The 2FO in the name stands for foot out, flat out, but there are a few issues that stop Specialized's shoes – in flat-pedal format, anyway – from hitting full pace.
The SlipNot sole is sticky enough, while the hexagonal tread pattern becomes more tightly packed in the midsection, with a slight angle improving off-bike traction. On the pedal they hold fairly well, somewhere between the nailed on grip of Five Ten's Impact and the slightly less grippy Vibram seen on many other shoes. They do however grip nicely when walking over muddy ground.
However, the sole itself is very, very stiff which gives a rather wooden feel – too much like its clipless brother, in fact. Pedalling efficiency is great, but it’s just hard to know what the pedal is doing underfoot.
The upper has decent toe protection, but the highly perforated outer lets in water and gets chilly in the cold. If you’re mostly riding in the warm then the ventilation will be a boon, but if you're reading this in the UK, these aren't ideally suited to typical conditions outside the summer months.
The reinforced eyelets and quality laces make them easy to tension, but we found the lacing dug in onto the tongue rather uncomfortably across the instep, something not helped by minimal padding. While we love the clipless 2FOs, these flat-pedal versions are slightly lacking.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.