Bag some elite-level features for an entry-level price with Specialized’s Torch 1.0 road shoes, recommends seasoned cyclist Mark Bailey…

Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoes

$89.99 / £99.99, specialized.com 

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Pros:

  • Outstanding value for a major brand
  • Boa dial and cable fit
  • Advanced ergonomic shape

Cons:

  • Synthetic upper is quite stiff
  • Could do with more heel support

Comfort: 3.5
Durability: 4.5
Stability: 3.5
OVERALL: 4

A cycling shoe’s price point is hugely important in today’s tough financial times, and it pays to look for bargains where you can find them. Specialized’s Torch 1.0 is a feature-packed entry-level shoe which represents a sensible buy for any beginner or recreational road cyclist. And there’s the reassurance of wearing shoes from a respected cycling brand. See how they compare to the rest of the best cycling shoes.

Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoes features

Available in a refreshingly wide range of colours (black, white, lagoon blue, dark moss green, white sage, rusted red and limestone), the affordable Torch 1.0 carries over features from the American brand’s elite-level shoes, so you bank some decent trickle-down tech. This includes Specialized’s ergonomic Body Geometry fit, which provides extra support to improve your hip, knee and foot alignment, delivering enhanced biomechanical efficiency, injury reduction and power output. You’re also getting a quality Boa L6 cable and dial fit system. At 10.2oz / 290g per shoe, these aren’t exactly bricks either.

Product shot of Specialized Torch 1.0 road shoe

Specialized’s Body Geometry fit is designed to optimise biomechanical efficiency

Keeping the price down inevitably leads to trade-offs. The single Boa dial system left me with a looser fit and more heel slippage than with a double-dial system, though it was still a decent fit. And the Velcro strap over the upper feels redundant.

Specialized Torch 1.0 Road Shoes performance

The injection-moulded nylon composite sole measures 6.0 on the brand’s own stiffness index. That makes it less than half as stiff as Specialized’s premium shoes, so don’t expect elite-level power transfer. But beginner or recreational riders may welcome the additional comfort that comes from having a sole plate of middling stiffness. This will certainly be stiff enough for most casual riders.

The sole has holes for standard three-bolt road cleats but unfortunately not for the two-bolt off-road cleats favoured by plenty of novice road riders and bike commuters, who find two-bolt cleats and double-sided pedals easier to clip in and out of than the wider three-bolt, single-sided systems favoured by power-chasing road racers. So this shoe is definitely best for road riders who aspire to longer leisure rides, not the stop-start world of commuting.

The synthetic upper felt a little tough and inflexible to me. It may loosen up over time, and the near universally positive feedback from buyers online suggests that’s the case. But this tough material also means these shoes feel incredibly robust and they withstand scuffs and dirt easily.

With the Torch 1.0’s blend of quality features and fair compromises, entry-level riders should welcome this winning mix of comfort, value and durability.

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