Review: Ride Concepts' Livewire Shoes are an Impressive Debut

Dec 28, 2018 at 12:47
by Mike Kazimer  
Ride Concepts Livewire shoe review


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
www.rideconcepts.com

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.


Ride Concepts Livewire shoe review
It's still a low-top shoe, but the asymmetric cuff provides a little extra protection.
Ride Concepts shoes
Those orange portions of the insole are D30, the same impact-absorbing material commonly used in knee and elbow pads.

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.

Ride Concepts Livewire shoe review
The space between those hexagons is one of the keys to the amount of pedal grip the Livewire shoes provide.

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
bigquotesRide Concepts are off to a very strong start with the Livewire – it hits the mark when it comes to traction, comfort, and durability. Mike Kazimer







93 Comments

  • + 63
 It’s nice to see these guys acknowledging RC’s contribution to the cycling industry by giving him his own signature series.
  • + 16
 just adding to his range really, dont forget the Pike RC and Boxxer RC
  • + 21
 @nordland071285: and all them toy cars, boats, helicopters and planes.
  • + 6
 And disappointed that RC isn't doing the review!
  • + 3
 @rudders20: Let's don't forget the cola
  • + 16
 Do they soak up water like a sponge then take a week to dry out? I love my Freeriders but taking them on wet rides is awful. Sadly the Freerider Pros fit differently and I don’t get along with them so I have high hopes for these!
  • + 3
 I've got the freerider ELC, which have a lace cover which frankly looks gash, especially in the dodgy "paint job", but they keep the worst of the weather on the outside - fully recommended for UK use. I also have a pair of freerider canvas for hotter weather...
  • + 9
 I can't imagine living in a wet climate and not owning a boot drier. Lookup dry-n-warm. Looks too simple but works.
  • + 3
 @mountainsofsussex: I have a pair of Karvers - same deal. Hideous but effective.
  • + 2
 @acali: I have a set of silica-based boot dryers which are excellent but the Freeriders absorb so much water that I have to cycle them a few times. Dryer in, leave overnight, remove dryer and dry on radiator, then refit dryer and leave overnight again, etc.
  • + 1
 @mountainsofsussex: freerider ELC for the win. Love these but I see they are not inproduction anymore such a shame. @fivetenshoes are you listening.
  • + 5
 @jadias: What are you doing? Going swimming with them on? I mean you're in the but damn dude! Check out Peet Brand's Boot Dryer, I worked landscape irrigation for 5 years and no matter how soaked my feet and boots got, the Peet would have them warm and ry by the next morning.
  • + 2
 @powderturns: And they weigh like 3 pounds a piece. I love my Karvers but they suck for pedal days.
  • + 3
 @jadias: Have you tried stuffing them full of balled up newspaper? Sounds like it shouldn't work that well but it does, it might take a couple passes but it wicks the water out of the shoes into the newspaper; best method to drying any shoe, beats a boot dryer and the resulting "crispy" shoe
  • + 1
 I can test that for you. I have the same pairs that Mike has. Get back to you when they dry.
  • + 1
 @jadias: Well that's your problem. Spend £20 and get the dry-n-warm or similar product.
It doesn't make your shoes crispy and it can't fill up. It very gently warms the shoes and the water evaporates. It looks like it shouldn't work but it does.
  • + 1
 @WestwardHo: I'm with you - I just don't know what to replace them with. I don't like the newer models.
  • + 2
 Made a glove/boot dryer out of old computer fans, PVC pipe and a wooden box. No heat, very quiet and the shoes are dry the next day. Works great!
  • + 17
 Stopping at 13 is part of the global conspiracy against tall people.
  • + 3
 There's nothing below a size 7 for those of us with small feet either.
  • + 2
 @srh2: I got my son Gyros, size 5.5, they aren't as soft/sticky as Five10s though. He doesn't slip a pedal using VP01 pedal
  • + 1
 This review popped in my feed.... also capped at 13!

