With a new 2FO Cliplite released in November, Specialized have refined the shoe and made sure it fits a wide trail riding demographic.
Words and photos: Mike Blewitt
I first slipped into a pair of Specialized 2FO Cliplites in winter 2015, when Specialized released the footwear that was essentially a cross between their recently released 2FO flat pedal shoe, and a cross-country shoe. And sure, maybe with a little bit of spin bike aesthetic, depending who you you asked. I loved the shoes, given they had great stiffness for pedaling, without giving up all day comfort. And unlike other trail shoes I'd been using, water freely poured out of them, and they dried quickly as well.
Specialized have had a couple of iterations since then, and a pair of 2FO Cliplites has always been one of my go-to shoes for trail rides given they are tough, pretty light, and have a great balance of stiffness and comfort.
With a new 2FO Cliplite released in November, Specialized have refined the shoe and made sure it fits a wide trail riding demographic. The style has had an overhaul, bringing a more casual look to the shoe (except for the two BOA dials). The fit moves to a relaxed fit last, and sits atop a cushioned EVA midsole. SlipKnot rubber takes care of the outer sole, with a wider cleat pocket with more of a chamfered edge to really make sure you engage when you need to. The slots run well back as well, so you can really get the cleats slammed back in the cleat pocket. The BOA Li2 dials are so easy to adjust, and are a cinch to release when it's time to kick the shoes off.
The welded upper also has more padding on the tongue, and the last is flatter than the previous model, so all in – it's a very different shoe. Weight wise, a pair of EU44 2FO Cliplites have shed 4 grams from my last pair. Amazing!
On the feet and trail
First thing – these are really comfortable. When a sample pair arrived, I put them on before fitting cleats to check the fit was good. I've found EU44 Specialized shoes to have the ideal fit for over a decade, and nothing has changed. The midsole on my previous pair had an arbitrary stiffness rating of 9, and this new pair would be a little less. It's most noticeable towards the heel, and this makes more a more comfortable heel strike when walking, and more security when hiking down something you're not sure you can ride.
The upper is more comfortable too, and this was noticeable not just wearing them around, but on the bike as well. My last pair did have a bit of a break in period, where I felt like I was being broken in for the first 30 hours of use. That set are well into their 3rd year of use with no signs of slowing down, so being tough isn't a bad thing. But the new 2FO Cliplite is just eons ahead in comfort.
On the trail, the 2FO Cliplite move to the back of your mind, although I did notice they feel less supportive on a pedal than any of the previous models, thanks to the softer midsole. I used them with both Shimano XT Trail and XT Race pedals, and while the smaller pedals were ok, or passable, the XT Trail pedals with the added support was my pick – but a pedal with a bigger platform would be better again. There was still more give than I am used to, and I did notice that after a couple of hours on the bike.
Where this slipped away was when doing a ride where I was stopping and starting a little more, when out exploring some new trails and looking to find more. The 2FO Cliplite moves seamlessly from the bike to trail to snack stop and back again, never feeling like I was wearing the wrong shoes.
The Specialized 2FO Cliplite has evolved, moving to an aesthetic that will appeal to more riders, but also a fit and feel as well. While in the last pair I would have happily worn them for a big day on the pedals, I think the latest iteration suits a big day riding socially, with time on and off the bike. Be that for epic rides that mix in hike-a-bike with committing lines, shuttling, trail build days or something else – bring your supportive platform clipless pedals and you'll love these.
- Light and comfortable
- Fast drying
- Great outer sole and cleat pocket
- BOA dials for a great fit
- May not be the 2FO Cliplite you used to know