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Flat Pedal Shoe Review

Ride Concepts Powerline Shoes - Reviewed

Words Cam McRae
Photos Cam McRae (unless noted)
Date Oct 24, 2019

Ride Concepts has made quite a splash since their bold launch of 5 men's, 4 women's and 3 youth flat pedal shoes in addition to clipless models for men and women. Construction, for the first two models I've tried, the Livewire and Hellion, is excellent, while materials are on point, and performance has been dialled. Even the fit is great. The launch was bold for good reason; these guys know their stuff.

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The Powerline is a higher priced shoe than the others I've tried, and it offers more protection. It appears to be a low top from the outside of the foot but you'll notice medial ankle protection.

The most recent flat shoe to reach production is the Powerline. This is a burlier shoe than the Livewire and Hellion but its heritage is clear. The biggest difference visually is the medial ankle coverage for a little extra protection. There is apparently a D3O polymer protection insert below the outer here as well.

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I'm a big fan of the elastic lace tether. With a modified bow with this system I have never had a lace come untied, and untying is as easy as velcro.

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Softer rubber is another differentiator between the Powerline and the Livewire and Hellion models.

The last is slightly different as well and I wasn't quite sure about the fit. Length and width are identical but the height to the laces is greater. Before the shoes broke in I had to really yank the laces to get the fit as snug as I wanted but now that they have a few months of use and have softened some they cinch up easily. Monsoon season came early and a bonus of the taller fit is that I could wear my Showers Pass waterproof socks, which are thicker than regular socks, without any binding or restriction. This will be great in the winter as well.

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I wasn't sure about the fit at first but over time, although not quite as snug as the other models, the fit has improved.

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After an entire summer of riding as well as a busy and mucky fall on the North Shore has produced some wear but nothing unreasonable.

The big difference however is the outsole. The two previous models I tried used what RC, and their rubber partner Rubber Kinetics, is calling 6.0 All Terrain / Transitional Mid-Level Grip. As with durometer, the lower the number the higher the grip. The Powerline has 4.0 Downhill Comfort / Flexible Highest Grip rubber. This wasn't necessarily good news for me because I was very pleased with the balance of grip and the ability to reposition my foot with the 6.0 soles. Still, too much grip is a bit like too many bikes, so I was game.

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Full gussets for the tongue keep out rocks, muck and water. Although not waterproof these actually do a decent job of keeping moisture out

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The insoles include D3O polymer dough inserts. While I can't say I have noticed these working, the shoes have a sturdy and protected feel on the pedals or hiking through rough ground.

For the first few months I got along well with the grip of Powerlines. I certainly didn't find them too grippy, but repositioning was a little tougher than with the 6.0 soles of the other shoes. It got a little tricky in the wet, however. I found that using the lower friction of thetwo pedals I've been riding lately, the Crankbrothers Stamp 7, the traction in the wet wasn't sufficient. I wasn't sliding off the pedals entirely but I wasn't as glued to them as I like to be. It was enough to have me swap them out for the OneUp Als, which have pins that are thinner and slightly taller. That mostly cleared up the issue but the grip still didn't seem adequate to me.

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The heel (pictured) and toe of the Powerlines have more deeply recessed tread for added grip.

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Walking traction is quite good, for a flat pedal shoe. On slippery flat surfaces, like wet roots and rocks, grip is actually very good, but when it's muddy, despite these being better than most, expect to spin your wheels a little.

One day when the Powerlines weren't quite dry from the day before, I decided to go back to the Livewires to compare. Immediately I felt that traction was better. Over the course of the ride my feet seemed to slip less and the difference was enough that I rode better than the day before. This was one of those conclusions that didn't make sense to me. How could harder rubber provide more grip? Perhaps being stiffer, the rubber on the Livewires deforms less and provides a firmer hold? While I felt very sure about the difference I was feeling between the two shoes, I'm skeptical of conclusions drawn in isolation so I decided to do another experiment.

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Different shoes on each foot for testing purposes. Livewire on my left and front foot and a Powerline on the right. And yes, several people noticed and wondered if I'd done this on purpose.

