Ride Concepts Powerline Review
Cons: Heavier weight, sizing runs a little small
Manufacturer: Ride Concepts
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Ride Concepts Powerline
|Price||$120.00 at Backcountry||$149.95 at Backcountry|
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|$100.00 at REI|
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|$139.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Great pedal grip, sturdy construction, protective features, comfortable||Excellent pedal grip, comfortable, true all-mountain performance||Grippy soles, casual looks, reasonable price, versatility, lightweight||Impressive grip, protective, reasonable price||Supremely versatile, excellent ventilation, tacky grip, easy to walk in|
|Cons||Heavier weight, sizing runs a little small||On the expensive side of the spectrum, Stealth rubber wears more quickly||Somewhat loose fit in the forefoot||Heavier weight, limited breathability||Not a dedicated mountain bike shoe, less supportive sole|
|Bottom Line||A comfortable, beefy shoe with loads of protection well suited to gravity riding||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 reasonably priced, versatile flat pedal shoe that offers strong performance and even stronger value||A versatile shoe for those riders who value adventure over all-out singletrack shredding|
|Rating Categories||Ride Concepts Power...||Five Ten Freerider Pro||Specialized 2FO Roo...||Ride Concepts Livewire||Five Ten TrailCross LT|
|Fit And Comfort (25%)|
|Rigidity And Power Transfer (20%)|
|Specs||Ride Concepts Power...||Five Ten Freerider Pro||Specialized 2FO Roo...||Ride Concepts Livewire||Five Ten TrailCross LT|
|Rubber Type||DST 4.0 MAX GRIP||Stealth S1||SlipNot ST||Kinetics DST6.0 High Grip||Stealth Phantom|
|Tread Pattern||Hexagon dot||Full Dot||Full Hexagon Dot||Full Dot||Full Dot|
|Weight per Shoe (ounces)||16.97 (size 11)||14.11 (size 11)||12.96 (size 43.5)||16.15 (size 11)||14.15 (size 10)|
|Weight per Shoe (grams)||467 (size 11)||399 (size 11)||367 (size 43.5)||458 (size 11)||400 (size 10)|
|Upper Materials||Welded microfiber||Synthetic Leather||Leather/textile||Synthetic/mesh||Synthetic/textile|
|Insole||AM/MT insole||Body Geometry|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Ride Concepts is still a relative newcomer to the mountain bike shoe market, but they've quickly made a name for themselves with high-quality, high-performance shoes like the Powerline. These shoes blend great sole grip, solid power transfer, protective features, and a high level of comfort, making them our favorite for gravity style riding. A heavier weight and limited breathability are notable shortcomings, though not unexpected given their beefy construction and the protection they offer.
Ride Concepts has teamed up with Rubber Kinetics to create their proprietary sole compounds. The Powerline features their tacky DST 4.0 Max Grip rubber with a full hexagonal dot tread pattern. We found this combination to provide excellent grip and a very connected pedal feel. While they aren't the absolute stickiest feeling shoes we tested, their grip always felt adequate without ever feeling too grippy.
The DST 4.0 Max Grip rubber sole is soft enough that it allows the pins of the pedals to settle into it nicely, and our feet felt locked in at all times when weighted on the pedals. We tested in some cold and even snowy conditions, and we did not find the sole's grip to be negatively affected by temperature or moisture. Unlike some other models, the Powerline aren't so tacky that foot movements are hard to come by, though we found that we did have to consciously unweight the foot to make micro-adjustments. The full hexagonal dot sole tread is relatively shallow underfoot, but just deep enough to make positive pin engagement when placing the foot on the pedal or repositioning it. The toe and heel of the sole have a slightly deeper tread depth, which helps provide a little more bite when walking.
We found the stiffness of the Powerline's sole to also be beneficial to its grip. Ride Concepts struck a very nice balance with a sole that is stiff enough to prevent foot fatigue, yet has just enough flex to provide a great pedal feel. The EVA midsole also provides a little shock absorption, and we never felt like our feet were getting bounced off the pedals. No matter the terrain, we found the Powerline to deliver confidence-inspiring grip and control.
Fit and Comfort
We found the Powerline to be a very comfortable pair of shoes. With a plush lining, supple yet durable synthetic uppers, a padded tongue, supportive D30 insoles, and a medium volume fit, we feel these shoes should satisfy most riders. Despite their beefy look and protective feel, these shoes feel great on the feet and promote all-day comfort. We did find them to be a bit less breathable than other options, but beyond that, these are one of the most comfortable shoes we tested.
Our biggest concern in regards to the fit of the Powerline is that they seem to run a tad small. When compared to other size 11 shoes we tested, they felt more like a 10.5. Beyond that, they have a nice medium volume fit that should work for the majority of foot shapes other than the super narrow or wide extremes. When you slip your foot into these shoes, they are greeted by a nice soft, plush feeling lining and a supportive insole with D30 shock-absorbing inserts on the ball of the foot and the heel. The heel pocket has a nice shape that keeps the heel locked in well, with no slippage even when hiking. We found it easy to get even tension over the top of the foot with the laces, and the padded tongue has elastic gussets on both sides to keep it centered in the shoe and help keep debris out.
