We are impressed by the all-around versatility of the Specialized 2FO Cliplite Lace. After riding through a wide variety of terrain, the 2FO proved itself as a lightweight and capable shoe when pedaling uphill. We enjoyed it on every type of ride — from long, grinding XC missions, to laps on the backyard trails, to bike park days.
This shoe is a bit bulkier than other shoes we tested such as the Giro Empire VR 90 and the Pearl Izumi All-Road v4. However, we appreciated the extra protection in technical rock gardens and hike-a-bike sections of trail. The extended cleat slot, dubbed the Landing Strip, is designed for quickly unclipping on the fly. It also allows you to set the cleats further back for a more comfortable and confident stance when descending. This shoe is well suited for its designed purpose of enduro riding and shines on general, all mountain rides.
The combined versatility, comfort, and style of 2FO Cliplite Lace made this shoe our Editors Choice for all styles of riding except for dedicated XC racing.
Power Transfer and Grip
The 2FO Cliplite features a stiff nylon composite sole that provides solid power transfer in all pedaling situations with no noticeable flex. We primarily tested these shoes with small platform trail pedals, like our Shimano M530s, but they are also stiff enough to use with no platform pedals, like our Shimano M540s. We appreciate the support these shoes provided on long rides and in technical sections and it scored well in this metric as a result.
The Giro Empire offers more rigidity and power transfer for dedicated cross-country riders. But, the 2FO Cliplite's blend of power and comfort is a good match for many recreational riders.
The 2FO Cliplite features a stiff nylon composite sole that provides solid power transfer with no noticeable flex in all pedaling situations.
Comfort and Breathability
The 2FO Cliplite is one of the more comfortable shoes we tested. They score well here as a result.
The stiff thermobonded uppers are balanced with soft interior padding that mold to your feet after a few days on the trail. These shoes feature a roomy toe box with light padding throughout the forefoot and thicker padding around the heel and ankles. Initially, we thought the padded heel cup would cause chafing, but we found these fears unfounded after riding for hours straight with zero hotspots. They also feel protective, featuring an asymmetrical rubber reinforcement around the big toe.
The uppers are water resistant and kept our feet dry during creek crossings, but we found that they were not as breathable as other shoes we tested such as the Pearl Izumi All-Road v4. There is a small panel of mesh near the toe box that allows some air in but not as much as we'd like.
Specialized uses an angled Body Geometry footbed which they claim improves foot, knee, and hip alignment for more efficient pedaling. It works well, and we did notice that we spent less time tinkering with cleat placement to find the right position. The downside, as we'll discuss below, is that we found the stiff sole to feel awkward when walking.
Specialized's Slip Not rubber sole offers good traction in most situations but does not deal well with wet and slippery logs.
Traction and Walkability
The 2FO Cliplite is less impressive when we're walking. Many other shoes we tested were more comfortable.
Specialized uses its own Slip Not rubber sole material, which is not quite as grippy as the Five Ten stealth compound. Still, it provides plenty of traction for most trail conditions, except for slippery wet logs. The tread design includes raised dots with shallow grooves around the cleat pocket, providing plenty of traction in most dusty conditions. The pattern lacks a little bit of bite on muddy, wet trails though. On the upside, the flat tread pattern didn't pick up any debris or gunk on the trail and worked well with platform style pedals.
The soles are a hard rubber, which provides solid power transfer but makes them inflexible and a little uncomfortable when walking. It's doable though. We appreciate that the sole is rockered from the cleat forward, helping the shoe roll through each step.
The uppers on the 2FO Cliplite Lace are water resistant and kept our feet dry during creek crossings.
After many miles in these shoes, they show almost no signs of wear on the uppers. Specialized's Slip Not sole is a hard rubber compound that stood up to plenty of hike-a-bike adventures. The shoe features an EVA foam midsole that is much a much softer material, and we expect that the exposed part of the midsole might show more signs of wear over time.
The laces are inexpensive and easily replaceable, making them virtually indestructible. The Boa dial closure system available on another version of this shoe is more precise, but potentially more delicate and definitely more complicated to repair. See the end of the article for more information.
These shoes came in on the lighter side of those we tested, which is impressive considering they are a bit bulkier than some of the competitors. Specialized's claimed weight for the 2FO Cliplite is 349g in size 39. Our test pair came in at 315g in size 38. The shoes are bulky when compared to a minimal shoe like the Empire VR90, but we found the extra protection to be worth the extra weight and they did not feel cumbersome.
We tested the 2FO Cliplite on a wide variety of rides, from long XC trails to downhill laps, and we were impressed with their performance all around. This shoe is lightweight, and comfortable with a solid power transfer and we recommend it to riders looking for a versatile all-mountain clipless shoe. They earn our Editor's Choice award for their high quality and high performance in all-mountain trail conditions.
The extended cleat slot is designed to let you unclip quickly. It also lets you shift the cleats back for a confident descending position.
At $120, we found the 2FO Cliplite Lace to be a great value for a versatile all-around trail shoe. It provides good protection, power transfer, and comfort all in one durable pair of shoes. These shoes fall into the mid-range price point of the shoes we tested but ranked higher than more expensive shoes.
The combined versatility, comfort, and style of 2FO Cliplite Lace made this shoe our Editors Choice for all styles of riding except for dedicated XC-racing. This shoe balances comfort and performance while inspiring confidence in bike handling. Though it's designed with enduro riders in mind, this shoe competently handles all styles of trail riding. We'd recommend the 2FO Cliplite Lace to riders looking for one shoe that can handle it all.
Other Versions and Accessories
Boa Dial — The 2FO Cliplite is also available with a boa dial closure system for $180.