Last year at Crankworx, Specialized released new footwear purpose built for guys and girls who like to go “braaaap.” In development for over four years, their name is an acronym for my favorite typo of riding style; foot out, flat out. After almost a year of ripping around on the shoes both on and off the bike, the verdict is in…
It’s a well known industry secret that Specialized produces some of best (and reasonably priced) tires on the market, and they leaned heavily on that expertise when creating the rubber tread compound for these shoes. They call the material they created Slip Not, and it works remarkably well.
While the shoes we tested are designed for flats, there is also a 2FO Clip version offered. Both variations utilize the same outer tread, but the clip shoe has a landing strip in the center of the sole that utilizes a harder compound. This reduces friction when clipping in, making getting back into the pedals during those “’oh shit” moments an easier task. The cleat slots are also longer and offset farther to the rear of the sole, allowing for cleat positioning appropriate to gravity riding as compared to XC shoes, when power output trumps ankle stability and control.
Hidden to the naked eye is a nylon shank that Specialized calls “lollipop” due to it’s similar shape to the hard candy confection. It provides a stiffer pedaling platform, and presumably could also come in handy during a prison fight. The lollipop runs only halfway through the length of the shoe, so they’re comfortable enough for the brewery, or hiking up to session a new jump line, but still stiff enough to put the power down.
A major design goal during development was weight reduction. To satisfy weight weenies, Specialized’s engineers utilized a type of air mesh for ventilation that is frequently found in car seats, rather than the foam traditionally used by competitors.
One of the claimed advantages is that it allows water to pass through more easily, which prevents the shoes from getting water logged, and packing on weight in the wet.
After months of riding, what I came away most impressed with was the ventilation. My first time wearing these shoes was on a lift at Whistler and I could literally feel cold air funneling across my toes.
The 2F0s also have a reinforced toe kick and heel cuff for protection against rocks or crank strikes – both features I have had the misfortune to utilize and appreciate.
The fit is true to size and the company also offers a “women’s specific” version, which shares the same foot last as the men’s model, but comes in this tasteful purple and neon green colorway. The shoe is further customizable via multiple foot beds for those with low, middle,or high arches. They are available through stocking dealers, who can also help fit you with the correct insole, which is how I found out that the green insoles would work best for my high arches.
On the Trail
In addition to beating the piss out of these shoes on the trails, I’ve also worn these kicks on several impromptu hikes, and at multiple tradeshows – which is a testament to their comfort. They’re not quite as cozy as my Teva Links, but they are significantly lighter, and shed water much better.
On the grip scale, these fall somewhere just below perennial class leader Five.Ten, but are considerably more comfortable.
The 2F0s not only look good, but bring a refreshingly well thought out feature set to the gravity market. At $130 (or $170 for the 2FO Clip verson), they’re not cheap, but they are among the best shoes I’ve ever worn for flat pedals.