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Team Tested: Specialized 2FO Shoe Review

Specialized announces a new all-mountain shoe, the 2FO. Riders who like going downhill need slightly different shoes. Read on to find out if the new 2FO fulfills those needs.

I was waiting to do one final test before giving the new Specialized 2FO shoe a verdict. As a working photographer, shooting mountain bike races, I’m off and on the bike a lot throughout the course of a day. The need to get to different locations on the race course, to get different shots, is crucial. And because I’m off the bike as much as riding it, I need a shoe to be multi purpose. I need it to hike pretty well, and be comfortable standing around for hours at a time. But I definitely need it to ride well. I need a bike shoe. I’ve definitely seen photographers riding in hiking boots or other type of flats, but I however, am not one of those guys. I’ve grown up on clipless pedals and I want that. Enter the 2FO.

Specialized announces a new all-mountain shoe, the 2FO.

Specialized announces a new all-mountain shoe, the 2FO.

Many different itinerations of the shoe, including a slice down the middle.

Many different itinerations of the shoe, including a slice down the middle.

Shoe testing in Hood River, Oregon. Photo: Specialized/ Dan Barham.

Shoe testing in Hood River, Oregon. Photo: Specialized/ Dan Barham.

When Specialized was coming up with a name for their new shoe, the phrases “foot out” and “flat out” kept coming up. They decided on a simple combo of the two terms, and came up with “2FO”. Works for me. In this crazy world of naming with codes and initials and who knows what scheme, simple is great.

A little bit of background on the shoe and then the final word.

“Slipnot” rubber was designed by Specialized and tuned to provide pedal grip and durability, and uses a directional “sharkskin” profile for additional grip when riding with dropped heels. The clip model has a dual durometer Slipnot sole specifically tweaked to make clipping in and out easier. They’ve also rounded the edges of the outsole, reducing friction while engaging the pedals.

Specialized decided an emphasis on this casual looking shoe should be comfort off the bike, while retaining a stiff sole for big riding days. The 2FO is built on a new last with that provides riders with a balance of pedal feel and walk around ability. According to Specialized, it’s “built with our Body Geometry system, that decreases fatigue, increases comfort, and improves pedaling performance by supporting the riders arch and balancing the foot and knee for optimal pedaling efficiency.”

Furthermore, “2FO Clip uses our “Lollipop” sole construction; a 3/4 nylon plate in the pedaling zone that is dropped into the EVA sole. This construction allows for efficient pedaling performance, while providing impact absorption and flex in the toe and heel for hiking.”

Riders want confident protection in technical, rocky terrain, so durability and outright protective qualities were on the mind of designers. At the front of the shoe, the 2FO uses an injection molded toe bumper that protects riders against anything from rock strikes to trail obstacles. Over the forefoot, an anti-tear polyurethane coated mesh provides ventilation without sacrificing durability. At the cuff, the shoes use an increased collar height on the inside to deflect crankarm and chainstay strikes.

I’ve been pedaling on this shoe for just over a month, switching between it and two other pairs of shoes from two different manufacturers. And now, after spending two long days (over 8 hours) in the field taking photos, I feel confident in giving these shoes a thumbs up.

A few color patterns are available. Flat and clip models as well.

A few color patterns are available. Flat and clip models as well.

Our Take

I’ve been pedaling on this shoe for just over a month, switching between it and two other pairs of shoes from two different manufacturers. And now, after spending two long days (over 8 hours) in the field taking photos, I feel confident in giving these shoes a thumbs up.

Shoes are like helmets in my opinion. You have to find ones that fit you. The fit is key, and we all have wildly different shaped feet. Specialized does do a very cool thing, and have included one of three different footbeds with the shoe. Low volume foot, high volume foot, you get a different footbed. Effective. I do find these shoes to be roomy, and have started reaching for thicker socks when I wear them, even with the sizing being spot on. These shoes are stiff, which I prefer. They pedal great. And I do feel there’s some truth to the claim that the design helps with clipping into your pedal. I also feel the overall design of the shoe was well done, and Specialized accomplished their goal of making a shoe that hikes well.

I’ve taken a number of tumbles in these shoes and have found the protection to be outstanding. They have a nice thick fore foot bumper that definitely wards off anything that wants to enter and hurt you. The mesh over the top of the foot is breathable and ventilates nicely. Since I’ve been wearing thicker socks, I was afraid of getting overly hot, but that’s not the case.

And one test I did artificially was the “water soak test.” Where I live in Colorado is normally pretty dry, so I hosed off the shoes after one ride, and placed them in a bucket of water for a few minutes, in order to test Specialized’s claims of the 2FO’s not holding water like some competitors. I gotta say, it’s true. These shoes held very little water and were bone dry the next morning. Compare that to being on a multi day trip in wet and muddy conditions, and the last thing you want to do is put on cold, clammy, still damp shoes, and you can see where fast dry times are important.

Colors available for the 2FO Clip. MSRP $180.

Colors available for the 2FO Clip. MSRP $180.

And the 2FO Flat. MSRP $130.

And the 2FO Flat. MSRP $130.

It's all about the new Specialized 2FO all mountain shoe. Photo: Specialized/ Dan Barham.

It’s all about the new Specialized 2FO all mountain shoe. Photo: Specialized/ Dan Barham.

Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a shoe with an unobtrusive look (read: not super dorky cycling specific) that pedals fantastically, stop here. I believe in the long term durability of this shoe, and look forward to giving it a thorough long term thrashing. This has become the shoe I reach for. If you’re coming from a stiff as a board, XC type race shoe, these will make you very happy. And for everyone else that just wants a shoe they can count on to transmit muscle into the pedal, and not lose energy due to flimsy shoes, you’ll also be happy with the 2FO. Then you can drive to the pub after the ride, and look pretty normal, and walk like a person, not like you’re on ice skates.

Words, Photos: Daniel Dunn

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