Specialized's 2FO Roost Flat Shoes Reviewed

Words Cam McRae
Photos Cam McRae (unless noted)
Date Feb 12, 2021
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As a born-again flat pedal rider, I've discovered I am both less particular and more fussy, in relatively equal measure, than I used to be. In my previous life on platforms, I scoffed at any shoes that didn't provide herculean grip. The original 5:10 impact high tops were about all I could ride in. My dependence on these shoes was so complete, I rode for a long time in a pair seemingly made for Desert Storm; they were entirely sand coloured, right down to the soles.

These days I can be happy on higher or lower grip, for different reasons. I appreciate higher grip keeping my foot stuck where I put it, and I like lower grip because, when necessary, I can reposition my lugs without sitting down or lifting off to reposition. My preference lands right in the middle generally. I used to like a more flexible sole that would bend over the pedal but now I like something a little more robust, for both power and protection. Pedals fit into the equation as well of course but currently there are so many good options to choose from it's hard to go too wrong, and I've found several that make me happy every day from Canfield, OneUp, Crankbrothers, Kona, and even Specialized. It seems we've finally emerged from the flat pedal dark ages.

*Cover shot - Deniz Merdano


This is where the magic is meant to happen. The wee hexagons have done an admirable job keeping me planted.


I was shocked to see every lug virtually intact after heavy use, some trail building, and lots of hiking over rocky terrain. Only minor trail wounds are visible. The balance between grip and durability is impressive.

I was at the launch of the original 2FO shoes back in 2014, and over time I came to appreciate everything about the clip version. I was in the middle of my second SPD period, so I didn't spend much time on the flat model, but I wasn't very impressed with the grip (see above). I was however smitten with everything else. The fit was sublime, the styling was a bit too bowling shoe but at least it was original, and the build quality was very impressive. They were the shoes I always came back to after testing something else, until a similarly impressive pair from Pearl Izumi came along.

This left me with high hopes for this 2021 re-release of the 2FO (Foot Out, Flat Out). I wondered if they had finally achieved the high grip they'd promised in the early shoes with their SlipNot rubber, but had failed to deliver. And I wondered if I'd be pleased if they'd reached that goal.


The shoes look almost new after a little spit and polish, but I have been beating the crap out of them for over two months, mostly in monsoon conditions but also in slush and snow; easily enough punishment to destroy a pair of lesser shoes.

I ended up having to settle for one size too big, but it turns out the 12s were ideal for winter riding, allowing me to put a pair of (formerly) waterproof* Showers Pass socks inside with more than enough room. I also find that sizing up provides a little extra protection by keeping my toes back from the front of the shoe. Unfortunately this leaves me unable to tell you how true to size these are.

*considering I've been wearing my Showers Pass socks all winter every winter for several years, they still perform remarkably well, but they are no longer entirely waterproof

It turns out the 2FO Roosts aren't fussy; they'll stick to just about anything.


Lacing up I noticed the flat eyelets that match up with the flat laces, preventing the laces from twisting or compressing as they pass through. You can't pull your shoes tight by pulling the ends of your laces because of the high hold in the eyelets so you'll need to tighten then in layers. I soon learned that it was worth my time to loosen the laces when I removed my shoes after a ride because otherwise I'd have to do it before the next ride. I also found it difficult to get a firm hold over the toe box, even tightening in layers, but this would have been complicated by the larger than optimal size. The laces have very little stretch so there was no value in cranking them down before riding with the expectation that they would loosen off over time; just set and forget.


Who thinks about laces? Specialized does apparently and the lack of stretch, flat profile and matching eyelets do a great job of keeping your shoes as tight as you laced them up for the entire ride. The elastic lace tether is a good idea that wasn't executed perfectly.


I was skeptical about the suede in the high wear areas at the heels and toes, but it has proven durable and still looks good. Weight for my size 12s was a. reasonable 372 grams each.


Upper construction is leather with suede on the toes and heels. The suede was apparently added to reduce scuff marks and increase longevity. I was a little surprised by this but wear in those areas hasn't been bad and they don't seem to sponge up extra moisture.

Shoes often fail where materials meet, whether they are bonded or sewn together, and for the most part these junctions are standing up well, with one slight exception. A small flap has opened up where the toecap wraps over the upper by my right baby toe. This isn't bad at all at this point but to make sure, I'll glue it down with a little JB Weld and she'll be right as rain.

