Specialized has been known to partner with a variety of graphic artists and designers, and the company has made it plainly clear that it’s not afraid of very bold colorways, occasionally with coordinated accessories to match. Now, a social media post by Los Angeles-based mural painter Michael Reeder suggests that we may be seeing a rather unconventional road shoe some time in the near future. Seemingly called the S-Works Sprint, the shoe appears to be aimed at criterium racers, sprinters, and anyone else that puts a premium on power transfer.
The general layout of the shoe is what’s most interesting here.
There’s a high-cut collar that wraps around the ankle, two center-mounted Boa dials affixed to what looks to be a semi-rigid cover over the tongue area, and no obvious openings or cut lines like what you’d find in a conventional shoe. Instead, the whole thing appears to fit on your foot like a sock. Providing support is an external heel counter — likely borrowed from the current S-Works 7 — along with what seems to be carbon fiber reinforcement that extends further forward along the lower edge of the shoe. Pull tabs on the front and rear of the collar should help riders get the shoe on and off.
Knit uppers are the latest trend in road shoes, but if Reeder’s illustrations are technically accurate, Specialized might not be hopping on the bandwagon just yet— at least not in the way other brands have done to date. Perforations are visible in the toe box and lower edge of the uppers, which suggests to me that Specialized will continue to use its current microfiber synthetic in those areas. The portion of the upper that goes around the ankle and instep area will obviously have to be made of a much stretchier material, however, so knit is a possibility here (although it still seems unlikely to me).
Specialized hasn’t made any announcements about the new shoe, and company representatives have dismissed the image to me as an “old project.” Reeder himself also notes in the comments on that Instagram post that the project didn’t come to fruition. However, it’s not clear if that’s in reference to the graphic design collaboration or the shoe itself.
So will this shoe actually see the light of day, or will all of this end up being nothing but empty speculation?
This feels to me like a genuine work-in-progress, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough.