Specialized’s 2FO Clip shoes aim to fill the gap between racey shoes that look like football boots, and regular joe skate shoes.
Many shoes have tried and failed when it comes to balancing performance, relaxed fit and a casual appearance, but we feel Specialized have landed on their feet with these feature-packed kicks.
After a few solid months riding in these flashy foot Ferraris we take our hats off to the designers of this clever shoe, we love the slim shape, relaxed fit and low weight. They are available in both clipless and flat style and thankfully a couple colour options if these bright red numbers are a bit too much. In keeping with Specialized’s Body Geometry systems a Specialized dealer can help you customise the shoes with the right arch support via interchangeable insoles that fit all Specialized shoes. We popped down to a Specialized dealer, the process was quick, we popped our feet on the Arch-O-Meter mapping plate, and were recommended an insole to support higher than average arches. Off we went, they retail for an extra $49.95. However you may find that the original insoles are fine for the shape of your foot.
The 2FO name comes from the saying ‘foot out, flat out’ which in essence suits the style of riding loose, letting it all hang out. Luckily if you do drag your feet along the ground in the name of getting rad and happen to kick a rock, a stump or a solid member of wildlife you’ll be sure to benefit from the shoe’s stiff toe box. Plus, if you’re getting rad going uphill and committed to a technical climb and need dab your foot you’ll be glad the sole is a bit tackier than most, helping you regain your control as you firmly play your foot on the ground, instead of slipping and doing horrible leg tearing splits whilst uncontrollably rolling backwards.
Specialized have used materials that we’ve not seen before in mountain bike shoes. The outer has an almost plastic look and feel to it, and inside the shoe the padding is not a soft foam like we’ve become accustomed to, rather you’ll find a web of springy plastic material that gives you both the soft cushion feel and breathing benefits, but won’t soak up water like a sponge. In truth it’s not something we’ve ever really given that much thought to, but you really don’t want extra weight on your feet whether it’s sweat, rain or a splash back from stinky mud puddle that adds extra mass to what’s essentially a rotating mass, it pays to reduce any additional effort to your pedal stroke.
The material of the sole is comprised of two rubber densities, a slightly less sticky rubber is used around the cleat area to help avoid any unwanted snagging on the pedal as you clip in and out. This has been a criticism of many flat soled clipless shoes with soft soles, and can cause some heartbeat-skipping incidents when tying to clip in, but these ones do it just right. The two compounds will also help the lifespan of the sole, sticky where you want it, and tough where you need to resist wear and tear.
The laces on the other hand are of a material that actually doesn’t work as well, when they are clean and dry they slide through the lace holes and pull tension evenly and easliy but once a few rides worth of dirt land on the laces they seem to jam up slightly. It can become a bit tricky then to pull on the laces to achieve even tension over the foot. Plus while we are having a bit of a grumble, we found that if we jammed our feet into the shoe without completely backing off the laces, the rear section of padding inside the heel would fold over and we’d need to manipulate it back again into shape, not a real biggie but we’re sure that we aren’t the only ones who rush when putting on shoes before a ride.
The shape of the shoe is also quite slim, there is no extra material around the side of the sole that would get in the way of a clean entry and exit of the pedal, and a slightly higher cuff on the inside to help protect your ankles from hard edges of your cranks and frame.
Fit wise, the 2FO is relaxed with more room than your typical clipless shoe, and at the end of a long day riding you don’t let out a sigh of relief when you take your shoes off. Walking about is pretty much perfect, the cleat is recessed enough that it doesn’t make too much noise, slip on rocks, or damage your lovely timber floors. Sole stiffness is great, too, they do work best with a pedal with some sort of added support like the Shimano Trail, Time ATAC MX4 or Crank Brothers Mallet. A slight amount of flex in the sole gives you a better feel of what is going on with the bike beneath you, where a stiff shoe can often isolate you. Specialized also do a great shoe with a super stiff sole but a slightly relaxed fit and a rubbery grip, the S-Works Trail which we reviewed too.
The shoe laces tuck neatly away from harm under a little rubber loop, but without a lace cover as such (like a Shimano M200) water does get into the shoe pretty easily, but as mentioned before, water drains and dries out nice and fast.
It’s clear that Specialized’s 2FO shoes are a product born out of a clever team of designers and the need for a shoe that they have always wanted. Plus Troy Brosnan uses them, he’s fast.