When Specialized Bikes invited TWC down to attend the launch of some new and exciting road cycling kit, we couldn't have run out the door fast enough. Here are whats hitting the shops right now...
Specialized Evade II Helmet
Lighter, faster and better ventilated – this is EVERYTHING you want from a helmet, right?! Add to that a more sleek appearance and it appears that Specialized are on to a winner with the new Evade II.
The Evade II shares its DNA with Specialized’s S-works TT helmet instead of the original Evade. Also developed using Specialized’s wind tunnel facilities the TT helmet is undoubtedly their most aero to date but given the limited time in the saddle at ‘all-out’ effort ventilation was never a priority. It’s a different story however when it comes to longer stages and both ventilation and wind resistance are vital considerations.
Good ventilation can’t be achieved by simply punching holes into a helmet; the secret is to draw the air in, sweep it over the head and most importantly push the, now, warm air out the back. For this, Specialized has turned to their successful 4th-dimensional cooling system;
- The position of the mouth port drags the air in
- Inline vents maintain the flow of air through the front of the helmet
- Deep channels on the interior surface of the helmet create space to promote the flow of cool air
- Rear vents assist with creating a vacuum effect which draws the air flow through
Specialized applied 12 heat sensors to a manikin; each representing different ‘climate zones’ and the heat production of a given rider, the sensors determined which formation of vents provided a greater cooling efficiency.
From the functional testing method for the Evade II, Specialized shaved off a whopping 16-20 grams (depending on helmet size) even with the inclusion of the magnetic buckle which is heavier than a standard closure.
No doubt the move from single to dual density foam that was first seen through the Prevail series helped as utilising the larger surface area across the top of the helmet to dissipate the forces seen during a crash enabled Specialized to reduce the foam density. In turn, they strengthened the sides of the helmet where curb stone hits are more commonly seen and reinforced the back and front with an internal Aramid roll cage to keep the important stuff like memory and speech safe and sound.
The shorter and narrower appearance of the Evade II is also a result of functional testing and makes it more appealing. The overhangs are smaller and the helmet drops slightly lower over the ears more like a conventional GC helmet than a dedicated aero helmet.
S-Works Evade II is available in 5 colours and sizes Small, Medium and Large
Specialized S-Works 7 Shoes
On the face of it, the new S-Works 7 shoes don’t appear to be radically different to their predecessors but look a little closer and you will see numerous changes have been made to improve the performance and comfort of the shoes.
A complicated structure, the foot is made up of 26 bones and 33 joints, add into the mix plenty of ligaments and very little padding, it is easy to see why the foot creates such a personal interface with the bike.
Research from the Sports Medicine and Performance Center in Boulder found that of the riders they tested 87% have forefoot varus (tipping away from the medial line so the 1st metatarsal sits a little higher than the 5th), 11% were neutral, and just 2% valgus (tipping in the opposite direction). Given the majority Specialized have added 1.5ml onto the outsole of the S-Works 7 on the lateral side of the forefoot; not there to over-cant the 1.5ml offers some support and can be adjusted or neutralized with insoles.
Body Geometry focuses on how the body works when cycling and aims to provide an ‘out of the box’ option that enhances performance and reduces injury. All Specialized shoes now come with insoles. Their Plus Level is provided as the standard level of arch capture (both in terms of height and length) and despite being a base value it is said to exceed anything provided by their competitors.
A metatarsal button is used to alleviate the pressure associated with the power that is driven through the contact point for the foot and the pedal. Built into the insole to support transverse arch (widthways), the Metatarsal button prevents the bunching of the nerves specifically within this area and the associated sensation of ‘hot foot’.
Moving on to the sole, the Powerline may look similar to that of the S-Works 5 for which it was originally generated, but it's had a complete rethink in terms of manufacturing. Having adopted pressure mapping techniques and finite element analysis to strip excess material from the areas that do not require it and reapplying it to the areas that do, each size sole now boasts its own custom lay-up.
In the absence of an industry stiffness index, Specialized have adopted their own internal measurement and whilst this doesn’t accommodate comparison between brands, it does provide context for the development of an evolving shoe. The S-Works 7 shoe jumps to an index 15 for power delivery, an increase from the previous S-Works 6 model which had an index of 13.
There's a greater degree of adjustability when it comes to the cleat position and this is largely owing to the initial drilling position being set further back. Here it is important that the ‘rider experience’, a term Specialized use to describe the type of rider and their objectives are accounted for, alongside any previous injuries and current niggles.
Specialized have used the Retul system since 2013 and the data collected here, alongside their sponsored athletes, has been an invaluable source for product development. Consequently, the tightness of the padlock at the back of the shoe has been eased to relieve unnecessary pressure on the Achilles tendon. They have also increased the padding on the tongue and reverted to the asymmetric opening we saw on the S-Works 5 to pull the pressure away from the dorsal artery and reduce any discomfort across the top of the foot.
In addition to the laser-cut one-piece upper that was seen on previous models, the S-Works 7 uses Dyneema; a thermoplastic polyurethane that offers a unidirectional force to allow the material to stretch one way, but boasts lightweight stiffness in the opposite direction to lock the foot down when required. The uppers are further complemented with the thermo-bonded lugs on the S3 boas to eliminate any discomfort with the stitching.
Now reinforced, better sealed, and limited to Specialized shoes, the S3 boas are a big ‘thumbs-up’ for UK riders and the in-line profile is more aesthetically pleasing too.
The new S-Works 7 shoes are available in four colours and in a range of sizes from EU36 to EU49. Approximate weight 224g (size 42). RRP £330