2012 Specialized Defroster Winter Shoes
My 2012 Specialized Defroster winter shoes turned up today. There isn't a great deal of information about these and they're quite rare so I thought I'd post some initial comments and pictures.
Marked sizing is a little odd. My shoes are a EU size 43 but then the Defroster shoe box says UK size 8.6 / US size 9.6 for some reason. This inconsistency is something to bear in mind when choosing your size. The insole of the EU size 43 Defroster shoe is exactly the same size as my EU size 43 (UK size 9 / US size 10) Specialized BG Expert MTB shoes though. The shoes fit around the same as well. It might be down to the thicker liner perhaps but then you'd expect the EU size for the shoe to vary also?
One big change is that the older Defroster shoe had a one piece neoprene sock liner inside the shoe whilst the 2012 Defroster shoe uses a split inner instead. Without the one piece sock liner it means that the 2012 shoe is going to be a bit more vulnerable to water running down your shin and straight into the shoe. The benefit is that it's easier to get the shoes on and off. The shoe is lined with a padded fabric marked as waterproof inside.
The other major change is the single Boa ratchet closure on the 2012 shoe compared to the double velcro closure on the older shoes. The Boa wire is looped all the way down the shoe and is the only closure mechanism. The velcro outer part of the shoe is just a cover to keep water off. This is the first pair of shoes I've had with a Boa ratchet closure. In order to tighten the shoe you turn the dial clockwise in small increments. In order to loosen the shoe you pull the dial outwards which disengages the ratchet. That isn't as easy as it sounds, especially when the shoe cover is hooked over the dial. Your shoe is undone completely until you push the Boa dial back in. It makes small tightness adjustments harder than you'd think. Compared to other cycling shoe ratchet closures it's not something you'd want to adjust regularly whilst riding.
It's also a bit tricky to get the shoe fastened properly - you have to pull the lower wire sections tight by hand then turn the Boa fastener to finish getting the shoe on. The drawback of a single closure is that the tightness of the shoe appears to be lacking a little over the lower portion of the foot. The wires are tightest up by the Boa fastener and not as tight lower down. If you crank down the boa fastener it just digs into the top of your foot, rather than tightening the lower section of the shoe any more. The strap around the ankle is largely cosmetic.
The sole of the shoe is the standard Specialized MTB plastic sole (the same as the one used on the Specialized Sport and Comp MTB shoes). Unlike the older Defroster shoes the 2012 shoe doesn't have toe stud drillings in the sole or any toe studs included. Compared to the carbon sole of a Specialized BG Expert MTB shoe it seems a little soft so I'm hoping I won't get any hot spots from the SPD pedals whilst riding. That additional sole stiffness is one of the things I've really liked about the Specialized BG Expert MTB shoes.
I'm hopefully going to be able to try the Defroster shoes out on the bike tomorrow.
Pictured below: 2012 Specialized Defroster shoe detail.
1. The upper has no mesh vents and a cover that hooks over the Boa ratchet closure.
2. The single Boa fastener wire runs down the entire shoe.
3. The inside of the shoe is lined with a padded fabric and marked waterproof
4. The sole is the standard plastic Specialized MTB shoe and doesn't have any toe stud drillings
Last edited by WR304; 12-19-2011 at 03:15 PM.
Very nice shoe, wish they weren't sold out.
Thank you for the helpful review.
I only made it to just outside the house before having to change shoes yesterday. I'm using Shimano XTR M985 Trail SPD pedals at the moment. I tried to clip into the SPD pedals but couldn't even get the pedal bindings to engage. The problem being that the tread lugs on the Specialized Defroster shoes were too tall. That meant the SPD cleat was recessed about 3mm below the shoe tread stopping it from being able to clip into the pedal.
That evening I fixed the problem by cutting down the shoe's tread until the SPD cleat was level with the top of the shoe tread, allowing the cleat to clip into the pedal fully. The shoe tread is quite hard so I used a hacksaw then smoothed it down with a needle file afterwards.
I finally managed to get out for a ride in the new shoes today. My feet were nice and warm all ride. It wasn't particularly cold so not a great test of the shoes thermal properties though. Worn with the same winter socks the Size 43 Specialized Defroster shoes are definitely a bit smaller than my Size 43 Specialized BG Expert MTB shoes. The Specialized Defroster shoes are narrower across the toe box and a little tighter in general.