On a day that was greasy from lots of rain in the previous week, but not actually raining, I put a Livewire on my left foot (my front foot) and a Powerline on my right. This wasn't a perfect scenario because front and trailing feet perform different jobs, but the difference was distinct enough that I am quite certain that for me, the Livewires provide more secure grip and allow me to ride better. As personal as flat pedal interfaces are, I can't be sure you'll come to the same conclusion. Which goes for all of my conclusions here.

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I already used this photo of the world's smallest road gap but it shows the shoes so well I couldn't resist recycling it. Photo - Cedric Burgers

Each of the RC shoes I've used has a stiffer sole than most flat pedal shoes I've used. I don't find them too stiff but I'm coming off five or more years riding clipless exclusively. I appreciate the pedalling support, the protection and the power I can generate from the robust soles. In my earlier incarnation as a flat pedal rider I was keen on shoes with the stickiest soles possible that would fold over the pedal platform for even more grip. This leads me to believe that some riders will find these shoes too stiff.

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Like the Livewire, the Powerline shoes provide excellent protection, top notch construction and solid performance. The grip however, wasn't ideal for me.

The Powerlines sell for 150 USD. There is one model above, the TNT, that adds a velcro strap and has a slightly different tread pattern but uses the same softer rubber which sells for 160 USD (mid cut fans may want to check out the Wildcat, which sells for 120 US). Considering the attention to detail and quality build, the Powerlines are excellent value. The real take home however is that, for only 100 USD, and most of the features of the Powerlines, the Livewires deliver incredible bang for your buck. The Powerline is a solid shoe but for me the grip just wasn't quite there, so the Livewires will be first off the shelf for my flat pedal rides for the foreseeable future.

The size 11 Powerlines I've been riding weigh 459g. I would say they are true to size or very slightly on the small side. In some shoes I can wear a 10.5 but the 11s are perfect for me wearing Ride Concepts.

For more info hit up rideconcepts.com

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Comments

Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Oct. 24, 2019, 6:06 a.m.

I bought a pair of RC Hellions. Construction is great. Fit is off at least for me. Heel cup is really shallow so my foot doesn't feel secure in the shoe. I haven't had that issue in any other bike shoe so I don't think it's an odd foot shape on my end.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 Vik Banerjee
Cam McRae  - Oct. 24, 2019, 11:50 a.m.

No issues for me and I have very skinny ankles. I'm not sure how deep my ankles are though!

Reply

Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Oct. 25, 2019, 5:27 p.m.

Ya seems odd because I have never had that issue with another shoe.

Reply

RideCncpts
0
RideCncpts  - Oct. 29, 2019, 3 p.m.

Hi Vik,

The Hellion is a bit more shallow than the Livewire, but we are making modifications for 2020 so it will have a better fit for those who have noticed this!

Reply

Hollytron
+1 Cam McRae
Hollytron  - Oct. 24, 2019, 11:30 a.m.

Interesting on the harder vs softer rubber and stiff sole vs soft sole. I rode freerider contact (terrible)and freeriders as my first flat pedal shoe and loved the grip at first but felt locked in if my foot was on the pedal weird and I needed to reposition. After the sole broke down to where my feet were getting tired I switched and tried the shimano gr9. Harder rubber and a stiffer sole made it easy to move my foot and after 2 rides the less grip thing wasn't one anymore.

Reply

JVP
0
JVP  - Oct. 24, 2019, 9:54 p.m.

I like a softer midsole where I can feel my pedals a little bit. For example, I like 5.10 Freeriders better than Impacts. 

Anyone know if there's RC models that have shallower/thinner midsoles that put your feet closer to the pedal and with a bit more feel to them?

Reply

RideCncpts
0
RideCncpts  - Oct. 29, 2019, 3 p.m.

The Powerline is softer than the Livewire or Hellion. In spring we will have another option :)

Reply

rossp
0
rossp  - Oct. 27, 2019, 6:44 p.m.

Any insight into the difference between the men's and women's fit?  I like the look of the blue ones but the website isn't clear if there's really a lot of difference.

Reply

RideCncpts
0
RideCncpts  - Oct. 29, 2019, 3:02 p.m.

We use gender specific lasts, so a women's model for us will have a narrower heel, a bit less volume, wider ball girth, etc.

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