Ride Concepts Powerline Flat Pedal Shoe

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Tested: Ride Concepts Powerline and TNT Flat Pedal Shoes

Loaded with features and equipped with Ride Concepts' stickiest rubber, the Powerline and TNT came to shred.

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: Ride Concepts Powerline and TNT Flat Pedal Shoes

When Ride Concepts popped up in the mountain bike shoe world last year, we were impressed by the investment the company made in its initial range, and we were also impressed once we got the first models out on the trail. We tested the Wildcat with good results, and the market provided its own validation as Ride Concepts grew quickly. With distributors in over 30 countries, this young, rider-owned company out of Truckee, CA is pushing ahead with its product roadmap and earlier this summer they announced a couple of key new models in their “Flow” and “Launch” series to complement the initial “Session” series. Read on to find out what we think of them after a few months of testing.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Great grip on the pedals
  • Comfortable yet dynamic
  • Highly useful protection features
  • Durable shoe construction
  • TNT shoe may be too stiff for some
  • DST 4.0 rubber wears out fairly quickly
  • Surface grip when hiking could be improved

Ride Concepts Powerline Highlights

  • 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
  • Weight: 456 grams (size 12 US, verified)
  • Sizes: 7-13 (Skyline women’s model also available)
  • MSRP: $150

Ride Concepts TNT Highlights

  • 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
  • TPP medial midsole protector
  • Fully gusseted tongue prohibits intake of dirt and debris
  • 40mm Power Strap
  • Tech Fit
  • Weight: 518 grams (size 12 US, verified)
  • Sizes: 5-13
  • MSRP: $160 USD

Initial Impressions

When we tested the Wildcat shoe last year, we were impressed by the level of grip produced by the DST 6.0 sole, which is what Ride Concepts calls their mid-level rubber. Having the new Powerline and TNT shoes show up with their stickiest DST 4.0 compound was exciting, but the feature list does not stop there. D3O inserts, medial collar protection, high-ride EVA midsole, toe and heel cap protection as well as a fully gusseted tongue is an impressive amount of technology to cram into a shoe. Not to mention that there was a pair of Coaster flip flops included in the box – who doesn’t love the idea of bespoke post-ride footwear, performance outsole and all?

The Powerline shoe is billed as a “big-mountain, big-move, all-star shoe”. Packing all the aforementioned technology into a comfortable and relatively lightweight package, the Powerline should be able to accompany you on anything from epic back country days to lapping the bike park. The design is pretty sleek for such a burly shoe, with lines that looks like they mean business. There is a reassuring amount of protection in critical areas, including the raised inside collar to help ward off pedal/crank strikes, yet the overall construction is streamlined.

The TNT steps things up a level by adding a TPP medial midsole protector as well as a Power Strap above the laces. The result is a slightly heavier shoe that feels a lot sturdier when you try to bend it. Much like the Powerline, it also features a number of protective and comfort features, such as D3O in the insoles, medial collar padding, welded toe and heel caps and more.

With a full range of shoes comprising models for men, women, and youth, Ride Concepts has grown quickly over the past 12 months. We stopped by the company this summer as they were busy moving into new office and warehouse space in Truckee, California. Putting the "rider owned and operated" catchphrase to the test, we checked out the facilities but also the excellent trail network in the region, guided by Rick Reed who manages all things marketing for Rice Concepts. If you're gonna open a company because you want to be closer to the sport and doing what you love, you could definitely do a lot worse when it comes to picking a location.

The crew.

Warehouse space.
Rick gets Rick-rolled. Geddit.
When in doubt, turnbar it out.
Norcal dust.

On The Trail

The Powerline is a very comfortable shoe. It runs true to size, and should fit people with normal to slightly narrow feet perfectly. All of the comfort features together with the relatively flexible sole conspire to create a shoe that is easy to walk around in all day. On the pedals, the Powerline delivers a great connection with the bike, and none of the aforementioned comfort translates into any vagueness in action. Power transfer is good, and there is enough support for long days with miles of pedaling. When it comes to the grip, the softer DST 4.0 rubber provides plenty of traction and we found that the flexibility of the sole really helps the shoe “mold itself” to the pedal and provide just the right amount of feedback.

In action, the Powerline provides plenty of confidence. The shoe is sturdy enough to ward off all but the biggest hits (the kind where a few bruises on your foot will be the least of your problems), and it seems to be ready to shake off the abuse and come back for more where durability is concerned as well. The grip comes oh-so-close to the current class leader in this aspect – Five Ten’s Stealth rubber. We find that the only real differentiator is the surface grip itself: Stealth rubber is very sticky even without any pressure on the pedal pins, whereas the DST 4.0 requires just a tiny amount more pressure to really catch on. This translates to hiking as well, where Stealth will for example stick to dry rock like glue, DST 4.0 is slightly more slippery. Once you are on the pedals however, DST 4.0 will never move on you, and we’ve been happy to use the Powerline shoe all throughout summer for everything from backyard freeride sessions to laps in Whistler. We have yet to test the Powerline in a monsoon, but it has been constructed to not take on a lot of water and based on our experience with the Wildcat, we don’t expect any particular problems when it comes to managing in the wet.

