When I tested the then-new Specialized 2FO flat pedal shoes, shortly after they were released, I was impressed but there was certainly room for improvement. Well, Specialized has made those improvements, and the new Women's 2FO Flat 1.0 is the result.
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Specialized entered the gravity shoe market around three years ago, and in the line-up was the new 2FO flat pedal shoe. Standing for 'Foot Out, Flat Out', it was one of only a small handful of women's flat pedal mountain bike shoes available — with the bulk being produced by Five Ten.
Now, Specialized has conducted a complete redesign featuring new materials, fit, looks — the works. The result is a shoe that irons out all the niggles I had with the original version, and adds a couple of features I didn't know I needed in an MTB shoe.
I've worn these pretty much constantly since recieving them for testing. They've done miles of cross-country in storm conditions on a three-day ride across Wales, a number of uplift and downhill days, and plenty of general trail riding.
New look, new tech, all-round improvement
Compared with the originals, the 2FOs look more streamlined and less chunky. Gone is the satin-finish solid outer with punched ventilation holes, replaced by a mesh-like thermobonded upper with bumpers around the toe and heel area.
Specialized claims this upper helps shed water more quickly, and I have to agree. The shoes don't absorb as much as others I've tried and dries considerably faster too (Five Ten, I'm looking at you).
I'm also a big fan of the internal 'bootie', a integrated sock made of a neoprene-like material that hugs the ankle. This is a big contributing factor to the comfort and control these shoes offer. The bootie sits snugly, keeping your feet from slipping around within the shoe and prevents annoying grit, stones and bits of stick getting down into the inside of your shoe. Pull tabs at the front and rear make getting the shoe on and off refreshingly easy.
Furthermore, that integrated bootie helps ward off the worst of the splashes, avoiding that horrific cold influx of water down your ankle when you get puddle splashback. The bootie isn't waterproof, but it's presence is enough to ward off the worst of the water, and soften the blow of the water that does creep in.
In cold conditions, the bootie keeps draughts out and acts as extra insulation, although the ventilation in the shoe does mean that cold air gets inside through the side. Pair them with a cosy set of merino or waterproof socks, however, and I've found they've kept me cosy through sub-zero rides. Provided I keep moving!
New, grippy sole
The previous incarnation of the 2FO shoe featured 'SlipNot' rubber, designed in-house by Specialized's designers and engineers. This too has been updated, with the SlipNot 2.0 soles on these shoes nearly — albeit not quite — on par with Five Ten in terms of the on-pedal traction they provide.
This traction is aided by an updated tread pattern with hexagonal lugs that provide a good amount of off-bike traction too, with the lug depth greater at the toe and heel area to aid with grip in slick conditions. At the mid-section of the foot, a shallower tread means increased contact between pedal, pins and shoes.
And there's still plenty of pedal feel. The thinner rubber of the sole doesn't completely isolate you from the feel of the bike, so you get feedback without losing grip. This is despite the inclusion of EVA foam at the midsole area, which helps damp impacts and vibrations.
Another noticable improvement is the sole stiffness. While I found the stiff sole of the orignal 2FO Flats helpful for longer rides, many found it a little too stiff, and uncomfortable for walking. Specialized has increased the sole flex enough to ramp up the comfort and allow a little more flexibilty about the foot — and it's a tangible improvement. They are still a little stiffer than their Five Ten equivalents, but personally I prefer this.
I flipping love these shoes. As a flat pedal devotee, I've tried a lot of shoes and until recently there hasn't been a lot of real choice. Up until this version of the 2FOs, my go-to shoes would have been the Five Ten Freerider Contact shoes or similar. Now, I'm completely converted.
These are my go-to shoes. They're comfortable, they're easy to get on and off, there's no heel slip, I love the inner bootie and the little elastic tab to keep your laces out of the way is a small, genius element.
With the upgrades made in fit, materials and style, the 2FO Flat 1.0 is now one of the best, if not the best, flat pedal trail shoes on the market.
Prices, sizing and availability
The new 2FO 1.0 shoes are available now via Specialized shops and dealers, and a variety of online shops, with some suggestions listed below.
Sizes range from EU 36 to 42 (approximately UK 3.25 to 8, or US 5.75 to 10.5). It retails at £100 / $110 / AU$160.
The men's version is also available, which comes in what can only be described as a jazzier colourway of yellow, pink and black called (wait for it) 'Dynamite Panther', plus the mint/carbon combo the women's shoes are available in, and a plain carbon/grey colour. The size range is EU 39 to 49 for these, and the prices are the same.
However, it's worth noting that in the men's range, there is also the 2FO Flat 2.0 version of these shoes, aimed more towards gravity riding, which isn't available in a women's fit.