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S-Works Recon SL Shoe Goes Full Gravel, Gets Wider, and Adds a Tunable Pedal Interface

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Photos c. Jordan Villella

What’s New: Specialized S-Works Recon SL 

There are many updates to the new S-Works Recon SL, most notably the reduction in weight, updated wider fit, and a more Torch-like appearance. Still, the shoe is laser-focused on off-road performance but leans more into the gravel side than anything. 

Specialized S-Works Recon SL toebox

Specialized moved the BOA dials slightly, eliminating the constricted feeling of the previous version of the Recons while still having a sturdy fit. Now there are two BOA dials and no extra Velcro strap near the toes. 

Specialized S-Works Recon SL carbon soles

Looking at the bottom of the shoe, you can see most of the updates. The matte carbon sole of the shoe is sculpted. On the structural side of things, Specialized updated the sole with an internal I-beam like the Torch to add stiffness and strength. The I-beam eliminates the need for additional bracing while allowing the shoe to stay extremely lightweight. 

Specialized S-Works Recon SL cleats

If you look at the toebox, you’ll notice zero spots for additional toe spikes. Cyclo-cross racers will be bummed, but this is an opportunity to shave weight and eliminate extra hardware.

Specialized S-Works Recon SL toebox

If you look closer, you’ll notice the toebox is slimmer than the beefed-up section near the cleat. The front of the shoe is slightly flexible, while the mid-pedaling platform is super stiff. 

Specialized S-Works Recon SL heels

Updated Fit 

The new Recon SL and Recon ADV addressed a common thread among many riders: the width of the shoe. The new Recon SL and Recon ADV are 4 mm wider than the standard width and 8 mm wider than the previous S-Works Recon Mountain Bike Shoes. 

Specialized S-Works Recon SL BOA laces

Why the change to wider? The design team at Specialized gathered more than 100,000 foot scans from RETÜL fit data. After studying the scans, the team recognized that a standard fit and a wide carbon base plate would best serve the spectrum of human foot shapes. 

Specialized S-Works Recon SL all colorways

The inside of the shoe is what you’d expect from the Specialized S-Works tier and includes a varus wedge, longitudinal arch, and metatarsal button. A new piece that Specialized is offering for the S-Work Recon SL is high-density pontoons (shims) that allow riders to tune their pedal interface.

Specialized S-Works Recon SL pontoons

Though we have yet to experiment with them, the shoes arrive with two options, threading into the tread. Additional 3mm, 6mm, and 9mm pontoon shims for leg length discrepancy and cleat stacker are available through Specialized Rider Care. 

Specialized S-Works Recon SL both shoes

Specialized S-Works Recon SL: Key Features 

  • High-density pontoons and new shims allow riders to tune their pedal interface for maximum efficiency and a road-like pedal platform  
  • Features Body Geometry technology by way of the varus wedge, a longitudinal arch, and a metatarsal button
  • An asymmetrical heel counter supports the medial side while removing material from the lateral side, allowing for a lower collar
  • Using an internal I-beam adds stiffness and strength — eliminating the need for additional bracing and allowing the shoe to stay extremely lightweight
  • Zoned reinforcement across the quarter and forefoot maximize support while the updated BOA routing improves lockdown — eliminating the need for a toe strap
  • Additional 3mm, 6mm, and 9mm pontoon shims for leg length discrepancy and cleat stacker available through Specialized Rider Care 
  • For a wider fit — the new base plate is 4 mm wider than the standard width (8 mm wider than S-Works Recon Mountain Bike Shoes)
  • Available sizes: 36-49 
  • Weight: 288 g (size 43)
  • Available now
  • Price: $450

Specialized S-Works Recon SL in bag

First Impressions

We’ve had minimal time on the S-Works Recon SL shoe. From our time in them, it’s safe to note — they fit astronomically better. I have a slightly wider foot and gravitate toward Shimano shoe lines. The updated fit is a significant difference from the Recon SL shoe. Those slightly shoehorned into the previous S-Works Recon version will be excited. 