The TNT shares the same rubber outsole as the Powerline, but with slightly bigger lugs intended to provide even better grip. The TNT is and feels like a much sturdier shoe, with a certain amount of “clunkiness” to it on the pedals. To continue the comparisons to the Five Ten range, the TNT feels much more like the classic old Impact while the Powerline is closer to a Freerider Pro. The added stiffness and protection of the TNT will please those who charge hard and frequently end up with their feet in all the wrong places, but we also found that the extra stiffness comes at the expense of grip. With the shoe less able to conform to the shape of the pedal, the overall experience is less sticky, especially if you get sloppy with foot placement or your heels. We have mostly been focusing this test on the Powerline, so it may be that the TNT requires more time to break in but after a handful of rides, the slight feeling of “clunkiness” persists.

Things That Could Be Improved

There is not a lot we can list in this section. In terms of features, fit, comfort, material and workmanship, the execution is nearly flawless. We’d love to see Ride Concepts figure out a way to make their rubber every bit as sticky as Stealth when it comes to the surface grip, but since that might come at the expense of durability, it’s perhaps not something that the company is keen to even attempt.

Long Term Durability

Making a durable shoe is one of the major reasons that Ride Concepts exists as a company, as frustration with lack of longevity in flat pedal shoes was one of the key drivers behind the founder’s decision to open up shop for himself. Have they succeeded? We’ve been using various Ride Concepts shoes for about one year now, and so far, we have yet to discover any signs of delamination or other issues. Ride Concepts does not stitch the toe caps, which is something that appears scary to a lot of people based on their previous experience with other brands, but we’ve not detected any trouble brewing so far in any of the models tested. When it comes to the soles, DST 4.0 is quite a bit softer than the 6.0 version we tested last year, and it shows. After three months there is quite a bit of general wear on the outsole, but the good news is that the wear pattern is uniform and there are no big holes from the pins. You should be able to get a good season’s worth of regular shredding out of your Powerlines or TNTs, and if that is not good enough, one of the models with the slightly harder 6.0 compound will likely last you a bit longer. In both cases, the shoe itself looks like it is in it for the long run.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The mountain bike shoe market is fiercely competitive, which leaves no room for compromise for those looking to carve out a bigger share for themselves. For flat pedal riders, the shoe is really a crucial part of their equipment, as it can easily make or break the overall riding experience. Ride Concepts comes to the table with a high-performance outsole that delivers all the grip needed to perform on the pedals, as well as a high level of quality in regards to the overall construction of their shoes. The feature list is second to none, and both the Powerline and the TNT deserve to be considered for your next flat pedal shoe short list. For all-around use, the Powerline strikes just the right balance between comfort, stiffness and grip, making it one of our favorites out of all the shoes we’ve been using recently.

More information at: www.rideconcepts.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 46 // Years Riding MTB: 14 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord

This Shoe can Dance

Rating: Featured Member Review
The Good:

Asymmetrical ankle, D30 footbed, sticky rubber, breathable, quick drying

The Bad:

Just a bit wide for my foot

Overall Review:

I will start by saying the customer service at RC is superb! I had an issue with a different model shoe, response to my email was fast, and the replacements showed up even quicker.

These shoes are light, grippy, fast drying, breathable, and have a sole that is supportive enough for long days in the high country perhaps the D3O footbed helps. The rubber toe cap has proven to protect the toes from those angry rocks, stumps and whatever else might be on the trail. So far these shoes have withstood the abuse that the Mighty San Juans have dished out this season, from stream crossings, snowfields, steep hike a bikes, angry trail dogs these shoes can handle all of it. I was a bit hesitant about the asymmetrical ankle thinking they might reduce mobility, I was wrong and actually enjoy the added coverage and support. The sole by Rubber Kinectics is sticky and seems to be just as durable as the benchmark Stealth rubber. The last stand out feature is the gusseted tongue, oh and the lace keeper is a bonus.

These shoes and the company have started strong, I look forward to their future offerings. 

Specifications

Product Ride Concepts Powerline Flat Pedal Shoe
Riding Type Dirt Jump / Slopestyle, Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Rider Unisex
Construction Rubber outsole, rubber heel and toe protection, high-rise EVA midsole, gusseted tongue
Rubber Type Rubber Kinetics | DST 4.0 MAX GRIP Rubber Outsole
Sizes 7-13
Colors Red/black, black/charcoal, charcoal/orange
Weight N/A
Miscellaneous - 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
Price $150
More Info

www.rideconcepts.com

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