Specialized 2FO Cliplite Review
Cons: Roomy toe-box, slip-not rubber could be more grippy
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Our Analysis and Test Results
2FO stands for Foot Out Flat Out, and the Cliplite is the top-of-the-line model in Specialized's enduro racing and all-mountain focused line of shoes. The 2FO Cliplite is an enduro and all-mountain specific shoe, but we found it versatile enough for everyday use for everything from long backcountry epics to bike park laps. We tested them primarily with the small platform Shimano XT Trail pedals, but the shoe is well suited for use with full platform pedals such as XPedo GFX or Shimano Saint. We took the 2FO Cliplite out for all types of rides from enduro races to huge XC trail rides.
At no point during the testing of the 2FO Cliplite did we find that it lacked stiffness in the sole or power transfer to the pedals. Despite the casual look and walkability of these shoes, they have a very stiff nylon shank that has no noticeable flex when pedaling even during the hardest of efforts.
Of course, there are more rigid shoes on the market like the Giro Empire VR90, the Pearl Izumi X-Project Pro and the Sidi Trace 2, but those shoes are way more expensive, and most riders would be hard pressed to notice a difference in stiffness. The power transfer of the 2FO Cliplite is on par with the other all-mountain oriented shoes in our test selection like the Ride Concepts Transition, Five Ten Kestrel Pro, and the Shimano ME7.
The 2FO Cliplite is most definitely a comfortable shoe, and that became apparent the first time we tried them on. The Thermo-bonded synthetic uppers are stiff to the touch, but the softer lining inside the shoe conforms to your feet within the first couple of rides. The shoe is lightly padded throughout with medium padding around the heel, ankle, and under-the-wrap style tongue. Specialized uses their Body Geometry footbed, which they claim optimizes pedaling efficiency and leg position, and provides good arch support, foot position, and a little extra cushion.
The 2FO employs two S2 style Boa cables and a Velcro strap closer to the toes to secure them on the feet. It took several days, but once we realized that you could unhook the Boa cable from the attachment on the medial side of the tongue, it became much easier to get the shoe on and off our feet with the shoe wide open. The shoe's stiff upper material padding, as well as the beefy wide soles, provide the feeling of protection and inspire confidence on the feet. It is worth noting that our test pair in size 43.5 felt a bit roomier and slightly longer than other sized 43.5 shoes in our test selection, like the Giro Terraduro, Empire VR90, and Privateer R.
Traction and Walkability
Specialized employs their own "SlipNot" rubber compound for the full coverage outsole of the 2FO Cliplite. The sole design does not use lugs. Instead, they placed lots of shortly raised dots under the toe and heel with shallow horizontal grooves alongside the cleat pocket. This tread design does not pick up any mud, snow, or other debris, although some may occasionally pack in around the cleat like most other shoes.
The SlipNot rubber is less grippy than the Stealth Rubber of the Five Ten HellCat Pro and also of the Vibram soles on its sibling, the Rime 2.0. That said, we found that it provided excellent traction on all surfaces but the slipperiest of wet rocks. Also, the lack of lugs doesn't provide much bite in mud or super wet conditions. The sole design also features a fair amount of rocker from the ball of the foot forward, helping the shoe to roll towards the toe and the flexible portion of the sole. The relatively flat tread design of the 2FO Cliplite is also optimized to work with clipless flat pedals, and we could see them providing excellent traction on regular flat pedals in a pinch.
Specialized claims the weight of the 2FO Cliplite to be 379g for a size 42, and we found our test pair to weigh in at 426g in size 43.5. This is by no means XC race shoe light, but this isn't an XC race shoe; instead, it is on the lighter side when compared to other comparable all-mountain shoes.
The weight is almost identical to that of the Shimano ME7, slightly less than the Giro Terraduro, and is significantly lighter than the more gravity oriented Five Ten HellCat Pro. It is a light weight when considering the full rubber sole and protective feel that these shoes have to offer.
After several weeks of testing, we have found the 2FO Cliplite to be very durable.
The uppers show little no signs of abrasion and no tears of any kind. Despite plenty of time walking on rocks, the soles show almost no evidence of wear, likely due to the slightly harder rubber compound that Specialized uses. The Velcro and Boa closures still work correctly, and a lifetime guarantee covers the dials and cables in case of any failure. We have heard of the outsole delaminating from the upper in the toe of the shoe from other people, but so far our test pair has shown no signs of this warranty-able issue.
With a mid-pack price tag, the 2FO Cliplite represents a great value. This versatile shoe provides comfort, excellent power transfer, great traction, and appears to be very durable. While it won't necessarily appeal to the XC race crowd, the 2FO Cliplite is versatile enough to tackle virtually all other types of mountain bike riding. The price is also on par with other similar shoes in out test selection like the Giro Terraduro and the Shimano ME7. The Ride Concepts Transition offers comparable performance and a little bit more foot protection for a few dollars less.
The combination of style, power transfer, comfort, and durability make the Specialized 2FO Cliplite our Top Pick for trail riding. No matter your style of riding, the 2FO Cliplite has got you covered with a well designed and comfortable shoe that strikes a great balance between on the bike performance and confident off the bike traction and walkability. We would recommend this shoe to virtually anyone but gram counting XC racers.
Other Versions and Accessories
Specialized makes a range of 2FO shoes including the lace-up 2FO Clip ($150), and the 2FO Flat ($130).
— Jeremy Benson