Tested: Juliet’s Specialized F20 Shoe Review.

Juliet Elliott has had these Specialized F20 shoes in their womens’s specific guise all summer, putting them through their paces both at home and in the Alps.

What makes a womens’ specific shoe and are they any good?

As a fan of female specific mountain bike gear, I was keen to try Specialized women’s specific F20 mountain bike shoes – it’s not often you see a sticky soled shoe designed specifically with us women in mind.Juliet Elliott Specialized F20 Shoe Review Wideopenmag

But it’s not worth getting too excited or expect anything particularly different from the men’s F20 – as far as I can’t tell, nothing makes these female specific, other than the fact they come in smaller sizes than their male counterparts and in purple. They cost the same too, at a not princely £90 RRP.

Despite that, I’m a fan of these shoes and though I have a couple of pairs of sticky soled shoes at home, it’s these I always reach for when I’m heading off on a ride. After six months of use, they still look and feel superb so it’s likely they’ll remain my favourites for a good while yet.Juliet Elliott Specialized F20 Shoe Review Wideopenmag

So what’s good about them?

Aside from the obvious fact they look really cool, the F20s helped my performance on the bike. Thanks to a nylon insert in the sole, the shoes are super stiff, which I love. The insert is shaped so that the shoes are not uniformly stiff and have enough flex for you to walk in them. EVA padding helps add comfort.

The rigidity of the sole is more ways than one; ensuring you don’t lose power when pedaling, it also helps do away with foot pain by giving you a firm, solid platform on which to stand. I find with more flexible soles you can end up tensing your feet trying which can make them ache or cramp.

The rigidity of these shoes does extend to the uppers, which despite the appearance don’t feel much like regular trainers at all. I like the solid, tough upper and the sturdy feel. The toe box is roomy and protective, the ankle grips well ensuring no heel lift and there’s ample support around the middle of the foot.Juliet Elliott Specialized F20 Shoe Review Wideopenmag

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Staying the course.

Durability is great – these shoes stay looking good for a long time. A thermabonded upper means there’s no stitching to wear out. Over time, a few marks accumulate on the soles but they don’t wear down quickly, retaining the grip despite heavy use.

It’s easy to wipe the uppers down as they’re made of PU plastic, but thanks to the many ventilation holes it’s almost impossible to remove all the mud after your ride. Speaking of ventilation, the perforations help keep your feet cool in hot conditions – good job as you’d get very sweaty feet otherwise in plastic shoes. Unfortunately that means they let in water, which is not so great in winter though they do dry quickly.Juliet Elliott Specialized F20 Shoe Review Wideopenmag

Gripping stuff.

Grip on the pedals is really good but not alarmingly so – I like being able to take my foot off or adjust it without feeling it’s impossible to move. For me, the sticky soles provide exactly the right amount of grip for most situations – on the whole, my feet remained firmly planted on bumpy terrain and jumps. The only time I felt I could have done with something sticker (or clips) was navigating a crazily bouncy gravel and rock-strewn track in the Alps.

All in all, a great looking, durable shoe that performs well on the bike.

Full ladies’ (and gents) F20 specs can be found on Specialized’s website. SPD and ‘ClipLite’ versions are available in the F20 range too.

Buy Specialized F20 shoes here.