Specialized certainly didn't come up with the concept of an ultralight lace-up road shoes but the company has arguably done it better than anyone else to date.
  • Scott D Gilbert

    How does the shoe volume compare? I have a low-volume foot and the Giro brand fits very well.

    • James Huang

      I’d say that the Specialized is quite a bit tighter at the heel and about the same through the midsection but roomier at the toe box.

      For reference, my feet are fairly wide but quite flat and I have a low instep (so low volume overall). I can do either Giro or Specialized but the latter is a closer match for me personally.

      • Scott D Gilbert

        Thanks James! This helps a lot.

        • James Huang

          Sure thing. The other major difference is the arch support. Because it’s built into the plate on the S-Works, it’s more pronounced and firmer than what Giro does with its flat plate and contoured insole. I can’t say one is *better* than the other, though. Just depends on your preferences.

          • Scott D Gilbert

            Cool. I use the insert kit that Giro has available so it’s probably similar in feel.

  • Ragtag

    We don’t hate specialised. Just their over the top 5min saved claims over 40kms. Remember that? I use their helmet and it’s quite nice. Wonder why no one is riding the new Venge? But good article. As always. :)

    • Liam Hodgkinson

      I think it’s that down tube that is hurting the new venge…To make room between the tyre and the down tube, they taper it away, which also affects the S-Works decal. If you’re dropping a cool 10 grand on 7kg, it’d better be perfect. The aero gains from putting the brake caliper behind the forks would be negligible aero saving, not worth it in my opinion. Sure I have a 2013 S-Works Venge, and that’s plenty quick enough for me – it’s the rider that needs improvement!

  • david__g

    I honestly find Specialized frequently leave me with a bad taste thanks to their aggressive litigation and constant time saving wind tunnel nonsense BUT The last S-Works shoe is the comfiest one I’ve ever worn (as well as best fitting and stiff), and their Power saddle has been a life saver (well, a ride saver) after some, eh, delicate surgery last year. So while I may be meh at their bikes, their other stuff so far impresses me.

    • Andy B

      This sounds like I could have written it.. the last model S Works shoes are the best shoe I’ve used (near perfect fit for me) and power saddles are great, I just wish the new s works wasn’t so expensive. particularly when most stores don’t stock my size so I need to order them in before I can try them on and see how they fit
      Makes it a difficult proposition to order them in and feel obligated to buy them.. having said that the amount of hours I’ve gotten out of my current pair makes them great value in the end its just the initial spend that hurts

    • Romain Mousset

      same for me mate ( love them saddle, helmets, shoes ) but their bikes not that much

  • George

    I bought these shoes a couple months ago and could not be happier. I agree with James that the shoe volume is tight in the heel, moderate in the middle, and has a big toe box. Compared to Giro’s (which were my last shoes), the fit is night and day — so much better for my feet. But as with anything, it all comes down to the shape of your foot.

    The only downside to these is that if your arch needs more support than what is provided, you need to shell out another $30 for a different insole. Oh yeah and the sleeve is a pain to get on, so I only use it if I know I’ll be out for several hours.

    Great review!

  • Bert

    “Imitate or die”. First the Airnet helmet now these. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then the designers at Giro must be feeling pretty content right now.

  • Hurtin’ Albertan

    Strange to compare the Empire fit to Sidis. Or maybe I have strange feet. Empires are the only shoes in 15 years I’ve found truly comfortable and Sidis have definitely been the worst fit for me.

    I may buy the Specialized shoes though. If you add up all the time savings that S claims for their products you can win a 40km TT while sitting on the couch.

    • Andy B

      Just curious what you found uncomfortable about other shoes and where you find the empires are best?

  • Avuncular

    You know with a pair of spats I just might wear these to the next 20s party or military parade.

  • Damian

    My biggest issue with lace ups is the inability to make adjustments while in motion, on long rides I might want to loosen them a bit on some easy flats and snug them up on climbs but with laces you have to stop to do that.

    • James Huang

      I had that concern as well when I first started using the Empires last year. It does take a couple of tries until you get the feel for how tight to pull the laces but with both those and these S-Works Sub6 shoes, I was surprised that I just never felt the need to make mid-ride adjustments once I got it right.

  • Stompin

    $500 :(

  • jimmy

    Very helpful thanks JH, great review.

  • stephen

    “Bradley Wiggins and Taylor Phinney have jumped on the bandwagon” the original giro empire were designed as a TT shoe for phinney and never ment for production. He damaged his road shoes in a race, so got out his tt shoe for the road stage. Market demand was created so they put them into production. Or this was marketing genius by giro.


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