the contact surface area between the shoe upper and the foot. This increased surface area can reduce pressure points caused by the upper and improves power transfer. Comfort begets power.
With all the attention on the closure and upper, Specialized didn’t binge on the outsole, the component of the shoe that directly transfers force. The Fact Powerline carbon outside, with a stiffness index of 15, is stiff and powerful enough for Tour de France Green Jersey winner Sam Bennett, so I’m sure it will suffice for mortals like us.
Other S-Works Ares Road Cycling Shoe Details
The Specialized S-Works Ares is available in Euro sizing only, in four colorways, for an MSRP of $425.
Other Specialized S-Works road cycling shoes on Gear Institute.