Ride Concepts are a newcomer to the mountain bike shoe world, but they unveiled an impressively complete lineup when they made their official debut a few months ago. There are several flat pedal models currently available, with clipless versions on the way in the spring. All of the options are focused on the trail / enduro / downhill side of the sport - there aren't any carbon soled, featherweight XC disco slippers to be seen, at least not yet.
The Livewire is billed as the do-it-all model, a flat pedal shoe that can be used for everything from dirt jumping to trail riding. It uses a simple lace-up design, but there are several clever features that separate it from your standard-issue skate shoe.
Ride Concepts Livewire Details
• Rubber Kinetics DST 6.0 high grip rubber outsole
• D3O incorporated into insole
• Gusseted tongue
• Molded toe and heel protection
• Colors: charcoal/red, charcoal/orange, black/charcoal
• Weight: 525 grams (size 12, per shoe)
• $100 USD
The asymmetric cuff provides a little extra ankle protection, and there's molded toe and heal protection, along with an elastic lace holder. There are also sections of D3O, the impact-absorbing material commonly found in knee pads, incorporated into the insole, where it's intended to help take the sting out of hard landings.
The sole of the Livewire is constructed with a rubber blend that was developed with Rubber Kinetics, and it's rated as a 6.0 on Ride Concepts' own grip scale, which is said to equate to a medium-high amount of grip – in this case, the lower the number, the grippier the rubber. For instance, the upcoming DH-oriented TNT shoe rates a 4.0 on that same scale. The sole itself is comprised of dozens of 12mm wide hexagons that interact with a pedal's pins to keep the shoe from slipping around.
Available in sizes 7 – 13 in three different colors, the Livewire retails for $100 USD. Performance
The Livewire shoes have a very comfortable fit, at least for my average-width feet. They're snug without being constricting, and I never had any unwanted pressure points or heel lift. The sole is fairly stiff; I'd say it's similar to that of the Five Ten Freerider Pro, but it's still flexible enough that walking around feels natural. Having a stiffer sole does mean your feet won't curve over the pedals as much as they would with a floppy skate shoe, but it also helps prevent sore feet on long rides and after hard landings.
What about that D3O insole? Honestly, I never noticed it helping or hindering my ride. There didn't seem to be a dramatic difference in impact absorption out on the trail compared to shoes with a 'regular' insole, but I also didn't have any crashes that caused me to fly through the air and land on my feet – I could see it being a nice feature to have in instances like that.
I'm always a little hesitant when a set of flat pedal shoes arrives for testing, due to the sheer number of times I've been let down by the lack of grip. For me, the stickier the better – I'd rather need to take out pedal pins to reduce the amount of grip versus installing extra-tall shin destroyers just to keep my feet in place. Luckily, that wasn't necessary with the Livewire. The rubber isn't quite as sticky as Five Ten's Stealth rubber, which is still the gold standard, but it's not that far off. The tread pattern helps as well – there's enough space between each hexagon for the pedal pins to sit into, which minimizes the chances of your feet slipping off.
The only time I had any issues with the amount of grip was in really wet conditions, when the spaces between the hexagons became packed with mud. That meant that the pedal's pins couldn't sink in as far, and it was harder to get a secure perch. A stickier rubber compound would have helped here, but those conditions were also about as bad as it gets. The vast majority of the time there was a generous amount of grip and comfort.
After four months of use the Livewire shoes are holding up well, free from any rips, tears, or sole separations. The outer fabric does have a suede-like texture that's a little harder to keep clean, but that's really my only gripe – they've handled all the mud and grime they've been exposed to without any issues.Pinkbike's Take