FIRST RIDE: SPECIALIZED TORCH 2.0

Specialized’s catalog has just about every item a person needs to become a full-on roadie. Comfort is the goal for Specialized’s Torch line, which consists of three levels of shoes ranging in price from $110–$225. At $160, the Torch 2.0 is one of the best bang-for-the-buck shoes on the market. Specialized’s wide reach allows for large R&D budgets that pump out state-of-the-art products year after year. 

THE TECH

Specialized designed the Torch 2.0 with a supple microfiber upper mesh crisscrossed with reinforced thermoplastic polyurethane bands for a well-rounded mix of comfort, stability and ventilation. The closure system consists of a single Boa dial with a hook-and-loop strap over the toe box. The inside of the heel cup uses a cushioned synthetic material with a vertical reflective S-logo on the backside. Over 100 mesh-covered holes allow heat to escape and cool air to rush in.

Specialized uses their Body Geometry sole and footbed that are ergonomically designed to reduce injury. Specialized pinpointed the average proper cleat position of riders and implemented it across most of their footwear, which they have tested and claim reduces the chance of injury by optimizing hip, knee and foot alignment. The Torch 2.0’s nylon composite sole has a mid-stiffness rating, marked as a 7 out of 12 on Specialized’s stiffness scale. The sole is protected by low-profile, rubber toe and heel pads.

THE RIDE

Cleat-position setup is made simple, thanks to Specialized’s Body Geometry research. For our test riders, the set position is spot-on—only a few adjustments were necessary to find the proper cleat angle. This is one of the main reasons Specialized’s top-tier S-works 7 shoes remain popular with our test riders, thankfully the Torch 2.0’s are almost $300 less expensive.

Given the sole’s medium stiffness rating, a bit of flex is felt during heavy pedaling. But, this isn’t a negative. Given the price point and Specialized’s push for comfort on this model, the sole’s stiffness is appreciated, especially on three-plus-hour rides. Oftentimes, extra-stiff, sub-$200 shoes trade off comfort for stiffness, which results in unsavory hot spots. The 2.0s have a respectful mix and fit like a glove, thanks to the shapeable, supple upper. Proper tongue position is key to getting a comfortable fit, and unfortunately there is no way to secure the tongue in position. Ensuring the tongue is fully taut and centered enables a comfy fit with ample wiggle room for your toes.

One downside we’ve found across nearly every Specialized shoe we’ve tested is their durability. Over time, after repeatedly tightening the toe-box strap, the shoe begins to deform. The stretched material causes the toe box to crease over itself, and it never fully returns to its original shape. This issue is exacerbated on higher-end models with less material in the toe box, but we’ve seen signs of this wear beginning in the Torch 2.0s after only a few hundred miles of riding.  

SPECIALIZED TORCH 2.0 STATS

Weight: 598 grams (size 44)

Sizes: 36–49

Price: $160

www.specialized.com

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