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Specialized Torch 2.0 Review

If you’re looking for an affordable carbon sole and don’t mind sacrificing comfort, these are for you
Specialized Torch 2.0
Photo: Specialized
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Price:  $160 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Pros:  Stiff, large toe box, uses two-way BOA dial
Cons:  Less comfortable, limited adjustability, upper can create hotspots
Manufacturer:   Specialized
By Ryan Baham ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 22, 2021
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58
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 10
  • Comfort - 25% 5
  • Weight - 15% 7
  • Power Transfer - 25% 7
  • Adjustability - 20% 5
  • Durability - 15% 5

Our Verdict

We had a real love-hate relationship with the Specialized Torch 2.0. On the one hand, they appealed to our inherent love of lean, utilitarian design. They're meant to be tough workhorses, straddling the entry-level and mid-level markets. Their upper is a hard, abrasion-resistant TPU mesh to protect the foot and ensure longevity. It uses some padding in the heel and collar to protect the foot against the unforgiving upper, but might be lacking for some riders and this is the area that stuck in our craw. If this is a shoe you're interested in, we go into a lot more detail on this point in the full review.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Specialized Torch 2.0
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award   
Price $160 List
Check Price at Backcountry
Check Price at Backcountry
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Check Price at REI
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$94.96 at Backcountry
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Pros Stiff, large toe box, uses two-way BOA dialStylish, breathable, great adjustability, great power transfer, fits like a gloveLightweight, stiff, affordable, simpleAffordable, snug, lightweightSolid comfort, durable, great for walking, stylish
Cons Less comfortable, limited adjustability, upper can create hotspotsPricey, sole scuffs, may be narrow for some feetLimited comfort, one fastener, mid-range power transferFit's not universal, can be warm, lower power transferPremium price, can be too snug, toes hard to adjust, limited breathability
Bottom Line If you’re looking for an affordable carbon sole and don’t mind sacrificing comfort, these are for youA sleek, stylish, refined road shoe ready to lay down the wattsSturdy and simple, this is the right shoe for serious road riders on a budgetAn entry-level road shoe with a few finer features to get you over the hillsNice bike shoes with a lot of versatility for commuting, spinning, and even a little offroading if you don’t mind getting these pretty things dirty
Rating Categories Specialized Torch 2.0 Fizik R1 Infinito Fizik Tempo Overcur... Shimano RC3 Giro Republic R Knit
Comfort (25%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
8.0
Weight (15%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
4.0
Power Transfer (25%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Adjustability (20%)
5.0
7.0
7.0
4.0
4.0
Durability (15%)
5.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Specs Specialized Torch 2.0 Fizik R1 Infinito Fizik Tempo Overcur... Shimano RC3 Giro Republic R Knit
Measured Weight (Pair) 21.4 oz 20.0 oz 20.8 oz 19.4 oz 26.7 oz
Size Tested 45 44 45 45 45
Outsole Carbon, rubber Carbon Carbon reinforced nylon Fiberglass reinforced Nylon Co-molded nylon and rubber
Upper Material Mesh, TPU Laser-perforated 1.2mm microtex PU laminate, mesh Synthetic leather Xnetic Knit
Closure Boa IP1 Fit System BOA BOA and hook and loop strap Boa L6 dial Lace
Width Options Regular, Wide Regular Regular Regular Regular

Our Analysis and Test Results

Hours of breaking these shoes in have helped us shape our conclusions in this review. We also draw on our decades of riding, being embedded in the milieu of gearheadery, and years of reviewing the best cycling shoes on the market. Here, we take the Specialized Torch 2.0 apart and look at its performance across our measures, comparing it against our parameters as well as to the performance of other similar road bike shoes.

Performance Comparison


The Torch 2.0s turned out to be much better workhorses than we...
The Torch 2.0s turned out to be much better workhorses than we expected.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Comfort


The first thing to note on the Torch 2.0 is that the toe box has a good amount of room. Not enough to be called loose, but enough to splay the toes. They use a mesh and thermo-polyurethane for their upper, with a healthy layer of padding around the collar and heel. They include Specialized's Body Geometry footbed and sole, which are designed to improve ergonomics and power transfer by aligning joints from the ankle through the knee and up to the hip.

