With a chunky profile and some serious padding around the toe box and ankle, Specialized’s 2FO Clips are built for aggressive trail riding.
A quick look inside reveals a combination of padding and mesh supports in varying thickness and placement – these are a seriously well thought out pair of shoes.
I love the feeling of impregnability when wearing them – the upper has a robust synthetic exterior and there’s thick rubber coating all the exposed edges and open surfaces – especially when the rocks are flying on loose trails.
Some ventilating mesh is sneaked in where possible, and while the shoe doesn’t keep water out it expels it easily.
On the bike, the sole is stiff-but-not-too-stiff, which meant when I needed to walk on the trail or at a cafe stop it wasn’t an unpleasant experience. However, when more skimpy XC pedals were used, there was some flex under extreme manoeuvres or hefty cranks when climbing, but these are shoes designed for tail riding rather than XC.
The flat hexagonal outer of the sole is a useful blend of tacky rubber for good traction on rocks and roots, sticking to the ground impressively whenever I ventured up some steep climbs to session trails.
I had to tweak some spacers under the cleats depending on the pedals used because the grippy material was prone to snagging on the platform or any pins present when trying to twist out. Not a problem, of course, but keep this in mind before you ride in anger.
The sole also sports some usefully long cleat slots – Specialized has extended them back by 4mm – which allowed our test team to indulge its widely varying cleat placement preferences. With the option to run the cleat further back, you can claw some extra control and take the strain off the lower legs on long rides, too.
The only thing that feels lacking is the closure system. More than once, I cursed these shoes when picking at soaking laces after a wet ride, or felt they could do with tightening but didn’t bother due to the fiddly laces. A Boa dial, as used on the 2FO Clip Lites, would improve things.
While supporters of the good old fashioned lace applaud its simplicity and easily replaceable nature, I have yet to have any significant problems with Boas, but can bring to mind far more lace-snapping failures – and it’s unlikely anyone will be a carry a spare lace.
Mine were small (a 44 felt more like a 43), so try before you buy, they come in a wide sizing range.
These are an aggressive pair of trail shoes that dry quickly and are super-comfy on and off the bike.