I’m a creature of habit. The same type of mountain bike shoes have been in my bag for nearly a decade. Carbon-sole, cross country-aimed, lightweight shoes that focus first on fit and performance. I still have a few pair kicking around my garage just in case I decide to enter another 12 Hour Solo race. Though unlikely since recently adding a new bike to my quiver that is aimed directly at riding more aggressive All Mountain / Enduro terrain. Riding the new bike with my old XC shoes just wasn’t working. I needed something that favored versatility first.
Having almost exclusively worn Specialized shoes over the past decade, I decided to give their 2FO ClipLite MTB shoes a go. They seemed to carry the versatility I was looking for on paper and received praise from many others. I’ve always enjoyed the fit of Specialized XC shoes, so what could go wrong with trying out their new All Mountain offering?
Slipping on the shoes at the shop didn’t inspire future confidence. I wear a men’s 45/11.5 size shoe, and the 45 2FO just didn’t feel right. There was plenty of room around the toe box, but the sides felt narrow and the heel, tight. Trying the next size up felt somewhat better, but left enough room in front for a small party. A friend mentioned that these shoes have a much needed break-in period so I decided to take a chance on size 45.
Special thanks to Rock N’ Road Cyclery in Mission Viejo, CA for letting me spend the afternoon swapping in and out of shoes wandering the showroom floor deciding. Thanks for taking the extra time Chris!
Over the past few months, I’ve put a lot of miles on these shoes. A good 300+ hard miles in California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. It didn’t take long for them to break in and once they did, my feet started to smile. The cushioned EVA midsole and molded heel cup quickly formed to my foot. They feature a standard fit, great for wearing both on and off the bike. Something I would never say about XC hard sole shoes. Nobody wants to be click-click-clang-slip-slipping their way around the bike park.
I haven’t used laces with cycling shoes in years and I’m not about to start now. I don’t care how Enduro, or is it Endurbro, I do or do not look. Boa S2-Snap dials are simple to adjust, work well, stay out of the way, and carry Boa’s Lifetime Guarantee. I’ve banged my way through countless rock gardens, ankle deep water crossings, desert silt beds, and they are holding up well. The new closed system dials work much better than previous Boa models that suffered from getting clogged up with mud.
I have noticed the Boa dials on my right shoe come loose on a couple occasions. Unsure if that is from hitting objects on the trail or not.
Turning the shoe over reveals the star of the show here. The stiff Lollipop nylon composite plate, and SlipNot rubber sole give the 2FO outstanding traction and performance. All of the technical science behind their races shoes have been slammed into a casual trail commander. Dabbing my way through rocks, I never worry about putting my foot down in places that used to make me nervous. I know my foot isn’t going to slip causing me to fall.
I was willing to sacrifice stiffness moving from an XC shoe, but I’m happy to report I haven’t noticed much. The pedal connection is firm and the sole, responsive. I don’t feel like my shoes are keeping me from grabbing fast times. Instead, I feel more confident than ever before which translates into better concentration and less worry about what my feet are doing.
During seated riding my feet feel very controlled and locked in place. When I get out of the saddle to stand and grind, there is minimal foot shift inside the shoe, but it is there. Wide outsoles make these shoes often feel like I’m wearing a pair of lightweight hiking shoes off the bike.
The sole of the shoe exhibits a very slight outward tilt. Something of a Varus Wedge Design. I was fit with wedges in my last pair of road cycling shoes. They help reduce stress and fatigue around the feet and offer quick solutions to common foot alignment problems. They certainly helped my riding when combined with Specialized Body Geometry insoles. My high arches require extra help from a more robust insole. Since adding them, my feet and toes no longer go numb on long rides.
“All of the technical science behind their races shoes have been slammed into a casual trail commander.”
With a lot to like, there are a few things I would like to see addressed in the next model. I already mentioned the Boa’s coming loose on occasion. I’d also like to see more protection added around the nose. During a few hike-a-bike sections in Sedona, I found my toes taking slight impact when traversing big rocks. Nothing broke through the shoe but it did make me cautious as I continued on.
I don’t expect these shoes to breathe as well as lightweight XC shoes, but I would like to see them do a bit better. Clean, I don’t have any issue with their breathability. Once you run through a dusty desert wash, all the breathing holes surrounding the shoes fill and the sweat builds. Its a tough argument deciding between how much weight and breathability can sacrificed over strong protection in a shoe like this. Even after what I just said, I think Specialized chose wisely. It’s more important this shoe provide protection based on the riders and terrain its designed to tackle.
I’m happy that I decided to venture away from another XC shoe. A new bike gave me the confidence to ride more aggressive trails and now I have the shoes to match. Leaving the house I feel as comfortable wearing these shoes to the bar as I do on the trail. The shoes don’t scream at you with crazy color combinations and wacky weave patterns. The design is clean, minimal, mechanical. Something I could see Tron strapping on before jumping on a light cycle. At only 379g, I’m only sacrificing 29g coming from my Expert XC MTB shoes. They’re also easier on the wallet at $180. Versatility achieved.
The Specialized 2FO ClipLite Mountain Bike Shoes are available in black/grey, Monster green, Limited Edition CW Jaw, women’s sizes and even with laces. Learn more about them at Specialized. Buy them from your local bike shop!