Spied on the ends of Loic Bruni’s speedy legs, the new lace-up shoes from Specialized appeared slightly different in shape to the ones available to us mere mortals, until now. Aimed at the DH race crowd, the new shoe slots in below the 2FO ClipLite shoes that would have to be the most-ridden pair of shoes in our stable. Without the BOA dial enclosure, they certainly appear less like mountain bike shoes, and after a few rides, they feel pretty darn good whilst looking less alien.
A Specialized shoe wouldn’t be without a host of features with quirky names; they are listed here:
- Body Geometry sole construction and footbed: ergonomically designed and scientifically tested to boost power, increase efficiency, and reduce the chance of injury by optimising hip, knee, and foot alignment.
- Captured foam upper protects the foot.
- XPEL air mesh on tongue and upper provides protection and quickly sheds water weight.
- Landing Strip™ cleat pocket is optimised for effortless foot-out riding style with platform clip pedals.
- Stiff Lollipop™ inner plate for high performance pedalling sits in a bed of EVA to soften landings and maintain off-bike traction.
- Extended length cleat slot (4mm) for rearward cleat set up option.
- Relaxed Fit for a balance of pedal feel and off-bike comfort.
- Two-bolt cleat pattern fits all major MTB pedals.
- Approximate weight: 350g (1/2 pair, size 42).
Stepping out, how’d they ride?
The 2FO shoes feel cush in the sole, soft and comfortable inside and the outer construction is hard and structurally very steadfast. The fit feels roomy up the front, and you can fine-tune the closeness of the overall shape with the laces.
Aggressive foot-out riders and downhillers will appreciate the protection, they are the type of shoe you can kick a sneaky rock hidden out of view on the inside of a corner, and it won’t squish easily, bending your toes over as a regular skate shoe would, putting you in a world of hurt. Ouch. Stomping your heels on the concrete, it’s evident there’s plenty of foam to dampen impacts, too. The inside of the ankle is higher than the outside, offering protection from the rear end of the bike whacking into your bones. And rolling your foot over when stepping back off the bike if you stuff up a techy climb.
Clipping into the Shimano XTR Trail pedals is excellent, where some shoes snag rubber on the pedal, the pedal entry is concise and clear.
We don’t mind laces as such; we just find that if you get them muddy and let the mud dry, they lose the ability to feel malleable and make fine adjustments to the fit. A soapy bath would be all they need to keep in check.
Under the feet, the soles exhibit enough stiffness that you don’t feel the cleat pushing into your foot, or bending around the back of the pedal, but there’s plenty of side-to-side roll at the heel which we find helps steer the bike on steep descents. Stiff carbon-soled shoes can isolate you from the feel of the bike somewhat; we appreciate how these strike a balance of feel and pedalling stiffness. Stiffer and lighter than the Giro Chambers, but considerably more subtle and casual than the Shimano AM range.
Considering how much we reach for the ClipLite shoes (didn’t realise how ratty they look until we put them alongside this new pair), we expect to use these a lot, primarily due to the amount of standing around and talking we do on each ride.