Thursday, November 23, 2017

Specialized S-Works Trivent bike shoe

Earlier this year, I reviewed the ground-breaking Lake TX312 triathlon bike shoes, with their revolutionary drawbridge heel designed to facilitate a faster and easier exit from the bike (you can read the full review here).

It was only a matter of time until another manufacturer caught onto the idea, and indeed it was Specialized that recently launched their 2012 S-Works Trivent shoe.  The S-Works Trivent (the top of the three-shoe Trivent range) uses a Boa wire system to open and close a drawbridge heel, similar to the Lake TX312, but also goes a step further.

TriventWhereas the Lake shoe uses a conventional single-strap closure system familiar to most triathlon-specific bike shoes for entry (i.e. you enter the shoe with the heel in its closed position), the S-Works Trivent uses its Boa system to control both the heel AND the top strap.  As such, the S-Works Trivent is designed to be left on the bike with both the heel and top strap open, to aid a swift foot entry.  Once the foot is in, the rider can tighten both the top strap and heel with a single Boa dial.

To aid entry, the S-Works Trivent even features a neat little hook on the inside for an elastic band to hold the shoe in place on the bike in T1 (if you think about it, you need this hook as you can’t attach an elastic band to the dropped heel – it would kinda defeat the purpose!).  The result is a system that not only keeps your shoes right in place as you mount the bike, but also a nice wide entry aperture.

There is an upside and downside to the Boa system on the Trivent.  On the plus side, it does make getting into the shoe easier than the Lake TX312 (another issue I experienced on the Lake was that the soft material around the aperture would sometimes fold in on itself when inserting my feet – the rubberized material on the Trivent fares much better), but the downside is that once your foot is in, twisting the Boa dial 2-3 times to achieve the desired level of tightness ultimately takes longer than simply closing the single-strap system on the Lake shoe.

Fit
Once on and tightened, the Trivent is very comfortable – almost as good and secure a fit as a good quality road shoe.  I do notice when I’m pedaling a little too much with my toes (i.e. having a little too much of a toe down/heel up position on my foot), as the toe box can get a little cramped but the carbon sole is super stiff and you really do feel as if every watt is transferred to the pedals.

The Trivents are incredibly comfortable to ride sockless; it’s obvious Specialized have really put a lot of thought to the materials used to line the shoe (the heel is also much more padded than the Lake version, which again is more comfortable).

Exit
Coming into T2, the process of exiting the Trivent is very straightforward.  You simply pull the Boa dial out to release the tension in the wire system, the reach down to pull the heel drawbridge down (the Trivent heel is stiffer than the Lake, so while in the Lake shoe the heel drops down easily, the Trivent needs some help) and a couple of magnets hold it in the open position (the same position it was in for foot entry).  You can then simply pull your foot out and then pedal into T2 with your foot on top of the shoe (this is one area where the Lake wins, as the Boa dial on the Specialized is right under your foot when placed on top of the shoe).

Conclusion
I’ve raced the Trivent twice now (at the Bowood House duathlon and the world champs in Auckland) and the shoes worked perfectly each time.  I was actually surprised to see quite a few people using them in Auckland, so it’s clear I’m not the only one who likes them!

The Specialized S-Works Trivent is one heck of a shoe. But then for £250 it should be!  Specialized have taken a concept first proven by the Lake TX312 and improved upon it in many – but not all – areas.  Given both shoes are about the same price, I’ll be sticking with the Trivent, but it’s worth having a look at both if you can.  I wonder how long before a similar system is available in bright yellow from Mavic….?