Outer Sole

As every flat pedal rider knows, without a suitable sole, there's no saving a pair of shoes designed to mate with pedal pins. The 2FO Roost features the third generation of Specialized's SlipNot rubber, and it seems they may have nailed it this time. In fact the grip is a little much for me, but I'm getting more used to it as time goes on. Repositioning requires sitting down or lifting one foot completely, which I don't like at all. Once my feet are on however, whether they are perfectly positioned or not, they stay right where they were planted. And they work with a range of pedal brands and sizes. Today I was on some Kona Wah Wah IIs, and I've been riding both models of Canfield Crampons and Specialized Boomslangs as well. It turns out the 2FO Roosts aren't fussy; they'll stick to just about anything.


These play nice with a variety of pedals, including the Kona Wah Wah IIs seen here. Photo - Deniz Merdano


There isn't anything fancy or innovative about the 2FO Roosts, but they deliver most of what I'd like to see. I appreciate the elastic lace tether, which I use religiously, but this wasn't well executed (see below). Instead of traditional foam padding for protection at the cuffs and tongue, XPEL Airmesh is used, both to save weight and prevent the sponge effect early Fivetens were plagued with. The aforementioned flat laces and eyelets keep my foot secure as well as any shoe I've worn, but they are a little less convenient than some others.


Specialized talks a lot about their 'Body Geometry' insoles, but I'd like something with a little more density and support for the arches.


The insoles are fine, I just don't think they're worthy of the buzzwords that accompany them: Longitudinal Arch, Varus Wedge, and Metatarsal Button.


Both ends of the shoes are armoured with a nice rigid structure to protect your little piggies and heels from inevitable trail impacts, while the shank balances protection and feel perfectly for my taste. I've had some bangs and bails without incurring any damage. The rest of the uppers and tongues are also sufficiently robust to provide decent protection.


Branding is minimal and you could wear these pretty much anywhere without outing yourself. That chainring tattoo however...


This is mostly minor stuff, but there are some areas which could be improved. The elastic loop used to tether the laces once they are tied, is too loose. This is likely because otherwise it would be tough to lift it up in order to tuck your lace loops underneath. Other brands have sorted this out be pulling a small loop of elastic together with a stitch leaving an easy to grab tab, which is vastly more convenient. I'd also like to see a gusseted tongue to keep water and debris out and to prevent the tongue from twisting (although the latter hasn't been an issue thus far). One aglet* has some exposed lace sticking out that has begun fray slightly where it has slid down. It would be nice to see these in metal with covered ends.

*what shoe people call the covers on the ends of your shoe laces


The only wear worth mentioning is a little separation beginning to develop where the rubber toe cap attaches to the suede by my right baby toe.

On the Trail

In use I've never found the 2FO Roosts lacking. The shank is stiff enough to provide power for bunny hops or when bearing down on the pedals, and to protect my arches, but flexible enough to give good trail feedback. The grip has been amazing wet or dry, and even in sub-zero (Celsius) temps like we've had recently. The stick is a little different than Fivetens though, which I would describe as a little more gooey, for lack of a better word. I find the grip of these to be at least as tenacious, but slightly more firm, so once I'm in, there is a sturdy feel that I appreciate, at least when I nail my foot placement the first time. While I'm getting better at finding my sweet spot after a foot out with the Roosts, I'd still prefer the ability to reposition while in attack position. Obviously that's a very personal issue, and given the choice I'll take too much grip over too little every time.


I haven't had enough time on these mythical Specialized Boomslang pedals to write them up, but they are perhaps the most highly engineered and innovative platforms available. These are a special edition made for Ken Block (no idea how I got them) but they are otherwise available in black for 180 USD.


Of all the elements that have impressed me about these shoes, durability has risen to the top. I would have needed to put in some shifts in a coal mine to have treated them worse, and yet the uppers look almost as good as new. The soles are even more surprising, considering how gloriously sticky they are. As anyone who has ridden a sticky tire on the rear, like a Maxxis MaxxGrip, will tell you, that friction comes at the cost of durability. But not here it seems. Close inspection reveals some surface scars but very few chunks removed, and every single lug is intact.

If you don't appreciate a high grip shoe, these may not be for you, but if you crave Fiveten-level stickiness, these could be your glass slippers. They protect well, are easy to walk in, fit nicely, provide excellent support, and allow me to perform at my best. Despite a few details that could be better, and my preference for a little less grip, these are my new high water mark for flat pedal shoes, for a very reasonable 120 USD.