www.singletracks.com/blog/mtb-gear/oneals-pinned-shoes-reviewed
  • + 1
 @fruitsd79: I've been wearing Five10s as well...however, I've noticed that their quality/durability has gone downhill in the last few years. I'll keep wearing them until I find something better. Would just be nice if there were more options for smaller feet.
  • + 11
 Are those photos of the shoes AFTER 4 months of riding??? If so they have held up remarkably well. I am a fairly light rider and after 4 months every flat shoe I have worn always show pin indentations and signs of wear. Usually around a year the pins are wearing through the soles.
  • + 6
 Bought 5.10 Freeriders because I wanted a dedicated bicycle shoe. Not much to say about them honestly, I feel you could do a lot better job dreaming up ideas for bicycle specific shoes.
  • + 14
 Do us all a favour and drop them an email ????
  • + 4
 start your own company then
  • + 19
 Five Ten are riding high on their proprietary rubber. They are totally "mailing-in-it" when it comes to overall shoe design and/or new features. It's just same old bullshit on top of amazing rubber that no one else can come close to. The issue is that all new mountain shoe makers don't make or own their rubber. It's a very expensive, time consuming and resources intensive prospect to invest in your own rubber (the factory, materials, material science (this ain't easy) and tooling required is huge. This is why many newcomers license their sole rubber from companies like Vibram or others. The problem is that Vibram or others don't make a rubber unique to the specific needs of flat pedal mtbr's. That new shoe company has to choose from a rubber that either is quite sticky but wears incredibly fast or wears well but is far to hard and slippery.

RC sounds like they may have found a good partner in Rubber Kinetics (the company RC is licensing it's rubber from). Currently I believe Rubber Kinetics only makes rubber for Goodyear's mtb tires and they may need RC even more than RC needs them and so may be able to make and bake rubber specifically for the needs of flat pedal mtbr's (fingers crossed). Personally I'm going to wait until that DH shoe comes out and see how sticky, but also how well that shoe wears. Also of note, I believe due to how technical these rubbers get, they can take up to 6 months to make which includes months of curing time before they're ready for use.

So, can others make a better designed flat pedal shoe with better features, protection, water proofness, durability and breath-ability - yes, there are lots out there. But do their soles match five ten? No. And that makes them a deal breaker.

