- Quick drying
- Comfortable soles
- Can be uncomfortable around the inside ankle area
- Ventilation isn't great
- Limited colour options
The Specialized 2FO range has been around for several years and has always been considered a well-performing shoe. The new ClipLite looks to build on this reputation with a well-rounded, comfortable and lightweight offering but be careful with the cut of the shoe and try before you buy.
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My first impression is that this is a well-finished shoe. It looks like a quality item and is impressively lightweight, considering its gravity intentions, at 940g with Shimano cleats. For reference, with the same cleats, a pair of the same sized Shimano AM9s weigh 1,075g.
Specialized boast many claims for their Body Geometry soles such as “increased efficiency” and “optimized hip, knee and foot alignment”. There’s no way I can test these claims, but I can say how comfortable I found these soles to be. The shoe feels like a trainer with a supportive yet relaxed fit. The midsole is a mix of EVA foam with a nylon shank designed to flex when walking but remains stiff for power transfer through the pedals. The toe box is quite square, so wider feet shouldn’t have an issue getting comfy. I found the upper to have less support than some shoes, such as the AM9s; this allows some flex, which aids comfort on the bike but provides a little less protection from side impacts. The sizing is spot on, with my usual size fitting exactly as expected.
BOA laces provide a well-supported even tension across the front of the shoe and make fine adjustments easy. I’m always a little nervous that if the BOA system breaks, it would be much harder to fix out on the trail than tying a shoelace back together. I’ve never had BOA issues, so maybe I’m just paranoid! There have been reported issues with the tongue of the shoe rubbing and causing discomfort; however, I haven’t experienced this personally. I found the tongue to be quite thin but spreads the load of the BOA cables and doesn’t pinch or bunch up.
The tread pattern on these shoes provides ample grip when off the bike and sticks well to the pedal pins (if you have them in your clipped pedals) when out of the cleat. The “landing strip” cleat channel fits the standard 2 bolt style cleats (tested with SPD) and gives plenty of room to find the cleat when clipping in. There is a lot of adjustment to place the cleats back as far as you could need with handy marks along the channel, allowing you to get the cleats lined up square and even on each foot. Specialized has included handy markings on the cleat channel to get the position straight and even across the shoes.
The shoe fights off the odd puddle splash but isn't waterproof. On the other hand, its lightweight and minimal construction allow it to dry quickly, meaning multi-day winter rides are doable with the help of a radiator. I've found the shoe's ventilation to be minimal; on winter rides, this is welcomed to keep warm, but the heat build-up in the shoe is noticeable on warm days. It's not a deal-breaker and doesn't cause discomfort, but there are more breathable shoes out there.
As impressive as the Cliplites are, I have a couple gripes with them. The stiff nylon shank does a good job of transferring power but does make walking on the trail a little challenging, and I found my heel lifting in the shoe on some occasions. My other issue is the cut on the inside around the ankle. The rounded corner of the upper (next to the tongue - as photographed below) causes a pressure point that can become quite sore after several hours of use. It is worse when walking but still noticeable when pedalling. Over winter, this hasn't been an issue with slightly thicker socks, but the problem has developed now it's getting warm, and socks are thinner. This is something worth looking out for when buying a pair.
Available in green or black and retailing at £175, the 2FO ClipLite's are a solid offering. However, there is strong competition in the bike shoe market. The Shimano ME7 has long been a top clipless shoe, and at £179, they cannot be overlooked. Our Rach really rated them in her review here. Or for less money, the Leatt DBX 4.0 came in at £100 and scored well with Liam here; it's a strong performing shoe but is quite bulky and warm.
Specialized has done a great job with the 2FO ClipLite. There is a lot to like with all the features needed for an enduro/trail clipless shoe. It's comfortable, lightweight, grippy and easy to adjust; with the added benefit of quick-drying, it's a strong performer. However, be aware of the cut around the ankle, and try before you buy to make sure it isn't going to cause an issue. There are certainly cheaper options available, but the price is not unreasonable for the performance and quality on offer.