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When it comes to equipment that will make you faster, bike frames and wheels that are more aero or stiffer probably come to mind for most. Likely much lower on that list is shoes. But never one to leave any stone unturned, Specialized claims to make riders one percent faster with its latest shoe model, the S-Works Ares. If you’re someone like Tour de France green jersey winner Sam Bennett, who was intimately involved in the shoe’s development, that single percent is everything.
A big focus for Specialized with the S-Works Ares was nailing the tradeoff between all day comfort and a secure fit. That focus led to a completely new upper design that does away with the traditional tongue, instead opting for a sock liner reinforced with ultra strong Dyneema material. But the upper was only part the equation. A repositioned closure was a game changing aspect of this shoe that brought everything together. Moving the Boa closure lower reduced pressure on the top of the feet by distributing pressure over a larger area while locking the feet in place and reducing foot roll. For a top sprinter like Bennett, who says he has sensitive feet, this means he can tighten down his shoes for maximum watts, with less tradeoffs in comfort. Any little distraction in fit or comfort means a marginally worse performance, and those margins are everything for top athletes.
How exactly does a better fit make you one percent faster, though? In addition to holding the foot steady, the Ares closure increases contact surface between the foot and shoe by a significant 20 percent. Combine that increased contact area with Specialized’s FACT Powerline carbon outsole, which Specialized claims to be the lightest and stiffest outsole available, and you get improved power transfer.
Even though the S-Works Ares is a brand new design, it doesn’t completely reinvent the wheel. The shoe takes elements from Specialized’s Body Geometry, which encapsulates the brand’s two decades of anatomical research. Something the brand calls a Varus Wedge, a 1.5mm outward tilt to the outsole, stabilizes the forefoot and helps align the ankle, knee and hip for better comfort as well as power transfer. Additionally, a Longitudinal Arch molded into the outsoles supports the arches.
The Ares will be available in four colors: White, Red Team (red/black), Black and Team Edition (white/black). Pairs cost $425 and are available now.
More information: specialized.com