Specialized have won favour with many mountain bikers and road riders alike for their range of footwear. They have continually refined the fit of their shoes, with an intense focus on performance and comfort via their Body Geometry system. While Body Geometry encompasses footwear, gloves, saddles and more – the shoes really are a key part, with the range of footbeds being adopted by many cyclists for shoes other than Specialized models.

After the launch of the 2FO (Foot Out, Flat Out) shoe, there was a need for something to fill out the trail riding shoe options, with many of the same attributes of the original 2FO.

The 2FO Cliplite is a blend of the 2FO, and a performance XC shoe. There’s a reinforced shank for pedalling efficiency, but it only runs for about two-thirds of the entire length – so the heels and toes are still soft. This is immediately noticeable when walking in the Cliplite, it feels like a regular shoe when off the bike. The Varus wedge, which Specialized are known for, is 1.5mm and built into the sole, while the metatarsal button is in the footbeds – which can be changed to suit the required arch support.

On the sole, the Cliplite runs a long and fairly deep cleat pocket. As part of the 2FO line, it needs to be excellent for getting in and out of the pedals. The long pocket really helps guide you to the engagement, and the Slip Knot rubber is far stickier than the plastic usually found on the soles of a performance XC shoe.

While it carries the appearance of a casual shoe, the designers created a performance fit, compared to the relaxed fit for the 2FO. A performance fit actually makes pedalling easier, as you don't need to find stability with your foot in your shoe. You just push hard on the pedals. The Cliplite keeps the toe protection, but cuts it down to primarily in front of the big toe, with a rubber toe bumper in place too. The height of the rubber up the sides of the shoe was reduced, to keep weight down – and a protective film has been applied to the foam to stop it tearing up.

Along the sides, the material has been reinforced with ceramic printing. This is a very light way to make the sides of the shoe scuff-resistant, which will add durability to the shoes through rock gardens or when off the bike and walking.

The upper has a 3-point adjustment, with two BOA systems with S2 dials, and a short Velcro strap above the toe. The BOA system is the easiest I have ever used, and has tool free removal. That’s a big deal. More on that later.

As part of keeping the shoe as light as possible, the upper uses a gusseted tongue. It helps minimise excess material, but has the added bonus of keeping trail grit out of your shoe, as the material is all connected. The BOAs also unclip wo you can pull the tongue up a long way to really help dry the shoes out after a wet ride.

And the weight? 389g in size 42 compared to 450g for the 2FO.

There are six colours available in total, 4 men’s colours in sizes 38-47, and two women’s in 36-44. Of course, if your shoe size fits within both ranges – you’ve got 6 colours to choose from. The show is otherwise the same for men and women.

ON THE TRAIL

The majority of my road and mountain bike shoes in the past 10 years have been from Specialized. Not due to any specific allegiance to them, but because an EU44 shoe with the green (most supportive) inner soles just worked.

The performance fir of the 2FO Cliplite was noticeable, the shoe felt as secure as one of my sets of XC shoes compared to a trail shoe. It was super easy to make the shoes too tight as well. The BOA straps are just a short loop across the foot, without any lacing patterns that have been used on shoes in the past. A shorter setup like this makes it very easy to get tension, and maintain it, plus with less wear on the wire.

I’m fairly accustomed to finding the cleat on the sole of my shoe when clipping in, or when dabbing a foot. But when getting a foot out at speed, through a drifting corner, it really was easy to guide your foot back in thanks to the long cleat pocket. The trails we rode at the launch near Graeagle had plenty of loose trail to practice this!

The trails also had plenty of up to earn the down. And the Cliplite are by far the most comfortable shoes I’ve done extended hike-a-bike in. I eanred heel spurs from a season of races with too much hike-a-bike from a set of S-Works shoes before, and blisters from an epic hot day hiking out of hidden canyon in Moab in the same set of S-Works XC shoes. So having a shoe fit for purpose is not only good for being sure-footed, but also comfort.

That said, while the rubber is good, it’s not stealth-rubber sticky, and maybe not as grippy as Vibram rubber – but that is purely on my own feedback, not side by side on some grip testing machine.

The low weight was very much appreciated, but with Shimano cleats fitted, they were only 20g lighter than my Giro Terraduros. The material feels a lot lighter and cooler, and the Cliplite are easier to walk in though.

BOAs have frustrated me in the past. I love the simplicity, and how they don’t protrude much, but the servicing when the fine wire starts to degrade is a drag. But the BOA system on the Cliplite is not only beefed up, it also sits higher on the foot to avoid crash damage. But, if you do damage on from crashing hard, you can clip it off without tools, and maybe replace it with the lower one from your other foot. Or even carry a spare if you’re going well into the backcountry. With all the BOA shoes I’ve had, I’ve never broken one, just worn through the wires and got confused with the rewiring. But the thicker and shorter wires, and tool free replacement, plus the fat knobs for dialling them up – make these a huge improvement if you have ever had concerns with the system.

I’ve had my shoes wet on almost every ride I’ve taken them on, from either streams, puddles or storms – and also from walking through snow fields. They dry really quickly once the water stops coming in, but the water does hang around in the toe box for a little while. The toe guard must prevent drainage through the front, which makes for a bit of a sloshing sensations when still pedalling in seriously wet times.

The shortened shank is great for walking, but on long, extended downhills my arches did get a little overworked. Yes, that sounds delicate. But I mean really, really long sections of extended standing and pumping your bike through terrain. Say, over 10 minutes with no respite. So while it’s not a huge issue, it’s not something I’d experienced on long descents with a full carbon sole.

All up though, I’m really stoked with these shoes. One of the biggest downside of any shoe is poor fit, and the 2FO Cliplite has the performance fit that I’m well and truly used to (and that’s with a very wide foot) with excellent trail features for on and off the bike. The cleat pocket and sole make riding, walking, talking, and generally hanging out a comfortable experience, and I’m certain these shoes will be widely popular.


Hits: Fit, function, comfort and style.

Misses: Can hold water in a monsoon.

From: Specialized Australia - available in late August

RRP: $269.95