Remember, Five Ten came from the rock climbing world where they developed their rubber tech and invested in it a long time ago. I'm not saying no one else can make a better shoe with and equal or better sole than Five Ten... It's totally possible, we just need someone with the resources to do it. I've been saying for a long time that companies like Scarpa and La Sportiva could easily branch out and make mtb shoes and really give Five Ten a run for their money.
  • + 1
 @islandforlife: I get that five ten have superior rubber, but I wonder why other shoe companies don't try to compensate for their inferior rubber with better tread patterns. I only switched from Vans to Five Tens for more protection for my toes after bouncing off a few trailside rocks. With quality flat pedals I felt like Vans' waffle sole had grip equal to Five Ten. Maybe it has something to do with Vans' flexible sole as well? I weigh 135 pounds, so I never really felt like I needed a stiffer sole to support myself.
  • + 4
 @islandforlife: Yes Five Ten is backed by Adidas now, but they still are a speck at 50 employees and operate independently on a different continent. Any of the mega tyre companies (Michelin, Continental, Pirelli, Goodyear) alone have hundreds of engineers - even thousands, massive R&D facilities, deep racing backgrounds at the highest levels. Pirelli's F1 and Michelin's MotoGP budgets alone would probably dwarf the total flat pedal soles manufactured in the world. You don't think they couldn't match or exceed Five Ten's rubber if they wanted to? That's laughable. There simply isn't enough revenue in the market space, so it will just subsidiaries and little colabs like Michelin has with Shimano. Vibram has a great shot, as they are consolidating to Boston and an Italian just became the new CEO of their NA subsidiary...Italians love cycling...so there's that.
  • + 4
 I bought a pair of these the week they came out after Addidas (IMO) ruined Five Ten by making them a lot narrower than they used to be.
I like the soles on the RC actually because they're not as grippy as the Five Ten. Lately I've noticed the Five Tens to be TOO grippy, making it too difficult to adjust my feet on the pedals if they get crossed up or wonky.
The RC's allow me to maneuver my feet easier, BUTTTTTT!!! they offer PLENTY of traction so I've never become disconnected from my pedals. Never thought I'd find a shoe with a sole I actually like BETTER than Five Ten, but I do with these.
The only 'drawback' if you wanna call it that, is the width of the shoes. While they're not as narrow as the new gen. Five Tens, they're still not quite as wide as my 2010 San Hill Especials
  • + 1
 I have impacts in a 12.5 and they are too narrow. Curious what size you wear for comparison.
  • + 3
 i got the livewires as a replacement for my 5.10 spitfires. i use them as a casual/street ride shoe, less so for trail riding. i always wear a shoe that i can potentially ride in though. the biggest standouts for me were the toe box and sole rigidity being up there. ive been very happy with the shoe and will probably buy their TNT to replace my 5.10 freerider pros
  • + 4
 5-10; still great shoes, but is no longer a small, founder-driven company, they are part of the corporate monster...
I have been looking hard at all the new options. RC looks very very promising.
  • + 3
 typed on your corporate monster cell phone/computer?
  • + 2
 Have a pair of wildcats and would agree with all of Mike's and others comments here about Sole stiffness and grippiness. The one thing that hasn't been mentioned is the shoe weight, I'm by no means a weight weenie but the wildcats are noticeably lighter that my 510 freeriders Its still early days, but so far no slipped pedals in monsoon to muddy conditions
  • + 1
 Good to hear! Thinking about getting a pair of Wildcats soon to replace my Freerider Pros.
  • + 4
 From what I see, those hexagons are not 12mm high on the soles. If they were, you'd be walking around on platform shoes that Disco Stu might wear.
  • + 1
 Stealth cleats, lol. I scrolled to the pic for another look just to make sure. 12mm *wide* hexagons.
  • + 2
 Having had the RC Hellion's now for about a month and being a Five ten guy for many years I can say that the grip on these is a 9 if the Five ten is a 10. The plus so far is that I feel they do absorb a bit of feedback from the pedals in the rough and they seem to so far be holding up as my freerider pro's wear pretty quick and I usually have had to glue them in a couple spots after about 6-8 months to stay together. I have had mine wet a couple times and they have been fine.
  • + 4
 Do they have a firm platform or fold in half? Grip is not as important to me as hard sole that spreads pedal impacts to the foot.
  • + 4
 "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. "

I have a pair of these also, and I would agree with Mikes assessment. It's a fairly firm platform. YMMV
  • - 3
 @hangdogr: but if it folds like flip flops as the 5.10 does, then I would rather wait for the “xc disco slippers with carbon sole” cause the last thing I want to do with cylcing shoes is “walk with confort” and prefer a stiff platform with some rubber that the spikes of the pedal can dig into.
  • + 2
 @b1rdie: then buy5.10 impacts
  • + 2
 @b1rdie: 5.10 makes shoes in 3 or 4 different stiffnesses. So when you say "as the 5.10 does"... which model are you referring to?
  • + 1
 @islandforlife: I have the VXi in clipless and platform. Wish the platform version had a firm sole like the clipless but without the hole for the clips. Bought both two years ago and realy like the strengh of the shoes amd the feel if the rubber but the soles are fully detaching from the shoe when yet could last another year or so, so I’m searching for different brand.
  • + 1
 Looks like they did exactly what a lot of people want... they took Giro shoes and put 510 soles on them. Probably some factory backdoor stuff going on with these bad boys. But hey... even Yeti couldn't keep people from knocking off their coolers.
  • + 1
 Even looks like they took the Giro sole design and made the lugs a proper depth in addition to using a better rubber. Why Giro made them so shallow is beyond me... may have had something to do with them shearing off I guess. From researching this for awhile now, it seems it's a very fine balance between stickyness/durability/supportive/softness/brittleness... seems as if the material science is far from simple when it comes to these rubbers. Especially when you are licensing rubber and only have a choice of some already made rubbers.
  • + 1
 Living in a subtropical country my main concern is overheating my feet. When riding at 35+ degree C (95 F) things get sweaty...especially in combination with a 80%+ humidity.
FiveTen Freerider at the moment, but they are way to hot.

