Unparallel Dust Up Flat Pedal Shoe

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Unparallel Dust Up (Black)
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Tested: Unparallel Dust Up Flat Pedal Shoe

Super grippy rubber and a soft feel for Unparallel's entry to the flat pedal shoe market.

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: Unparallel Dust Up Flat Pedal Shoe

If you’ve been following the MTB shoe market, you might have noticed a new name pop up recently. Unparallel Sports is a company that was founded in 2017 by Sang Lee, a close friend of Five Ten’s founder and the person behind the production of Five Ten shoes up until the adidas acquisition. With that heritage in mind, we were of course excited to see what this new/old player could come up with, and we’ve been putting one of Unparallel’s very first creations to the test to find out.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Extremely grippy
  • Very comfortable
  • Effecting “damping” on the pedals
  • Good in both wet and dry conditions
  • Lacks stiffness
  • Lacks a bit of protection

Unparallel Dust Up Highlights

  • Compound RH outsole perimeter / 4.0 mm thickness / 75-80 durometer
  • Compound VD outsole center tread /

If you’ve been following the MTB shoe market, you might have noticed a new name pop up recently. Unparallel Sports is a company that was founded in 2017 by Sang Lee, a close friend of Five Ten’s founder and the person behind the production of Five Ten shoes up until the adidas acquisition. With that heritage in mind, we were of course excited to see what this new/old player could come up with, and we’ve been putting one of Unparallel’s very first creations to the test to find out.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Extremely grippy
  • Very comfortable
  • Effecting “damping” on the pedals
  • Good in both wet and dry conditions
  • Lacks stiffness
  • Lacks a bit of protection

Unparallel Dust Up Highlights

  • Compound RH outsole perimeter / 4.0 mm thickness / 75-80 durometer
  • Compound VD outsole center tread / 3.5 thickness / 45-50 durometer
  • Midsole stiffness: medium
  • Fit: low volume
  • Low cut upper height
  • Lace cover Velcro strap
  • Women’s versions available
  • Sizes: 5-13
  • Colors: Black/Black, Grey/Grey, and Grey/Turquoise
  • MSRP: $149.95

Initial Impressions

When Sang Lee created Unparallel, he gathered up a small team of people with extensive experience in the climbing and MTB shoe space. Steve Delacruz, Unparallel’s first creative director, was involved in designing the very first Five Ten MTB shoe in 2006 (which Sang Lee manufactured until 2011), and also worked on shoes for Fizik and Oakley. Franck Boistel, in charge of design at Unparallel, brings 20 years of footwear experience to the table with brands like Ipath, Burton, Flow, Sanuk, O’Neil, Levis, Toms, Salomon, Chrome and Five Ten on his list of clients. And to really make sure Unparallel would be able to get off to a flying start, Sang Lee had previously purchased the tooling from Teva’s brief stint in MTB, which explains why you might have gotten a feeling of déjà vu when you first laid eyes on the Unparallel soles. The soles here are indeed pretty much identical to the old Teva MTB soles, only now with Unparallel’s own rubber compounds.

The Dust Up model tested here is billed as an “all-mountain” shoe which is meant to cater to the needs of a wide variety of riders. There is also a high-cut leather shoe (with a harder rubber used for the sole) as well as a clipless model in the bike-specific line-up. The Dust Up takes aim pretty squarely at the space occupied largely by Five Ten’s Freerider Pro, and as such it is up against some pretty stiff competition – the Freerider Pro won our flat pedal shoe Face Off and is still our go-to reference point when it comes to the perfect blend of grip, comfort, and protection.

Digging into the features of the Dust Up, we find a dual-durometer outsole mated to a synthetic leather upper. The rubber made by Unparallel is said to be of softer durometer than Five Ten’s Stealth rubber, which holds great promise when it comes to grip. The sole pattern features two distinct zones, with a super soft rubber in the pedal area, and more pronounced lugs made of harder rubber in the toe and heel areas intended to provide more control when hiking.

The overall shoe construction is quite sneaker-like, with only a strap over the laces pointing to a more specialist application. The front of the sole is stitched, a welcome sight for anyone who’s seen their shoes fall apart in this particular area before. The midsole is synthetic, with a thin insole providing comfort. The sidewalls are thinner than on a Freerider Pro for example, and the tongue features a less thick material as well. The overall look is maybe a little confusing with a somewhat incoherent blend of materials, but appearances are subjective and we won't hold that against the Dust Up if it can deliver on the bike.