The problem with cycling shoes is that you never really know what they'll be like until you ride in them. My foot felt secure whilst riding in the Specialized Defroster shoes and didn't seem to be slopping around at all. For the first hour the shoes seemed fine but then as the ride progressed further I started to notice some discomfort, closely related to how hard I was pedalling.
At 150 watts or so (easy riding) the shoes were fine, no problems at all.
At 200 watts plus (trying harder and pushing down fairly hard on the pedals) there was a disconcerting sensation of something rubbing across the tendons on the top of my foot, as though the tendons were being played like a violin (in the area 1cm or so above the big toe with the focus being on the big toe tendon itself). This sensation was only during the power phase of the downstroke. The tendons where the rubbing was are still sore 10 hours later.
At 300 watts plus (trying hard and pushing down very hard on the pedals) the shoes plastic soles were clearly hot spotting under the SPD cleats. The ball of my foot was hurting at that point and already causing discomfort by the end of the 2 hour ride.
Looking inside the shoes post ride I think that the rubbing sensation was from the lower section of Boa lace. The shoe upper is quite flexible and the lower section of Boa lace can't be tightened fully. As I pushed down harder on the pedals I think that the shoe upper and possibly the sole was flexing, pulling the Boa lace tighter through its guides momentarily and then loosening again, causing the lower section of hard plastic lace to move up and down on the shoe's tongue. I'm not sure what you can do about that. It might be possible to get the shoe's laces fastened tighter but it already seemed tight today. You have to rely on pulling the plastic lace through the multiple loops by hand. I'm going to really try and get the lower Boa lace section as tight as I can next time though.
The hot spots under the SPD cleats reminded me why when I've had plastic soled MTB shoes in the past I always ended up using them with larger platform style SPD pedals to spread the pressure over a wider area (Shimano DX and Shimano M545 pedals) because they were never comfortable for long with the smaller SPD pedals. I don't particularly want to swap out my current pedals but that's going to be the obvious fix for the SPD cleat hot spots.
Here's a picture showing which parts of the sole had to be cut down for the SPD pedals to be able to engage with the cleats. As standard the SPD cleat was recessed too deeply. The tyre glued to the shoe sole is so that when you ride clipped out on top of SPD pedals your feet don't slip around.
Last edited by WR304; 01-06-2012 at 01:59 PM.
I have ordered mine thru my local dealer in NC. His information is that they will be available in January.
I'm not having much luck with these shoes. After trying them again today I think that's probably it. If I keep riding in them it's only going to injure my feet. The top of my foot is a mess after just two rides.
It's a combination of three things: the flexible plastic sole, soft and flexible shoe upper and the single Boa ratchet closure which is unable to maintain an even tension on the lower section of the long lace. I spent ages trying to get the Boa laces tighter today before riding but the lower section of lace will only go so tight. When pedalling the whole shoe ends up flexing and twisting under heavy pedalling load, causing the lower laces to move around and rub along the top of the foot. On the Specialized site they have a stiffness index of "5" for the plastic sole of the Defroster shoe, compared to "9/10" for the carbon soled MTB shoes and it shows.
Specialized Defroster shoe "5" sole stiffness index
Specialized Bicycle Components : Defroster MTB
Specialized BG Expert shoe "9" sole stiffness index
Specialized Bicycle Components : Expert MTB
Because the foot is so sore it's quite easy to identify exactly where the problem area of the shoe is. The inside set of cable guides on the Specialized Defroster shoe are positioned directly over the big toe tendon as it runs up the foot. The lower two sets of guides are where the Boa laces aren't fully tight. When the shoe flexes the lower laces are pulling tight then loosening, over and over again.
I've attached a picture below with the cover pulled back to show the lower cable guides of the shoe. The problem area is highlighted in the green box. This picture is taken with my foot in the shoe and the boa laces fully tightened. You can see from the picture that even in a static position the upper laces are visibly tighter than the lower laces. Note how the upper laces closest to the Boa ratchet closure are digging into the tongue of the shoe whilst the lower laces in the green highlighted section are only lightly resting on top of the tongue.
