Not too long ago I switched from SPD/clip-on shoes and pedals to flats. The reason for that is that the kind of riding I did demanded that I could easily release my feet at any time. Besides that, I am not the kind of power, fast XC rider that needs the added power that SPD set-ups provide through powering on the up-stroke as well. I like technical, downhill stuff, and playing around in the parking lot.
So I had bought the Specialized 2FO flat mountain bike shoes some months ago in my local bike shop and was already quite happy with them. When Specialized sent us a pair of 2FO Flat 1.0 Dynamite Panther shoes I decided it was time to write a review.
So what flats are all about is trying to provide as much grip on your pedals (which should be gravity leaning pedals outfitted with pedal pins), transfer power to the pedal with a stiff sole, and provide instant egress from the pedals whenever the need arises.
Flats also have a bit of a style choice element to it as well, they look much more like normal shoes and you can walk on them without looking like something just hit you hard in your gentleman parts (yes, that is what it looks like when you walk on SPD clip shoes).
I rode with the 2FO and the 2FO 1.0 Dynamite Panther at length in a variety of circumstances. Wet and dry, warm and in cold weather (up to 4 degrees Celsius), not below zero!
So before I say something about the psychedelic, neon 80’s color scheme of the shoes, how did they perform? Pretty good I would say. The grip on my gravity pedals was excellent, and if you pedal correctly you can even push them up a bit to add to power on the upstroke. On technical bits, in rock gardens, during jumps, as long as you apply pressure to the pedals they grip as well as anything. No slipping in anyway. On my own 2FO I have noticed that the SlipNot™ 2.0 rubber compound sole does wear from the pedal pins, but that shoe also grips quite well.
Talking about the 2FO, the construction of the upper is a bit thicker and stiffer than the 2FO 1.0 Dynamite Panther. So that shoe feels a bit more the part of a bad ass shoe. It holds it’s water tightness a bit better than the Dynamite Panther and is a bit warmer as well. I rode the Panther till about 4 degrees Celsius in wet conditions and my toes did get a bit cold but not too much. That could also have something to do that I always ride with thick merino wool socks. With regular socks it is not a shoe that will keep your feet nice and warm and cozy on winter rides.
But then again, in warmer conditions, it does really well. For both shoes, I was well impressed with the water tightness. Looking at the air mesh on the tongue and upper I was a bit concerned with that. But I have to say that after a recent very muddy and splashy ride, my feet remained dry. The Upper of the 2FO doesn’t have mesh, but just perforated smooth outer material that washes off easily as well and is, even more, waterproof (not water tight!).
The fit of the Dynamite Panther is a bit more comfortable. The upper is less stiff than the 2.0 and the soft inner bootie fits snuggly to your foot and around your ankle. Very nice.
As for the looks: the 2FO and the 2FO 1.0 Dynamite Panther are quite the extremes of the color spectrum: the 2FO is black and would be utterly boring without the neon blue laces; the Dynamite Panther should not be looked at in full sunlight without sunglasses. If you do find yourself heading back from the trail as dusk settles, it will certainly help your visibility on the road. I like the model, nice and skatey. The front of the shoe is reinforced a bit to protect your toes against impact and overall the shoe feels well constructed and strong.
So in conclusion, cool shoes, do what they should do quite well. More weather proof than I had expected. Happy with them!