Finding a good pair of MTB shoes can be quite tricky as we all have different needs from them; soft, firm, grippy, high-ankle, weatherproof, clipless or flats... the list goes on. So it's no wonder why there aren't more brands developing MTB specific shoes.
However, one brand to boldly venture out from apparel and into footwear is ION Sports. Now, ION Sports has woo'd and impressed us at TWC with their rather attractive and brilliantly functional mountain bike attire. Keeping you covered throughout winter with their Collision Pants and Shell Jacket, all the way through to summer with their fair-weather gear.
Earlier this year, ION Sports launched their first flat and clipless model MTB shoes having already secured innovative design awards, these shoes have been years in the making. So did they hit the mark? We got our feet into a fresh pair of blue ION Rascal clipless shoes and have been giving them a good break-in on the trails.
ION Rascal Shoes: The Tech
Years of research, development and testing has gone into the final product, so let's take a look at what that entails...
Starting at the bottom, ION Sports has used a SupTraction Rubber Soul CL which has been developed specifically for this shoe with emphasis on traction both on and off the pedal. This makes the sole firm and grippy which is ideal for both pedalling and wearing pre/post ride. The sole of the shoe looks a little chunky and when wearing them, the platform certainly added some height, more so than my Scott FR10's and Shimano AM5's.
Moving up and we have ToeTal Protection and No-Sew Reinforcement across the front of the shoe which strengthens the toe to offer a greater deal of protection in case your foot collides with a rock, root or someone's butt.
The top area of the shoe has a mesh design for ventilation along with a lace fastening system. This is further supported by a diagonal SerpenTie design which sees a Velcro strap provide additional security and fit, but also keeps your lace ends in check.
The overall shoe design has an asymmetric fit meaning that the inside of the shoe comes up a little higher to offer ankle protection to your crank-facing foot.
ION Rascal Shoes: The Verdict
I can honestly say, I've had a blast riding in the ION Rascal shoes. At no point did I have to think about them during a ride, which is usually a good indicator that they're doing their job.
The additional protection around the toe, heel and inside ankle certainly provides a reassuring confidence that while your foot is nested within its grasp, you're in safe hands. Walking around in these shoes felt comfortable just as much as riding in them, as they provide ample grip and a trainer-like feel.
The only things I didn't like about the ION Rascal shoes are, perhaps, more of a personal preference. For starters, the platform sole not only seems a little tall but also gives the shoe a chunky aesthetic which isn't particularly flattering. On the blue colour model, there's almost too much blue and when coupled which a chunky sole, I can only liken them to Lego bricks.
However, despite their look, they're great performers! Incorporating a number of useful features - except being waterproof - the Rascal clipless shoes form ION Sports failed to disappoint.
For more information on the ION Rascal Clipless shoe, head over to their website here.