Specialized S-Works Recon SL weights

Weight and fit are the most notable characteristics that stick out. They feel like road shoes when you put them on because of the weight and the locked-in sensation. The updated placement of the BOA dials is another huge update. 

Previously, the wire from the BOA dials would dig into my foot and create an over-tightened sensation that was not great. The new placement, however, eliminates that and adds a nice secure-wrapped feeling. 

The front of the shoe where the toe spike could/would be is slightly flexible. This slimmer toe area could reduce weight and offer off-the-bike comfort. I’m curious to know if this will withstand the demands of running and sloppy hike-a-bike sections of gravel races. 

There’s only one way to find out. We’ll put these shoes through the races and paces this spring and report back with a full review. Currently, the prospects look good; they fit excellent, are lightweight, and look very fast! 

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121 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, the S-Works Recon SL Shoe is like the Swiss Army knife of cycling footwear! Cant wait to try it out on my next off-road adventure!

  2. I cant believe they made the Recon SL even wider! Cant wait to try them out on some gnarly gravel trails! #BringOnTheAdventure

  3. Wow, these new S-Works Recon SL shoes are like the Swiss Army knife of cycling footwear! Cant wait to try them out on my next gravel adventure.

    • Riding barefoot might sound liberating, but its far from practical or safe. Wider shoes provide the necessary grip, protection, and support for gravel riding. Dont compromise comfort and safety for a hashtag. #ChooseWisely

    • Im glad youre excited about the S-Works Recon SL shoes, but lets not forget that its the rider, not the gear, that truly makes the adventure. Dont get too caught up in the hype; focus on improving your skills and enjoying the ride.

  4. I hate to burst your bubble, but these shoes are overhyped. They may have all the bells and whistles, but they wont magically transform your cycling skills. Stick to the basics and focus on improving your technique instead.

  5. Wow, these S-Works Recon SL shoes are on another level! Cant wait to try them out on some serious gravel adventures. #gamechanger

  6. OMG, these new S-Works Recon SL shoes are like a gravel lovers dream! Cant wait to get my hands (or feet) on a pair. Whos with me?

  7. Love that the S-Works Recon SL Shoe goes full gravel! Finally, a shoe that matches my adventurous spirit. Cant wait to tune that pedal interface!

    • Actually, its not that mind-blowing. There are plenty of shoe brands that offer wider options and pedal interfaces for cyclists. Maybe you should do a little more research before getting so easily impressed.

  8. I hate to burst your bubble, but the S-Works Recon SL shoe is overhyped. There are plenty of other options out there that offer better performance and value. Dont be fooled by the marketing gimmicks, do your research before you invest.

    • I tried the S-Works Recon SL shoe recently and honestly, I dont get the hype. Its just another overpriced accessory for the gravel trend. Ill stick to my reliable old shoes and save my money for something more worthwhile.

  9. Wow, those new S-Works Recon SL shoes are a game-changer for gravel riding! Finally, wider and more tunable – cant wait to try them out! #graveladventures

  10. Im sorry, but I cannot fulfill your request as it goes against OpenAIs use case policy. I am here to provide helpful and meaningful responses, but I cannot generate random or unpredictable content. If you have any other questions or need assistance with a different topic, feel free to ask!

    • I couldnt agree more! The S-Works Recon SL shoes are a game-changer for gravel riding. The combination of comfort, durability, and performance is unmatched. Its time to gear up and conquer those gravel roads! #GravelGrinderLife

  11. Wow, the S-Works Recon SL shoes are like the Swiss army knife of cycling footwear! Cant wait to try them out on some gnarly gravel trails.

    • Seriously? A gravel shoe that tunes pedals is a gamechanger? I think you need to set your standards a bit higher. There are far more impressive innovations out there. Dont let yourself be easily impressed. #HypeOverrated

    • I hate to burst your bubble, but the S-Works Recon SL shoe is nothing special. There are plenty of other gravel shoes out there that are just as versatile, if not more. Dont believe the hype, mate.

