Tested: Specialized S-Works Trail Shoe

The not-so-minor details


Specialized S-Works Trail Shoe


Specialized Australia




780g w/Shimano cleats


Great toe protection and tacky rubber sole. BOA dial enclosures makes for a supple and snug fit that is easy to adjust.


Sole is as stiff as a racing shoe which in our mind defeats the purpose. Heal slips out when walking up trails.


More options than ever are available to the widening variety of mountain bikers, gone are the days of just the polar opposites of downhill and cross country apparel.

With more riders seeking a balance of the best out of all genres in a high performance package, it is no wonder Specialized and many other brands are producing gear that hits that sweet spot, with a ‘trail’ oriented shoe.

Subtle, rugged with a race worthy stiffness sole.
Subtle, rugged with a race worthy stiffness sole.

Specialized’s S-Works shoes are spotted on the fit feet of so many elite cross country and marathon riders, and not just because they are sponsored, because they are some of the best. Specialized are in our mind one of the leaders of the footwear and apparel game. Their Body Geometry gear is highly regarded, a Flow favourite, and above all, super comfortable and durable.

Kick a rock, stump or a bucket and your foot digits will be fine.
Kick a rock, stump or a bucket and your feet digits will be fine. Protection where it counts.

We tested the premium level S-Works shoe earlier this year, and loved them. New for next season and replacing the S-Works EVO shoe is the S-Works Trail, subtle in colour in styling and only 60 grams heavier than the S-Works race shoe.

With added toe protection, a high ankle guard and a softer rubberised sole, these shoes are built with a few key things in mind. Protection, durability and walking ability.

A high ankle pad
A high inside pad section will help protect from the swingarm of a full suspension bike whacking your ankle where it really hurts.

We’ve worn these shoes on dozens of rides and love them to bits, but one thing perplexes us. Why would Specialized use their stiffest carbon sole in shoes that are supposed to be good for walking in? The shoes fit great, but pushing our bikes up the trails or walking about makes our heels slip and rub the back of the heel cup, and after a few hours it begins to hurt. Plus, a slightly softer sole may detract from pedal efficiency slightly, but what can be gained in ‘feel’ is what we seek in a trail oriented shoe. Combining a trail style pedal with more support (like a Shimano Trail, or Crank Bros Candy) allows your to feel less isolated and use your feet to steer the bike a little bit more. We would have loved the Trail shoe to have a slightly less stiff sole.

Specialized's highest grade carbon sole, slim, light and as stiff as a board.
Specialized’s highest grade carbon sole, slim, light and as stiff as a board.

The dual BOA dials are a serious highlight, with the snug tension so easily adjusted whilst riding, and fitting and removal of the shoe is quick and easy. The ankle protection was neither here nor there for us in particular, but we know many riders who bang ankles on the seat and chainstays of dual suspension bikes all the time, and it sure can hurt. If this is an issue for you, the ankle protection provided with these will alleviate that worry.

BOA dials, we love their quick and easy adjustments. Plus the way the wires pull tension across the top of the foot makes for a snug fit with less tight spots.
BOA dials, we love their quick and easy adjustments. Plus the way the wires pull tension across the top of the foot makes for a snug fit with less tight spots.

Clambering up rocks, or dabbing your foot down on tricky climbs is great also, the rubber sole doesn’t slip on hard surfaces, where the usual high end shoes will make you do the splits.

Ultimately, we will be wearing these shoes more than anything, but there is the Specialized Rime shoe that is even more flexible for walking in, as a good option.

The Trail shoe fills the gap between a super relaxed skate style shoe like the Teva Pivots and the flashy race ones like our new fluorescent green Scott Premium shoes nicely.


The new S-Works Trail shoe combines the light weight and performance of an XC shoe with the durability, grip, and protection aggressive trail riders demand.

Increased toe and ankle protection paired with a super-efficient Powerline carbon composite sole allow riders to attack the trail both uphill and descending.

  • Body Geometry outsole and Footbed optimise alignment, improving rider comfort and performance
  • Full FACT carbon sole with rubber tread for phenomenal trail traction. 12.0 Stiffness Index
  • Two independent Boa® S2-Hex dials micro adjust on-the-fly
  • Dial/lace assembly is fully replaceable in seconds with S2-Hex cartridge system
  • Durable synthetic microfibre upper with asymmetric medial collar for ankle protection
  • Hard moulded toe kick for protection and durability
  • Updated Body Geometry SL Footbed offers ultra-light, long-lasting arch support
  • For optimum performance, fit the rider with the proper footbed and shim
  • 2-bolt SPD-style cleat pattern, compatible with all major MTB pedals; includes toe studs
  • Approximate weight: 370g (1/2 pair #42)

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