Aimed at the enduro and trail end of the mountain biking market, Specialized's 2FO ClipLite Lace shoe offers similar fit and function to the pricier ClipLite shoe but with a lace closure system rather than BOA, and a lower price to match.
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If you're wondering what the 2FO refers to, it's 'foot out, flat out', and that tells you something about the purpose of these shoes; they're built for hard, fast and fun riding.
The shoes take regular two-bolt style cleats and the sole is constructed from Specialized's 'Slip Not' rubber compound, which does provide good grip on the pedal and a fair amount of grip on the ground for walking.
However, as the cleat isn't deeply recessed it does still clang off things when walking a little so I wouldn't recommend long walking expeditions in them.
Stiffness in the sole is provided by a 'lollipop' nylon plate, which gives stiffness where needed for pedalling but with a degree of flex designed to allow comfortable walking.
The upper is a combination of thermobonded synthetic leather and fabric, and while it dries relatively quickly, it also does little to prevent water ingress. After a few minutes in heavy rain or on wet and puddle-ridden trails you can expect to have wet feet, and I miss the splash guard other shoes such as the Shimano AM9s feature.
There's also an asymmetric rubber toe box that provides more protection towards the big toe, the inwards part of the foot, which is the bit that tends to suffer the most impact. This does help take the edge off of hits and has stood up to some fairly rough treatment over a number of months of riding, staying intact to date.
The shoes also have a women's specific design that's based on Specialized's Body Geometry System.
Good fit, annoying laces
Overall, the fit is good. The inner sits comfortably around the foot, supporting the arch, although it's on the slender side so those riders with wider feet might find it a bit snug.
I also found it quite roomy in the toe section. Personally I found it supportive, but not the most comfortable shoe I've tried for reasons that are more to do with the shoe design and materials used rather than the fit itself.
The ClipLite Lace includes many of the same features as the pricier ClipLite shoe, but comes with — as the name suggests — a lace fastening rather than a BOA closure system.
This cuts the costs, but there is a price in terms of fit and comfort. I found it hard to get the shoes laced tight enough to sit securely around my foot and found, as a result, that I experienced a fair amount of foot movement.
While not ideal, some movement is comfortable for a shoe of this type, except that I also found the material around the ankle cuff to be stiff and rough. Coupled with my foot movement this resulted in noticeable chaffing of the skin around my ankle after a few hours on the bike.
Pairing with pedals
Due to the nature of these shoes, which although stiff do have slightly more flexibility in the sole compared to an out-and-out cross-country shoe, I found they performed better when paired with pedals with a good-sized cage, particularly on more pedally XC rides or longer excursions on the bike.
The recess for the cleat is also shallow, which makes clipping in quick and easy, but does mean that pedals with a smaller cage may not give the same degree of contact, and therefore support.
A long recess for the cleats, which Specialized terms as the 'landing strip', means that there's plenty of cleat placement adjustment possible, so if you prefer your cleats fitted further back, for a more downhill riding style, you've got the option to do that.
However, on bigger platformed pedals where there's greater support, or for shorter or more downhill-focussed rides, the feel of the sole was spot on with a nice blend of stiffness for support, and enough flexibility to give that all-important feedback.
While there are many plus points in favour of these shoes, for another £30/$20 I'd probably opt for the ClipLite version with BOA closure. These provided a more secure fit and scored a very good 4 our of 5 in our review.
2FO ClipLite Lace sizing, price and availability
The 2FO ClipLite Lace is available from size 36 to 42, which translates to approximately a UK 3 to 9 or a US 5 to 11.
- RRP £100 / $120. Not available in Australia.