Specialized turns up the midrange with new Propero helmet and Torch shoes

While the regular Specialized-branded road shoe range has been redesigned to toe the S-Works line, a unique new helmet combines the best features of two S-Works models but is much more affordable

Specialized has a head-to-toe restructuring and expansion of its apparel range in the pipeline and is set to release all the details shortly, but first of all it’s focusing on the heads and the toes themselves with an all-new Propero helmet and Torch shoes.


Specialized’s Propero helmet was until now a midrange, more affordable version of the S-Works Prevail. Plenty of features were trickled down, as is always the way with the lower-priced equipment, but the Propero 3 was almost visually identical to the S-Works Prevail 2 and it didn’t actually offer any new tech in its own right. That’s all changed with the Propero 4.

Although it’s still priced considerably lower than the two S-Works helmets, the Prevail 3 and the Evade 3, the new Propero 4 is designed to offer the advantages of both – the ventilation of the former and the aerodynamics of the latter – in a brand new, unique design.

Specialized has an equation for speed that it says it has applied to the creation of the Propero 4: Aerodynamics + Ventilation + Lightweight = Fast. It doesn’t seem like such a long time ago that the Californian brand was proclaiming ‘aero is everything’, but who wouldn’t forgive them that the other two have snuck in more recently?

Specialized’s helmets (and shoes) are tried and tested in the pro peloton – it sponsors four teams in the men’s and women’s WorldTours – but it has concluded that the everyday rider would be better off with one lid to rule them all. Unlike pro racers, most people don’t choose between ‘aero’ or ‘vented’ depending on the season or the parcours. So the Propero 4 does both with seemingly very few compromises.

Propero helmet

According to Specialized, it is Win Tunnel validated to be four watts faster than the S-Works Prevail 3, which equates to 15 seconds faster over 40 kilometres at 45kph.

Specialized says it drew inspiration from the leading edge of the S-Works Evade 3 and pulled the aerodynamic engineering directly into the Propero 4. The layout of the vents is similar but the shapes are slightly different and the Propero 4 includes two more than the Evade 3 at the sides. The overall aesthetic is more mainstream especially at the rear, which is more rounded with standard exhaust ports compared to the abruptly squared off shape of the Evade 3 with its rear diffuser.

There’s no rear diffuser but Specialized says it created a new way of increasing air flow, which makes its debut in the Propero 4, called Micro Channeling. This uses small 2mm offset micro-channels in the helmet’s interior that create turbulence in order to create a continuous, refreshing flow of air. According to Specialized, Micro Channeling takes inspiration from a tumble dryer: just as your clothes spin around, ensuring every fibre gets fully dry, Micro Channeling ensures that all the air within the helmet is working to constantly pull in cool air and expel hot air, creating a cooler ride.

What doesn’t the Propero 4 have that its S-Works counterparts have? It comes with Mips, as all Specialized helmets now do, but it has the C-Solution Evolve Core version of the slip liner, which is heavier and not as integrated as the S-Works helmets’ Mips Air Node. However, the Propero 4 gets the same five-star rating from Virginia Tech for its performance in crash testing; it also uses 10mm webbing straps with the Tri-Fix buckles and the Occipital Base Adjustment system for the cradle.

The weight of the medium Propero 4 is a claimed 290g (our test sample weighs 296g) compared to the S-Works Evade 3’s 270g. But apart from that, it has the look and feel of a flagship lid.

The SRP of the Propero 4 is £165 compared to £250 for the S-Works helmets. Watch this space for our full review, but at first glance this looks like an impressive all-rounder lid at a competitive price. Could we see an S-Works Propero in the future, like Specialized did with the Torch shoe?


Unlike the Propero 4, which was described by Specialized at its presentation as the ‘lovechild’ of the S-Works Prevail and Evade, the two new shoe models look at face value more like a case of straightforward trickle-down from a single model – the S-Works Torch – than any, erm, mating of multiple designs.

When it launched in 2022, much was made of the S-Works Torch being wider than the outgoing S-Works 7 road shoe. Up until that point, narrow and tight was universally regarded as being faster for racers, while wider and comfortable was for those pedalling at a more leisurely pace. That meant expensive shoes were narrow and wide ones were cheap.

So while you might say the wider S-Works Torch democratised cycling shoe fit, it has also come in handy now that Specialized has redesigned the Torch models directly below in the range, the 3.0 and 2.0: they both already had the same wider fit as the S-Works Torch, which is now a big selling point.

However, what they didn’t have was the S-Works Torch’s strapping alignment – the more angled Boa cables that are designed to pull the foot more into the heel cup instead of ratcheting it down towards an unyielding carbon sole. So both have received redesigned seamless uppers with the latest asymmetric heel cup and both are designed in accordance with Specialized’s Body Geometry principles with its three pillars of podiatric wisdom – the Varus Wedge, Metatarsal Button and Longitudinal Arch.

The Torch 3.0 is very similar to the S-Works Torch in form and function, but as you’d expect the materials used are not quite as high end and the weight is a bit higher. It has two Boa Li2s instead of the shiny alloy S3s of the S-Works, but some might prefer Li2s since they pop up to release, whereas S3s can only unwind.

Tourch 3.0

There’s a unidirectional carbon sole or ‘base plate’  that’s the same shape as the S-Works version. The TPU upper with its laser perforations is visually very similar though it doesn’t include the subtle ‘zonal reinforcements.

Its claimed weight is 288g for a size 42 (compared to 225g for the S-Works). However, with a list price of £210 it saves a huge chunk of money over the £350 for the flagship Torches. Personally I love the S-Works Torches – I found them an absolute revelation and will never go back to narrow and tight cycling shoes – and am intrigued to find out how well the Torch 3.0s perform. Watch this space for my review.

Meanwhile, the Torch 2.0 offers the same wide fit and asymmetric heel cup but keeps a lower Velcro strap and single Boa Li2 dial. It has a full woven carbon sole (rather than unidirectional) and looks like pretty good value at £165 – especially as the claimed weight of 268g makes it lighter than than the more expensive 3.0. For weight weenies on a budget, we checked this with Specialized and it’s not a typo.

The entry-level Torch 1.0 (£99.99) hasn’t been updated with the 2.0 and 3.0.

For more information, go to the Specialized website.

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