Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review! My thoughts on the Specialized S-Works Trivents

Before I start the review, just look at these things!
Dorothy would be proud!

Ok, Ok. Let's get the obvious elephant in the room out of the way first thing. Yes, these things are expensive. In fact, they are $225 more expensive than the next step *down* in the tri shoe department, (The Experts) and $40 more than the S-Works road shoe! No matter your financial situation, $400 on a pair of cycling shoes is going to raise an eyebrow. So, hopefully this review can add some insight as to whether the Trivent is worth your hard earned cash or not.

Political websites have their uses too... like supplying me a handy picture of an elephant with cash!

Let me be honest. I don't need this shoe. You don't need this shoe. Macca doesn't need this shoe. Nobody needs this shoe. The same thing of course could be said about plenty of things in life. Just because nobody needs a 550 Maranello doesn't mean that it isn't a beautiful and amazingly designed machine. These shoes strike me in the same way.

The biggest selling point to the S-Works is the rear entry system. (I know...giggle away)
Here you can see the magnet on the heel strap, along with get an idea of the *rear entry*
Open and ready for business

The system looked just a bit clunky to me. I tried the Scott running shoes (from a few years ago) that had a similar kind of design and they just never felt secure. Specialized on the other hand did a marvelous job of solving the issue. If you've never had a shoe with the "BOA" system, you are missing out. It really is just the best way to tighten and secure a cycling shoe. The S-Works take that system to another level, as the BOA system both secures the heel piece and tightens the shoe after you are off and away from transition. Holding the heel tab in place in transition is a built in magnet (one in the heel strap and one in the back of the shoe itself) which, albeit a bit gimmicky looking, actually works pretty well. As a matter of fact, I only had a few very small gripes with the entire design, that being that the BOA nob does take a fair amount of twists to get it firmly secured. It's not a big thing (and is probably necessary due to each person needing different amounts of tightness) but it felt like it was just "thrown on" to an otherwise extremely well thought out shoe.

The front end of the shoe is where my other gripe is, more precisely, the front strap. I wouldn't call it completely useless, but that wouldn't be a very far stretch of the imagination. It does very little to actually adjust the toe box, so those with an oddly shaped foot may have to either size down or pass on the shoe entirely. I've had two other pair of the older Trivents and the fit all around is one of the things that I loved about them, these are awesome from halfway back, and only ok (for me at least) for the front half. The shoe's upper is also very stiff compared to most bike shoes (although it may break down after more wear) which made my first few rides with my feet on top of them a bit awkward. You will get used to it, but it's a bit *less* stable than a softer shoe upper.

The other "goodie" you get with the S-Works is the rubber band tab on the inside of the shoe.
The rubber band tab (Conrad Stoltz off road version)
After using the tab a few times I've come to think of it as a solution to a question nobody asked. Rubber bands through the heel straps worked great for years, this doesn't really change the dynamics, it just looks cooler and gives you some more options... which I'm 100% totally fine with. 

You can see Macca opted NOT to use the tab and instead did it the old fashioned way

I feel like I've sounded fairly critical (and negative) about the shoe up until this point... and that's ok. I think that for the money you should be aware if anything isn't up to fluff. However, let me make it clear, I LOVE THIS SHOE. Specialized shoes in general are held in high regard by myself and most of my friends, and these meet the standards you would expect for a product with the S-Works moniker. The bottom is FACT 12 carbon (so beautiful you'll regret scratching it) which is plenty stiff enough for anyone. The inside of the shoe was obviously designed for sockless riding, and the liner is smooth and comfortable. The outside of the shoe is both loud and tasteful, although since you only get the fastest color currently (I have to imagine black or white is somewhere in the future lineup) it can cause for some awkward color/kit coordination.

Back to the primary issue... the money. To ease and appease (at least a little) you should consider that you'll likely have a well made pair of cycling shoes (such as these) for a good amount of time. The first Trivents I bought have lasted over 4 years and are still perfectly serviceable (albeit very stinky and a little rough looking) and I put in at least a decent amount of miles in them each year. Figuring you'll keep these at least that long (probably more as these are likely not your everyday shoes) it seems a bit more bearable at $100/year. That's probably less than you spend each year on other things that you enjoy... Beer... Data on your cell phone... running shoes... steak... whatever. It's also worth noting that BOA has a lifetime warranty on their systems, so if you are worried about the potential fragility of the system (you shouldn't, it's pretty bulletproof) you can be at ease that they will replace it. Specialized doesn't offer a lifetime warranty on their shoes, but they have a very good reputation for support, adding a feeling of security that you aren't just screwed if something does go bad on them.

Anyways, the verdict? I think that you can certainly get a quality triathlon shoe for half the price (the Trivent Experts deserve nothing but praise if you want to stick with Specialized) so if the price tag is indeed a limiter, don't feel like the only party is on the S-Works boat. However, it's a very, very nice boat to party on, and if skimming every possible second off of your T1 time is important to you, maybe the Trivent can help. I am just a second or two faster in it than I was in my old shoes, and everyone knows I love going faster without working for it. So, if it appeals to you, it's an awesome shoe that you won't be disappointed in and should last for years to come. (of course, try them on first :P )
2013 "Dorothy" edition.
- Christopher Morelock

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