Specialized 2FO Cliplite Gen 2: A Perfect Blend of Hike and Bike [Review]

That crease line on the toe break is where the flex happens.

Sound the alarm! Someone just wrote the word “hike” into the title of a mountain bike shoe review. In all seriousness, it’s a good thing. The previous Specialized 2FO built up faithful fanfare for good reason. The shoes were light, durable, appeased many different sects of mountain bikers, and looked rather inoffensive. As we know times change and so do products. Specialized revamped the 2FO Cliplite at the end of last year. Are they going to be as popular as the last version? It’s hard to say.

Specialized 2FO Cliplite features and construction

Changes this year to the shoe include an upgrade to the Boa Li2 dials. The Li2 profile has been slimmed down so it’s not as knobby and it twists both forward and backward. A reverse turn loosens the fit a notch so you don’t have to pop the dial out and retighten it. Otherwise, the Boa Li2 works familiarly as before.

The upper shoe is “welded” to the lower, and combined with the new Boas, Specialized says this offers a more comfortable fit. Specialized used their SlipNot FG sole, which is a fancy brand term that means the bottom is sticky and “bounceless in any condition.” A Lollipop nylon shank is meant to keep the sole stiff and efficient under power while leaving the toe and heel flexible.

The new 2FO Cliplites weigh 424g per shoe, which is 50-60g heavier than the previous model, and they retail for $200 a pair (available at Worldwide Cyclery and JensonUSA).

On the trail

The previous generation of Specialized 2FO Cliplites was, I believe, my first pair of clipless shoes after I transitioned from flats. They lasted me a long time until they got phased out by multiple rounds of shoe testing. To put these shoes through the full gamut, you’d have to wait for a review a year or two after we got our hands on a pair, and of course, many people want to know what the new 2FOs are like a little sooner.

I started riding with these shoes early this spring on my local trails and jaunts down to more arid terrain in search of dry singletrack. Immediately, the fit reminded me of my old 2FOs. The shoes are still on the narrow side but do feel slightly wider. Initially, I thought they might be too small, but going up a size would have meant too much room in the toes. After a few rides, they have opened up a bit and feel fairly natural, although I still wouldn’t mind more room.

The heel cup is snug and keeps my heel from rising out of the shoe. Overall, the fit feels great and I like that the aesthetics are simpler than the previous model which looked like a pudgy XC shoe. In green, these almost remind me of an alligator with its tapered snout.

My one complaint about fit, and this is echoed in the consumer reviews on the Specialized page, is that tongue and corners of the upper feel a little harsh against the top of the foot, and apparently for some more than others. It’s something I have noticed as an annoyance but I wouldn’t say this has ruined my ride or my day. It may be worth trying these out in a bike shop rather than online to see if it may be an issue for you.

Under power, the 2FOs feel like a strong shoe. They are not XC stiff, but work well for long trail rides. One of the cool things about the shoe is how it balances this mid-shoe stiffness, with flex in the heel and the toe. Rather than altering your foot’s movement during a hiking section, the 2FO lets you bend your toes naturally to claw up a steep trail and the SlipNot pattern finds grip in loose and dusty dirt. The flex alone in the toe helps mitigate aches and hot spots that can occur while hauling your bike uphill on foot.

Closing thoughts

Thus far, the Specialized 2FOs have proven a solid revision. With a stiff sole, but flexible toe, the shoes balance pedaling and walking very well which should mitigate a lot of comfort issues for riders. Some might find comfort issues where the tongue meets the foot though. This hasn’t been a deal-breaker for me, but it is a little disappointing, especially because everything else on the shoe has been a hit. I’d recommend heading into a bike shop to confirm that it won’t be an issue for you.

Otherwise, the revised Specialized 2FO Cliplite moves into a better appearance and still feels as durable and well-rounded as the previous version.

Party laps

  • Improved looks
  • Stiff for pedaling, enough flex for walking
  • Better Boas

Pros and cons of the Specialized 2FO Cliplite V2

Dirt naps

  • Top of tongue can be uncomfortable
  • May be too narrow for some

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