Remember when Specialized just made bike tires? Me either, but that is where the brand found its first grip. I also don’t remember crawling in diapers or what it was like to ride with training wheels, though I know both of those things happened at some point.
Today, the California-based brand makes everything from e-commuters and carbon kids bikes to downhill race machines and the shoes that attach to them. Their latest series of MTB shoes that launched early last November lost a little weight and gained a more relaxed look. They are as technology-packed as ever.
Starting with the trail-to-pub pipeline, the 2FO Roost kicks have a cozy aesthetic throughout. They look like a mix between a mid-weight skateboard shoe and a classic running shoe. In the US they are available in this taupe color-way with black soles, or in all-black with a gum sole. After being forced to wear khaki slacks at a few crap jobs, I typically despise any gear that resembles that color. Fortunately, after a few days of digging trail, the khaki/taupe hue faded to a less offensive shade that I’d call “filthy.”
My EU shoe size is 43 on the nose, and Specialized sent a 43.5 since that’s what was available. Supply shortages are affecting everyone. I was stoked to be able to fit a second pair of socks in these shoes on chilly rides, but I would recommend ordering your usual size as my sample seems to be accurately about a half-size long. Speaking of double socks, these shoes are quite well ventilated and will be better suited to warmer weather pedaling.
The upper material on the 2FO Roost is a tough synthetic leather and having spent about as much time digging in these shoes as riding, I can certainly say it’s tough enough for the intended use. The shoes have been used as a shovel and soil stamper over multiple weekends, and they look close to new after a good wash. The molded portions are still fully connected, and the stitches are also in good shape. Despite my narrow heels, I had good luck walking up the trail in these shoes, with minimal heel slippage and a comfortable amount of sole flex.
Traction and mud-shedding with the SlipNot™ FG rubber sole is on par with most other gravity shoes. They will pack up and become slippery with enough mud, like any other, but in most conditions, the soles offer ample grip. On harder surfaces, like clipless pedals and granite, the softer rubber hooks up well. I was happy with the traction they provided on the few occasions I had to clip out for a greasy turn and then stand on the pedal for a piece without clipping back in.
Like most modern gravity shoes, the cleat channel on the 2FO Roost extends further back than the brand’s prior models to allow riders to choose a more mid-foot cleat position. I didn’t have any trouble measuring the cleat distance from the heel of the shoe against my other shoes, even with the longer toe box on this pair. I tested these shoes with cleats and pedals from HT Components and Look for a coming clipless pedal review, and both sets meshed well with the cleat channel and sole.
I haven’t experienced any hotspots in these shoes, as there seems to be ample support around the cleat channel. It’s quite impressive that so many MTB shoe brands have learned to make a walkable shoe that’s stiff enough to sprint with. These might not be my first choice for racing, as I prefer a little stiffer sole and more overall protection, but for everyday riding the 2FO Roost hits the sweet spot.
Folks who have narrow feet will rejoice in the 2FO lacing system. While the laces work fine no matter your foot width, they also cinch down nice and tight without the lace-eyelets pulling together and limiting how tight they can get. The tongue is made of the same padded and perforated material as the ankle padding, so there’s no pressure from the laces against your foot bones. There is a stretchy strap between the third set of lace eyelets to holster the laces, and it keeps them safely out of the drivetrain without issue.
In terms of protecting all 26 of those little paw bones from trail stones, these shoes offer a mid to light level of armor. There is a sturdy barrier around the toe box to cover the most common impacts, and the sole is handily thick enough to cover intrusions from that angle, but the sides and top are left fairly thin and breathable.
All of the Specialized shoes I have tried have a pronounced angle inside the sole that my knees don’t get along with. It’s as if the arch support of the shoe is a little too high, and maybe runs the length of the shoe — cocking my whole foot to the outside. The shoe designers at Specialized said that this angle matches the natural slope of most human feet while walking or pedaling. If I wear these shoes for several days in a row the knee pain eventually calms down, but when switching between shoes these are the only pair that cause me knee problems. Specialized sent over a set of inserts to slightly correct the angle under the ball of my foot, and it seems to be helping somewhat. Folks with healthy arches and a normal foot angle will likely appreciate this tilt, but for riders with flat hind-paws like mine, it will be worth trying a pair of these on prior to purchase.
At $130 (available at JensonUSA and Competitive Cyclist) these hardy foot protectors should work well for most riders. Specialized says that the 2FO Roost weigh 367g each in size 42, and we’ll have to take their word for it since mine are packed with drying mud. Soil encrusted, with a set of HT cleats installed, my size 43.5 pair weight 443g per side.