Specialized S-Works Trivent Review
article & images by Nick Salazar
Jun 27, 2012  hits 148,631

The flip-out heel is the calling card of the new S-Works Trivent, and makes it a dream for fast transitions.

It seems that many a tri company are starting to add shoes to their lineup of products. Many times, these are efforts to complete a product range rather than attempts to innovate. Specialized, on the other hand, is no stranger to making tri shoes. The original Trivent, launched nearly a decade ago, has been one of the most popular tri shoes on the market. In fact, the original Trivent has been my shoe of choice for about five years. I've always kept two pairs on hand. The first is my primary pair, used on a daily basis. The second pair is a backup, destined to replace the primary pair when it wears out, and it also gets double-duty as a test bed for pedals. Bike shoes tend to last a very long time, and in five years, I've kept those same two pairs. They haven't quit on me yet.

Although I've had the opportunity to test lots of other shoes, I usually shy away from doing so. I'd been so happy with the fit and features of the Trivent, that I just didn't want to mess with it. And besides, a large majority of the shoes on the market fall into one of two categories: a reverse-strap closure (which I really dislike), or shoes that basically clone the original Trivent.

Since its introduction, the Trivent has basically remained unchanged. Specialized recently introduced an X-Terra verison with mountain cleat holes, and the shoe has danced around at different price points with different sole materials. But from a cosumer perspective, nothing was really happening. And that's fine with me - if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

What consumers didn't know is that for the last three or four years, Specialized has furiously been developing the successor to its venerable kicks. And at last, it's here. The new S-Works Trivent takes the solid ergonomic platform of the original, and marries it to a radical new closure concept. It's completely new, but it's built on mature, refined BOA technology that's become so popular in the road shoe market.

The shoe is rounded out by a load of details that really make the overall package shine. A magnetic heel loop keeps the shoe open during transition, and integrated rubber band loops let you keep the shoe upright, making for an easy, super fast flying start. Despite the plush padding on the heel and forefoot areas, the shoe is very well ventilated, and the tongueless design keeps your foot cool and dry. The interior is seamless for sockless comfort. A tall, replaceable heel grip lets you walk around more comfortably, minimizing the awkward heels-down gait normally associated with cycling shoes.

In short, it's clear that the big S has been working on this shoe for a while, and they've really nailed it.

Back to the Drawing Board

The S-Works Trivent builds on the success of the original design, now close to a decade old.

In developing the S-Works Trivent, Specialized wanted to leverage the BOA closure system. BOA uses a small steel cable that laces through a shoe, and is then tightened or loosened via a racheting dial. The patented system is being used on a wide range of road shoes, from just about every major manufacturer. It's that good. So why hasn't it appeared on a tri shoe until now? Because it's not so easy to decide how it should be used on a tri shoe, or what it has to offer for a triathlete. Do you simply remove the tongue of your road shoe and add a heel loop? Lacing a bare steel cable on your feet probably isn't that comfortable. That's the biggest design problem Specialized had to tackle to develop the new shoe. And their solution is brilliant.

Instead of using the BOA to lace the shoe's upper, Specialized uses it to secure the shoe's heel. That way, the shoe can be left wide open in transition, and pulling on your shoe in transition will be more like donning a slipper than the frenzied experience you're used to.

Well, that was their plan, anyway. But how does it work? Hit the jump for our full review on the form, fit, and function of these next-gen shoes.

Tags » shoes,  specialized
  • It's been over three years in the making, but the Specialized S-Works Trivent was worth the wait. This is going to change how tri shoes are made.
  • Specialized reserves the S-Works name for its top-of-the-line products, and the new Trivent is certainly deserving of the moniker.
  • Not only is the S-Works Trivent the fastest shoe you can use for a flying transition, but it's also perhaps the most comfortable shoe out there due to the advanced BOA closure system.
  • Lots of open space in the upper keeps the shoe very breathable and cool.
  • The sole has little hash marks to help you keep track of your cleats, and make sure one side matches the other.
  • The Trivent sole is solid carbon fiber, drilled for three-hole cleats. No Speedplay-specific option, you have to use the adapter. And of course, Spez put on the obligatory drainage hole on the front of the shoe to keep your water-soaked feet from bogging the shoe down.
  • The very large heel loop is very easy to grab during a flying mount.
  • A small magnet on the heel loop keeps the 'Whale Tail' fixed in place when the shoe is wide open. There is an ENORMOUS amount of room to slip your foot in the shoe.  For those who like flying mounts, this is a dream come true. Personally, I've never been able to get my feet in right off the bat - it was always stomp down on the shoe, the once up to speed try to deal with the shoe.  Not any more - the S-Works Trivent changes everything.
  • With the integrated band loop, and the huge foot entryway, the S-Works Trivent is without a doubt the easiest tri shoe to use for a flying mount.
  • With so much room, you just point your does in the direction of the shoe, and they find their way inside. The heel loop helps you pull them all the way on, and then you dial in the tension. It is the easiest shoe I've ever used, and really is like putting on a slipper.
  • Just a couple quick turns of the BOA dial, and you're locked and loaded for the race. Specialized has a great video of Simon Whitfield doing a flying mount. I'm not nearly as good as him, but even without the ability to jump on the bike from a running start, the Trivent will improve transition times for just about anyone.
  • The heel closure opens the shoe so wide that you can't miss.  I keep saying it, but it's true: it comes on like a slipper. It's by far the easiest shoe to don in transition that I've ever used, and is one of the major draws of the shoe.
  • This shot gives you an idea of just how much room you get with the 'Whale Tail' wide open.  Yes, it really is like putting on a slipper.
  • Although it cinches around your Achilles tendon, the Trivent's BOA closure isn't irritating or bothersome. And because you can very precisely set your tension, even on the fly, it's easy to re-adjust in case you go a little too tight at first.
  • A top view of the shoe - can you see why I like calling it a 'Whale Tail'?
  • Specialized's shoes fit so well in part due to their extensive research on bio-mechanics.  They call their system 'Body Geometry' and part of it involves carefully-shaped foot beds, which can be ordered in several different sizes. Red is the standard (minimal) version, with Blue and Green versions each adding more arch support.
  • The brand new Specialized S-Works Trivent shoe.
  • The Trivent is Specialized's first triathlon shoe to use the popular BOA closure system, offering a precision fit on the fly.
  • Specialized took great care to mind the details on this shoe as well: an integrated rubber band loops lets the flying transition folk mount their shoes in place for a quick T1, and a tall heel grip makes it easy to walk in for people who prefer to put their shoes on first and then hop aboard.
  • Fear not, if you wear down that heel tread, it can be swapped out for a new one. It's one of many features that make this a long-lasting, future-proof shoe.
  • I love the sparse look of the shoes, and they're so comfortable that I never wear socks with them, even on training rides.
  • Out with the old, in with the new. The original Trivent, left, has been with me for about five years, but still looks great overall.  I expect to use the new model at least that long. It's simply brilliant.
  • The new Trivent, left, feels slightly more narrow up front, but even with my wide feet, it's comfortable.
  • Open and shut.

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