ION Raid AMP II Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Like a good cocktail, Ion says the Raid Amp II is "the correct mixture of ingredients", and we couldn't agree more. That winning combination makes the Raid Amp II our Editors' Choice for riders who are seeking the most sensitive mountain bike shoe. This shoe packs a punch, providing superior pedal grip, sensitivity, protection, and comfort for riders who demand the highest performing footwear. During our testing, we pushed the Raid Amp II's hard all over the western US and Canada and weren't disappointed.
With the Raid Amp II, a relative newcomer to the mountain bike shoe industry, Ion is proving itself as a worthy manufacturer of top quality footwear. Ion got their start with the mountain bike industry in 2012 and has been establishing themselves as a serious contender ever since.
Ion released the original Raid Amp several seasons ago with pretty positive reactions to the shoe's overall performance and comfort, but many riders weren't satisfied with the Raid Amp's pedal grip. While the Raid Amp II retains the overall appearance and function of its predecessor, the original Raid Amp, this second-generation shoe is now in the running for best pedal grip.
If you're a rider who's looking for shoes capable of anything you're able to throw at them, read on to learn more about our Editors' Choice Ion Raid Amp II!
For those of us who have been in the mountain bike saddle for a while, we automatically compare every newcomer to Five Ten, and the Ion Raid Amp II is no exception. The Raid Amp II is the first shoe we've tested that rivals Five Ten's stickiest rubber compounds like the Mi6 found on the Five Ten Freerider Contact.
For the Raid Amp II, Ion developed the Suptraction Soul FL rubber compound which is relatively soft while retaining good durability. This outsole is combined with a softer midsole which provides Ion's magic "Pin Tonic" through tenacious grip and sensitivity. Throughout the business portion of the shoe, the sole pattern is a relatively low profiled diamond-shaped lug pattern with multidirectional channels in each lug.
The combination of the actual rubber and the relative flexibility of the shoe provides a solid locked-in feel when you step on the pedals. This winning combination also excels on chattery bumps where other shoes have a tendency to feel like they're bouncing off the pins. On the worst washboard sections of trail we could find, the Raid Amp II retained its grip on the pedals. At the toe and heel, Ion chose to utilize a more traditional deep lug design for walking traction on those steep hike-a-bike sections. While walking, we found the Raid Amp II provided a natural feel and gait. The shoe feels stiff enough, but not too stiff.
Ion did their homework when it comes to designing comfortable mountain bike shoes. Right away after slipping into the Raid Amp II, we noticed this shoe has a different fit than other shoes in our lineup. Rather than the more boxy fit that seems common with mountain bike flat shoes, the Raid Amp II has more of a snug, precision fit. That's not to say they're tight, just that they have less volume and greater sensitivity. With that in mind, the Ion Raid Amp II may not be the best shoe option for riders with wider and higher volume feet. For the rest of us with average to lower volume feet, the fit and comfort is spot on.
This comfortable fit comes through a combination of factors. Much like Ion's "correct mixture of ingredients" description in regards to the sole, the overall construction of this shoe is that right mix. As we put the Raid Amp IIs on, we noticed the comfy 2K removable insole which provides cushioning and arch support. The upper of the shoe is a mixture of three synthetic moisture-shedding ingredients, 80% PU, 15% mesh, 5% TPU. The overall feel of the Ion Raid Amp II is soft yet supportive for a comfy feel while grinding out the miles. Ion incorporated other extras to keep your feet happy like a reinforced molded toe cap (ToeTal_Protection) and molded heel cup to protect your feet from trail impacts. They also included a padded asymmetric ankle pad that protects the crank side of your ankles when things get rough. Sometimes this ankle padding can feel bulky, but the padding of the Raid Amp II maintains a more form-fitting feel, and is barely noticeable after you've laced up.
Ion has also ensured the Raid Amp IIs comfort by balancing stiffness across the length of the sole while maintaining good flexibility laterally for good foot roll. This flexibility allows riders to keep good pedal contact for a more comfortable overall ride. With all of these features, our feet felt like Ion got the mixture right.
Rigidity and Power Transfer
While we're talking about the Ion Raid Amp II's sole stiffness and comfortable foot roll characteristics, now is a good time to look at the shoe's rigidity and ability to transfer power to the pedal. The Raid Amp II showed its workhorse capabilities while we used and abused them on long quad-burning climbs and pedaling cross country rides in technical terrain throughout the West.
The Raid Amp II isn't necessarily the stiffest shoe we've tested and options like the Ride Concepts Livewire seemed a bit stiffer, but they deliver plenty of power to the pedals. We found they performed well from powering over short and steep rocky uphills to grinding out the miles while climbing high mountain trails.
We liked the Raid Amp II's overall stiffness and its ability to transfer power to the pedal, but were pleased they weren't too stiff and still allow for a natural walking strike when off the bike. That perfectly mixed cocktail comes back to mind…
Sometimes products with a lot of good features and extras can tip the scales on the heavy side, but that's not the case with the Ion Raid Amp II. The shoes weigh in at 14 ounces per shoe for a men's size 9, which puts them right in the middle of the field.
One area where we found the Ion Raid Amp II didn't perform as well as other test shoes like the Five Ten Freerider Contact was in its breathability. Shoes like the Freerider Contact have more mesh in their construction which allows extra air flow through the shoe. The Raid Amp II does provide good ventilation through its laser-cut Jetstream ventilation ports, but the shoe's construction is less breathable than other shoes. We conducted most of our test riding at higher elevations where hot temperatures aren't typically found. We did notice, especially in our black version, that when the sun was brighter, our feet were a bit hotter than with other shoes in our lineup. Picking up the Raid Amp II in one of the other color choices, grey or pink, may be cooler for you hot weather riders out there.
The best performing shoe isn't necessarily the best overall if it isn't durable, but the Ion came through our testing dirty but unscathed. The Raid Amp II's didn't disappoint as we pedalled all kinds of terrain, from flat and sandy cross country trails to the steepest and rockiest granite and limestone in the Sierra and Rockies. The Pin Tonic sole barely showed a scratch from our pedals or those abrasive rocks that we rode and hiked over through the miles of our testing period. We put the shoes through more than their share of abrasive places, scraping the shoes with logs and rocks-a-plenty. The protective toe and heel caps, along with the tough synthetic materials stood up to the test. We also liked the "No Sew" reinforcement in the high abrasion areas in the toe seams. Ion also chose to equip the Raid Amp II with rectangular and smooth lace ports. They pull easily without abrading the laces and included a stretchy lace keeper loop to keep the laces secure while riding.
The Ion Raid Amp II is on the expensive side, likely worth it for riders who need the highest performance but may be overkill for some riders.
If your riding takes you into the most demanding of settings and you're looking for a high performance and precise fitting shoe, check out the Ion Raid Amp II. With a tenacious pedal grip, good hiking ability, and durability to boot, this may be your go-to shoe!
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