Specialized gives its S-Works Recon and Recon lace-up shoes a gravel race and adventure overhaul

New Specialized S-Works Recon and Recon ADV
(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized has released two new shoes which reshuffle the brand top of the range shoes giving them a new gravel focus. The new shoes cater to both ends of the gravel spectrum, at one end there is the S-Works Recon which is aimed at gravel racing while the new Recon ADV is a lace-up shoe with added walkability for more adventurous gravel riding in mind.

New Specialized S-Works Recon 

New Specialized S-Works Recon

S-Works Recon is marketed toward drop-bar off-road racing (Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized has been slowly gravelizing their Recon range and the new gravel-focused S-Works Recon is specifically marketed toward drop-bar off-road racing. Despite the outgoing S-Works Recon already being one of the best gravel shoes, there have been some significant changes to make the new shoe sleeker, lighter, stiffer, and more comfortable.

The most obvious is that the shoes no longer have a velcro strap, instead, they just use the two Boa's which have been repositioned for a better fit. This also gives the shoe a far more drop bar look, as it shares aesthetical similarities with Specialized's road shoes.

The last still revolves around Specialized's Body Geometry concept and uses an insole to influence the Varus Wedge, a Longitudinal Arch, and Metatarsal Button for optimal foot placement. That said, Specialized has made the toe box 4mm wider than the standard width (8mm wider than S-Works Recon Mountain Bike Shoes).

New Specialized S-Works Recon

The new Internal I-Beam adds stiffness and strength (Image credit: Specialized)

Underneath there is a new Internal I-Beam that adds stiffness and strength, Specialized says that this additional bracing allows Specialized to make a lighter shoe without sacrificing stiffness. There are new pontoons too, which are more slimline and no longer feature studs on the toes. Specialized will also offer new shims (3mm, 6mm, and 9mm) to allow riders to tune their pedal interface which could improve efficiency.

The previous generation of the S-Works Recon was a very popular shoe with top-level cross-country racers. Despite the new gravel focus, it appears the new S-Work Recon shoes still have what it takes to take on the challenges of XC as the shoes were being worn in recent spy shots of yet-to-be-announced new Epic during an early season Spanish cross-country race in Banyolesin.

New Specialized Recon ADV 

New Specialized Recon ADV

The S-Works Recon Lace has a casual lace-up vibe (Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized previously released an S-Works Recon Lace, and while it was a good shoe its casual lace-up vibe was at odds with the super stiff race sole. The new Recon ADV appears to address the confused personality, combining a lace-up closure with the Stride toe-flex technology which has previously featured in the Specialized Recon 3. The Stride sole introduces a flex zone in the sole to aid walkability while still achieving a good level of pedaling stiffness. Specialized has been generous with its SlipNot rubber to add more grip when walking.

A TPU mudguard offers protection from stone strikes while riding or scuffs when walking and Specialized says the laser perforated upper has microfiber backing for better moisture management and a supple feeling.

New Specialized Recon ADV sole

Specialized has been generous with its SlipNot rubber to add more grip (Image credit: Specialized)

The S-Works Recon's will be available in, black, white, off-white, turquoise, on-trend olive green, and a bright red option. There are fewer color choices for the Recon ADV's, coming in either black, purple, or beige options.

The S-Works Recon will retail at $450 / £385 / AUD625 while the Recon ADV will retail at $225 / £200 / AUD350. Both shoes are available in sizes 36-49, with half sizes available throughout the majority of the size range.

Graham Cottingham
Senior reviews writer, Bike Perfect

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road, based in Edinburgh he has some of the best mountain biking and gravel riding in the UK on his doorstep. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro, and gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotland's wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes, or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect.

Rides: Cotic SolarisMax, Stooge MK4, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg