Road Cycling Clothing

Specialized Ember Women’s Road Shoe Review

Shoes are like saddles and helmets, the shape and fit varies between manufacturers and what works for me won’t necessarily work for you.

Go to a shop with a good range of brands and get trying pairs on, if it’s not comfy in the shop it won’t be better out on the road.

I won’t harp on about how comfy I find the Ember, (it is comfortable by the way) because I think it’s more important to focus on the features, durability and value for money. You can make your own mind up about comfort, and please share your thoughts with us.

The Ember is a great example of a performance shoe at a reasonable price. Your £120 gets you a sleek looking and race ready shoe, admittedly it’s not a carbon sole but the injection moulded nylon sole is lightweight and sits in the middle of the range for stiffness. If we’re talking numbers then the stiffness index of the Ember is 6.0 compared with 13.0 for Specialized’s S-Works shoe.

On the bike you might notice the difference but we’re not talking worlds apart, the numbers make it sound more of a chasm than it really is. On the bike it’s more like degrees of performance rather than flexi or stiff. Spending £150-£300 on a carbon soled road shoe might be out of reach for many, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with an inferior shoe to enjoy performance road riding or even racing.

The styling is more like the S-Works than the pre-2013 models, there’s a distinct and serious look about the Ember, probably due to a number of features borrowed from the pricier S-Works.

The Boa system is a firm favourite amongst many riders, it offers a precise adjustment that is really easy to use even on the bike. It’s a versatile and reliable system that is robust and offer longevity, once tried the Boa is a firm favourite and it rarely goes wrong. The wire laces distribute pressure evenly over the padded tongue for as snug a fit as you desire. Getting out of the shoe is a rapid procedure and it sure beats tugging away at Velcro straps.

Talking of which, I haven’t fathomed out why there’s a tiny Velcro strap near the toes, it was no use to my slender foot and offered no adjustment worth noting. Give me a lengthier Boa any day please!

Like all Specialized shoes the padding around the heel, tongue and ankle is generous and comfortable, the fabric is soft yet durable. The uppers feel more supportive over previous year’s models, there are fewer mesh panels yet airflow is stiff sufficient for warm days.

Underfoot the insole is a good neutral fit, personally I need more arch support and having had a Specialized shoe fit in-store before, I just slip my insoles in and off I go. It’s worth doing especially if you suffer any discomfort in the foot, ankle or knees and it needn’t be expensive. I use my Specialized insoles in a couple of other manufacturers shoes too.

The Ember certainly looks the part on the start line and it won’t let you down in terms of performance either, the white and silver/grey styling is classy and tasteful and there’s a tiny slither of purple to keep it interesting too.


A sleek and stylish shoe designed for a female foot; Specialized have put years of research into feet and the results are top notch. The Boa system is a winner too, fast and easy to use with precise adjustment – perfect for a fuss-pot like me.

All in all it’s a good value shoe borrowing looks and performance features from its big sister S-Works model – just without the bigger price-tag.


– A serious contender for the best non-carbon soled road shoe
– Boa L4 closure system – super fine adjustment at the turn of a dial
– Good quality shoe with durable materials and construction


– What’s the Velcro strap for?

Size: 36 – 42
Price: RRP £120
Colour: White with purple accents
More info: Specialized

What Specialized says about the Ember road shoe

This women’s design is inspired by our S-Works shoe and offers performance-enhancing Body Geometry, snug fitting Boa® dial adjustability, and our injection composite sole for the value-minded road rider.


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