Out of all the big-name bike brands, Specialized is one that has been invested in footwear for the longest. With a range of cycling shoes covering everything from XC riding, through to road racing, winter fat biking and commuting, Specialized offers kicks for nearly every type of rider. For the harder-hitting trail and downhill crew however, stiff carbon-fibre XC shoes dotted with plastic tread blocks don’t really cut it. And so in 2014, Specialized launched the 2FO range (Foot Out, Flat Out!) to appeal to those who are chasing a little more protection, with a little more walkability, in a package that isn’t quite so…racy. Consisting of both flat and clip-in options, the 2FO shoes have proven to be very popular. We’ve reviewed the original Specialized 2FO shoes here, and the Specialized 2FO Clip shoes here, and both received top marks for fit, finish and function. Specialized has since expanded the 2FO range over the past few seasons, adding in the lighter weight ‘ClipLite’ version that’s better suited for XC, trail and enduro riders. That includes the regular BOA-equipped version, and these ones; the 2FO ClipLite Lace shoes.
Specialized 2FO ClipLite Lace Shoe Features
- Lace-up version of the 2FO ClipLite shoes
- Landing Strip™ cleat pocket for use with all major MTB pedals
- Extended length cleat slot (4mm) for rearward cleat set up option
- Stiff Lollipop™ nylon composite midsole
- SlipNot™ rubber outsole
- Asymmetric toe box protection
- Smooth thermobonded upper for lightweight durability and a snag-free profile
- Cushioned EVA midsole for comfort with molded heel cup for stability
- Body Geometry sole construction and footbed
- Standard Fit last for a balance of pedal feel and off-bike comfort
- Lacelock™ elastic keeps laces out of the chainrings
- Claimed weight: 379g per shoe (size 42)
- Colours: Red/Black (tested) or Black/Gum
- Sizes: EU 39 through to 49
- RRP: £100
Compared to the 2FO Clip shoes that Barney tested and reviewed, the ClipLite version is both lighter and more streamlined in its appearance. In general, that makes it a more suitable option for taking on longer and more pedally rides, rather than just gravity-based bombing. The fit is also different between the two, with the ClipLite models using a lower volume and tighter-fitting last that minimises free-play between your feet and the shoe. Overall, there’s less mesh padding on the inside of the 2FO ClipLite shoes, making the uppers feel stiffer and less squishy. There are ten different shoe sizes available in the UK through your local Specialized dealer, and I found I ended up in a EU 45 after discovering the 44 was too small. Overall width is in the middle – slightly wider than a Shimano trail shoe, and slightly narrower than a Five Ten – and they seem to agree with a pretty wide range of different feet. However, those with particularly broad feet will want to consider going up to the regular 2FO Clip shoe to get the extra width and volume.
The model I’ve been testing is the lace-up version, which substitutes the BOA dials found on the regular 2FO ClipLite shoe in favour of good ol’ fashion laces. Aside from dropping the price by £40 to an impressive £100, the laces also offer some fitting benefits. Sure they may not be as quick to tighten and loosen as the ratchet BOA dials, but they do provide many more anchorage points to help fine-tune the tension over the top of the shoe. For a rider like myself with narrow feet, this is ideal for getting a comfortable and secure fit. Typically with ratchets and dials, I’m often at the end of the adjustment range before the shoe feels remotely tight. With the 2FO ClipLite Lace, I have no such bother. I also like the little elastic loop for hooking the laces in while riding, keeping them away from sharp pointy things on the bike.
Although the 2FO ClipLite shoes are designed more for XC/trail/enduro rather than full-on downhill racing, they’re still built tough. After a solid 9 months worth of trail riding through a very wet and mucky Pennine winter, the Ronald McDonald kicks are still in one piece, with only a few tears to the rubber sole to speak of. They’re also really well armoured. The toe box is nice and stiff, and the rubber outsole extends up in front of the big toe to give a little more protection when you accidentally roundhouse-kick a tree or toe-poke a rock.
A Supportive Fit
The heel cup is also reassuringly stiff, helping to keep your feet steady inside the shoe even when heaving hard on the pedals. Combined with the ability to reef up on the laces, the curved heel cup means it’s unlikely you’ll experience any unwanted slip. Inside the shoes, Specialized has set up the 2FO ClipLite Lace shoes with its Body Geometry footbeds that encompass a raised ‘bump’ under the metatarsal bone to support it under pedalling, while decreasing the likelihood of pain in this area. The shoes are also built with a permanent Varus wedge that tilts your feet outwards slightly. This will work for 90% of people out there, but for those who suffer from a Valgus posture (where the inside of your feet slopes inwards), the tilt inside the 2FO ClipLite Lace shoes may be too much. Personally, I found the fit to be supportive and largely unnoticeable on longer rides, without any hotspots to speak of.
Underneath the shoes you’ll find the twin-bolt mount that’s designed to work with any popular mountain bike pedal and cleats. Like other new-generation trail shoes like the Shimano ME7s I’ve also tested and reviewed, Specialized has designed the 2FO ClipLite Lace shoes with plenty of rearward adjustment for slamming the cleats back. I’m into this, as it allows you to emulate a flat pedal riding position by bringing the pedal further back underneath the shoe towards your arch. The result is more stability on top of the pedal body, and I’ve also found it much easier to drop my heels while descending, without causing excessive strain on my achilles and calf muscles. Descending in this position also helps to drive more force through the pedals (rather than through the toes and grips), which pushes more weight down lower into the bottom bracket.
World Cup XC race team physios may disagree with the biomechanics of such a position, but for trail riding where you’re regularly in and out of the saddle and riding technical descents, the added stability and control is well worth it. The cleat channel itself is nice and long, and clipping in and out with the 2FO ClipLite Lace shoes presented few problems. I tested the shoes with Shimano XT Race and Trail pedals, as well as some bigger platform SPD pedals including the Nukeproof Horizon CLs and Funn Mambas. In all cases, I had no tread interference for engaging or releasing from the pedal mechanism. I didn’t get a chance to try the shoes with a set of HT pedals, but given a number of Specialized athletes (such as Jared Graves) are using that combo, I’d have no concerns there would be any fit issues there.
As we’ve found with other mountain bike shoes designed in California, the 2FO ClipLite Lace shoes aren’t so well equipped to deal with mud. The rubber outsole only features some light texturing for traction, but it’s more like the tread you’ll find on a dusty hardpack race tyre, rather than a winter spike. On sloppy trails where lifting the bike over a fence or style was required, the 2FO’s aren’t the most dependable for remaining upright. And while the mesh construction offers loads of breathability and the welcome trick of drying out quite quickly once they’re wet, it does mean the shoes get wet quite quickly in the first place. Unless you’ve got waterproof socks, I wouldn’t recommend these for winter riding.
If you think I’ve been impressed by the 2FO ClipLite Lace shoes, then you’d be right. They’re a great-fitting shoe, and they’re built really well. For those who are gifted with wider feet or simply prefer the squishy skate-style fit, then you’ll still be better off sticking with the regular 2FO shoes. But if you’d rather a snug-fitting shoe for XC and trail riding, the 2FO ClipLite Lace shoes are a top choice. They offer a tough construction with armouring in the right places, while still coming in at a respectable weight that means you’re spinning less mass around every time you turn the pedals.
|Product:||2FO ClipLite Lace Mountain Bike Shoes|
|Tested:||by Wil Barrett for 8 months|