When races are won on the ascent, MTB gear engineers get to focus more on the light and stiff variables than any other. Specialized has a new pair of XC kicks on offer that weighs a scant 231g per shoe, wrapping your feet in all manner of race-specific features. The model name, S-Works EXOS EVO, likely weighs more than the shoes.
The brand says that their proprietary Dyneema® layup allows for a shoe that fits great, and is pliable enough for all trail terrain. The upper is tightened by a BOA Li2 dial that is said to be lower profile with an increased level of micro-adjustment.
At the heel, where a lot of XC shoes tend to slip due to their rigid soles unless they’re overbuilt, Specialized says, “Our designers and engineers maximized
the layering properties of this fabric to create a heel pocket that simulates the vertical rigidity essential in a heel counter while allowing the shoe to mold and shape to the foot for superior fit and comfort with a drastic reduction in weight.”
Power transfer comes through the XC FACT carbon fiber sole with a reported stiffness index of 13. It’s not clear if these stiffness scales are comparable, as brands like Scott use a scale from 1-10. Maybe Specialized is simply taking the Spinal Tap film reference a couple of clicks further?
There’s a TPU layer in the regularly scuffed areas to add durability, and a toe-protector up front, so make sure that errant stones only hit that part of your foot.
Specialized says that the shoe’s fit follows their Body Geometry ethos, intended to “boost power, increase efficiency, and reduce the risk of injury by optimizing hip, knee, and
foot alignment.” That’s a lot of work for such a lightweight package, and the price of $425 per pair reflects those bold claims.