There is more to a pair of shoes than meets the eye. Shoes can become your best friends (or your worst enemy)and it can be a sad day when a faithful friend is finally ready for the trash. My Mavic Mtb shoes were given to me by the Mavic rep in 2010 as a way to tempt others into purchasing them. We have forged a great relationship over the last 8 years to the point where I was deliberately ignoring their weaknesses (as any good friend should). The Mavic Mtb shoe has had many years of abuse, pushing up some horrific climbs in the Peak District on the rockiest terrain, wet days out at the Cirencester off road duathlon, and most recently a few years hard graft as commuter shoes. These strains caused a number of issues which until recently I lovingly overlooked, even when their lack of tread saw me groaning on the floor of a packed Dubai breakfast restaurant in front of most of the cycling community. The day has finally come, the day you say “enough is enough” and reach for the shotgun, old yeller has to be put down, it for the best. Sob.
Equal in exact measure to the sorrow felt when shoes are discarded is the joy felt when a new pair are acquired. Welcome to the family my new Specialized RBX (Roubaix) sport road shoe. Retailing for £80 these were not the best equipped shoe on the market but a few features have me returning to Specialized shoes after a long hiatus. The main reason is Specialized use of the Varus wedge. The shoes base is tilted slightly outward (1.5mm to be exact) to stop the foot collapsing when you pedal, this stops the knee from twisting in unnatural ways. The second reason is that I have high arches and have noticed the benefit of supporting this with a BG fit SL insole. These insoles were a real game changer when I first tried them 6 years ago. The concept is that the insole fills the gap below your arch, meaning that when you push the pedal the whole foot is engaged as one solid force. The removal of foot flex means less pain, more power and better knee tracking. No more standing on a tennis ball for hours post ride ! Think of your poor foot flexing 5400 times in an hour and it’s no wonder you feel some pain. (The math is 90rpm x 60 minutes) Have you ever heard of a weight lifter doing 5400 reps Even with a light weight? The pain would be obvious in that instance but we as cyclists rarely think of it. Until, like me, you have a recurring knee pain and begin to realise that those old shoes could be causing a lot of damage.
Fit and forget
Any good bike shop that can sell these shoes should offer to measure your feet for the correct size shoe and insole to make sure you get the best from them. It’s beginning to be a very tech procedure. Having completed this, I fitted my cleats (MTB, Shimano SH-51, single release) using a tried and tested method for aligning them correctly (which I won’t go into here) and they are ready for the maiden voyage. Boring but important part! The SH-56 multi release clear which allows a pull in multiple directions to release the foot, feels indistinct and in my experience this leads to uncertainty. The firm feel of the SH-51 means that you are sure if your foot is in or out. A little practice and there is no difficulty getting out in a hurry.
The Specialized RBX sport is a mid level sport touring shoe (for MTB cleats) with velcro fastenings, it isn’t flashy or fancy but feels well made and looks high quality. The material is tough but flexible and moves well with my feet. There are lighter, more attractive and even more highly specced shoes on the market at this price point but only Specialized have thought this much about fit and peddling dynamics and it should pay dividends. The shoe will be used 5 days a week, 300 miles per month in ALL weather. I will update this blog in 3,6,9,12 months to see how the shoe is getting on as a working member of the family.