While the launch of the Camber was the main reason Specialized invited us up North for an incredible 3 days of shredding in Downieville, Mount Elwell and countless other sections of sublime trails in Northern California, they also showed us a new shoe. We’ve been riding the standard lace up 2F0 Clip shoes for the last 6 months as our go to do it all shoe. We have very little to gripe about with the “old” shoes, so we were a bit surprised when they first told us they’d improved on it and updated it for the modern trail rider.
Aside from a dramatically lighter weight(100 grams/pair) and a host of small refinements in construction, fit and finish, the major update is the switch to BOA. First seen in snowboard boots and now commonly used in the road and XC shoe world, BOA is a quick, simple, bombproof dial that replaces a shoe’s laces. We’ve been absolutely floored by these shoes since our first day riding them. After we go over their specs, we’ll delve into how they treated us out on the trails.
• Landing Strip cleat pocket is optimized for effortless foot-out riding style with platform clip pedals.
• Stiff Lollipop nylon composite plate for high performance pedaling & off bike comfort & walkability.
• SlipnotTM rubber sole for confident traction.
• Asymmetric toe box protection where you need it.
• Extended length cleat slot (4mm) for rearward cleat set up option.
• Smooth thermobonded upper for lightweight durability and a snag-free profile.
• Cushioned EVA midsole comfort with molded heel cup for stability.
• Gusseted tongue to keep out debris.
• Standard Fit – performance pedaling and room in the toes for walkability.
• Ceramic printed details provide durability in high wear areas.
• BOA® S2 dials provide micro adjustment and are easily replaceable and customizable.
• Weight : 389g (1/2 pair, #42)
• Price : $180
What did we already like about 2FO?
As we said, Specialized had already hit the nail on the head with the 2FO Clips. So before we get into the meat and potatoes on the Cliplite, let’s talk about what we already liked about their predecessors seeing how a great deal of those features and technology have crossed over to the new shoe.
Cleat Pocket Specialized dubs their cleat pocket the “Landing Strip” – we’re not sure if this is a reference to aviation or how lady’s manicure their bikini line, but we like it either way. The bottom line is that the slots for your cleats are perhaps the longest on the market and offer not only a great amount of adjustment fore and aft, but the shape of the “landing strip” really allows for the fastest engagement we’ve ever felt. Even in the least ideal situations out there(read : off beat, rocky, off camber sections with no flow) we get locked in really quickly when it matters most. It isn’t just shape and size that helps your cleat find the pedal – Specialized utilized a harder durometer rubber compound surrounding the cleat pocket. This prevents the shoe from sticking and hanging up on the pedal so the cleat and pedal line up and engage quickly.
Fit While their shoes ship with a standard insole, Specialized offer variable arch supports for their cycling shoes. Proper fit means proper alignment…over a long ride this means more comfort. Over the span of numerous long rides this prevents injuries. Anyhow, the we liked the snugly cut, narrow fitting heel combined with the generous toe box on the 2FO Clips but often found ourselves cinching up the laces after a few miles.
Breathability Lots of mesh and ventilation not only kept these shoes breathing well, but they also dried out remarkably fast.
Protection The rubber toe bumper did a great job of protecting us when we didn’t mind our pedals or dragged our feet like slobs in the occasional blown out turn. The key here is that they didn’t go overboard and make us feel like we were wearing snowboard boots…(cough…five ten…cough)
Walkability The outsole is perfect. This shoe already struck a perfect balance between shank stiffness and flexibility in the right places, thus making walking on awkward rocks a breeze while also providing plenty of power transfer. This primarily comes from a 3/4 “lollipop shank” and the perfect combination of rubber compounds – soft at the heel and toe for traction, firm near the cleat pocket…more on that next.
What are the improvements on the 2FO Cliplite?
First and foremost, they’re nearly 1/4 of a pound lighter – the weight loss is always nice. Especially when it only tacks on $10 to the retail price. For reference sake, the 2F0 Clips retailed for $170. Next, perhaps our favorite feature is the BOA system. We have to admit that we were skeptical at first but there are a host of benefits :
* You can adjust them not only incrementally, but on the fly as well. Say goodbye to just living with numb feet because part way through a ride you realize that your shoes are too tight and you’re too focused to bother adjusting them.
* BOA distributes tension better and more evenly. No more hot spots or pinches. This is partially due in part to a supreme fit.
* They are incredibly quick to get on and off.
* BOA dials are lifetime warranted. You can also pop them off and change them with a credit card in the unlikely event that something goes wrong.
Specialized have also incorporated a great deal of other refinements to various aspects of the shoe. The toe bumper has been slimmed down for a less bulky feel – protection only where you need it. The upper of the shoe also uses tougher, but lighter weight materials that are a bit more flexible, adding to their comfort. Additionally, the outsole has been improved a bit and we found them to be less bulky and improved upon slightly in terms of walkability.
Lastly, the fit has been improved. The 2FO Clips had a “relaxed” fit, and while we appreciated the narrow fitting heel, the vamp and toe box were a bit roomy for our taste. The new 2F0 Cliplite features a “standard” fit. What does that mean? Things were a bit slimmer up front without cramping us. The new shoe felt a bit more secure and the fit was supreme from toe to heel.
Overall Specialized set out to make the ultimate trail rider’s shoe and so far we can say they’ve succeeded. As we’ve only spent about a month riding these, the jury is out on long term durability. That said, if they hold up as well as the 2F0 clips, they’ll be a sure winner. With as much as they share in terms of construction, it’s a safe bet.
Our first riding impressions are that these are the best all around day to day clipless shoes that we’ve ever donned. They also come in at a reasonable cost. In fact, one can spend far more than that on a mountain bike shoe if they really felt the need, although we aren’t quite sure why they would want to. Also, the fact that the BOA system is lifetime warranted should add to consumer confidence. Highest praises due to Specialized on these kicks – they’ve raised the bar yet again.
Below, the colorways for 2FO cliplite are all shown