Ride Concepts Livewire Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Good grip, quality construction, low price
Cons: Less grip than others, less breathability
Manufacturer: Ride Concepts
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Ride Concepts says the "Livewire mountain bike shoe exceeds the technical demands of big mountain riding without sacrificing everyday style" and after putting these shoes to the test, we definitely agree.
Even though Ride Concepts is a newer upstart company, their shoes look, feel, and function like they've got a long track record in the industry. The Livewire is a solidly built shoe with extras like beefy toe and heel protection, high-quality removable insole, shaped tongue, and a quality proprietary sticky rubber sole. You'd think with all of these high-performance features that the Livewire would be on the high end of the price scale, but they're actually priced quite reasonably.
Before we discuss the Livewire's sole grip, we want to give you a little background. In keeping with Ride Concepts' bold entry into the mountain bike flat pedal shoe world, these guys even went as far as developing their own proprietary rubber with Rubber Kinetics LLC, who is also making a new line of bike tires in conjunction with Goodyear. With that type of reputation, Ride Concepts' shoe soles should be in for the long haul. The sole pattern is similar to that of several other shoe models with lots of sticky dots, although Ride Concepts went with hexagonal versus round dots.
So with that in mind, how well does the Livewire grip perform? In a nutshell, great! As soon as we placed our feet on the pedals, we felt an immediate connection between sole rubber and pedal pins. After riding a few minutes, we started playing with foot adjustment on the pedal and found it was relatively easy to reposition our shoes. The sole has plenty of grip, but not to the point of being difficult to release from the pedal. Depending on your riding style, you may like the ability to move your foot around and fine-tune your foot position. This can come in handy on the climb or descent, or even to vary the muscles you're using while spinning on a flat.
Since we occasionally run into obstacles and climbs that are too steep, etc., we also like to test our shoes off the bike too. The Livewire provides adequate grip when we were walking and even climbing some slabby granite.
With all the best features and grip out there, it doesn't matter if your shoes aren't comfortable. The Livewire kept our feet happy. The fit was a good happy medium with ample room in the toe box for your little piggies.
The Livewire's upper is a synthetic and abrasion-resistant mesh that provides strong and quick-drying functionality. Combined with the construction of the EVA midsole, the shoe has good flexibility when riding or walking and didn't pinch our feet at all like some stiffer test subjects were prone to do.
The insole is removable for drying or if you prefer a different insole. With that being said, we found the "High Impact Zone" insole to be really comfortable and didn't have any complaints. We also found that the gusseted tongue did a good job of keeping out sand grit when things got dirty.
The Livewire should prove a comfortable riding option for most riders with its medium fit.
Rigidity and Power Transfer
The Livewire proved to be a good all arounder, and it provides an adequate pedaling platform for rides from short spins to long grinders. The EVA midsole is not as stiff as other shoes in our lineup but still performs well even on the longest days in the saddle. With this medium level of stiffness, we found the shoes really gripped the pedals when we were on rapid-fire root covered descents that tend to bounce other shoes from the pins.
The transfer of power to the pedals is good, and we didn't notice any unnecessary fatigue from excess shoe flex. The only limiting factor on even the longest climbs was our fitness and not the shoes.
Like we do with all of our test shoes, we put the Livewire on the scale and found the weight was actually under the estimated 16 ounces, weighing in at 13.75 ounces. That puts the Livewire on the lighter end of the spectrum in our test stable.
Most mountain bike flat shoes are made with synthetic materials, and the Livewire is no exception. The upper of the shoe is a blend of synthetic leather-like material with generous perforated ventilation holes along with a mesh material over the toe box. The overall breathability was good, providing better ventilation than some models, but not as breathable as others…another happy medium for the Livewire. The shoes kept our feet feeling good in most temperatures, but our feet did start to feel the heat when the thermometer hit the mid-80's or higher. With a lighter sock, our feet did stay dry even though the shoes felt toasty.
We scraped the shoes all over downed pine tree logs, Sierra Nevada Granite, and Canadian Rockies limestone and they came out unscathed. The abrasion-resistant mesh, synthetic uppers, molded toe and heel protection, and Rubber Concepts provide a durable package. Ride Concepts chose to use welded construction rather than stitching which should prove to be more durable. The only real wear we experienced was mild pin scarring, more than some other shoes in our lineup, but nothing significant. The sole scars were pretty minor, but we want you to be fully aware.
With all of those great features, you'd expect a high price but Ride Concepts has made the Livewire pretty darn affordable. With the quality materials and construction, it's easy to see why these ranked high during testing.
No matter where, when, or what you're likely to ride, the Ride Concepts Livewire is a shoe to check out. These affordable shoes should perform even better than you'd hope whether you're cruising around town, hitting a rolling trail, grinding out miles of climbing, or downhilling at the park. Ride Concepts is an up and coming new kid in town and worth a look!
— Jason Cronk