We are rapidly approaching the point at which ‘Gravel’ as a genre becomes too disparate to be encapsulated under a single term, much like how ‘mountain biking’ encompasses everything from short track XC in Lycra, through to flinging yourself off a mountain on a bike with more spring than a trampoline. Specialized’s two new Recon gravel shoes, released today, do a pretty good job of catering to both extremes of the gravel world; the gravel racers, looking for all-out speed, and the adventure types, who love nothing more than carrying their bike up something totally unrideable for some sweet shots, both of single-origin coffee, and for the ‘gram.
The new S-Works Recon replaces the outgoing model, which currently sits in our list of the best gravel bike shoes, by making a few changes. The most obvious is that the Velcro strap has been removed in favour of two BOA dials. There is more, which we’ll dive into, but Specialized is now marketing it as a gravel shoe, while the previous S-Works Recon model was listed as XC. Labelling does nothing for the performance of an item; a gravel shoe by any other name would still be both lighter, stiffer, and more comfortable after all, but it’s noteworthy from a market trend perspective.
The Recon ADV is a new shoe in the brand’s range and appears to be a hybrid of the S-Works Recon Lace and the standard Recon MTB shoe. It looks to serve those riders who spend some time walking, but who don’t want to sacrifice performance on the bike. Let’s get into both models then: Choose your fighter.
New S-Works Recon
These follow in a similar fashion to other S-Works shoes we’ve reviewed (Torch, Vent, Ares et al), both visually and in terms of tech. The main changes from the current Recon, as mentioned above, are the lack of a velcro strap at the toe, and the fact that this is now nominally a gravel shoe and not an MTB one. The tread underneath has adapted to reflect this different use case, with smoother lugs and no ports for studs. It’s about as close to the best road bike shoes as you can get while still being off-road focussed, perhaps trying to draw pro racers away from opting to wear road shoes for gravel races as we see very regularly.
As per the rest of the S-Works shoes you get a Varus Wedge, Longitudinal Arch, and Metatarsal Button: These are all the internals of the Body Geometry insoles and footbed design…
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