Fit and Price
Ion's new Rascal Select BOA shoes are aimed at enduro racers and trail riders with subtle features that make them stand out from the crowd without looking like a disco slipper.
Surrounding the shoe is a sturdy toe and heel cap for added protection, and a SupTraction_Rubber sole to provide grip while hiking. Under the stiff shank there is an EVA midsole to cushion heavy landings and high frequency bumps. The inside of the heel cup has a velvet-like material to reduce heel lift and the raised material around the ankle bone is designed to prevent any bruising from the crank arms. Vents on the top of the toe box keep the air flowing and the shoes weigh in at 913 g in size 42.
ION Rascal Select BOA Details
• SupTraction_Rubber CL sole
• Asymmetrically shaped ankle shaft
• Reinforced heel and toe cap
• Non-slip inner heel fabric
• EVA midsole
• Sizes 37-47
• Colors: black
• Weight: 913 grams (size 42)
• MSRP: $199.95
Fit is subjective, but I found the size 42 (9.0 US) Rascal Select BOAs to be a bit roomy with my usual summer riding socks. I normally use Five Ten Hellcat Pro shoes in size 42 (8.5 US), so you can see where the confusion may lie. The toe box fit my moderately wide foot nicely and I had plenty of room to wiggle my toes, possibly too much. Without the option to drop down a half size, I stuck with the 42.
I did have to crank the BOA system close to the max, almost at the point where the eyelets touched. This raised attention to the short tongue. When I cinched the BOA down, it didn't leave enough of the tongue exposed to flex upwards as I bent my foot forwards, causing a slight pinch. The tongue did break in a bit after a few rides and there was no need to crank the BOA down more.
The high pricing reflects the use of the patented BOA system in an otherwise normal shoe. There are other features found on similar footwear in this category, like lace covers, gators, and sticky rubber soles, that cost a little less.
Inside the heel cup you can see the material that keeps your foot locked down. Some riders with a slender foot might run out of rope. I had to tighten the BOA a lot to get the shoe to close tight.
I set up the cleats about three quarters of the way back, which landed the pedal axle behind the ball of my foot. There is plenty of range to fit a more forward position, and for flat pedal riders that are crossing over to the dark side there is room to go further back. A single black, stock spacer from the Crank Brothers cleats made finding the cutout channel on the sole easy with the pedal traction pins set at two visible threads above the platform. At this height, there was no interference with the sole while trying to unclip and I could still feel the shoe gripping the pins when riding hard.
Laces have worked well for over a hundred years, but once you've gone to a quick fit system, like the L6 BOA, it's difficult to go back. The speed and convenience is awesome. Like snowboard boots, I sometimes found myself adjusting the tension once my foot settled in the shoe. I could cinch up any slack from a seated position on the bike. Despite the tongue being a bit short, the BOA wire never put any uneven pressure points on my foot, even at high tensions.
It's interesting to see that the lace version of the shoe has a velcro power strap at the top of the lacing system, but is absent on the BOA version. Although I never had an issues with the BOA coming undone, I would be curious to see if that extra security also let you tune the compression in different areas. The dial has been centered on the top of the shoe to avoid any rock strikes. Replacements are easy to order from BOA's own website, if needed.
There is plenty of room to run the cleats further back. The BOA provided even tension across the forefoot, but the short tongue pinched the front of my foot as I leaned forward.
In terms of stiffness under foot, the Rascal Select BOA has an average amount of flex - not as extreme as a Specialized 2FO clip shank. This makes hiking pleasant and the special material on the heel isn't just a gimmick. I didn't have the chance to do any multi-day epics, but there were no signs of blisters forming, even on some longer days locked into the shoes. The grip is also superb off the bike. Except on bare rock, the traction is superior to the rounded dots found on Five Ten shoes.
Maybe it was the higher ankle protection that led me to believe the shoe would have more torsional support, but I found it was a bit soft and very thin for the enduro category. Although the Rascal Select BOAs were a larger size 42, I don't think a more snug fit would have solved the support issue. The sides of the shoe are lightly covered in suede, lacking that direct and secure feeling of a Five Ten Hellcat.
Visually, the shoes look new after weeks of use and the black and brown colorway keeps them looking decent in all conditions. Flipping them over shows the sole is still firmly glued in place and the toe cap is bonded well to the breathable mesh on top of the toe. Even after long, hot days in the shoes, my feet were drier than usual.
Through this hot and dry summer weather, I can't comment on the wet weather performance just yet. Water and moisture can take their toll on both bonded materials and stitching, but these shoes haven't raised any red flags yet.
Grip, shank flex, and heel lock are great for adventure rides+
Easy to find cleat channel with ample adjustment+
Quick on and off BOA system
Needs more supportive sides-
Tongue could be longer