Looking for that extra bit of power to propel you up that technical climb or shave a few seconds off your XC loop? Efficiency, my friends… efficiency. One of the best ways to accomplish this is with a pair of carbon-soled shoes. I’ve been spinning with the S-Works EVO MTB shoes this season and I’ll sum it up with two words: powerful comfort.

Specialized S-Works EVO MTB Shoes Features:

  • Performance-enhancing BG contours in the outsole and BG+ High Performance Footbed
  • Light and stiff, full-length FACT carbon midsole: 10 stiffness index
  • Durable injection composite outsole with improved grip and traction properties for confident traction
  • New S2 Boa® cartridge closure, with improved durability for dirt and ease of use
  • Incremental adjustment, braided stainless steel cable and easy 3mm Allen replaceable cartridge system
  • Engineered Micromatrix upper is light, durable and supple fitting, with welded reinforcement rand for complete upper durability
  • 2-bolt cleat pattern, compatible with all major MTB pedals
  • Ultra-vented tongue for breathability
  • Approximate weight: 370g (1/2 pair #42)
  • MSRP: $370

Specialized S-Works EVO MTB Shoes Review

When it comes to MTB or road shoes, I’ve long been a fan of Specialized Body Geometry models. Last Summer, I reviewed the S-Works Road shoes, so this year, I’ve had my chance at the MTB variety. There are several distinguishing features are found on the S-Works EVO. First, lets start with the full-length FACT carbon midsole, which acts as the foundation of the shoe. This stiff sole enables efficient power transfer throughout the pedal stroke. On top of the carbon midsole, the new S2 Boa cartridge closure system offers easy micro adjustments in fit on-the-fly.

Like all Specialized cycling shoes, the S-Works EVO MTB shoes feature their renowned Body Geometry contours for a more natural pedal stroke that’s easy on the knees. The EVO’s are more of a trail rider’s everyday shoe than a thoroughbred XC race shoe, which is perfect for my style or riding. I want comfort, power and durability at this price point. My last pair of Specialized BG shoes lasted nearly 8 seasons and were still going strong. I don’t see any reason to expect anything less than that with the EVO’s.

At this price range, you’re going to be extra-picky in the performance and fit. For my foot shape and body mechanics, I can’t imagine a better fit.  I’ve found them to be comfortable on long rides and have never had any discomfort or knee issues whatsoever. When you put them on, you’ll immediately notice the foot being cradled in a natural position. The metatarsal button helps spread out your toes and aid in blood flow and the whole package works together to provide the best possible ergonomics.

Specialized S-Works EVO MTB shoes review

Rolling in the S-Works EVO MTB shoes.

Using the EVO MTB shoes in combination with Crank Brothers pedals has proven to be excellent for my joints — knee pain and discomfort is nonexistent.

The S2 Boa system is awesome. Just the quick twist of the knobs and you’re locked-and-loaded. Reaching down mid-ride and adjusting the fit is a piece of cake — try that with ratchet or Velcro designs. It’s so easy to adjust that I find myself dialing in my fit as needed for more precise power or increased comfort. The single Velcro toe strap allows you to manually set the toebox tightness. Opening them up post-ride is just as easy, but I did find that they didn’t open quite as widely as my S-Works Road shoes, so entry and exit is a tad more difficult.

And, if you ever have any issues with the Boa system, they can easily be repaired. If you’ve worn out your Velcro over time, it’s note quite as easy of a process.

I’ve found walking traction to be excellent and the outers to be extremely durable. After hundreds of miles of riding, these shoes look nearly new.

When the heat turns up, the EVO MTB has maintained excellent breathability for all-day comfort. You can feel the breeze flowing through, which is great in the heat, but you’ll need booties in the cold.

Some may wonder if it’s really worth the upgrade to get carbon soles. Do they really make that much of a difference in pedal power? I truly believe they do as I’ve ridden standard-soled shoes next to these and there’s no comparison. You get more power transfer and efficiency to make you ride faster and more confidently.

The Good

  • FACT carbon outsole is ultra-stiff for efficient power transfer
  • S2 Boa system provides unmatched comfort and adjustability
  • Intuitive inward/outward dial rotation is easy-to-remember
  • Breathes extremely well
  • Very durable — should endure many years of abuse
  • A killer all-day shoe or race shoe

The Bad

  • Doesn’t open as wide as it could, so entry and exit can be difficult (Doh: you can detatch the wire from the side loop to gain more egress)
  • Developed a serious kink in both Boa cables by the end of the season

Bottom Line: Specialized S-Works EVO MTB Shoes

The FACT carbon midsole provides a stiff foundation to help you transfer all your energy to your pedals. I love the S2 Boa system that provides pinpoint comfort and an improved performance. The S-Works EVO MTB will feel at home on the race course or your local singletrack for many years of abuse.

Buy Now: Visit Specialized.com

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly 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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