Ride Concepts is a fascinating company. In the tumultuous category of flat shoes, they entered the fray dominated by sticky rubber king, Five Ten. How can an upstart company from Truckee, CA take on a giant such as Five Ten, recently acquired by Adidas. There’s also the whole Teva shoe brand debacle spending millions to launch one shoe successfully and then promptly exiting the category.
But what founder Brandon Dodd saw was all opportunity. He saw a market of kids and women who were not getting the right shoes and the right fit. He saw the growing all-mountain category that was not getting the proper engineering and design attention. And he saw the opportunity to build a brand that would focus on great designs, leading-edge tech and shoes that would allow progressive mountain bikers to enjoy the sport.
Enter Powerline shoe, an aggressive all-mountain shoe that is supportive and protective with a mid-top design and a battery of protective features. It is important to note that they’ve launched about 16 shoes already (in one year) and this is version 2.0 in their design and production round.
We’ve been riding this shoe for about three months now and have some things to share about it.
Ride Concepts Powerline features:
- Rubber Kinetics | DST 4.0 MAX GRIP Rubber Outsole
- D3O High Impact Zone Insole Technology
- D3O Asymmetrical medial collar protection
- Custom-molded rubber toe cap and heel protection
- Medial high-rise EVA midsole provides support and shock absorption
- Fully gusseted tongue prohibits intake of dirt and debris
- Tech Fit with shaped heel molding
- Price: $150
How does it Ride
We have two key points on this shoe with one being fit and protection. The fit is great indeed with a shaped heel cup, supportive insole, and gusseted and padded tongue. This is not a shoe you can just slip in and out of so it does time and care to get in and out of them. But the tongue opens up nice and wide and the rounded laces stretch and slide well as you tug on them. It is a mid-top type shoe but only on the inside, to protect that big inside ankle bone of yours that sometimes collides with the bike. It seems to be a good compromise with pedaling as the outside of the ankle is not as restricted.
It is worth noting that this is not a cross-country shoe at all as the shoe will slow you down on mighty climbing efforts. It’s the bridge between a trail shoe and a downhill shoe so it is a bit of a dilemma when to take this shoe out as opposed to other lighter options. What we found was, if the knee pads are coming out to play, then these are a great compliment. If there are jumps, rocks roots and a decent probability of impact, then these shoes are coming out to play.
Do you kick rocks and roots? Or do they come up and attack you? In the past three months, we’ve done some good riding in Santa Cruz, Downieville, and Tahoe and on at least 4 occasions, kicked a rock or jammed a foot into a crevice while pedaling. Felt a lot of pressure and waited about 10 seconds for that dreaded piercing pain to commence indicating an injury. Each time, no intense pain and the alarm bells disappeared after a few minutes. This is a similar and satisfying feeling when a knee pad has done its job as well. One really has to pay attention to good protective gear since you think they didn’t do anything since there was no injury, thus one tends to discount the impact. These Powerlines protect well.
Hard landings too are handled well as the D30 on the sole and heel noticeably mute impacts.
Is it sticky? It’s pretty sticky. A lot like Shimano flat shoes but not as sticky as Five Tens. So it’s a good compromise since these shoes and soles are very durable. One can opt for pedals with high pins for example if they want a more connected feel. Go for OneUp Composite pedals for example instead of RaceFace Chesters to get a more sticky contact.
What about trail feel
We’ve ridden the first-generation Ride Concepts Helion shoes and our main complaint was the lack of trail feel. The shoes were so protective and stiff that we didn’t get that same connection with the bike that we’re used to. It’s often good to feel the trail and to gauge traction and control. The old Helions were too muted for us but these new Powerlines got it right. They seem to have enough flex and feel designed to achieve a good connection with the bike through the pedal contact point. The Powerlines seem to have benefited from early feedback and Ride Concepts adjusted to give these shoes more feel and bike feedback.
Replacing the D30 insoles, we noticed a little more feel and vibration transmitted to the rider so that is an option for some if they prefer more trail feedback.
Styling and options
These shoes and the others in the Ride Concepts line look amazing. They look like $200 shoes made with the highest grade materials and best construction. Materials are all ‘welded’ together and the materials resist moisture and scuffing well. Red of course on our test shoe is polarizing but they have it in black and gray as well.
And the key is there are about 30 other shoes in the line. If these shoes are too much or too little protection or weight, just go up or down the line and get the same consistent Ride Concepts materials and construction.
For a year-old company, we’re impressed.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
More info: rideconcepts.com