On The Trail

Slipping into the Dust Up for the first time, we were immediately struck by just how comfortable this shoe is. It not only looks like a sneaker, it definitely feels like one too. The fit is roomy, and if you have normal to narrow feet it means you'll have to cinch down the laces a fair amount from the get-go. The external strap functions mostly as a lace cover, it has a very limited range of adjustment and as such it is not really there to add any stability to the fit.

Over several months of testing in various conditions and with different types of pedals, we’ve simply been unable to fault the Unparallel rubber when it comes to grip.

The second aspect that jumped out at us from the very first ride was the grip. You’ve read countless reviews where a given shoe delivers “near-Five Ten like grip”, well, the Dust Up delivers at least exactly the same amount of grip as Five Ten’s Stealth rubber. Yes, you read that right – over several months of testing in various conditions and with different types of pedals, we’ve simply been unable to fault the Unparallel rubber when it comes to grip. Bring it anywhere near the pedal, and it latches on like a magnet. Come rain or shine, if you want your foot to move around on the pedal, you’ll have to lift it off first.

When it comes to power transfer and overall stability however, Unparallel has a bit of work left to do. The Dust Up is quite soft and flexible, including the midsole. This creates a lot of comfort under the foot, and those who like to really feel what their little piggies are doing on the pedals will no doubt love it, but it also creates a less stable connection with the bike. The sole will never slip on the pedals, but if you have thinner or narrower feet you might find that the shoe lets your foot move around instead which can be a bit unsettling. One of our testers likened it to running low pressures in your tires - a bit of squirm can be noticed from the shoe itself. We feel like using a slightly sturdier materials in the upper would help remedy this problem, and that would add a little more protection as well. As it stands, the Dust Up feels just a little bit undergunned when it comes to sticking your feet where they don’t belong.

In terms of breathability, the Dust Up features small holes on the upper that help with airflow, and the thin tongue does its part to improve this aspect as well. Thanks to the synthetic materials used the Dust Up also does a good job handling wet conditions, and it dries out fairly quickly if you do get it drenched.

Things That Could Be Improved

As mentioned above, we feel that the Dust Up could benefit from being a little bit sturdier, both in the upper construction as well as the midsole. It provides a very comfortable fit, and those who like to really feel what their feet are doing on the pedals will be well served, but a slightly stiffer sole and more robust overall construction would help with power transfer and stability as well as provide a little more protection.

Long Term Durability

We’ve had the Dust Up out on the trails on and off during a 6-month period under two different testers, and it has stood up well to the abuse handed out so far. It's been exposed to everything from muddy trails to dry and dusty desert rock with DH laps in between, and it's still going strong. We’ve not subjected the Dust Up to a season of uplift riding to really know how durable the sole will prove to be, but so far it shows no signs of early wear (in fact the outsoles appear to maybe handle abuse better than Five Tens), and the rest of the shoe is still holding up. We’ll keep an eye on things over the long run and report back here with any problems.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Grip is key when it comes to flat pedal shoes, and on that count, Unparallel’s Dust Up delivers in spades. Every bit as grippy as the current market leader Five Ten, Unparallel’s rubber won’t let you down under any conditions. As for the rest of the shoe, we feel that Unparallel could do a bit better in terms of stability and protection, and we’ll be looking forward to testing future models or updates that may address this point. With the rubber magic already taken care of, the company has done the hard part, and they definitely have all the prerequisites for becoming a serious player in the flat pedal shoe space.

More information at: www.unparallelsports.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 Johan Hjord

Specifications

Product Unparallel Dust Up Flat Pedal Shoe
Riding Type Dirt Jump / Slopestyle, Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park, Trail
Rider Unisex, Women
Construction Dual compound outsole with a higher durometer UP RH perimeter and softer, vibration absorbing UP VD center tread
Breathable synthetic TPU leather upper and perforated tongue
EVA midsole with medium stiffness
Low volume fit and low cut upper height
Lace cover Velcro strap
Rubber Type UP Compound RH: 4.0mm thickness, 75-80 durometer
UP Compound VD: 3.5mm thickness, 45-50 durometer
Sizes US Men's 5-13
US Women's 5-11
Colors Unisex: Black/Black, Grey/Grey
Women: Light Grey/Turquoise/Black
Weight 0 lb 14.9 oz (421 g)
Miscellaneous Weight: 421 grams, size 12 US, verified
Price $149.95
More Info

www.unparallelsports.com

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