If you compare the lacing layout of the Specialized Defroster shoe (one Boa lace for the entire shoe) with a Specialized S-Works shoe (two Boa laces and a velcro strap) the S-Works shoe only uses short lengths of Boa lace. It doesn't use the loops through additional cable guides that the Specialized Defroster shoe has. That's the same sort of layout that the Defroster shoe could do with. If the Defroster shoe had multiple Boa ratchets and short laces, allowing you to tighten the shoe properly over the mid and lower foot, then it would eliminate the lace flexing issue.
Pictured below: Specialized Defroster shoe with the problem area highlighted. The picture also shows how the tension of the Boa lace reduces further away from the upper ratchet closure mechanism. The lower section of lace loosens and tightens over the top of the foot as the shoe flexes.
Specialized S-Works shoe for comparison showing how it uses short runs of Boa lace with multiple ratchet closures, a better layout as the short laces without multiple loops will have a more even tension and also hold the lower section of foot in place more securely.
Last edited by WR304; 12-22-2011 at 04:48 PM.
I have my 2012 S-Works MTB shoes for two days now.
Using them on my road bike, (My second road bike has Shimano SPD) I do not have any complaints at all.
Having said that, even two Boa straps aren't as easy and comfortable as three buckle and loop and my Expert Road shoes.
Seems like Boa creates more problem that it solves. I was going to get these pairs for the cyclocross season but I have to give it some more thought now.
What did you end up doing with these shoes? I was actually looking at reviews of the shoe from google images and it linked backed to mtbr.
Originally Posted by WR304
The Specialized Defroster shoes are sitting packed away in a box in the other room.
I only wore them twice. I went back to wearing my previous cycling shoes with overshoes instead. My feet weren't as warm but the foot pain went away which is what mattered.
Thanks for the update.
Originally Posted by WR304
I remember reading this thread about the same shoe from this November and it seemed the comments were positive. There wasn't any mention of discomfort or the cleat height difference that you had.
OK, so I am at my LBS looking at shoes and..
Thanks for the review. Sounds like a disaster:
1. Have to cut the sole to make it work with a popular cleat/pedal combo.
2. They hurt your feet.
I'll steer clear - appreciate the warning here WR304.
A different opinion
Hold on there a second. Steering clear of a shoe because they hurt one rider's feet might be a bit hasty. Feet are as different as the people wearing them. Shoes, shorts and saddles... hardest things to judge how you will like them based on other people's experience. Ya basically gotta try em out and see what works. Not easy I know, given the price and that these aren't available everywhere to just try on.
Originally Posted by phlegm
My experience with Defrosters has been the opposite of the OP. I bought a pair a few weeks ago and have been riding them nearly every ride since (cept for warmer days of course). So far I'm loving them. I have a wide forefoot and a narrow heel, but these shoes fit me just fine. Maybe it's because I have a wider forefoot that the single ratchet works for me. I feel no pressure points anywhere on my feet. With a narrow heel, my feet tend to slide around in many shoes, and I find the ankle straps on the Defrosters are terrific - not at all "cosmetic". I can get a nice snug feel that stabilizes my heel better than other shoes I've worn, but without cutting off circulation.
As for performance, the shoes have felt toasty warm with wool socks down as low as 26 degrees, so far. I would estimate they will still feel warm down into the teens and maybe single digits without needing additional sock layers. Way better than pulling my old Performancebike neoprene booties on over regular shoes, and those were pretty darned good.
I also know a few other guys that wear the same shoe and love them. The only complaint I've heard is one friend who says they fit him great but they are actually too warm for his tastes.
As for the pedals, there may be something unique about the M985 model, but these shoes are not a problem with the entire SPD line. I use M785s on my main bike and other SPD pedals on two other bikes and have no problems clipping in to any of them.
If you are using the exact same M985 pedal, then maybe look elsewhere, but otherwise I'd try actually clipping in the shoes before dismissing them. Either that or just make the same simple modification of filing the tread down if they otherwise fit great and you like them.
Hope this helps, and that ya have good luck finding something that works for ya.
It’s always best to take in a wide range of opinions rather than relying on one persons word, whether they like the product or not. Check out other sites and the thread thatdrewguy linked to.
