Ride Concepts entered the mountain bike world just over a year ago, and in a relatively short period of time have managed to roll out a complete lineup of shoes that includes multiple flat and clipless-compatible options.
The Powerline shoes are aimed at enduro and gravity riders who are looking for a little more protection during their flat pedal adventures. To that end, they have an extended inner cuff that helps shield ankles from crank and frame impacts, and there's a thin layer of D3O viscoelastic foam inside that cuff for additional impact absorption. D3O is also used in the insoles as well, where it's said to help reduce fatigue.
• Rubber Kinetics DST 4.0 Max Grip sole
• Gusseted tongue
• Asymmetric cuff with D3O impact protection
• Colors: charcoal/orange, red/black, black/charcoal
• Sizes: 7 - 13
• Weight: 456 grams (per shoe, size 11)
• MSRP: $150 USD
Ride Concepts worked with Rubber Kinetics to come up with the compound used for the sole of the Powerline, and the result is called DST 4.0 Max Grip. It's a soft, 40a rubber, which, as the name implies, was designed to provide the high level of traction required for rough descents. The tread pattern consists of dozens of raised hexagons that are spaced out to provide room for pedal pins.
Other details include an elasticized lace holder, a molded rubber toe cap, and a gusseted tongue that helps keep trail debris from sneaking into the shoes. Three colors are available in sizes 7-13. MSRP: $150 USD. Performance
The fit of the Powerline shoes was perfect right out of the box, without any break-in period necessary. They fit true to the US sizing designation, and that's the size I'd recommend going off of when picking a size - they seem to run big if you use the EU sizing.
Back to the fit. I've worn dozens of different flat pedal shoes over the years, and these rank right at the top when it comes to overall comfort. I'd say they fit like a glove, but that doesn't quite seem like the right analogy. Maybe performance pillows for your feet? In any case, they're extremely comfortable. They strike a nice balance when it comes to the overall level of stiffness, and my feet stayed happy on numerous long rides.
What about on-bike traction? Well, despite the use of 'Max Grip' rubber, there wasn't quite enough grip for my taste, at least when it comes to rough descents. Now, I'm a rider that prefers my shoes' rubber to be as sticky as possible – I'd rather have to take a few pins out of my pedals because a pair of shoes are too
grippy rather than installing extra-pointy shin scrapers in an attempt to eke out more grip. I used the Powerlines with several pedal models, including the ANVL Tilt, Burgtec MK4 Composite, and Chromag Dagga. Even with those Dagga pedals, which are some of the grippiest on the market, I had a few instances when my feet bounced out of position on choppier sections of trail.
I had to really focus on keeping my weight on the pedal pins with the DST rubber, as opposed to Five Ten's Stealth rubber, which feels locked in with only the slightest amount of pressure on the pedals. That DST 4.0 rubber is soft, but I think a slower rebounding compound could be the ticket here – it's possible that would provide the extra level of stickiness I was looking for.
The last couple of months have given me plenty of opportunities to test out the Powerline's ability to shed mud and rain, and they've done quite well in that department. They'll get soaked if it's pouring rain or the trail is covered with deep puddles, but the amount of weight they gained when fully saturated was reasonable – they never turned into soggy bricks. Off-the-bike traction is fine too, unless it's really muddy. In deeper mud the spaces between the hexagons can get clogged, which greatly reduces the amount of traction. Granted, there aren't many shoes that can excel in those kinds of conditions. As far as durability goes, the shoes are still going strong, without any rips, tears, or delamination to be seen.Toe to Toe: Ride Concepts Powerline vs. Five Ten Impact Pro
The Ride Concepts Powerline and the Five Ten Impact Pro are both aimed at the same portion of the flat-pedal shoe crowd, so let's see how they compare. Weight:
When it comes to shoes, fit and performance are usually much higher up the priority chart then weight. However, in this match-up the point easily goes to the Powerlines – a pair of size 11's weighs .75 pounds less than the Five Tens, which is a significant difference. Design:
Both shoes have a good sturdy construction that helps protect toes from being smashed against rocks, roots, and whatever else gets in the way. The Powerlines do have a higher inner cuff that provides a little extra protection compared to the Impact Pros, and they use D3O in a few key places, but the uppers don't feel quite as supportive and robust compared to the Impacts, so I'd call this one a draw. Grip:
There's no question, this one goes to Five Ten. If that Stealth S1 rubber is a 10 on the grippiness scale, I'd rank the Powerlines as a 7.5 or 8. Of course, not everyone wants their feet to be completely locked onto the pedals - if you're a rider that would rather have it be a little easier to re-position your feet, the Powerlines' reduced stickiness won't be an issue.
Excellent fit & comfort+
Good coverage around inner ankle
Rubber isn't the stickiest out there