Any recommendations here what my next shoes should be?
  • + 1
 I had a pair of 5.10 freeriders that were dope. I used them for about 5 years and honestly, they are still in ok shape, but I figured I would order a newer pair and retire my beloved. Ordered the 5.10 Element shoe, since I ride in the wet a bunch. Got them in March of 2018. I ride maybe 1x per week and about 1.5 hours each time give or take. Over chirstmas I went on a ride (in the wet of course, but elements). While standing in the parking lot before the ride, I noticed my socks were getting wet. Look down and there is a hole in each sole of the 5.10. pathetic? how can a shoe last less than one year at a weekend warriors pace? anyway, I just ordered a pair of these RC shoes, fingers crossed!
  • + 1
 Weird. I own a pair of Elements as my only riding shoe. Think they are 4 or 5 years old (weekend warrior here, too) And they are holding great.
  • + 1
 Is the 5.10 sole made of magic unobtanium or something? Why aren't manufacturers putting out shoes with equally sticky soles? I really like everything about Ride Concepts but I want a shoe that grips as well as my 5.10 Freerider Contacts. I'm excited to see what RC comes up with on this "4.0 grip rating" DH shoe.
  • + 4
 I just replied to someone else, so I'll just paste my comment again here for you. I have been wondering the same thing for years and finally did some research. Turns out it's not a easy as you would think...

Five Ten are riding high on their proprietary rubber. They are totally "mailing-in-it" when it comes to overall shoe design and/or new features. It's just same old bullshit on top of amazing rubber that no one else can come close to.

The issue is that all new mountain shoe makers don't make or own their rubber. Making your own rubber is actually a very expensive, time consuming and resources intensive prospect (the factory, materials, material science (this ain't easy) and tooling required is huge. Plus you have to avoid aggressively held patents This is why many newcomers license their sole rubber from companies like Vibram or others. The problem is that Vibram or others don't make a rubber unique to the specific needs of flat pedal mtbr's. That new shoe company has to choose from a rubber that either is quite sticky but wears incredibly fast or wears well but is far to hard and slippery. (see Giro).

But, RC sounds like they may have found a good partner in Rubber Kinetics (the company RC is licensing it's rubber from). Currently I believe Rubber Kinetics only makes rubber for Goodyear's mtb tires and they may need RC even more than RC needs them and so may be more than willing and able to tailor make and bake rubber specifically for the needs of RC (fingers crossed). Personally I'm going to wait until that DH shoe comes out and see how sticky, but also how well that shoe wears. Also of note, I believe due to how technical these rubbers get, they can take up to 6 months to make which includes months of curing time before they're ready for use.

So, can others make a better designed flat pedal shoe with better features, protection, water proof-ness, durability and breath-ability - yes, there are lots out there. But do their soles match five ten? No. And that makes them a deal breaker.

Remember, Five Ten came from the rock climbing world where they developed their rubber tech and invested in it a long time ago. I'm not saying no one else can make a better shoe with an equal or better sole than Five Ten... It's totally possible, we just need someone with the resources to do it. I've been saying for a long time that companies like Scarpa and La Sportiva could easily branch out and make mtb shoes and really give Five Ten a run for their money.
  • + 2
 I heard this was started up by former 5:10 people.

