It seems that many a tri company are starting to add shoes to their lineup of products. Many times, these are efforts to complete a product range rather than attempts to innovate. Specialized, on the other hand, is no stranger to making tri shoes. The original Trivent, launched nearly a decade ago, has been one of the most popular tri shoes on the market. In fact, the original Trivent has been my shoe of choice for about five years. I've always kept two pairs on hand. The first is my primary pair, used on a daily basis. The second pair is a backup, destined to replace the primary pair when it wears out, and it also gets double-duty as a test bed for pedals. Bike shoes tend to last a very long time, and in five years, I've kept those same two pairs. They haven't quit on me yet.
Although I've had the opportunity to test lots of other shoes, I usually shy away from doing so. I'd been so happy with the fit and features of the Trivent, that I just didn't want to mess with it. And besides, a large majority of the shoes on the market fall into one of two categories: a reverse-strap closure (which I really dislike), or shoes that basically clone the original Trivent.
Since its introduction, the Trivent has basically remained unchanged. Specialized recently introduced an X-Terra verison with mountain cleat holes, and the shoe has danced around at different price points with different sole materials. But from a cosumer perspective, nothing was really happening. And that's fine with me - if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
What consumers didn't know is that for the last three or four years, Specialized has furiously been developing the successor to its venerable kicks. And at last, it's here. The new S-Works Trivent takes the solid ergonomic platform of the original, and marries it to a radical new closure concept. It's completely new, but it's built on mature, refined BOA technology that's become so popular in the road shoe market.
The shoe is rounded out by a load of details that really make the overall package shine. A magnetic heel loop keeps the shoe open during transition, and integrated rubber band loops let you keep the shoe upright, making for an easy, super fast flying start. Despite the plush padding on the heel and forefoot areas, the shoe is very well ventilated, and the tongueless design keeps your foot cool and dry. The interior is seamless for sockless comfort. A tall, replaceable heel grip lets you walk around more comfortably, minimizing the awkward heels-down gait normally associated with cycling shoes.
In short, it's clear that the big S has been working on this shoe for a while, and they've really nailed it.
Back to the Drawing Board
In developing the S-Works Trivent, Specialized wanted to leverage the BOA closure system. BOA uses a small steel cable that laces through a shoe, and is then tightened or loosened via a racheting dial. The patented system is being used on a wide range of road shoes, from just about every major manufacturer. It's that good. So why hasn't it appeared on a tri shoe until now? Because it's not so easy to decide how it should be used on a tri shoe, or what it has to offer for a triathlete. Do you simply remove the tongue of your road shoe and add a heel loop? Lacing a bare steel cable on your feet probably isn't that comfortable. That's the biggest design problem Specialized had to tackle to develop the new shoe. And their solution is brilliant.
Instead of using the BOA to lace the shoe's upper, Specialized uses it to secure the shoe's heel. That way, the shoe can be left wide open in transition, and pulling on your shoe in transition will be more like donning a slipper than the frenzied experience you're used to.
Well, that was their plan, anyway. But how does it work? Hit the jump for our full review on the form, fit, and function of these next-gen shoes.