Additional features like the taller medial ankle cuff with a D30 insert adds protection and peace of mind. Despite the higher cuff, we didn't experience any hot spots or rubbing to speak of. A beefy, stiff rubber toe cap and reinforced heel cup also provide protection from rock strikes, while the EVA midsole helps to further absorb shock and trail feedback on rough descents.
Rigidity and Power Transfer
While testing the Powerline we found their sole rigidity to feel pretty ideal. While cranking out the miles on trail rides, the sole felt stiff enough to deliver power to the pedals relatively efficiently without foot fatigue or sapping any power through unwanted flex. Out of the saddle, we noticed a slight amount of sole flex, but not enough to warrant complaint. There are stiffer soled shoes, but we feel the Powerline is near the top of the heap.
On the descents, we also found the sole's stiffness to feel great. Again, they were stiff enough to prevent foot or calf fatigue on a long downhill, yet with just enough flex to provide a good pedal feel. We think the stiffness strikes a good balance, where little energy is wasted while pedaling, yet they aren't so stiff that your feet get bounced off the pedals over rough sections on the descents. We found their lateral rigidity to also feel nicely balanced, promoting a good feeling of control when working the bike side to side. Off the bike, it is clear that you're wearing a mountain bike shoe, but there's plenty of flex from the ball of the foot forward to walk with a relatively normal gait on those inevitable hike a bike sections.
Considering the extra bulk and protective feel of the Powerline, they breathe reasonably well. That said, they are among the warmest and least breathable shoes we tested. This isn't that surprising given their gravity-oriented focus, and those who ride lifts or shuttle often probably won't be as concerned with ventilation. Riders who spend their days pedaling or live in warmer climates might find these shoes to be a bit clammy.
The Powerline shoes have a robust synthetic upper that has a number of small perforated holes on both sides of the foot. Above the toe box, there is also a mesh panel to allow air to pass through to and from the toes. While these ventilating features do allow some air to escape, the plush lining and cushioned tongue is simply a bit warmer than other models with less bulk in their construction. Again, their high level of comfort and protective feel is a tradeoff for their less impressive breathability and ventilation. That said, we tested in some cooler weather including a few fat bike rides, and we found them to keep our feet warmer and more comfortable in those situations.
After testing the Powerline for weeks in a huge range of conditions, we feel they are one of the most durable models we've tried. They are made from tough materials with a beefy construction and quality craftsmanship. Aside from a few superficial scratches to the uppers and a very insignificant amount of pin scarring on the soles, they appear to be no worse for the wear. No mountain bike shoe will last forever, but we're convinced that the Powerline will outlast most.
Ride Concepts incorporated a number of great design features in the construction of the Powerline that we feel will enhance their longevity. The tough synthetic uppers have an almost completely welded construction with only a couple of stitched seams. The welded seams are super clean and well-executed, and the upper is also nicely bonded to the sole. A thick and sturdy rubber rand around the front of the toe box is also a nice feature that seems ready to take some serious abuse while keeping your toes well protected. The rectangular lace holes help to keep your laces flat, plus they have metal eyelets that should help to prevent them from being damaged by repeated use. Overall, we're very impressed with the attention to detail, materials, and quality of the construction of the Powerline shoes.
The Powerline shoes are among the heaviest we tested. With an average weight of 467-grams per shoe in a size 11, our test pair tipped the scales at 934-grams or 32.95 ounces. This additional heft is the result of the Powerline's robust build and protective design.
We imagine that most gravity riders won't be too concerned by the weight of these shoes and will happily trade a few extra ounces for the protection they offer, but weight conscious trail riders will probably want to look elsewhere. Interestingly, while we know they weigh a bit more than lighter options, we never found them to feel particularly heavy on the feet. That said, these shoes are geared more towards the gravity crowd where weight is less of a concern, though we feel they would work well for trail riders assuming you don't mind the extra weight.
The Powerline are at the higher end of the price spectrum of the shoes we tested, but their price tag seems justified given the durable construction, comfort, and protection they offer. We feel they are a solid value for gravity riders or aggressive trail riders seeking a grippy, supportive, and protective shoe that should stand the test of time.
The Powerline is a high-quality, durable mountain bike shoe with features and performance that make it very well suited to enduro and downhill riding. This beefy shoe has loads of foot protection, balanced sole stiffness and good power transfer, grippy soles, and a very comfortable fit. Sure, they are a bit heavier than most and they aren't the most breathable, but we feel their well-rounded performance makes them our top choice for gravity-oriented riders.
— Jeremy Benson