Specialized Torch 2.0 Review
Cons: Less comfortable, limited adjustability, upper can create hotspots
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Specialized Torch 2.0
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|Pros||Stiff, large toe box, uses two-way BOA dial||Stylish, breathable, great adjustability, great power transfer, fits like a glove||Lightweight, stiff, affordable, simple||Affordable, snug, lightweight||Solid comfort, durable, great for walking, stylish|
|Cons||Less comfortable, limited adjustability, upper can create hotspots||Pricey, sole scuffs, may be narrow for some feet||Limited comfort, one fastener, mid-range power transfer||Fit's not universal, can be warm, lower power transfer||Premium 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 you||A sleek, stylish, refined road shoe ready to lay down the watts||Sturdy and simple, this is the right shoe for serious road riders on a budget||An entry-level road shoe with a few finer features to get you over the hills||Nice 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|
|Power Transfer (25%)|
|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|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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