At A Glance
Bringing surf style to the trails, ION consistently offers stylish and functional kit for the mountain biker. The fresh and casual look of their range hides a huge amount of thought and product development that makes their kit really perform. Not overly 'racer' and not too 'moto' I feel they have struck a great balance and are reaping the rewards.Buy Shoes on
Jumping in feet first into the shoe market was going to be a challenge, but if anyone could make it work, ION would be a good bet. Where many other brands have failed in the face of the mighty opposition, can ION punch through and get a foot in the door? (Excuse the pun!)
Coming into this year (although 2018 is on the horizon now) ION have launched both a flat and a clip shoe. The Raid_Amp is for the flat pedal lovers whilst the Rascal is for those who like to clip in.
The Raid_Amp features an asymmetrical shaft and has an 'Ankle_Pad' to add some protection on the crank side. Full laces deal with the fit and keep things fastened up, but no Velcro closures such as are found on the Rascal. The sole unit is where things matter and ION have used 'SupTraction Rubber Soul FL' which doesn't really mean much other than fancy words for a swing tag. What the sole does offer is a soft and grippy rubber with a waffle pattern to help keep the pins in place. Also, we see more of an aggressive tread at the heel and toe areas to make off the bike hiking a more secure affair.
The initial feel of the shoe is stiff, but not too stiff, and the construction is excellent, with welded or stitched seams looking very neat and well executed. The laser cut holes on the side add to the fine styling and the contrast lining adds a touch of colour to an otherwise stealthy set of pumps.
At 400g for a shoe (size 42) they are pretty light, and at £89.00 competitive on price too.
On The Trail
When it comes to flat shoes, the number one question is about grip. I could ramble on about all the features and delay the inevitable, but let's get it out of the way. No, they are not as grippy as Five Tens, but are they getting close? Yes.
The grip levels for the first attempt at a flat shoe are very good, and when used on pedals with threaded pins, the performance is at its best. The rubber is lacking slightly in all-out softness, so the added bite from a Nukeproof Horizon or a DMR Vault pedal really helps these shoes realise their potential.
With weight through the pedal, the grip felt very secure, and no rotation was possible without a lift and reposition. The slight lack of grip was found only through extremely rough terrain where somehow the shoe didn't feel quite as 'sticky', and on a few occasions my foot was lifted off the pedal.
The stiff sole, however, is a great bonus in terms of pedalling efficiency and off-the-bike support. Where some shoes feel like a collapsing old pair of slippers, the Raid_Amp feels like a proper shoe, for proper mountain adventures. This is backed up with a quality of construction that would embarrass a lot of the competition.
From a weather proofing point of view, they're not trying to be waterproof or overly insulated. The lightweight nature means they dry quickly and they have been plenty comfortable for the summer months. What I have found, should you end up in more inclement weather, is that after a few soakings and dryings, they have stiffened slightly in the uppers and are not as soft as when new. That said, once on your feet again and warmed up, they do soften. Its just that instant super comfy feel which goes after a night on the radiator - but that's par for the course.
Style wise, the Raid_Amp take on a rather an understated stealth look, particularly in the black/red colourway. Sleek lines, subtle branding and nothing too garish. If, like me, you like things to be a little louder, then ION have considerately thought ahead and included alternative colour laces so you can jazz things up with some red threads should you wish. There is a 'Woodland' green and blue option in the Raid_Amp range too.
The rubber and grip are really rather good and, provided some aggressive pedals were used in combination, then they really performed well. The construction is impressive, and the Raid_Amp feel like a robust shoe for big mountain adventures. They are stiff, supportive and grippy, expanding ION's range of reliable mountain bike kit further still. Certainly a worthy contender in the flat-pedal shoe market!
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By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.