If you’re a clips convert then you’ll know that finding the right shoe for you is pretty important.
Pete’s been testing some of the best clip shoes for MTB to see which ones rule the roost.
A good clip shoe will be tough, stiff, light, dry quickly, comfortable, good value and reliable.
In this test are the Specialized 2FO 2.0, Shimano ME7, Leatt DBX 4.0 and Cube GTY STRIX.
It’s worth saying: This isn’t an exhaustive list of all clip shoes on the market right now, it’s just what we’ve been able to test. If brands want to send us their shoes, we’ll happily include them when we re-run this feature. Get in touch here.
Specialized’s 2FO 2.0 are both the lightest and most expensive shoes in this test but there’s far more to them than just reaching these extremities.
What you get is a light, comfy and stiff shoe without being harsh on the pedals or any hike-a-bike missions, of which there’s been many. Despite not having a proper heel cup, I’ve never felt my heel lift which further helps long range comfort. Sizing is spot on for my narrow, Euro 40 feet too. Specialized have dispensed with any superfluous lace flaps and you get a simple lace-up closure.
Despite their low weight, they take the hits well, but don’t seem to dry particularly quickly. The long cleat slot makes it easy to fine tune your cleat position while also making it easy to use various different cleat styles.
The 2FOs have done more miles along and feet up than I can count, but they’re showing no signs of age yet.
Second lightest in the test and the most expensive, Shimano’s ME702 certainly looks the raciest of the bunch here, especially up against the Leatt offerings.
Unlike the other lace-up options here, the ME702 has a ‘speed lacing system’ that consists of a ratchet closure with a Velcro flap. This tightens the shoe over the bridge of your foot primarily, meaning getting the sizing right is key. Like the 2FOs, the ME702s seem to fit my narrow, 40 feet well, and I’ve had no comfort issues with them thus far. They do let the liquid sunshine in fairly easily but do seem to dry fast enough.
The Michelin outer sole is great for gripping the pedal when hovering a foot through a technical section, or taking the bike for a walk. The inner sole has a comfortable bend to it that still manages to not be sloppy under power.
Probably the only major drawback to the ME702 is the very short and narrow cleat slot. The outer sole’s tread comes in very close to the side of the cleat, and unsurprisingly, only works well with Shimano cleats. Other cleat designs struggle to find clearance resulting in what feels like a very tight cleat.
Leatt DBX 4.0
Unique SPD channels
RideGrip Compound sole
Control Flex Shank
Synthetic Leather upper
Anti-heel lift with achilles tendon relief
Inner ankle mid height protection
Molded stabilizing heel and rigid reinforced toe area
Heaviest and cheapest on test, the Leatt DBX 4.0 shoe makes the others look fairly minimal in comparison.
Despite the low price, you do get a shoe that is packed full of tech and features that performs on the trail. Getting your foot into the DBXs isn’t easy courtesy of a fairly stiff upper, but there’s a feeling of security once you’ve got your foot in. They do size up a little big length-wise but that does mean you can sling a thicker sock in once winter rolls around. The outer does a solid jb of keeping the elements away from your trotters too.
On the foot, the DBX are big. I found myself having to think about my foot position when trying to clip in, and you will find your foot catching crank and chainstay on some bikes. That said, the cleat slot is hefty, so once you have your position set, you won’t struggle to get clipped in.
The shank is stiff, probably stiffest of the bunch, which is great for power transfer, but you will feel it over longer rides and hike-a-bikes. Traction from the RideGrip compound is up there.
Probably not the first show you’d think to have in a grouptest but Cube’s GTY STRIX are in the mix, with stylings that sits somewhere between the Specialized and Shimano offerings with a touch more weight than both.
The inner sole is stiffer than either the 2FO or the ME7 but maybe not quite at DBX levels, making for good power transfer without the comfort trade-off. The neoprene-style cuff helps keep trail debris out, but the lace flap seems somewhat superfluous. Like the Leatts they do size up a little long, if the width is spot on.
A long and wide cleat channel, combined with the fairly narrow width means you’ll have no issues getting clipped in any conditions on pretty much any cleat. That said, the cleat channel is shallow, so expect to feel the cleat proud of the sole should you be taking your bike for a wander.
The upper seals well with strikes on the trail, obviously not as well as the Leatts but well enough for such a small shoe. They do a decent job of keeping the water out and dry fairly fast at the same time.
With a slightly deeper cleat pocket, these would have really challenged the 2FOs for the win.
Specialized 2FO 2.0
It’s worth saying that there were no real losers in this test, all come with their foibles, and some will suit some more than others, but the Specialized 2FO 2.0 have become my go-to shoe.
I tend to pick these over the rest so often that they are rarely dry. They just do everything well enough that I never notice they’re on my feet, besides being damp most of the time.