Specialized has just dropped their latest version of their popular 2FO mountain bike shoes. This version comes with some impressive updates and a new name. This isn’t Specialized’s first rodeo in the MTB shoe world. Over the years, they’ve introduced several impressive shoes for both clips (clipless) and flats, ranging from XC to DH. Tapping into those years of riding, athlete feedback, and research into new technologies helped them to produce one of their best mountain bike shoes to date. We’ve been cranking out the miles and sessioning our local trail center to put the 2FO Roost to test. Read on for all the details and our ride review on these new shoe contenders.
It’s likely that the term, “2FO,” is one that you’ve heard when shopping for new mountain bike shoes, but many may not know what it means. “2FO” is short for, “foot out, flat out,” and after spending a fair bit of time with these on our feet, we think that name is very fitting. The “Roost” version of the 2FO’s is a further clue into what the intention of these shoes is; fun rips with friends and hanging out long after the ride ends. We’re not certain if Specialized chose the term, “roost,” to represent slapping berms and roosting dirt or to mean feeling right at home, but both sentiments seem to match our time on these. These are not hard enduro or downhill shoes, but for hot laps at your favorite trail center these provide ample protection, great grip, and comfort.
We found ourselves feeling so confident in the predictable grip and comfortable fit of these shoes that we easily forgot that we were out testing something new for the first time. From the first time we slid our feet into these shoes, they felt like shoes that we’d been wearing for several months. There didn’t seem to be any need to “break in” the uppers or footbed, and the grip from the soles immediately felt familiar (more on that later). Also, Specialized seems to have nailed the sizing of these for what we expected using the EU sizing guide.
We did note is that these shoes are quite roomy in the toe-box area and would be best suited for those with normal to wider feet towards their toes. If you’re foot is on narrower end of the spectrum, you might have a bit of extra wiggle room in these. This may be a non-issue since we found that we never had to cinch our laces down hard to feel solidly engaged in these shoes. In fact, we found that we were able to run our laces on the relaxed side while still maintain a good foot hold and control on the bike.
Both the flat and clip(less) version of these shoes feature many of the same design elements and details, but there are some differences (beyond the use of a cleat) to take note of. The clip shoe utilizes micro-perforated synthetic materials for the uppers and stiffer sole with harder durometer rubber. This difference gives the clip version an overall stiffer feel which is a welcome attribute for those looking to lock into their pedals for efficiency but is still engineered to flex where needed. The clip version features Specialized’s Landing Strip™ cleat pocket that uses a large cleat adjustment pocket with sloped sides to help quickly guide your cleat to the pedal for easy and fast pedal connections. The cleat has a large range of positions to choose from to get your preferred pedal placement underfoot.
Clip Shoe Details
The flats are constructed from true suede and leather keeping these shoes comfortable and flexible without worrying about abrasions or scuffs. Specialized’s 3rd generation of their SlipNot™ SuperTacky Rubber keeps your feet locked to your pedals’ pins (we promise, more on that later). After spending a lot of time sessioning lines to get the pictures and video for this article, we can attest to the comfort and grip of these shoes both on the pedals and pushing up hills.
Flat Shoe Details
For features you can find on both versions, both shoe styles come with a lace keeper on the tongue, another small strap to thread your laces through that does a great job keep the tongue from shifting side-to-side, ample toe protection, XPEL™ hydrophobic mesh lining, and a hexagonal-ish dotty pattern on the sole with deep grooves between the dots for grip. Specialized claims that the shape of the tread pattern also helps to reduce wear off the bike. We have not spent nearly enough time on these shoes to test this claim but, in our short time, these shoes look nearly brand new still, so the claim appears to hold true.
So, we’ve talked enough about how the 2FO Roost shoes fit and their list of features, and, in a competitive vacuum, these shoes are fantastic. But the MTB shoe landscape has many competitors and several with compelling features and performance. So, how do the Specialized 2FO Roost shoes stack up against the competition? While our comparisons may be far from scientific, we did pit these against several shoes from brands like Five Tens, Ride Concepts, Giro and more, riding familiar trails on the same bikes and pedals with similar trail conditions. Keep reading to see how the 2FO performed against some other contenders in the mountain bike shoe space.
Part of Specialized’s ethos in the design of the 2FO shoes was to have a shoe that could look as good off the bike as it performed on the bike, and we think Specialized did a pretty solid job at pulling this off thanks to their minimal and subtle logos, slimmed down profile, and clean color palates. Don’t get us wrong, these aren’t going to be our night-out-on-the-town shoes, but they’d be good for a run to the grocery store or a post-ride pub stop with your riding friends. Plus, the flats are exceptionally comfortable for just walking around without feeling like you have an overly bulky or stiff shoe underfoot. Most riding shoes tend to feel a bit bulkier and often have a generous amount of logos and colors on display. We appreciate the subtlety of the 2FO Roost shoes.
There are MTB shoes out there that are designed to protect your feet from the wet and cold by keeping the weather outside your shoes, but these are overkill for most riding days. The 2FO Roost shoes aren’t designed for that. Instead, these are everyday shoes that allow your feet to breathe easily and for the shoe to dry out quickly, so you’re ready for your next ride. To accomplish this Specialized uses XPEL™ hydrophobic lining throughout the inside of the shoe. This soft mesh material not only helps your shoe breathe exceptionally well and dry out quickly from a wet ride or sweat but helps to keep these shoes very light. In fact, our test shoes weighed in at 775g (flat version in size 44.5) which is ~150g lighter than several of the competitors’ shoes that we compared these to. That may not seem like much but it is noticeable when pedaling and, for some riders, every gram counts.
Out of the box, the 2FO shoes were the lightweight champ against all the shoes we compared. They bested our other test shoes by 100-175g. The caveat to this is that these Roost shoes are not quite as armored up as some of the competitors, so if protection is a primary need for your riding, we’d recommend looking to some other options. For most riders and trails, these provide more than enough protection. Something we did not test was the weight of these after a wet ride and the associated drying time, but with how well the XPEL™ material seems to breathe and dry, we expect that these shoes would beat the competition in that scenario, as well.
Let’s get down to the question that everyone is wondering, and we’ve been alluding to; are these as grippy as Five Ten Stealth Rubber? Yes… we think so. We must admit that the 5.10 shoes that we put up against these had several months of riding at the time of testing and maybe that affects things, but we found the latest version of the SlipNot™ rubber to be impressively grippy and never left us wanting for more. Further, our testers even noted that the Specialized rubber seemed to damp trail chatter under foot just slightly better than the competition which lead to a more planted and composed ride feel. Damped rubber characteristics is something that Specialized is known for in their latest tire tech, so it doesn't surprise us seeing the fruits of those efforts showing up in their shoes. Often high grip means faster wear, so we plan to continue riding these to report back on long-term durability of the shoes but, so far, they are showing little to no signs of wear that would give us any worries that these wouldn't hold up for several seasons of riding.
- Not the most protective shoe for harsher trails
- We wish the black flat shoes had the gum wall color soles
Five Ten spent a long time as the leaders in on-bike grip for MTB shoes. Recently, there have been several companies working to shake things up. Specialized’s latest submission into the category is a formidable contender and one that riders should heavily consider. We’re hoping to see a future version from that offers a shoe more focused at true enduro and DH riders with added protection, but for most riders, the 2FO Roost should make their short lists of everyday trail riding shoes. Not only are they incredibly grippy, they bring many other features that make for a compelling option to add to your riding kit.