Specialized's 2FO line of clipless mountain bike shoes blur the lines between flat pedal shoe comfort and the high performance of a cross-country race shoe. The 2FO Cliplite Lace is one of two 2FO Cliplite models, and as the name suggests, they use traditional shoelaces as the closure system.
The two models of 2FO shoes are basically the same. The lace version weighs 39g less per shoe, does not have the adjustable convenience of the Boa dials, and costs $60 less. While these shoes are designed for enduro and all-mountain trail riding, they are incredibly versatile — great for everything from extended backcountry XC epics, to shuttle runs on the backyard trails.
The 2FO Cliplite Lace work best with clipless pedals that have a medium to large platform. We tested the primarily with the Shimano XT Trail and Time Speciale 12 pedals. We put these shoes through the wringer and they proved to be one of the top performing models in our test selection, read on to find out more about our Best Buy Award winner.
Comfortable, high performance, inexpensive, whats not to like about the 2FO Cliplite Lace?
Comfort is undoubtedly one of the 2FO Cliplite Lace's strong suits. This shoe fits virtually identically to the 2FO Cliplite, with the same Thermo bonded synthetic upper material. The uppers are somewhat stiff to the touch, but we found them to conform nicely to the feet within the first couple of rides. Specialized has also put their signature Body Geometry footbed in the 2FO Cliplite Lace. This thin and relatively minimal footbed has a middle of the road level of arch support and cradles the foot in a very comfortable position.
The 2FO Cliplite Lace's lace-up closure is quite simple, but testers found it to work impressively well. Sure the laces lack the on the fly adjustment convenience of ratchet straps or Boa dials like those found on the Pearl Izumi X-Project PRO, but testers didn't seem to mind. Tie the laces as tight as you can get them, and you're generally good to go for the entire ride. The tongue of the 2FO Cliplite Lace also has an elastic band to hold the laces in place while riding. This prevents them from coming untied or snagging on trailside obstacles.
The 2FO Cliplite is lightweight and versatile for all kinds of rides, from big XC trail rides to short jaunts in the backyard.
The 2FO Cliplite Lace also provide a reasonable level of foot protection. There is a light layer of padding throughout the entire shoe, with increased thickness around the ankle and heel. They have also added additional rubber protection at the front of the shoe to protect the toes from rock strikes and trail debris. There isn't much in the way of ventilation, although a mesh panel above the toes does help to cool things off a little.
We were really impressed by the weight of the 2FO Cliplite Lace, coming in at 387g per shoe in size 43.5. This is by no means a feather-light XC race shoe, but it isn't that far off. These are about 50g heavier than the Giro Empire VR90, 28g heavier than the Shimano S-Phyre XC9, and only 1g more than the Giro Privateer R.
Interestingly, the 2FO Cliplite Lace weighs 39g less than the 2FO Cliplite and also costs significantly less. Other similar shoes in our test selection, like the Five Ten Kestrel Lace, weigh nearly 100g more and offer a very similar level of performance but a little more foot protection.
At 387g, these shoes are very lightweight for a lace up with a full coverage rubber sole.
The 2FO Cliplite Lace likely won't be the first choice of the XC race crowd, but for everyone else, this shoe's stiff nylon composite shank offers as much power transfer as you need. There is virtually no sole flex from the cleat mount area back, so no matter how hard you stomp on the pedals, your effort is going straight into the drivetrain to propel you forward. It is worth noting that the lace closure does have a little more give than the Boa system on the 2FO Cliplite and a small amount of efficiency is lost there, but it feels pretty minimal.
Carbon soled shoes like the Giro Empire VR90 and the Shimano S-Phyre XC9 bested the 2FO Cliplite Lace in the power transfer department with their uncompromisingly stiff designs. But if you ride for fun instead of glory, then you'll probably never notice the difference. That said, the Cliplite Lace still scored well and was close to the other similar all mountain, enduro, and trail shoes in our test like the Shimano ME7 and the Giro Terraduro.
The 2FO Cliplite Lace has you covered when you want to lay some power down.
The 2FO Cliplite Lace is one of the new breeds of all-mountain shoes that does a great job of balancing on and off the bike performance. The stiff nylon composite shank extends from the heel to just in front of the cleat mount area and allows the toe of the shoe to flex for more comfortable walking while still providing excellent power transfer. This is very similar to the sole designs on shoes like the Shimano ME7 and the Five Ten Kestrel Lace. The 2FO Cliplite Lace, however, also has a bit of rocker through the toe which adds to the ease of walking on flat surfaces.
The flex through the toe of the sole on the 2FO Cliplite Lace allows for a relatively natural gait, and the full coverage Slip-Not rubber sole provides plenty of grip on most surfaces. The rubber compound that Specialized uses for their Slip Not rubber sole is harder than that found on other similar shoes like the Five Ten Kestrel Lace and the Giro Chamber II, both of which use a softer rubber. Despite the harder density rubber of the 2FO Cliplite Lace, testers still found it to be grippy enough for their needs in most circumstances.
Flex in the toe and full coverage Slip Not rubber soles make the 2FO Cliplite Lace great for walking.
We've put some serious miles on the 2FO Cliplite Lace and thus far we have no complaints about their durability.
The stitching all appears to be in excellent condition with no pulls or loose ends to speak of. The thermo-bonded uppers are in great shape minus the standard inconsequential scuffs, and the soles look barely used despite significant amounts of time spent walking over rocks in these shoes. We suppose the biggest durability concern we have with these shoes is the laces wearing out, although that's a long way out, those are very inexpensive to replace if necessary. While these shoes do seem very durable, our testers feel that some of the bulkier and burlier shoes in our test, like the Five Ten Hellcat Pro or the Giro Chamber II, seem like they could handle more abuse than the other shoes in our test selection.
They've ridden hundred of miles and walked a few too and the 2FO Cliplite Lace is holding up well.
The 2FO Cliplite Lace is an incredibly versatile all-around shoe that is suitable for nearly all mountain biking applications. It's probably not going to be the first pick for hardcore XC racers, but we think its certainly suitable for long XC trail rides to downhilling, and everything in between. The lightweight of this shoe is also impressive, and we think that this is a great option for weight conscious riders looking for a highly versatile and high-performance mountain bike shoe.
At a retail price of $120, the 2FO Cliplite Lace is the least expensive shoe in our test selection, and we feel it is an excellent value. It is also one of the top performing shoes in our test. We think the price to performance ratio can't be beaten. In fact, the 2FO Cliplite Lace finally managed to bump the Giro Privateer R off the top step of our Best Buy Award podium by offering a similar level of performance and comfort, but in a package that has better traction and walkability and costs less.
A reasonable price and great all around performance make the 2FO Cliplite Lace our Best Buy Award winner.
Our Best Buy Award winner, the 2FO Cliplite Lace performs well on and off the bike, with a comfortable fit, good foot protection, excellent power transfer, grippy full coverage rubber soles, and an easy-going style at a very reasonable price. It likely won't be the first pick of the XC race crowd out there, but if you're looking for a comfortable shoe with great performance, then we think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better option in this price range.
Other Versions and Accessories
Specialized makes a full line of cycling shoes for men and women including a couple of versions of their award-winning 2FO shoes. The 2FO Cliplite Lace we tested is available in 2 color options and men's and women's versions.
The 2FO Cliplite retails for $180 and is the same shoe but employs Boa dials and a velcro strap as the closure system. The 2FO Cliplite is also available in both men's and women's versions.