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  • Writer's pictureMo Awesome

The Shoes That Let Me Down. (Specialized S-Works Recon Lace)

I am a creature of habit and am very resistant to change. When I find something I like, you can guarantee I will return to it time and time again. This applies all across my life, from food to clothing. I am not one to enjoy trying new foods and normally when my wife Hannah and I go out to eat, she knows exactly what I am going to order before I even look at the menu. When it comes to apparel, if I like how something fits, I will normally order a few sets of the same item knowing change is not the path I will likely choose. 

When I think about why this is, the simplest reasoning I have is I hate disappointment. I don’t like feeling like I either wasted my time, energy, or money when it comes to experiences. In regards to mountain bike gear, even though I love to test new products out, when it comes to my personal riding gear I know what I like and I rarely stray away from that for fear of disappointment. The new Specialized Recon Lace shoes unfortunately reinforce that mentality in me as they have greatly let me down. 

My favorite pair of clipless shoes in the world is the Specialized Sworks Recon shoes with BOA. I have owned about 5 pairs of these over the years and each time I put them on they feel exactly the same. They have never once let me down, and I have been able to enjoy the blend of comfort and stiffness every ride. The BOA system is amazing as is the carbon sole. In my opinion, they are truly the best pair of shoes on the market. 

So when I saw the same set with laces that Specialized claimed was identical, just in a more gravel friendly aesthetic, I strayed away from my stubborn mentality and ordered a set to replace my BOA Swork Recons. I was excited, thinking that this was less so trying something new, but rather a different look on a shoe that I loved. Unfortunately I was wrong. 

The shoes themselves look amazing, and I actually think I prefer the look over the BOA system. There is something more “gravel-y” about the lace setups and I love the hunter green look the shoes have. The fit is also amazing in the toe box region, and I might even say feel somewhat more comfortable than the traditional Recon when it comes to pressure on the top of the foot. The laces seem to distribute the pressure evenly where the BOA seems to have a slight more pressure where the cable crosses over the foot. 

However after a few rides I have come to the conclusion that these shoes are unusable for me.  The amount of pain the Swork Recon Laces have given in the lip area has made riding in them borderline dangerous and they seem to dig so much into my ankles to the point where I can barely walk in them on the trails when I need to hike up a short section. It seems like the lip is ever so slightly lower than the Sworks Recon BOA’s I have and combine that with the stiffer profile that doesn’t seem to break in and I have come to terms that these shoes are not for me. 

They are on clearance on the Specialized website for 50% off as well so maybe they have come to terms with that too.

So with that being said, I am back on my old Specialized Swork BOA Recons and am even more hesitant to “try something new”. 

-Mo Awesome


Jim Carolan
Jim Carolan

Excellent review and you nailed the pros and cons of these shoes—-I have owned the same pair for a few years. I also experienced the same issue with the stiffness and associated ankle pain in the “lip area”. I have also read other user reviews highlighting the same problem. I was able to resolve the issue by using a pair of pliers to repeatedly bend and “soften” the lip area. I had zero success resolving this issue by simply using the shoes and hoping that they would break in. After several, significant “softening” sessions with my pliers, I was able to dramatically reduce the stiffness of the lip area and I was able to ride relatively pain free. A…


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