Fox Racing Teases 2023 MTB Shoe Collection 8

We had the opportunity to drop by Fox HQ and check out their all-new shoe line coming February 2023.

Last Monday, we spent a day at Fox Racing's Southern California HQ. The objective of our visit was multifaceted: roam the halls of Fox's epic workspace, get an exclusive first look at their all-new Union shoe collection, and spend some one-on-one time with the Santa Cruz Syndicate Team. To top it off, it rained in SoCal, and we finished the day riding in epic brown pow conditions while trying to keep up with Laurie Greenland and Jackson Goldstone. And they say Mondays are a drag...

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Rolling up to Fox's Irvine, California headquarters, we can't think of many other mountain bike brands with such a badass facility. Built inside a vast warehouse, the space has been separated into various sections and terraced work areas.

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Each area features wild designs complete with textured walls, vaulted ceilings, and historic memorabilia around every corner. There is a full kitchen, espresso bar, library, gym, and even a pump track and pit bike track out back. Walking around, you can feel the creativity bred by the open work environment, and it's hard not to daydream about what it would be like to work within those walls. 

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Sometimes we forget Fox Racing is one of the largest brands in our industry, with a history that spans decades across multiple avenues of action sports. 

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While we spent most of our time behind locked doors where Fox develops new products, anyone can stop by HQ and pick up some fresh gear. The on-site retail store is stocked with Fox's latest colorways and releases, from moto to mountain bike gear, helmets, pads, and casual clothes. And with how many athletes visit Fox each week, you never know who you might see if you drop in. When we walked up first thing in the morning before Fox was officially open, Laurie happened to be walking by and was kind enough to let us in. Next level customer service.

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The timing of Vital visiting Fox purposely coincided with the Syndicate being in town. When the crew wasn't busy getting measured for gear or having meetings about custom kits for next season, we pulled them aside two at a time. There isn't a World Cup team as tight-knit or filled with bold personalities as the Syndicate. So what better way to highlight their entertaining relationships than by interviewing them together? We had Peaty sit in as a mediator, and the banter that followed was classic. We covered such hard-hitting questions as: 

  • What's something about the person next to you that most people don't know? 
  • Do you cuff your riding pants? If yes, why? 
  • Bar width, lever position, or tire pressure - which would give you the most trouble if tweaked? 
  • Pick one: at the first World Cup, you must either race on flats or in shorts. 
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Gordo grilling Jackson.

Some of the topics discussed hold information we can't yet release, so stay tuned for a video dropping at the beginning of next year!

Fox Union MTB Collection 

Outside of touring Fox's HQ and interviewing the Syndicate, we were super excited to get a first look at their all-new Union MTB shoe collection. Comprised of three models (two clipless, one flat), the shoes represent over two years of development. When chatting with Fox's design and development team, they disclosed that over a year ago, they had what many would consider production-ready shoes scheduled for release. However, they were not entirely satisfied with certain aspects of the shoes, namely the last and stiffness of the midsole. So instead of launching the shoes, they choose to scrap already open molds, redesign the last and midsole, and continue testing to ensure their first go at mountain bike footwear would not only satisfy current expectations but also elevate comfort, performance, and durability expectations. 

Rider feedback and 'in the field' testing has always been a massive component of Fox's product development. You've probably deduced by now that the Syndicate will be rocking Fox shoes next season. The Union BOA and Union clipless models were already raced this past season, with Nina Hoffman wearing the Union BOA to victory at the US Open and Jackson Goldstone wearing the Union during his win at Hardline. 

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Why Make Shoes?

So why did Fox decide to make mountain bike shoes? If you look at Fox's deep product catalog, footwear was the only item missing from the 'complete you kit' list outside of performance sunglasses. Fox has long offered head-to-toe products to motocross riders, and adding footwear to their mountain bike line was an obvious evolution. Of course, adding a product just for the sake of having more products has never been Fox's modus operandi. Each model presents thought-out features, materials, and fit that we expect will position the Union line in direct comparison with the likes of FiveTen, Specialized, Giro, and Ride Concepts.   

"Fox's demand for best-in-class products is translating across all categories, from helmets to shoes. We've validated the trend through rider feedback, online search and selling partners. Combined this demand with Fox Racing's amazing team of designers, developers, vendors, and professional athletes, pursuing footwear was a no-brainer for us. For the first time in the brand's history, both mountain bike and motocross riders are equipped with best-in-class, head-to-toe protection & apparel. It's a testament to our mission statement - to equip and inspire."

Union BOA - $249.95 USD

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Highlights

  • Ultratack outsole balances grip and durability. Made with brotobutyl.
  • Lightweight glass filled nylon shank for an efficient pedaling platform. 
  • "Power and Control" guide to help customers with cleat placement. 
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  • Molded heel counter for fit consistency and added durability. 
  • Custom tuned EVA midsole balances cushioning, support and efficiency.
  • Dual BOA Li2 system provides on he move micro-adjustability and improved power transfer to the pedals. 
  • High density tongue reduces pressure points and provides uniform fit.
  • Molded toe cap and reinforced toe for protection against rock strikes. 
  • One-piece upper with welded construction provides a technical look and protection from the elements.
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Colors: Red / Grey / Black / Mocha

Union - $179.95 USD

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Highlights

  • Ultratack outsole balances grip and durability. Made with brotobutyl.
  • Lightweight glass filled nylon shank for an efficient pedaling platform. 
  • "Power and Control" guide to help customers with cleat placement. 
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  • Molded heel counter for fit consistency and added durability. 
  • Custom tuned EVA midsole balances cushioning, support and efficiency.
  • Low-profile Velcro strap and lace system to optimize fit and comfort. 
  • Molded toe cap and reinforced toe for protection against rock strikes. 
  • One-piece upper with welded construction provides a technical look and protection from the elements.
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Colors: Black / Mocha / Grey / Red

