A Note from Fatty: This is the first in a series (of indeterminate length, because I don’t think very far ahead, and I don’t know whether people will like these) of posts about bike-related stuff that I own and love. These posts are not reviews, because reviews are generally about new products and need to at least pretend to be balanced in coverage. Instead, these posts are about stuff I have had long enough that I’m way past certain that they’re awesome, and hence want to tell my friends about them.
In April of 2009, I wrote a post titled, “An Open Letter to Specialized.” In it, I pretty thoroughly trashed their mountain bike shoes, saying that while the shoes fit great, they just didn’t last; with them I had had to purchase new mountain bike shoes every other season.
I said that Specialized had worn out their welcome, shoe-wise, and finished with an open appeal to any shoe manufacturer that would like to earn a loyal customer.
Two companies sent me new mountain biking shoes. Sidi sent me their top-of-the-line Dragon 2 SRSs. Here they are, back when they were new:
And — to my huge surprise — Specialized stepped up in the face of ridicule and sent me a new pair of their Specialized BG Pro Carbon MTB shoes. Here they are when they were new:
The Evolution of Preference
I told myself that the fairest way I could decide which pair of shoes — if either — I liked best would be to switch on a ride-by-ride basis. The thing is, I knew that system wouldn’t last forever. At some point, I knew I’d start using one pair of shoes more often than the other. And that, probably, I’d wind up wearing one of those pairs pretty much exclusively.
I should also point out that I started out hugely biased against Specialized; they had already failed me and were on double-extra-secret probation, as far as I was concerned.
And besides, the Sidis were the cooler, sexier brand, and were way (like double) more expensive.
So, in short, I was pretty sure that Specialized was going to take a drubbing, handing me one of those oh-so-rare-and-delicious “I told you so” moments.
You can already tell where this is going to wind up, can’t you?
Well, just in case you can’t, take a look at the shoes now that I’ve had them for about two riding seasons:
Yeah, the Specialized shoes look like they’ve been used a lot more, don’t they?
I’m surprised too. It’s because these shoes are used a lot more, by the way — not that they wear out fast.
The truth is, I was pretty good about switching between the shoes for about a month — long enough to realize that both brands of shoes are very good.
But while I like the way the Sidis look and fit, I simply love my Specialized BG Pro shoes.
And here’s why.
My previous pairs of Specialized shoes all self-destructed within a couple of seasons, which is a huge problem, considering how expensive cycling shoes are. But after a couple of seasons, here’s how this pair looks from the side:
And here’s the sole:
Obviously, these shoes are scuffed and dirty (and it’s high time I replace my cleats). If you look past those things, though, you’ll note that the shoes are completely intact. The mesh on the uppers is in great shape (in spite of the fact that I have not cared for them at all), and the soles are still intact. I can also tell you that the velcro still fastens securely and the ratchet on both shoes works flawlessly.
In other words, these shoes are in as good of shape after two seasons of a lot of riding as when I got them. Without my ever doing anything to take care of them.
And I have no reason to suspect they won’t be good for at least another season or two of lots of riding.
One thing I have never complained about — and in fact have praised, multiple times — is the Specialized “Body Geometry” system. Specialized has clearly spent a lot of time and money researching how feet fit in shoes.
As a result, my feet have never hurt when mountain biking this season. And that’s saying something, considering I have worn these shoes on some pretty long rides, including:
- The Kokopelli Trail
- The Leadville 100
- The Park City P2P
- Several hometown all-day epics
No hotspots. No aching arches. No soreness or blisters. Ever. My feet are the one part of my body that have never endured even a second’s worth of discomfort this riding season.
The fact is, once I put my shoes on, I never think about my feet the rest of the ride.
Which I think is about as high of praise as you can have for mountain bike shoes.
I’m now a big enough fan of Specialized shoes that last weekend I took The Runner out to a bike shop and bought her an equivalent pair of these shoes (but much, much smaller, because The Runner’s feet are dainty). I think that’s worth pointing out because while it’s one thing to like something that’s given to you for free, my endorsement might be more credible when you know that I am also willing to buy them at retail.
So, Specialized, we kind of took the long way ’round on this relationship, but I think it worked out pretty good for both of us in the end. You’ve won me back. I love you guys.
Now c’mon over here and give me a hug.