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Specialized’s featherweight Sub6 kicks feel more like slippers than cycling shoes. Thin, supple synthetic upper material wraps around each curve of the foot, hugging it for a secure fit. While this flexible material feels comfortable, it collapses in on itself when sliding our foot into the shoe. Loosening up the laces helps streamline this process but the laces don’t have much give, so we spent a fair amount of time lacing and unlacing with each ride.
The lace-up design combines classic cycling style with optimal fit adjustment. Tightening or loosening the laces changes the fit dramatically from tight racers to a more relaxed training fit. But they do take more time and adjustments to get the fit right compared to a Boa closure system.
Laces also create a smooth surface over the top of the foot, which in theory helps with aerodynamics, although we haven’t taken them to the wind tunnel to confirm it. For added aerodynamic help, Specialized includes a Warp Sleeve lace cover that fits over the front of the shoe.
Small perforations along the uppers and large vents in the soles increase airflow throughout the shoes for exceptional ventilation. They let so much air in that our feet actually got cold during cool spring rides. But as soon as the weather heated up, we were happy to have the vents to keep our feet cool.
The shoes have a glove-like fit from the heel through the forefoot, but they dramatically expand at the toe box. Riders with wider feet will likely find this plenty comfortable, but the narrow-footed among us might find the extra space unsupportive.
Specialized designed the Sub6 around its stiffest and lightest carbon sole, offering impressive power transfer. In sprints, we felt like every bit of power went straight into the pedals. For longer rides, the extreme stiffness took some getting used to.