Union Flat - $149.95 USD

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Highlights

  • Ultratack outsole balances grip and durability. Made with brotobutyl.
  • Custom Hex shape lugs engage with flat pedal pins for control.
  • Toe and heel designed to help with grip while hiking.
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  • Custom tuned EVA midsole balances cushioning, support and efficiency.
  • Molded heel counter for fit consistency and added durability. 
  • Molded toe cap and reinforced toe for protection against rock strikes. 
  • One-piece upper with welded construction provides a technical look and protection from the elements.
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Colors: Red / Grey / Mocha / Black

A few highlights stood out across the Union collection outside the bullet points above. First, Fox chose unisex sizing, offering a size range from 37-47 EU (5.5-13 US Men's // 6.5-14.5 US Women's). Besides the massive size range to accommodate most riders, the EU sizing will be translated exactly to how each size lands in US measurements. For instances where the measurement doesn't translate to a whole or half US size, quarter sizes will be offered. For those who currently find themselves between US whole and half sizes, this could be your answer to finding that elusive exact fit. Additionally, all models feature two arch heights via a removable insert under the insole. 

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Speaking subjectively, the entire Union collection looks fantastic. The designs are clean, simple, and low-profile, just the way we like our riding shoes. When talking with Fox about the design elements carried across all three models, the reserved colorways and subtle branding were not accidental. Even though the goal was to offer riders head-to-toe gear, they realize not everyone wants to look like a Fox ambassador fully kitted in their gear. A few brighter colorways exist for those who want to stand out in their fresh new kicks, but in general, the colorways are meant to blend into the rest of your kit.    

Vital's Two-Ride Shoe Review: Union Flat

Our day spent with Fox was jam-packed with ambitious plans for a short December day. By the time we wrapped up discussing shoe tech and conducting interviews, we set off to shuttle the San Juan Trail at around 2:30 pm. Short story long: we somehow pulled off an hour-long shuttle followed by an 11-mile, 2500ft descent with 15 people before it was completely pitch black outside. With two days of rain prior, I worried we would be dropping into one long, muddy drainage rut. And when we arrived at the top and were greeted by a light dusting of snow on the ground, I started questioning why I didn't bring a light. 

 

Fast forward 30 minutes, and after doing my best to chase Greg Minnaar down saturated yet flowy singletrack before trudging up muddy, punchy climbs behind Laurie the energizer bunny, I remembered I was supposed to be analyzing my shoes. Up to this point, I had blasted through countless puddles, and my shoes looked far from new. Surprisingly, even though the upper material was not waterproof, my feet were 90% dry. Even more surprising was that I had yet to think about the placement of my feet. Before hitting the trails, I had conducted my highly sophisticated fingernail poke test on the Ultratack rubber and was mildly skeptical about how it would perform. It's not that the rubber wasn't tacky. It just didn't feel as gummy or soft as FiveTen's Stealth Rubber I ride with most. 

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Media guy style...
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Boost Bro style...

Reflecting on the shoe's performance during the first few miles of use, I could not believe how locked to my pedals I felt. In the best way possible, I could not get my feet to slip, shift or move. As we charged onward, chasing fleeting light, I didn't have to devote any effort or thought to keep my feet glued to the same spot on my pedals. 

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Switchbacking our way to the bottom and again doing my best to keep up with Jackson and Laurie without getting run over by Peaty on an eMTB, I was laughing at the fact I had doubted the grip of the shoes a few hours earlier. However, I also knew the San Juan Trail was not the roughest trail, especially in the tacky conditions we rode. Luckily, we already had plans to ride and film in Laguna Beach the following day, where I would have endless opportunities to see how the Union could handle some braking bump chatter. 

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My second day wearing the Union was a long four-hour filming mission. I already knew the grip of the outsole was something special, but I was curious how the midsole would absorb and handle more demanding terrain. I also wanted to see if the shoes remained comfortable after a full day of riding and hiking.

When hiking up and down the trail, the Union had a very light and minimalistic feel. I didn't have the chance to toss them on a scale, but they felt similar to my Freerider Pro and Giro Latch shoes. The heel cuff offered a nice hook with plenty of foam that kept my foot secure and prevented unwanted ankle rubbing. 

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I did find the Union to be slightly stiffer than the Freerider Pro I was wearing prior, but I didn't experience any hotspots or foot fatigue while hiking. When riding, the stiffness of the shoes offered good support without causing my feet to bounce or float over the pedals. Fox's efforts to rework the midsole successfully give the Union a nice blend of comfort and damping on big impacts while remaining pliable enough to flex and mold to the pedals over chatter. Laguna has some of the roughest rock gardens I've ever ridden, and the fact that my feet remained glued to my pedals all day is a true testament to the rubber compound, tread design, and damping properties that Fox concocted. Beyond grip, the success of a flat pedal shoe relies heavily on the durability of the outsole. Only time will tell how the Union's Ultratack compound holds up, but based on the quality and performance of the rest of the shoe, I expect it to withstand plenty of abuse. 

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So there you have it, Fox is making shoes, and they've come out of the gate swinging. We might have only test rode one model for two days, but the grip, comfort, and performance were undeniable on the trail. We are excited to hear what riders think once the shoes are released, but we expect the Union collection will give your current-favorite shoe a run for its money.

The Union collection is set to launch in February. To stay in the loop on when shoes will be available, click HERE


View key specs, compare products, and review Fox Racing in the Product Guide.

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