In Europe, audax cycling events have been going on for well over a century. These non-competitive group rides are meant to challenge a rider’s endurance by cycling great distances. So, when Specialized introduced the Audax road shoe, it was made for riders who love long days in the saddle and don’t want their feet crammed into a race-style last for several hundred kilometers.

Specialized Audax shoes features:

  • Body Geometry sole and footbed for optimal body alignment
  • FACT Powerline™ carbon/composite sole (stiffness Index 10.0)
  • Overstrap with Boa® S2-Snap dial
  • Soft Micromatrix synthetic leather with laser perforated venting
  • Subtle reflective elements
  • Classic low profile heel to reduce Achilles pressure and encourage natural motion
  • Replaceable heel tread
  • Three-bolt road cleat pattern
  • Standard Fit last for support and all-day comfort
  • Narrow and wide widths available
  • Approximate weight: 265g (1/2 pair, size 42)
  • MSRP: $250
Carbon soles, Boa lacing system and awesome looks.

Carbon soles, Boa lacing system and awesome looks.

Comfort, power and good looks

Yes, road shoes are as much a personal preference as a saddle, but all riders and all foot shapes should recognize the intent of the Audax shoe. Built for long days in the saddle, these shoes offer a little extra comfort in the toebox on top of a modern Body Geometry last. The result is a smart-looking road shoe that is supremely comfortable.

At first glance, these all-black beauties look fantastic. The uppers are made from Micromatrix synthetic that does an amazing job of mimicking full-grain leather — I thought it was leather. With two velcro straps and a single, double-ratcheting Boa S2 dial, it’s easy to get just the right fit. There’s no hiding the fact that I believe Boa laces are the best out there for cycling shoes, so I’m more than gleeful to see them used here. And, to see the S2 version that offers intuitive right/left dial in/out (more on that later).

Responsive carbon soles deliver instant power transfer.

Responsive carbon soles deliver instant power transfer.

Some online chatter has the Audax shoe as being untrue to the shoe’s namesake by not offering a 4-bolt cleat interface — presumably to run MTB pedals (I guess some audax rides are mixed road affairs). That said, I can’t imagine these shoes being much fun on a dirt course anyhow unless they featured a walkable tread pattern. As it stands, these are fantastic with Speedplay’s new walkable cleats for all the walking I intend to do in them. But, I’ll admit that with an increase in gravel riding, perhaps a mixed-terrain outsole would prove popular.

The plenty-stiff 10.0 FACT carbon soles deliver solid pedal stroke and power transfer. Yeah, it’s great to have the ultra-stiff soles found on the S-Works shoe, but you pay dearly for that little bit of extra stiffness. And, going with a stiff sole can sometimes cause foot discomfort over long distances. After a short honeymoon period, I’ve had nothing but foot-cradling comfort in these shoes.

In several months of use, I’ve found the Audax to remain quite comfortable with no notable discomfort or numbness.. Yes, it would be nice to have a double Boa ratchet, but I’ve found just the right tension for both lower velcro straps and have been able to adjust the upper on-the-fly, as needed. If you have yet to experience the Boa Lacing System on a pair of shoes, you’re missing out. With a single, intuitive turn inwards or outwards, you can adjust for swelling feet or snug things up for that town-line sprint with your posse.

The Boa S2 dial is intuitive and unhooks for easy entry/exit.

The Boa S2 dial is intuitive and unhooks for easy entry/exit.

Again, these feature the S2 Snap Dial, which tightens and loosens with each turn of the dial. Instead of being righty-tighty and lefty-loosey, these are mirror image dials, which is completely intuitive for all adjustments. And, with these being a single loop affair, the cable disengages from the mount to allow for easier entry and exit. Well done, here guys. Well done.

In spite of the heel cup being somewhat truncated, I experienced no heel slippage at all. The cuff does initially feel different from other shoes in the stable, but the reduced heel height has not been a performance problem and the little bit of odd pressure points disappear after a few pedal strokes.

The uppers have remained as-new throughout my testing — in spite of some mud-splattered rides. In addition, the FACT Carbon outsole remains relatively scuff-free with only a few notable scratches. And, while I have yet to experience a true “Audax” with these shoes, there’s no question that these shoes are fantastic road shoes — plain and simple.

A note on fit: I have normal width feet and low arches and typically wear a 10.5 street shoe and 11 running shoe and have fluctuated between 44.5 and 45 road/mtb shoes — depending on fit. These were 44.5’s and with the extra wiggle room, the fit was perfect with ample room for thicker winter-weight socks, if necessary.

The Good

  • Roomy toebox allows for wiggle room
  • Body Geometry fit facilitates comfort and blood flow
  • Boa S2 ratchets are intuitive and easy to adjust
  • Plenty stiff for even the most demanding riders
  • Uppers are quite snappy and durable
  • Available in regular or wide (great for extra-wide feet)
  • Great color options — including some hi-vis flavors

The Bad

  • Cuff does initially feel different
  • A touch more expensive than comparable shoes (Bontrager Velocis, for example)

The Bottom Line: Audax road shoes

The Specialized Audax road shoes are made for long days in the saddle. With a soft upper, Body Geometry design and a Boa S2 strap, these shoes are easy to love. I particularly appreciate the roomy toebox for extra wiggle room and virtually no foot discomfort.

Buy Now: Visit Your Local Dealer

In Summary

8.8 Big S's Best Value

As an all-around performer, it's hard to go wrong with the Audax. These are very comfortable and offer excellent performance for even the most demanding rider. Add some nice looks and the stellar Boa lacing system and you have a winner.

  • Comfort 9
  • Stiffness 9
  • Quality 9
  • Breathability 9
  • Value 8

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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