Editor’s Note: This sponsored post is courtesy of Ride Concepts. Learn more at rideconcepts.com.
The true genesis of a company, that lightbulb moment that morphs into real strategic planning and boots-on-the-ground execution, often says a lot about the company itself. Was it born in a boardroom, the masterplan of suit-wearing bean counters looking to make a fast buck? Or did it spring to life more organically, growing out of passion or even personal need?
The later scenario certainly applies to Ride Concepts, a fledgling mountain bike footwear company based in Truckee, California. Indeed, the idea spawned from the simple need for better bike shoes for kids, then rapidly expanded from there. Ride Concepts founder and CEO Brandon Dodd picks up the story.
“My son Noah, who was 8 at the time, basically wants to be the next Aaron Gwin,” recalled Dodd, a passionate rider himself. “So even at that age I was taking him to Whistler and he was hitting booters. And he just loves it so much that I wanted to support him in any way I could. But I just couldn’t find any real quality mountain bike shoes that would fit him and that were really built for a youth foot. So he kept ending up with bruises on his feet.”
At the same time, Dodd did what a lot of people do when standing in line at British Columbia’s famous bike park, he looked around at the other people also waiting for their next lift ride. What he saw was a ton of kids. And that’s when it hit him — there was a huge need here for legit gravity-oriented footwear for kids. But this story isn’t just about groms.
“Then I started doing some research and realized there weren’t a lot of good options for women either. And then I thought about how many pairs of riding shoes I’d owned that had delaminated or otherwise fallen apart,” Dodd continued. “That’s when I decided that it could be done better.”
Of course the other key to this story is that Dodd could actually do better. Besides being a passionate mountain biker, he’s been immersed in the sporting goods/action sports industry for over two decades, meaning he actually understood the business side of things — and just as importantly had the connections necessary to get an endeavor like this off the ground.
“And I’d actually recently sold my last company so I had some money to invest,” revealed Dodd, who grew up Colorado’s Western Slope and now calls Truckee home. “I started asking myself, what’s next, what do you want to be in life? I knew whatever it was it had to be something I was passionate about. Initially that wasn’t going to be a mountain bike footwear company. But that family need, plus some research, helped me realize that this really made sense.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Starting in 2016, Dodd went to work utilizing his strong product and brand development background to create what has become Ride Concepts, a gravity/freeride focused mountain bike footwear maker that launched this fall with 14 models, and has ambitious plans for expansion in 2019 and beyond.
Just like riding a techy trail for the first time, Dodd says dropping into this endeavor was a bit scary at first. But because he had so many relevant existing relationships on both the design and manufacturing side from past business endeavors, he was essentially able to clean it on the first try. “There’s no substitute for good friendships when you’re doing something like this,” confirmed Dodd, whose current go-to bike is a Santa Cruz Hightower LT. “Ride Concepts doesn’t happen without those connections.”
That and Dodd’s innate understanding of what discerning riders actually want and need from a high performance mountain bike shoe netted an impressive product line-up that’s chock full of features. That includes D3O protection that’s molded throughout the insoles on all Ride Concepts shoes, helping reduce impacts taken from hard landings and extended riding on rugged terrain. D3O material is also employed strategically to the uppers of some models to add extra protection where needed.
Ride Concepts also leaned heavily on its relationship with Rubber Kinetics, an industry leader in the design, development, and manufacture of high performance rubber compounds. Rubber Kinetics has formulated three proprietary rubber sole compounds for Ride Concepts, taking into account dry and wet grip, operating temperature ranges, and of course, durability.
The initial offering from Ride Concepts caters to flat pedal riders, but they also have an array of clipless pedal-friendly shoes that will begin shipping in March 2019. In total the Ride Concepts line caters to men, women, and kids, and is made up of three distinct shoe series: Session, Flow, and Launch. They also have a full line of synthetic and merino performance socks.
“No matter what category you fit into, we utilize gender-specific lasts that offer precision fit,” explained Dodd. “Because that’s the goal, to offer highly technical footwear to anyone who rides a mountain bike.”
And apparently they’ve done just that. Mtbr founder Francis Cebedo has been testing a pair of $130 Ride Concepts Hellions for about three months and is impressed. “The way these shoes are built shows extreme attention to quality and details,” Cebedo said. “The seams, the materials, the stitching, it reminds me of products from brands such as Kitsbow. Yet the price of the shoes is very reasonable in this space. The upper is especially impressive. It’s just so well built and has protection everywhere. The toe box is very stiff and there is a rubber molding on the front to protect it from scuffs. The top of the shoe is also protective, and even the tongue feels like it will shield the foot from the errant rock that gets kicked up.”
Praise such as this is just what Dodd had in mind when he had that genesis moment. His son Noah — and mountain bikers everywhere — are now the beneficiaries.
To learn more about the Ride Concepts line, head over to rideconcepts.com. And be sure to follow along on Facebook and Instagram To see more Ride Concepts offerings check out the expansive photo gallery below. Click on the image to enlarge.