Ride Concepts Livewire Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Impressive grip, protective, reasonable price
Cons: Heavier weight, limited breathability
Manufacturer: Ride Concepts
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Ride Concepts Livewire
|Price||Check Price at REI|
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|$130 List||$89.95 at Competitive Cyclist|
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|Pros||Impressive grip, protective, reasonable price||Excellent pedal grip, comfortable, true all-mountain performance||Grippy soles, casual looks, reasonable price, versatility, lightweight||Nice levels of mobility on the pedals, lightweight, sensible stiffness||Affordable, lightweight, skate shoe style|
|Cons||Heavier weight, limited breathability||On the expensive side of the spectrum, Stealth rubber wears more quickly||Somewhat loose fit in the forefoot||Lacks grip, quirky fit||Lacks grip, flimsy sole, clumsy fit|
|Bottom Line||A reasonably priced, versatile flat pedal shoe that offers strong performance and even stronger value||The benchmark for flat pedal shoes, a true all-arounder that looks as good as it performs||A versatile new flat pedal shoe with great grip and a casual style||A lightweight and functional mountain bike shoe with passable levels of grip||A shoe with an attractive price tag that is most at home at the pump track or dirt jumps|
|Rating Categories||Ride Concepts Livewire||Five Ten Freerider Pro||Specialized 2FO Roo...||Bontrager Flatline||Giro Jacket II|
|Fit And Comfort (25%)|
|Rigidity And Power Transfer (20%)|
|Specs||Ride Concepts Livewire||Five Ten Freerider Pro||Specialized 2FO Roo...||Bontrager Flatline||Giro Jacket II|
|Rubber Type||Kinetics DST6.0 High Grip||Stealth S1||SlipNot ST||Vibram||Vibram Ecostep|
|Tread Pattern||Full Dot||Full Dot||Full Hexagon Dot||Squares with directional heel and toe||Triangles underfoot, dots toe and heel|
|Weight per Shoe (ounces)||16.15 (size 11)||14.11 (size 11)||12.96 (size 43.5)||13.12 (size 11)||13.81 (size 45)|
|Weight per Shoe (grams)||458 (size 11)||399 (size 11)||367 (size 43.5)||372 (size 11)||392 (size 45)|
|Upper Materials||Synthetic/mesh||Synthetic Leather||Leather/textile||Synthetic leather||Microfiber|
|Insole||AM/MT insole||Body Geometry||Die-cut EVA foam|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Ride Concepts is a relative newcomer to the world of mountain bike shoes that has been dominated by a few manufacturers in recent years. This brand, based in Truckee, California, has hit a home run with the Livewire. Grip was far and above the most impressive metric, and we feel these shoes can hang with the best of the best. They may not be the stiffest or lightest shoes we tested, but we found them to be impressively comfortable and versatile enough for nearly any type of riding. If you're looking for a well-rounded, high-performance shoe at a reasonable price, check out the Livewire.
Ride Concepts uses their own proprietary rubber developed in conjunction with a company called Rubber Kinetics, LLC. The Liewire employs Rubber Kinetics' DST 6.0 High Grip rubber that is designed to strike the very best balance of grip and durability. We found this sole material to be one of the closest materials we have tested to Five Ten's legendary Stealth rubber. In case you don't know, that is a very high compliment.
When weighting the pedal, the rubber feels extremely grippy. When standing, you can really feel the pedal pins pressing into the sole material. The pins sink into the rubber ever so slightly to deliver a killer hold. The sole's tread is comprised of a uniform pattern of raised hexagonal dots that do a great job of engaging the pedal pins when placing the foot or standing on the pedal. The tread dots are well spaced and stand a couple of millimeters proud of the sole. When fully weighted on a descent, your feet feel locked-in and the grip is confidence inspiring. The cushioned EVA midsole and the tacky DST 6.0 High Grip rubber combine for a nice damped feel that absorbs vibration and trail feedback and helps keep the shoes feeling glued to the pedals. A slight amount of flex in the sole also provides a nice, communicative pedal feel.
Off the bike, these shoes deliver solid amounts of grip. The grippy Rubber Kinetics sole works well in most conditions and is just as tacky on smooth granite as it is on a flat pedal. Like most flat pedal shoes, however, the Livewire can feel a bit slippery when things get muddy or damp due to the shallow and non-aggressive tread design.
The Livewire delivers a high level of comfort, and these are shoes that we'd happily ride in all day long. We felt they were true to size, with a medium volume fit, comfortable insoles, and a plush lining. They also have ample protection for most riding styles along with D30 inserts and an EVA midsole to help take the edge off trail feedback and impacts.