More on the Specialized 2FO Roost Flat

Cam McRae

Age - 55

Height - 6'/183cm (mostly legs)

Weight - 165lbs/74.5kg

Ape Index - 0.986

Inseam - 34"/86cm

Trail I've been stoked on lately - Fifth Horseman

Bar Width - 760mm

Preferred Reach - 485-500mm (longer with 27.5 wheels than 29)

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+3 Metacomet Cam McRae Paul Stuart
YDiv  - Feb. 12, 2021, 12:42 a.m.

Nice to see that the competition is really heating up for no-compromise flat pedal shoes at affordable prices!

Only serves to benefit us as consumers since companies have to constantly step their game up.


+1 Cam McRae
Jason West  - Feb. 12, 2021, 3:11 a.m.

Hopefully someone will finally do a flat shoe that doesn't necessarily looks like a skate shoe and hopefully use some tech like a Boa which l love on spds. Maybe my call in life is design and make flat shoes.


Cam McRae  - Feb. 12, 2021, 7 a.m.

I haven’t tried them yet, but I believe that’s exactly what Crankbrothers has done. 


Hopefully I’ll get the chance to evaluate them soon.


+1 Cam McRae
Chad K  - Feb. 12, 2021, 8:39 a.m.

For the insoles, I find the aftermarket versions with the higher arches have the aforementioned features much more prominently than then stock ones. Specialized usually puts a "+" version stock in shoes and has a "++" and "+++" version of the insoles aftermarket. The "stock" version always seemed like a watered-down version of the aftermarket insoles.

Related but unrelated, I'm praying for an updated 2f0 Cliplite. I LOVE those shoes. Actually, I love all the pairs of Specialized shoes I've owned (mostly clipless variants) over the years.


mrbrett  - Feb. 12, 2021, 9:55 a.m.

Had some Boomslangs. They were ok, but couldn't source a rebuild kit or the special tool needed to complete said task to save my life. I ended up giving them away on a bike I was selling (for free). Curious what the official verdict is going to be!


Cam McRae  - Feb. 12, 2021, 11:04 a.m.

Interesting. I had a set some time before they were released and used them only a couple of times. For some reason I was never given, Specialized asked for them back and I haven't had a set since. I'm guessing that was 2013 or so? I'll see what I can find out about tools to rebuild. I know the engineer who I believe was behind the Boomslang project, and while I don't think he's still at Specialized I can probably get some intel from him.


mrbrett  - Feb. 12, 2021, 9:09 p.m.

Those pedals certainly had some unique design features. It always seemed strange to not see more in the wild, though the price might have been a factor.


+1 Cam McRae
the prophet  - Feb. 14, 2021, 10:46 a.m.

Jason C. aka "Boomslang" on Ride Monkey...and no longer with Big S.

That pedal was cool in theory, but a pain in the ass in reality. QC issues, hard to maintain, fussy, very expensive. One of those projects that should have been scrapped but kept getting pushed through. Unicorn pedal.


+1 Cam McRae
Velocipedestrian  - Feb. 14, 2021, 1:25 p.m.

I have two sets, both obnoxious green.

Bought the tool for $35, but not used it yet. I like the spare pins in the body, the grip and shape are good, pedal strikes went down slightly as they're thinner than my previous pedals. 

I have heard the roller bearing (or whatever it is) on the outer edge isn't carried as a spare part, so I'll be staying on top of cleaning and greasing it. 

What are the other known issues?


+1 chachmonkey
Ceecee  - Feb. 12, 2021, 12:46 p.m.

Measure the insole the long way. Is it 295mm for size 12? If so, they're true to size. Would You like to say something helpful about width?--measure the width of the insole. The same could be done for the Pearl Izumis, possibly leading to bold comparative remarks regarding volume, another important aspect of size. For example, my Freerider Contact Japan size 300 insoles measure 300mm, which is what manufacturer publishes. So--true to size. Same for regular Freerider and Freerider Pro, but these are higher volume in the toe box and have a looser, baggier fit with the same socks and insoles, despite being the same length. I haven't measured the width, but bet it's the same for all three shoes. Solely due to volume, the Contacts feel narrower and are more close-fitting, more suitable for narrow, bony feet. I mean, you take expensive photos of a lot of other stuff in B.C., why not your foot


Michael Klein  - Feb. 13, 2021, 12:10 a.m.

