When you first see the Specialized S-Works Trivents, the thing your eyes are immediately drawn to is the enclosure system, there is no other shoe on the market quite like it. But as we first found in our First Look article, and then spent the last month experiencing, when you ride the Trivents, what you really notice is their stiffness. For those triathletes looking to ensure that not a single watt is lost between your legs and the road, a stiff shoe is a must, and you will not find many shoes who can surpass these.
The S-Works Trivent
Specialized created a truly special product when they launched the revamped S-Works Trivent last year. From the super stiff, high modulus, unidirectional carbon sole to the unique Drawbridge mechanism featuring the BOA closure system; Specialized obviously put a great deal of thought and energy into creating a shoe for the world’s top triathletes.
The Drawbridge is the defining visual element of the shoe. With most tri-shoes, a rider needs to grab the heel loop of the shoes to get their feet in, but with the Trivents, the top half of the heel folds back and you slide them on like a pair of comfy slippers. Once your feet are in the shoe, a few turns of the BOA rotary dial and your feet are snug and secure. To make things easier Specialized included a magnet in the heel loop that holds the heel open until your feet are secured.
For those intending to perform a flying mount, the Trivents include a “Launch Clip” on the inside of the shoe to attach the rubber band to. Just another little detail that was very much thought out by the good people at Specialized.
Riding the Trivents
Our first piece of advice with these shoes is to not even bother trying to wear them with socks, they are just not meant to be worn that way. When Specialized designed these shoes, it seems obvious they expected their riders to go sockless. To that end they included a smooth internal lining, and an open tongue for breathability. The upside is that they are incredibly comfortable when you choose to leave the socks at home, even after a full century we had hardly a complaint. The downside is that if you are a rider that likes to wear socks on training rides, these may not be the shoes for you. (But try them on for yourselves at the shop with and without socks to get a feel).
The S-Works Trivents are unique as the only triathlon specific shoe with the BOA enclosure system. The BOA system lets you make very small increments to tightness which is a welcome change to make adjustments with a single Velcro strap. How many times have you thought, if I could just make my shoes a smidge tighter they would be perfect, but you knew that the minute you loosened the strap your fit would be completely off. With BOA you can tighten one click at a time to get the perfect level of snugness.
But, as we mentioned from the beginning, the thing you really notice with the shoes is the stiffness. In fact you may be a little surprised by the amount of power these shoes are going to transfer, especially if this is an upgrade over an entry level pair of shoes. A stiffer shoe is going to help you transfer power better than a shoe with some flex, and these shoes are some of the stiffest we have come across. For that reason alone, these are shoes worth making an upgrade for.
Our big concern (and a concern of many of our readers) was whether the hinged heel would compromise our ability to get out of the saddle and climb. Would your feet stay securely fastened or would the heel give way letting your foot fly out. After a couple trips to the one hill in south Florida we can say that they can climb with no issue. In fact we completely forgot about the Drawbridge as we got out of the saddle and kicked up the hill. This is also another time you notice the stiffness of the shoe, where other shoes would give just a bit when putting the power down, the Trivents stay completely rigid.
The Flying Mount
When you see the Trivents, your mind immediately leaps to the vision of you completing the perfect flying mount. Here is a shoe that was built from the ground up to be easy to get on (and off) while pedaling out of transition, so obviously our test plan included transition practice to see how well they really performed.
For the mount we immediately noticed the genius of the arch mounted launch clip. While on most shoes, this would be a small feature, on the Trivents with their magnetically affixed heel loop, the launch clip provides the perfect method for affixing the shoe to the frame. Once we got onto the bike we found we were able to slide our feet into the shoe almost immediately versus having to spend a large amount of time with our feet on top of the shoe.
With our foot in the shoe we did find what we felt to be the one downfall of the BOA enclosure, it felt slower and more awkward than a standard Velcro system. Reaching over to spin the rotary knob just never became comfortable to us and seemed to taking longer, especially with our left shoe (Mike who did the testing is a righty). Now with continued use and practice this could and would probably change but over the course of a one month review it was the one negative we found.
On the other hand, the BOA\Drawbridge system really excels when finishing the ride and heading into T2 for the dismount. When the BOA system is disengaged (by popping the rotary closure out), the Drawbridge becomes completely loose and you can easily slide your foot out (with just a bit of help from your hands). This allowed us to keep our feet inside the shoes just a bit longer since we didn’t have to reach down and spend any amount of time working the foot out of the shoe.
Going back to the mount, we do believe that Specialized can further innovate for the next generation of Trivent; if they were to make the BOA system spring loaded, when tightening the shoe, you might be able to flick a simple switch and have the shoe tighten around your foot. This would truly turn the Trivent into slippers and would lead to a definite time savings.
The S-Works Trivent is a pro level shoe at a pro level price ($400). But for that price you get a shoe that is not only made specifically for triathletes, but one of the stiffest shoes out there. While we did find a small issue with the rotary dial at T1, this is very much outweighed by all the other benefits the shoe has. In fact the biggest issue with the shoes we really had was the color. We prefer products either in AG colors (green and blue) or in jet black. Unfortunately for us the Trivents only come in bright red and white (and the white easily gets dirty). However when it comes to products, once we start nit picking the colors you know we do not have many negative things to say. For those looking to save every second they can in transition with a shoe that will transmit every watt they produce, they need not look farther that the S-Works Trivents.