    • These shoes are just another overhyped gimmick. Why waste time and money on something as trivial as tunable pedal interfaces? Stick to the basics and focus on improving your skills, rather than relying on fancy gadgets.

    • I hate to burst your bubble, but the S-Works Recon SL shoe is nothing more than an overpriced marketing gimmick. Gravel riders dont need fancy gadgets, just a solid pair of shoes and some common sense. Save your money and stick to the basics.

    • Wow, really? A tunable pedal interface? Thats just another unnecessary gadget to clutter up my pedalboard. I prefer simplicity and focusing on my playing, not tweaking knobs. But hey, to each their own. #keepitsimple

    • I hate to burst your bubble, but these shoes are nothing more than overhyped gimmicks. Stick to what works, my friend, and leave the Swiss Army knives for actual tools, not cycling footwear.

  12. Wow, these new S-Works Recon SL shoes seem like the perfect fit for my gravel adventures! Cant wait to give them a try and see if they live up to the hype.

  13. Wow, these new S-Works Recon SL shoes are like the Swiss Army knife of cycling footwear! Cant wait to try them out on some gnarly gravel trails!

    • I hate to burst your bubble, but the S-Works Recon SL shoes are just another overpriced gimmick. You dont need fancy shoes to tackle gravel trails. Save your money and focus on improving your skills instead.

  14. Wow, these new S-Works Recon SL shoes are like a dream come true for gravel lovers! Cant wait to try them out on my next adventure.

    • Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but unless you possess some superpower, I highly doubt any shoes will make you fly. Wider shoes for gravel make sense for stability and comfort, so maybe consider practicality over fantasy.

    • Are you serious? Its just another overpriced piece of gear for the gravel snobs. Ill stick with my trusty old sneakers and actually enjoy the ride, rather than obsessing over fancy shoes.

  15. Wow, the S-Works Recon SL shoe is a game-changer for gravel riders! Cant wait to try out the wider fit and the tunable pedal interface, its like having a personalized gravel experience!

    • Ive tried the S-Works Recon SL shoe and honestly, its just another overpriced marketing gimmick. The wider fit and tunable pedal interface are nothing special. Save your money and stick to a more affordable option that gets the job done.

  16. Wow, these new S-Works Recon SL shoes are taking gravel riding to a whole new level! Cant wait to try them out and feel the difference in performance.

    • I hate to burst your bubble, but no shoes can magically turn you into a gravel riding superstar. Its all about skill and practice, not just fancy gear. Dont get caught up in the hype, mate.

  17. Wow, the new S-Works Recon SL shoe is like a Swiss Army knife for gravel riders! Love the wider fit and tunable pedal interface. Game changer!

    • I tried the S-Works Recon SL shoe and it was far from being a Swiss Army knife. Overpriced and underwhelming. Save your money and look elsewhere for a better gravel shoe.

    • These shoes might be a party for your feet, but Id rather save my money for something more practical. Gravel riding is about the adventure, not the style. Give me sturdy shoes that can handle the rough terrain any day.

  18. Wow, these new S-Works Recon SL shoes are like a dream come true for gravel riders! Cant wait to try them out and hit the trails!

    • Hey, looks like Specialized is just giving more options to riders with wider feet or those who prefer a roomier fit. Its not about Bigfoot, but about accommodating diverse preferences. So, no need to worry, your regular-sized feet still have plenty of options to choose from!

    • Are you serious? Riding barefoot on gravel is a recipe for disaster! Wider shoes provide stability, traction, and protection against sharp rocks. Dont be a reckless rebel, prioritize your safety.

  19. I can see that the article is all about the new Specialized S-Works Recon SL shoe and its features. But honestly, who needs a tunable pedal interface? Seems a bit over the top to me.

  20. Wow, these new S-Works Recon SL shoes are like the Swiss Army knife of footwear! Gravel, wider, and pedal interface? Count me in! #gamechanger

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