I tried the 2FO Roost in the LBS, and found them a little small. I’m a euro 43 in most shoes (incl. Five Ten), and happily orders from the internet because of this. Looking at size charts from Specialized and Five Ten, Spec’s 43 is a US 9.6 whereas Five Ten is US 10, so this might explain, why I find the 2FO a little short. The guy in the shop, who rides in the 2FO himself said, that he too had found them short at first, but after a few rides he felt t was like the heel had sunk in and the shoes were perfect. Could have just been a sales trick though. Apart from this the 2FO’s are easily the most comfortable shoes I’ve tried.


+3 ChocolateThunder Velocipedestrian AJ Barlas
Ceecee  - Feb. 13, 2021, 12:31 p.m.

Stop selling and start measuring. 9.6 what--specialized units? Much uncertainty could be eliminated by banning anything but insole length/width in shoe sizing. Want to see how a shoe starts to fit?--remove insoles and stand in them. WFHO--world foot health organization


Cam McRae  - Feb. 17, 2021, 8:36 p.m.

We have a new shoe prophet. Good thoughts Ceecee, and charmingly delivered! ;) I'll pull a sole and measure. Width is going to be challenging for me to estimate as well because they are a full size too big for me, so the widest part of my foot isn't likely aligned with the widest part of the shoe. Do you have a handy measurement for that? Or someone on the inside at the WFHO? 

I don't think anyone needs to see expensive photos of my feet. And if they do, I'd need a dinner out at least before agreeing to provide them.


+1 Cam McRae
Kyle Doherty  - Feb. 13, 2021, 12:51 p.m.

I found there was a break-in period with these shoes. In particular they pinched in a weird spot that I've never had issues with before. Internet diagrams indicate it's the base of the 5th (pinky toe) metatarsal. So outboard just in front of the heel. Took about a dozen rides of being very careful with the lace tension


+1 Chad K
ChocolateThunder  - Feb. 13, 2021, 3:12 p.m.

I want those pedals!! Like really, really badly. An excellent (non-cyan) shade of blue on a high-end pedal I actually want to ride? Where have you been all my life? Please let me buy some @IAmSpecialized_MTB


Pete Roggeman  - Feb. 16, 2021, 7:56 a.m.

They were a special edition Boomslang released in 2019 for a Ken Block bike build. I don't know if they ever sold them or just sent a few pairs out to media outlets. Right now they only seem available in black on Specialized's sites in multiple countries.


+1 Velocipedestrian
Skeen  - Feb. 14, 2021, 8:47 a.m.

I mainly ride clipped in, but have recently been dabbling with flats. I think better shoes than my DCs are in order and have always had good luck with specialized shoes so I may check these out. Also looking forward to the long term ESD review, since I noticed it in the cover photo! I already have my ESD and love it so I will just enjoy reading more about it when I can’t be out riding it.


+1 Skeen
Velocipedestrian  - Feb. 14, 2021, 4:03 p.m.

Reading a well written, positive review of a thing you own and like is such a pleasant ego stroke.


Cam McRae  - Feb. 17, 2021, 1:16 p.m.

Coming up Skeen, and apologies for the delay. I have a few more things to try before I finish things off, including a longer travel fork.


Velocipedestrian  - Feb. 14, 2021, 1:53 p.m.

These shoes sound great, my key complaint with the freerider is the too soft sole - is the 2FO stiffer?


Cam McRae  - Feb. 17, 2021, 1:09 p.m.

Based on memory I would say yes, but I haven't ridden the most recent version of that shoe. The 2FO is stiffer than any Fivetens I've ridden though.


+1 Cam McRae
Velocipedestrian  - Feb. 17, 2021, 2:47 p.m.

Nice, thanks Cam.


Steven Hambleton  - Feb. 14, 2021, 3:45 p.m.

I love these shoes, they really are durable and allow me to adjust position but also stay locked there when I want. Voodoo!

My only major gripe is that they're not available in the lovely green colour in the largest sizes. Why?!


Cam McRae  - Feb. 17, 2021, 1:08 p.m.

That's weird. I wasn't offered a choice and they didn't have my size, but that turned out to be a blessing for winter.


Steven Hambleton  - Feb. 17, 2021, 8:40 p.m.

Damn, they do offer it in EU 48 and 49 in the US but not Australia? WTF!!

Oh well they really are excellent shoes, I highly recommend them.

Being based in the tropics, I don't need anything oversized! Can't even remember what cold feels like!


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