While that might be true, the shape doesn't track the foot as well as some of Specialized's premium models. The outside grinds against the edge of the foot behind the toes and creates a hotspot. Feet that aren't shaped like this will have trouble staying in these shoes for longer rides. Top that off with the stiffness of the upper and closure, and it just lacks the finesse needed for a shoe that's meant to get you up hard climbs and serious efforts. A small redrawing of the outside lines and tapering the stiffness of the upper around the mouth of the shoe will go a long way to improving the feel and performance of later iterations of the Torch series.

A stiff upper and bold lines can sometimes go too far and that's...
A stiff upper and bold lines can sometimes go too far and that's what happened with the Torch 2.0.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Weight


The Torch weighs in at 21.4 ounces in a pair of Men's size 45 (Euro sizing). Not too shabby for a mid-market road shoe. A lot of the weight savings come from the carbon fiber sole and modest TPU upper. It's also a pretty stripped-down model, so there are fewer gadgets and comforts to weigh it down.

21.4 ounces in a pair of Men's size 45 is really quite light for a...
21.4 ounces in a pair of Men's size 45 is really quite light for a mid-level shoe.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Power Transfer


This is maybe the brightest spot for these shoes. They're pretty darn stiff for being such modest shoes (so far as the road bike shoe market goes). To get there, they use a rigid TPU mesh upper. We discussed the tradeoff in comfort in the section of that same title, but for a little less cushion, you can be sure that more watts are going into forward motion. These also use Specialized's Body Geometry sole and footbed design, meant to improve efficiency and improve power. We're in no position to dispute Specialized's research here, though it seems like it belongs somewhere in the marginal gains category.

The real showstopper here is the FACT carbon sole. Specialized calls it medium-stiffness, and it is that indeed. It's better than the nylon composites you get in similar shoes, but not quite what you'd get with a premium shoe. As a whole package, upper and sole, we're pretty happy with this shoe's efficiency and power transfer.

Their nylon carbon composite sole was really quite good. Not...
Their nylon carbon composite sole was really quite good. Not pro-level, but definitely enough for the average rider.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Adjustability


What's nice with these shoes is that you get a two-way BOA IP1 dial, which is great for any shoe. On-the-fly adjustments are easy-peasy. You definitely get a good lockdown with the four anchors across the midfoot, but it's already a snug shoe. If you are super into tight shoes, then you'll appreciate this; otherwise, you won't find it especially helpful. There's also a toe strap, but because the TPU mesh upper is so rigid already, you're not getting much in the way of tightening. Any tightening you're able to achieve over the toes tends to crease the upper against and into your toes.

Durability


The Torch 2.0 is built to take some knocks. The TPU mesh upper is really good with abrasion resistance but might show some wear after a few seasons, especially if you're using the front or tips of the toes to push off at stoplights. There's a modest rubber pad to protect the outsole, but the upper has no such guard. The heel also has a large rubber pad to provide traction and protect the sole, but neither pad is replaceable, so when it's gone, you're grinding carbon. Their BOA IP1 dial is replaceable, though, so that's helpful.

Value


This is a hard call. There's always a premium on carbon soles, and their sole is fairly stiff - though not like you'd get in a premium bike shoe. So chalk that up in the wins column, but there are concerns about the comfort. There are feet out there that will love how snug they are and won't feet any of the hotspots, and those are the right folks to buy these. The strength of these is getting a carbon sole for this price. Our view is that for the money, there might be other shoes that might better suit the typical rider.

This is truly the utilitarian's shoe. We'd be more enthusiastic...
This is truly the utilitarian's shoe. We'd be more enthusiastic about it if it addressed some of its fit issues.
Photo: Ryan Baham

Conclusion


We spent a lot of time in the Torch 2.0, mostly on shorter rides, though, as the shoes weren't quite shaped to suit our feet. This seems to be mostly a problem with the rigidity of the upper and the sharp curvature of the last. Their last design is close to that of the Specialized S-Works Ares, which is actually very comfortable, but the Torch's coarser lines and materials are pretty apparent in the fit. Still, some riders won't have a problem and will appreciate being able to scoop up a pair of stiff carbon soles at a decent discount to most other road shoes with similar power transfer.

Ryan Baham