These days, Specialized Bicycles are almost known as well for their gear and apparel as they are their bikes. With a wide range of shoes, saddles and related accessories, Specialized provides equipment to mountain bikers around the globe that may or may not even ride a Specialized bike.
The Specialized Pro MTB shoe is just under the top of the line S-Works. With a carbon sole and new M-lock SL closure system, the Pro MTB shoe provides a high end mountain bike shoe at a fraction of the cost of the S-Works and most of its competition (specifically Sidi).
More Info On The Specialized Pro MTB Shoe
Our competitive level shoe with patented Body Geometry technology offers outstanding fit and performance for XC and All Mountain riders.
- Performance-enhancing BG contours in the outsole and BG+ High Performance Footbed
- Light and stiff, full-length FACT carbon midsole
- New D-link closure system is designed for lightweight, secure ankle control and adjustability
- Low profile and lightweight M-lock SL buckle for secure closure
- Durable injection composite outsole for confident traction
- Engineered Micromatrix upper is light, durable and supple fitting, with welded reinforcement in high wear areas
- 2-bolt cleat pattern, compatible with all major MTB pedals
- Ultra-vented tongue for breathability
- Approximate weight: 385g (1/2 pair #42)
- MSRP: $275.00
For more information on the BG footbed technology, check out this short video. While it shows a road biker at the beginning, it does apply to all of the mountain bike shoes as well.
Review: Specialized Pro MTB Shoe
At first glance, the Specialized Pro MTB shoe is exactly what you want out of a mountain biking shoe…subtle. The all black design with white accents doesn’t attract too much attention and the construction feels solid and durable. Even with the large Specialized logo on the toe section, there isn’t a lot of glare or obnoxious flare.
With 1/2 sizes available and narrow/wide options, you are able to find a shoe that perfectly fits your foot without having to make any compromises.
Initial Fit Up and Feel On the Bike
The Velcro straps and M-Lock SL closure system are easy to use. Slide your foot in, pull the straps, adjust the closure and you are set. I did find that the durable construction of these shoes did make the upper section a little stiff, so pushing down on the shoe while adjusting the closure did help with getting a more secure fit. In most cases, I didn’t even undo the front strap during use.
When you first get on the bike with the Specialized Pro’s, there are two things you notice right away. The carbon mid sole is incredibly stiff and the natural position the Specialized shoes put your feet in is incredibly comfortable. When I first watched the video you see higher up in this review, my first thought was…”yeah nice…but is that something you can really feel on the bike or just marketing?” The angle the footbed puts your foot in feels very natural and neutral.
The toe box on the Pros is open and comfortable. The hard outer shell does not cover as much of the toe as the old Comps, but there is still enough protection to handle rough, technical riding without either ruining your shoes or smashing your toes on rocks.
Riding With the Specialized Pro MTB Shoes
As mentioned before, the stiffness of these shoes is quite amazing. While spinning on the bike (especially in long climb situations), the power transfer feels like it resonates straight to the cranks. The combination of the secure locking and angle footbed keeps your foot in “power mode” throughout the entire pedal stroke and lends itself to a more comfortable feel during out of the saddle hammering (when my feet tend to angle even more).
The construction of the upper shoe and clamp is also durable enough to take wrecks against rocks and rough terrain. The right buckle on the test set is already scratched up, but the low profile design kept it from getting ripped off. Even with the multiple wrecks, the upper leather and venting still looks as good as new (if I were to clean them before taking these pictures). For mountain biking shoes, I find this durability and protection to be the most important factor outside of fit.
On the inside of the clamp mechanism, Specialized kept the strap internal to the shoe instead of having it stick out like the competition (Sidi). This makes it so that the strap does not scrape the cranks and eventually break off like all of my other MTB shoes have already done.
Off the bike, the Specialized Pro MTB shoes feel like mountain bike shoes and not just road shoes with tread. Through hike-a-bike sections, the Specialized shoes provided enough grip and comfort to get up the steep sections of the hill. While these are not as comfortable off the bike as the Comps (the stiffer carbon sole does not bend as naturally), they are still more comfortable than all of the other shoes in this price category. The upper section of the shoe also doesn’t stretch or need readjustment with heavy use…or even when they get wet. Everything stays secure throughout the entire ride.
Overall: Specialized Pro MTB Shoes
I know this review sounds a little over the top positive. While you might be thinking we are just trying to kiss the ass of a major player in the industry, that really is not the case. Specialized just knows what they are doing when it comes to making mountain bike shoes. If you don’t believe us…just ask anyone else that wears their MTB shoes on a regular basis.
The Specialized Pro MTB shoe is an incredibly stiff, comfortable shoe that feels like it was build for mountain bikers. With a durable construction, toe protection and materials that do not stretch or move, the Pro MTB shoe takes one less thing off your mind when you ride. If you can get over the fact they say Specialized on the side and tongue, I don’t think you are going to find a better shoe for the money…unless of course…you want to step down to the Comps to get similar performance at a fraction of the price.
Positives: Specialized Pro MTB Shoe
- Stiff sole for great power transfer
- Still somewhat comfortable off the bike (can actually hike-a-bike in them)
- Secure closure system that does not slip or stretch
- Low profile buckle hasn’t broken on sliding falls
- Plastic toe box structure for MTB style rock and root hits
- Incredibly comfortable and natural feeling on the bike
- Great venting for warmer rides
Negatives: Specialized Pro MTB Shoe
- Availability – Available only from Specialized.com or your local Specialized dealer
- While cheaper than the Sidi alternative (Spider @ $329.99), still expensive at $275.00
The Specialized Pro MTB shoe is the best pair of mountain biking shoes reviewed on Bike198 up until this point. If you are looking for a comfortable shoe that feels like it was actually designed for mountain biking (and not just a road shoe with tread), this is the shoe for you. If you can go without the carbon mid sole and save $125.00, check out the Specialized Comps for a lower cost but still high performing alternative.