Product Preview/Ride Report
Introducing Ride Concepts Footwear (Plus Livewire Review)
Sometimes, when I'm feeling charitable, I let my kids buy some sugary cereal. The first time this happened I was a little surprised by the selection. I could hardly find a version of candy-for-breakfast that wasn't around when I was watching Bugs Bunny. It seems like an odd market segment to have a such an impossible barrier to entry, but the shelves don't lie; Captain Crunch, Honeycomb, Count Chocula, Froot Loops, Sugar Crisp and Frosted Flakes continue to dominate.
New shoe brands, particularly those that plan to launch with a full line, are similarly scarce. Ride Concepts, headed by three industry veterans, isn't putting a tentative toe into the footwear pool; the company is diving in with 9 men's models, 5 for women and 3 for youth. I was sent an advance pair of Livewire flats that I have put three solid rides on and I've been very impressed thus far.
Flats were ready first so that's what I tried. The tricky part is that I've been a full time SPD guy for the past three years after 15 years on flats and I was a little reluctant to go back to rubber and pins. One factor that sped my swap to SPDs was Fiveten stopping production of my favourite shoe; the Impact High. Subsequent models seemed inferior to the Fivetens I had come to love and other brands, usually with less grip, were not for me either. I was sure I would be very hard to please this time around. I yanked my XTR pedals and twisted in some Crankbrothers Stamps on a pair of bikes (one large and one small pair) and headed out.
Climbing felt surprisingly good immediately. The Livewires have a sole that balances stiffness and flexibility perfectly in my mind. You can still bend over the pedal on the way down but there is enough to push against on the way up. And grip surprised me as well, but climbing grip isn't where flat shoes are measured so I reserved judgement. One thing I enjoyed was practicing my wheelies on the way up. It was a leisurely pace and not being attached to the bike took the terror out of the catwalk.
The first ride down was also relatively mellow, since my son has just recently started riding more challenging trails like Seventh Secret and Crinkum Crankum, and it felt amazing being back on flats. I found myself playing on the edges of the trail a little more and banking the bike aggressively in the corners. The moderate pace wasn't much of a test but I had some burlier rides coming up.
The second ride began with a trail that alternated between loamy and rooty with lots of square edges at speed. I few times I lost pedal contact briefly and realized that I couldn't allow the rear wheel to get light as I could while clipped in. Once I stomped a little harder this stopped happening but it then became apparent that I needed to tweak my fork and shock tune for the more rearward weight bias. The pedals however were fantastic. Going faster I appreciated the ample grip. A little less than my old Impacts but with enough hold to make repositioning very difficult when standing.
A more aggressive ride made me appreciate that quality of construction as well. Nothing about these shoes feels cheap or under-engineered which I have found with some of the completion. There are robust caps around the toes and heels and generous padding on the tongue and for heel hold. The tongue is gusseted to prevent crap from getting in as well.
On my third ride I jumped on the Bronson I've been testing with size large Stamps and things got burly. We rode some very steep and nasty trails and I had to relearn how to ride that stuff on flats. I found I had to consciously lower my body position to get adequate braking without clipping in. I haven't quite figured out why but I had a couple of oh shit moments. Heading down one particularly loose and nasty chute I completely lost the reins and went into survival mode. In a span of perhaps 20 metres I was sure I was going to bail horrendously five different times, but somehow the rubber stayed down.
My rusty flat skills were all I had to blame though; the shoes again perfumed flawlessly, although I did have one flat pedal-related bail. I was riding over a partially decomposed log perpendicular to the trail on a moderately fast section and just as I pushed my weight forward to accelerate I caught a pedal. I was flung instantly to the ground, driving my visor into wrist and executing a reasonable scorpion. Despite not being clipped in the bike managed to land on my back. It was a hard one but I mostly escaped unscathed, and my feet were just fine. I also decided at that moment that I prefer the small size Stamp pedals.
For now I think I'll switch back and forth between flats and SPDs, but if I become a full time flat pedal rider again I'd pick up a pair of Ride Concepts Livewires in a heartbeat. These are also the most reasonably priced option in the Ride Concepts line at 100 USD.
For more info check out the release below as well as rideconcepts.com
Ride Concepts Press Release
Truckee, CA – Ride Concepts is proud to debut its line of progressive, high-performance mountain bike footwear. Founded around a deep passion for mountain biking and the communities that it inspires, Ride Concepts comes to fruition after years of riding, market research, careful design and partnership development, and is set on creating dirt-riding footwear that ups your game no matter where or how you ride.
Industry partnerships help Ride Concepts create durable, highly specialized footwear: D3O protection is molded throughout insoles on all shoes to reduce impacts taken from hard landings and extended riding on rugged terrain, and is employed strategically to the uppers of some models to add extra protection where needed. Rubber Kinetics - an industry leader in the design, development, and manufacture of high performance rubber compounds - formulated multiple proprietary rubber sole compounds, taking into account dry and wet grip, operating temperature windows (ranges) and durability.
The initial offering from Ride Concepts caters to both flat and clipless pedal riders, and is made up of three distinct shoe series; Session, Flow, and Launch, alongside a full line of synthetic and merino performance socks. Gender-specific lasts offer precision fit for men, women and youth, allowing shredders of all ages the same access to highly technical kicks.
Ride Concepts will be shipping their Session series to dealers in late October with Flow and Launch series following later in the year.
Dealers interested in stocking Ride Concepts should contact Brandon Dodd