Specialized 2FO ClipLite Review: What a Clipless Shoe Should Be

Virginia “The Destroyer” puts a pair of Specialized 2FO ClipLite shoes to the test for almost three years and reports back on how they held up.

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To preface this review, it should be known that I have developed a nasty reputation in my household as one who breaks, damages, or otherwise ruins things. Clothing (riding or otherwise), shoes, seatposts, saddles, helmets…you name it, and I’ve brought on its untimely demise. This is, by no means, intentional. I just think that my rather hurried nature and distractibility, in concert with a touch of clumsiness, take their toll on things. That said, I’m pleased to report that after almost three years of consistent, and, at times, unconventional use, The Destroyer (yours truly) has met her match. The Specialized 2FO ClipLite shoes have proven to be extremely durable. Aside from one relatively innocuous defect (details to follow), the shoes are in great shape, and they perform and fit as well as they did when new. So, what about their the fit and performance?

Specialized 2FO Cliplite Review

  • Specialized 2FO Cliplite Review
  • Specialized 2FO Cliplite Review
  • Specialized 2FO Cliplite Review

Performance

According to Specialized’s website, the Body Geometry sole construction and footbed are ergonomically designed and scientifically tested to boost power, increase efficiency, and reduce chance of injury by optimizing hip, knee, and foot alignment. I have no evidence to support nor contest the claims related to injury prevention (see note above regarding clumsiness), but the extended recessed cleat pocket offers 4mm of rear to aftward adjustment for the cleat mounts. The shoe’s rigid Lollipop™ nylon composite inner plate creates a nice stiff platform for efficient pedaling.

That efficiency and power transfer is also due, in part, to the secure fit of the 2FO. Each shoe has two Boa S2 dials that tighten the shoe in place. A Velcro strap is located closer to the toe box for added security. The S2 dials lack the quick release that other Boa dials offer, but, in my opinion, that just means one fewer potential mechanical failure. While I’m on the topic of the Boa dials, it’s time to confess. During the course of an awkward dismount and stumble, I dislodged the lower dial on my left shoe. At the time, it was fairly simple to replace, but it has subsequently fallen out and been lost. Fortunately, I’ve found that the absence of that dial hasn’t seemed to affect the shoe’s fit or performance, too much. If it had, replacement BOA dials and laces can be purchased.

Specialized 2FO Cliplite Review

  • Specialized 2FO Cliplite Review
  • Specialized 2FO Cliplite Review

As any bikepacker knows, the pedaling efficiency that a shoe offers is just one factor in its overall performance. How a shoe handles potentially arduous hike-a-bikes is, in my opinion, at least as important. The sole of the shoe is, as previously stated, really stiff through the shank, but the forefoot is moderately flexible. In addition, the heel cup is depressed, which provides a nice secure fit with no heel lift. The soles of the 2FO are constructed from Specialized’s proprietary Slipnot rubber. The compound is not quite as grippy as that used in some flats, but it is much softer and offers more traction than the super rigid soles found on the bottom of most clipless shoes. The shoe also has added toe box protection. Another big plus for the 2FO is its performance in wet weather. The thermobonded upper and gusseted tongue help keep water and muddy debris out of the shoe. This waterproofing has been consistent after years of riding through puddles and a few thorough hosings. If I wade through a deep stream, my foot gets a little damp, but dries impressively quickly. Off the trails, the recessed cleat pocket protects the cleats and cuts out irritating clicking.

Specialized 2FO Cliplite Review

My one complaint about the shoe is most likely related to some anatomical issues in my foot and not a defect in the shoe itself. Despite a fairly wide toe box, I find that the lateral aspect of my pinky toenail rubs a little along the seam where the rubber and more breathable fabric of the uppers meet. The rub has lessened over time and is barely noticeable at this point. All in all, I’ve found these shoes to be amazingly comfortable, both on and off the bike… and even while gardening.

Specialized 2FO Cliplite Review

  • Specialized 2FO Cliplite Review
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  • Specialized 2FO Cliplite Review

Features and Specs

Specialized 2FO ClipLite features include two Boa S2-Snap dials per shoe, Lollipop™ Nylon composite shank, SlipNot rubber sole, Toe box protection, Extended length cleat slot (4 mm), and Cushioned EVA midsole. Here are the specs:

  • Intended use Trail riding
  • Weight 746g/26.4 oz/1.65lb for the pair
  • MSRP $180 (on sale for $90)
  • Place of Manufacture Taiwan
  • Manufacturer’s Detail Link

Pros

  • Comfortable both on and off the bike
  • Secure fit without heel lift on hike-a-bikes
  • Grippy soles that don’t slip on damp, moss covered rocks and roots
  • Highly water resistant
  • Top-notch, durable construction*

Cons

  • *Boa closures can be knocked loose when seriously woman-handled
  • Pinkie toe rub, possibly due to seam interference, or just weird feet

Wrap Up

Specialized’s 2FO Cliplite is the perfect cross between a flat and a racing shoe. Its stiff nylon shank and secure fit create solid power transfer for efficient pedaling, while its grippy sole and deep heel pocket provide comfort and stability during hikes. It’s also got the looks. While it’s not as hip as some skate-styled flats on the market, it’s a far cry from the ultra rigid, shiny astronaut-ish look of some clipless footwear. Best of all, the 2FO Cliplite is well made. After years of abuse, these shoes have held up incredibly well. And, given my record, that’s saying a whole lot.

  • Bryan Dawson

    Have to agree with all the above. I recently bought a pair and they’re hands down the best shoe I’ve used on and off the bike – ever.

  • Mary Taylor

    Virginia– how reliable are the BOA systems in remote terrain? If they break, is it something that can be rigged?? Never had any, but these seem like awesome shoes!

  • Both Virginia and I have both been using Boa closures on and off for several years and put a lot of miles on them. Neither of us have had one fail. Knock on wood. I have heard rumors though. Fortunately, with this design, they are moveable. So, for example, she lost one of the top ones (probably in our storage unit somewhere), and then moved the one closest to the toe up to that spot and kept using it. So, theoretically, you could wear both shoes with two failed Boas.

  • fauxpho

    For those that are apprehensive about the Boa system, Specialized also offers a lace version of this same shoe.

  • Mark Troup

    Completely off-topic here but the photo just reminded me—I recently took your advice on the NZO front and got a pair of Dobies and Sifters. The Dobies are definitely my new go-to shorts. Thanks!

  • Sweet. Yeah, they are invincible too.

  • Chris Kyle

    I’ve had several sets of boa-laced MTB shoes and am not really a fan. I have a bony protrusion on top of each foot that the laces seem to put pressure on. I get around that by a few layers of mole skin. As far as durability of the lacing system in rough terrain, it’s pretty good. The one thing I have noticed with every pair of boa shoes I’ve worn is mud and sand eventually clog up the boa ratchet thing and it needs to be taken apart and cleaned out. So, I think it’s a good idea to always carry the super small boa wrench in your tool kit. Other than that, boa is at least as reliable as a buckle and more easily adjusted on the fly.

  • Swen

    The lace version fits much different in my experience (shop floor only).

  • Swen

    I have started getting spare Boa reals right when I buy a pair of Boa shoes just in case. They are so small and light that you can carry in a repair kit and do trail side repairs fairly easily. I’ve smashed a few off different shoes riding steep, rocky trails and replaced them, usually FOC if treated like a “warranty”.

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