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Are S-Works Cycling Shoes That Much Better Than Torch 2.0 Shoes? The Simple Differences Between a $150 and a $400 Pair of Cycling Shoes

Are S-Works shoes that much better than their sibling, the Torch 2.0?

This post is going to be in two parts – first, the simple “touchy, feely” differences, then I’ll get into the technical end of things for part two. Let’s begin.

A friend of mine who has a wonderful life, a fantastic sugar mama, and a penchant for expensive cycling shoes (and bikes for that matter), had two pair of S-Works shoes laying around that he didn’t wear anymore and asked if I was interested in them – it just so happens we wear the exact same size shoe.

And so, even though I would never try to afford one, let alone two pair of S-Works shoes (I’m more a Torch 2.0 at $150 guy), I can now comment on the differences betwixt the two classes of cycling shoe and make a fair judgement on whether or not the S-Works are worth the extra $250. Keep in mind, please, that this is entirely opinion-based at this point. We can get into the science in the next post.

So, the Specialized Torch 2.0 shoe retailed for $150 a couple of years ago. They’re $160 today. The Torch 2.0 is, without question, one of the better carbon fiber soled shoes on the market at that price. Most brands are still stuck on plastic soles at that price. I have a pair, my wife has a pair, and several of my friends roll with them as well. They’re a great value and very comfortable.

The Torch 2.0 uses the IP-1 Boa closure with one long lace wrapped around three loops to snug the shoe up where the more expensive shoes use two Boa (S2) closures with smaller loops, each around one eyelet loop. Both the S-Works and the Torch 2.0 use a Velcro strap just above the toes.

The fit of the Torch 2.0 is fantastic and they’re incredibly comfortable and well built. I’ve had my pair three seasons now and while some of the cloth piping around the tongue and cuff is starting to fray, I’m certain I’ll get another season or two out of them. Simply put, they’re exceptional shoes and a fantastic bargain at $160.

Specialized Torch 2.0

The S-Works shoe is like sliding your foot into a bed of butter next to the Torch. My feet, in the Torch, get tired around 70 miles. With the S-Works shoe, my feet feel fantastic well after that point.

Also, there’s no question, two Boas are better than one. The fit is vastly improved when you can choose how tight to crank down each dial.

Another difference is in weight. The S-Works shoes are noticeably lighter but not near what you’d think for the sticker price. In fact, the difference is so minimal, weight is probably an advantage to the Torch 2.0s (!).

Finally, there’s power to the pedal. You can feel the difference, undoubtedly. I have no idea the stiffness difference between the two shoes but it’s significant (I’ll explore that in the next, more technical post).

Those are the differences, but what about the question posed in the Title? Is a pair of S-Works shoes worth the money?

The answer to this question is… complex. The S-Works shoes are awesome and clearly a cut (or three) above the Torch 2.0s. In every category, from fit to feel to weight and performance, the S-Works shoes are stellar. The Torch 2.0 is still a phenomenal shoe and worth far more than the $160 price tag. With a pair on your feet, lining up with the fastest of cyclists, they’ll be enough, I have no doubt. The answer, and this is rare in cycling, is the S-Works shoes are only worth the money if you’ve got it to burn. If you don’t, if you have to watch every cycling Dollar you spend, get a pair of the Torch 2.0 (or better, the 3.0 for that two-Boa fit) and don’t worry a bit about your shoes. The 2.0s or 3.0s are all you’ll need to roll with the best. I can say this confidently as I have for three years with mine.