The updated Specialized TriVent BG is the new iteration of what, in our store, is the best selling triathlon cycling shoe on the market, and not without reason.
It's an attractive shoe and at $170 reasonable priced. Impossible to miss is the big Velcro strap closure. This strap's closure mechanism functions nicely for those who have their shoes already attached to the pedals in T1. The Velcro strap is quite unlikely to get stuck in your chain if it remains open during the first several hundred meters.
The toe box is comfortable and is certainly a blessing for those riding with custom insoles or wide feet. There is plenty of room there. Very un-Italian. There's some forefoot adjustability with the second, smaller, Velcro strap.
When the shoe is latched down you will see that there is still a fair bit of room between the toes and the upper. In hot weather this can be nice but make sure to bring some toe covers to your race when you need to start early, or when you can expect lower temperatures.
While cycling the shoe functions great, but there is one small issue I have. If you are like me and your feet are high-arched feet the big Velcro strap can chafe your skin on top of your feet. Despite neoprene on the inside surface of the straps I had a little chafing during a four-hour ride. This may not be typical, rather might be a function of my arch profile.
If this concerns you, I suggest making an arrangement with your retailer so that you can test ride them once before you commit.
The carbon/glassfiber reinforced outsole is stiff and responsive. It's made with the standard 3-bolt cleat pattern and holds Look, Shimano SL, Time and Speedplay cleats.
Note the letters BG in the shoe's name. They stand for Body Geometry. This means in this case that the shoe is not completely flat (in the transverse plane, side to side) when you're clicked in. The TriVents are made so that when you're in your pedals the shoes are inclined on the medial side 1.5mm. Specialized did this because about 60 percent of all people (says Specialized) have a varus forefoot.
If you are not a cyclist needing a varus lift, the TriVent is just the opposite of what you would need and can cause you knee or feet problems. You can neutralize the varus tilt in the shoe by placing valgus wedges in the shoe, but a better option is just to choose a different model. In any case if you are going to buy the TriVent you need to make sure that you have the right foot type to ride this shoe.
In most cycling shoe models you're treated to non-supportive flat insoles. Specialized puts its BG insoles in the shoes, and these have a standard (which is in fact a pretty robust) arch support as well as a metatarsal button to give some forefoot support. If you want a higher arch support you can buy another insole from the BG collection and replace the standard one. But even the standard insoles are of great quality.
There is just one little thing missing with the shoe. For those who value a fast transition there is no heel loop as you see in most other models. This should be something Specialized adds when they update the model.
Overall this is a great value shoe, and they also make a distinct women's version—something you don’t see very often.
[Editor’s note: Our capable editor-at-large for footwear Jeroen van Geelen owns Total Running, one of the more important running and triathlon retail establishments in The Netherlands.]