Upon visual examination of the shoe, they have a skate-style appearance with a healthy amount of padding and toe/heel protection. Not surprisingly, this leads to a soft and pillowy feel and they wrap the feet with a plush and comfortable hug. We found the fit to be a nice medium volume that should work for a huge range of foot shapes with a little wiggle room in the toe box. The laces work well to pull even tension over the foot, and they come down far enough to add a little tension over the upper forefoot. The padded tongue is gusseted so that it stays centered in the shoe and it provides a little extra protection on top of the foot. The heel pocket is nicely shaped, and we didn't experience any excessive movement, even when off the bike hiking up steep rock slabs. The insole has an agreeable shape with a nice amount of arch support and D30 inserts to help take the edge off impacts. The synthetic upper delivers a structured and supportive feel while remaining supple enough to conform to the feet.
The fit is dialed and there are absolutely no pressure points or hot spots. If you have a super-wide forefoot, you might want to look elsewhere, but we feel the vast majority of riders will likely be comfortable in these shoes. The toe box is plenty roomy without feeling sloppy and cavernous. The heel pocket is nicely shaped and when the shoe is tied, you really feel locked in.
Rigidity and Power Transfer
The Livewire shoes offer a reasonably stiff sole and average power transfer. There are stiffer shoes on the market, but we found they offer plenty of power transfer for the average trail/enduro rider. On the climbs, we felt like most of our power was being delivered straight to the pedals. On the descents, they have a great pedal feel without causing unwanted foot or calf fatigue. Off the bike, these shoes allow for enough flex under the ball of the foot where walking still feels natural and comfortable.
When seated and pedaling, there is little if any noticeable flex in the sole. Out of the saddle, the sole flex is slightly more noticeable compared to the stiffest shoes we tested, though it doesn't feel particularly inefficient. When the trail points downhill, the soles conform to the pedals nicely when fully weighted without flexing around it too much. Additionally, the EVA midsole delivers some damping/shock absorption, and when combined with the grippy Rubber Kinetics sole helps to keep the feet feeling glued to the pedals. When firing through chunky rock gardens the soles do an excellent job of deadening the forces and avoid feeling so stiff that you might get bounced off. When walking, the forefoot of the sole allows enough flex for a relatively natural gait.
The majority of mountain bike shoes are constructed with synthetic materials and the Livewire is no exception. The upper portion of the shoe is a blend of synthetic suede-like material with generous perforated ventilation holes along with a mesh material over the toe box. The overall breathability was about average, not amazing but not excessively hot either.
Due to the more padded, plush interior of the shoes and the synthetic uppers, the bulk of the ventilation in the Livewire happens in the mesh material above the toe box. Air transfers in and out of the shoe reasonably well through the mesh, though we wouldn't go so far as to call these shoes airy. If you ride in hot temperatures often, these shoes will probably feel pretty warm on your feet. While testing in fall temperatures that ranged from the high-20's to mid-60s, we found them to feel just right.
Throughout testing, our Livewire shoes showed no signs of premature wear, damage, or defect. We rode these shoes on snow, hiked up some treacherous hike-a-bike trails, and scraped them on plenty of rocks and trailside obstacles. Quality of craftsmanship appears to be impeccable, and we have no reason to suspect they won't enjoy an above-average lifespan.
One area we particularly appreciated is the welded design near the armored toe and heel patches. There is no stitching in these high-wear areas which should help to achieve a nice long lifespan. Stitching is among the first areas to fail after being dragged, scraped, and rubbed on cranks, pedals, and obstacles over time. We also appreciated the reinforced shoelace eyelets, as these can also be prone to stretching or tearing after repeated use.
We found the Rubber Kinetis DST 6.0 rubber did a wonderful job resisting wear. Considering this rubber's supple and grippy feel, they still look great and only show the slightest signs of minor pin-scarring. While a soft and ultra-plush rubber sounds great, having all of that grip wear out quickly is no good. We wore these shoes to work, to walk the dog, and obviously to ride. The sole still appears to be in excellent shape.
Our size 11 test shoes weigh an average of 458-grams, or 16.15-ounces, per shoe. This makes it one of the heavier shoes in our review. When you are handling them, the weight is noticeable, but we didn't find it to be tremendously noticeable on the bike.
If you're a rider who fancies daily 20+ mile rides with 3,000+ feet of climbing, these probably aren't the best shoes for you. If you are the average rider squeezing in rides before or after work and maybe a weekend epic here and there, we don't think the weight should be a serious deterrent. We find an extra couple grams here and there are potentially worth it for the comfort and grip these shoes provide.
We feel the Livewire are an outstanding value. They cost significantly less than the most expensive models we tested, but you still get a versatile, high-performance, comfortable, and durable shoe. Yes, there are lighter weight and flashier options available, but if money is tight, we don't think you can do better than the Livewire.
The Ride Concepts Livewire is a high-performance flat pedal mountain bike shoe offered at a reasonable price. These versatile shoes boast a very high price to performance ratio with an impressive grip that rivals the best in the test. We found them to provide all-day comfort, good power transfer, and quality construction that should stand the test of time. The understated look also works fine around town, plus they come in three color options, as well and youth and women's models to suit everyone's needs.
— Pat Donahue