www.unparallelsports.com/product-category/mountain-biking
  • + 2
 @Legbacon: weird, my LBS just started carrying Ride Concepts, he told me they were started by some former Five Ten people.
  • + 1
 @Trogdor636: Which means they might be helping Rubber Kinetics get the rubber recipe right... this is good news.
  • + 1
 @Legbacon:
A little 5.10 a smattering of teva, dash of Fizik.
  • + 1
 @vinny4130: I loved my Teva Links mids! I still use them for dirt work, shoe glued back together and the sole lost it's stiffness. But the spider rubber was grippy. Got Teva pinners and the soles aren't the same, sadly.
  • + 4
 How about 1/2 sizes, why put half sizes on your size chart then only offer full sizes?
  • + 1
 Came to say this. Hopped on their website and no half-sizes. Anyone know if they run large/small?
  • + 3
 I reached out to RC about the half sizes - here was the response:

"While Session Series is initially offered in whole sizes, we do intend to make half sizes eventually in these styles - and have planned production accordingly. Flow/Launch Series both come in half sizes out of the gates and will be available in Spring 2019. Socks too."
  • + 2
 @m4d4: Oh yes... good to hear... I need those half sizes! Probably just a way to keep costs low until they get some income coming in. Tough these days for a startup to go whole hog out of the gates.
  • + 1
 @islandforlife: Well these like a good shoes, but sizes are difficult too gauge, without trying out for size, but do see that even full sizes are a lot too keep in stock, how do they compare size wise with five10s vans etc?
  • + 1
 Im glad I bought so many Tevas and 5/10 when they were affordable a few years ago. 150.00 for flawed shoes, no thanks 5/10. I like what RC has done and I will buy a pair because they are putting out a well thought out product at a reasonable price.
  • + 1
 100$. So what is the difference between this pair of shoes and any of 5/10?
I ride 5/10 but I would like to have some cheaper variants with the same quality.
Shoe manufacturers, if there any on the market for wide feet and costs less then 80$ of the same quality, please let me know Wink
  • + 1
 Using D30 in a insole doesn't make any sense, it hardens on impacts, makes harsh landings even harsher. Simple foam or rubber would.do better, not for marketing tough????
Otherwise, nice shoes.
  • + 2
 "The only time I had any issues with the amount of grip was is really wet conditions"
  • + 2
 Isn't the D3O insole supposed to absorb impacts through the pedals rather while riding rather than during crashes?
  • + 1
 if that were the case you would expect the insert to be roughly pedal-shaped
  • + 1
 Only shipping to US? Just looked at trying the Livewire for the money, but no shipping option to Canada. Any news when?
  • + 1
 it would cost you more but you could use a "freight forwarder." At my last job, we'd often send out packages to a central location that foreigners would use to get stuff they couldn't buy in their home country.
  • + 1
 Those soles look really good for 4mo? My S 2FOs almost have hole worn through the bottom from the pedal pins...
  • + 2
 i'm waiting for the Flow series Powerlines to drop!
  • + 2
 I’m good with @aftenshoes they been really good for me
  • + 1
 These Session series Livewire look alright - I may try a pair, but the Flow and Launch series are clownboots.
  • + 1
 "No go" for me without inside ankle coverage. Also, those textured areas look like a nightmare to clean after mud.
  • + 2
 Go look at their website. The wildcat is what you want.
  • + 1
 I mean, its no New Balance.
  • + 1
 How does it perform in wet weather in terms of keeping your feet dry?
  • + 2
 It's a vented mtb shoe. keeping your feet dry is not it's purpose. Keeping your feet cooler is.
  • + 0
 They should make video ads using motley crue song (humming the tune right now in my head...live wireeee)
  • + 1
 How do these compare to the Shimano options, like the GR7?
  • + 0
 No AC/DC soundtrack and looks like a copy of 5.10. Boooo
  • + 1
 A copy of 5.10 that costs less sounds good to me
  • + 1
 @kevin267: 5.10s can easily be found for well below MSRP. If you do your shopping at the right times they are almost cheap.
  • + 1
 @m1dg3t: now if I could just find them at the right price AND the right size...that'd be grrreeeaaat, mmmkay.
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