Originally Posted by phlegm
I've been on rides with quite large groups and seen half or more of the riders wearing these shoes. They’re not some obscure product with issues, there’s a lot of people wearing these without any problems in some parts of the world. I've had no issues and they’re by far the best fitting and most comfortable shoes I've had, on or off the bike.
By way of followup, I was in the LBS this afternoon and I took a look at a set of M985 pedals (XTRs). I can see why the Defrosters have a fit problem with them. Those things are much wider than the XTs. I'm surprised other shoe brand/models don't have the same issue.
I have a pair of the defrosters. I have had the same problem clipping in but the other guys I ride with all have these shoes and no issues. The bottom of the shoe looks just like my other Spec MTB shoes and the cleat height looks the same also. I did notice the cleats on the Defrosters are a different shape on the front. I think I'll take a grinder after the front of the cleat and see if that helps. As far as comfort I have not had an issue.
If the path ahead looks dangerous ------- it probably is!
I have a pair and I rate them 5 stars period end of sentence.
Thx for all the input folks - love the shoe passion. Agreed that shoe preference is very personal, as is saddle choice.
I do run the same pedals as the OP, so these are a no-go for me regardless. I'm looking at the Shimano MW81s at this point which have been rated well and use Gore-Tex.
I have had the new Defroster shoes for about 10 wet rides now and I have to say they are some of the best shoes I've ever used. I'm running XT trails pedals with them and I have had zero issues. I love getting home after a wet ride and finding dry socks under the shoes!
I'd give them a 9/10 for fit, warmth, comfort, looks and my only complaint would be the cost.
I use spesh shoes for MTB and road as I like the fit. Do you guys run the same size as regular shoes or go up a size for sock space?
What exactly is a rigid hard tail?
I have a size 42 for my plain old Spesh Comp MTB shoes (which are now three years old and holding up great, BTW). I wear these shoes in three seasons. I wear wool socks year round due to frequent water crossings where I ride. I choose thinner and lighter ones in summer and thick wooly bullies in cooler temps. With the heavy socks, the 42 shoes are a bit snug, but still OK.
Originally Posted by Stuart B
For the Defrosters I got a 43, pretty much because that's the only size they had in stock and I didn't feel like waiting to order. My logic was that I will always wear thicker socks with the winter shoes. Ideally, I would have ordered a 42.5. On the plus side, with a 43 I now have the option of pulling on an even heavier neoprene sock over my wool socks, which I could not do with the smaller size. Also, a little bit of space makes sure you don't cut off circulation.
Summing up: If you plan to consistently wear thin socks with summer shoes and heavy socks (or multiple layers) with winter shoes, it would probably be good to go at least a half size up. If you wear the same heavy socks in your summer shoes that you'll wear in the Defrosters, you'll probably be just fine going with the same size.
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
I usually wear thin cycling socks with my regular shoes. I can cope with normal socks, but they are probably a bit on the tight side for when its cool, so so far have stuck with thin socks even if its cool. I have actually found a site that doesn't have my normal 44, but they are cheaper...so will order some 45 for some extra space for warmer socks .
What exactly is a rigid hard tail?
I run EU size 45's in my Spec mtn bike shoes and also the Defrosters. I did a ride last week with 2 pairs of socks in the defrosters no problem, 30 degrees.
If the path ahead looks dangerous ------- it probably is!
tired on the defrosters did like the fit or the BOA
returned them and got the mavic drifter
broke though ice with drifters on foot dropped into a 8" puddle
foot stayed dry!
The MW81s are nice. Been using them for the last month. I'm a 42 Mega in the SIDI Dominator and bought a 43 in the MW81s and they fit perfectly with a thick wool and thin summer sock with wiggle room left. I've been using them with just a thick wool sock and have kept me warm for up to 2 hours (35 degrees) on the trail. Highly recommend as an alternative to the Defroster.
Originally Posted by phlegm
'14 Specialized Epic Expert World Cup
'15 Niner RLT9 105
'15 Cervelo R2, Enve 3.4 w/CK R45
Thx RC. I'll probably do a review of the MW81s once I get them. I still think the Defrosters look "cooler" though, no pun intended.
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