Specialized’s 2FO shoes have wisdom beyond their years.
For their second year on the market, the F2Os are a elegantly utilitarian. The all-mountain shoe is offered in both flat and clipped options, the former of which we’ve been relentlessly abusing all winter long. The 2FO flats do well both on and off the bike, which was no mistake by the Specialized design team. In this new world of pedal-assisted downhill—some prefer the term “Enduro”—our riding gear now must be more versatile than ever before.
A shoe that can stick to pedals, remain stiff, and keep feet dry also must have hike-a-bike function, all day comfort, and casual styling for post-ride dinner and drinks. The 2FO does well at satisfying all riders, whether it is a top level racer, photographer, or anyone going out for a casual Sunday ride.
Upon the initial take, the 2FO’s were lightweight, well designed for water proofing, and had high quality materials and construction. The sole lugs are logical in their placement and designed for function. Specialized used “Slipnot” rubber, a compound that has just the right amount of tack. The Five Ten Stealth compound has more grip, but crazy tackiness was not the goal of this shoe. Specialized’s idea was to be able to have a compound with enough sticky to keep the rider on the pedals, but not so sticky that the rider cannot reposition their feet after a small slip in a techy rock garden or jump section. The lugs have a honeycomb pattern, with deeper, wider spacing at the toe and heel, offering better traction for hiking or walking in steep, loose dirt.
Towards the center of the shoe, where the pedal and pins contact the sole the hexagon lugs are tighter and more shallow. This is designed to allow the pins to depress into the sole of the shoe as well as allow an easy repositioning of the rider’s feet. Specialized added further development in the hex pattern by making a directional “fish scale” profile that helps to keep feet on the pedals when riding DH sections of trail with dropped heals. In addition to the directional lugging, the hexagons have been angled as well. This has been designed in a way that offers a counter balance to the angles seen when dropping heals during steeper sections of trail.
Specialized adds further function with the water proofing materials that are on both the inside and outside of the shoe. A rubberized coating on the outside is both heavy-duty and weather resistant. My feet stayed pretty dry in adverse conditions. We live in a rainforest up here in the Northwest, so if you can have happy feet after four hours of riding in the rain, I know that the shoes are good at shedding water and mud.
The Specialized team was keen on finding padding materials that would resist the absorption of water to help alleviate that feeling of spinning a pair of fish bowls around your cranks. The padding material was treated with a water-resistant coating, helping maintain a shoe that is lighter, more efficient, and more comfortable for the rider.
The toe box is reinforced, helping save the toes from the inevitable shrapnel kicked up by the front tire. The toe did feel a bit narrow, making the size 11 shoe fit more like a 10.5. Maybe I have fatter feet than I remember, but the consensus was that it’s a bit small to size. Nothing a few hikes and stomping around can’t buff out with enough time—the shoes did pack out eventually. The foot bed was comfortable, with three different options to choose from. Depending on one’s specific foot shape and arch, anyone can find a foot bed to suit their needs.
Final take: A solid shoe designed with the all mountain rider in mind. The sole is stiff, but not so stiff you lose pedal feel. I’ve put in some serious time riding the 2FO on the pedal bike, and I feel like I’m glued to the pedals like a 17-year-old girl to her iPhone. However, a slight and purposeful shifting of weight can allow the rider to reposition a foot safely, they’ve got just the right level of tacky. The materials are high quality, the durability has been more than sufficient and most of all, they’re comfortable for walking and hiking up steep terrain. With seven months of use, I haven’t had any major cuts from rocks or separations in the shoe construction. I’d recommend these shoes to any rider looking to shred hard and never have to think about their feet. Well, you'll still think about your feet, you just wont have to worry about them.