Like a lot of you, both Old Man Drew and I suffer from the dreaded “bike ankle,” and to this day are still plagued by our mistakes on the bike many years ago. Because of that, we’re big fans of high and mid top shoes as they provide additional ankle support and security. A few weeks back we tested the Ride Concepts Hellion Shoes and loved them, but we wanted a shot at the High Top Wildcats. As soon as they were available, we sent an email over begging for a test set.
Much like the Hellions we tested before, these shoes have noticeably better impact absorption properties than many others on the market, especially the Vans or other skate shoes so many people like to wear. Those properties are a result of the D30 insole and EVA midsole, making them a dream to ride on technical, rocky trails or in bike parks filled with braking holes. The DST 6.0 rubber sole presents a good balance of grip and foot float, but is on the stiff side. If you’re used to riding in vans, Fiveten Freerider Highs or other soft soled shoes, the Ride Concepts line will be a noted transition. Micro adjustments, delicate foot edging in corners and pedal feel are all impacted by the stiffness. However, if you like a supportive, stiff sole that takes the load off your foot arch and reduces foot fatigue, look no further. Thankfully the D30 rubber is also unfazed by pedal pins, looking fresh as a daisy despite some long ride miles over the last several months.
Also like the Hellions we tested, the external fabric of the shoe is highly durable. We’re not sure what it’s made of, but the stuff holds up to crank arm rub better than 90% of the shoes we’ve tested. That’s a big deal when you’re forking out the Benjamins to buy a set of bike kicks. In our testing, the durability of both the rubber sole and outer fabric is superior to our beloved Five Ten Freerider high tops.
Now let’s talk about the mid top aspect of this shoe. Mid tops traditionally offer increased support, at the expense of warmth, comfort and putting them on. The Ride Concepts Wildcat is no exception. Taking these shoes off and putting them on is a task. We think the process could be greatly improved by adding a rear pull tab on the back of the ankle and or a material that doesn’t fold under your heal as easily while putting them on. Since there’s a Velcro strap on the tongue upper, they could possibly remove a lace whole or two as it seems redundant to have the laces go all the way up the shoe. Having the laces follow the tongue all the way to the top forces you to unlace 3-4 holes down to put the shoes on or take them off. Once they’re on however, these Wildcats are incredibly comfortable with zero hot sports or breathability issues. Even hiking, I never got so much as a hint of a blister or hot spot. Be warned however if you often ride in wet conditions during cold months, the breathability can work against you, so wear thick socks if it’s cold out.
Fit is accurate to shoe size, but be warned that Ride Concepts isn’t currently offering half sizes. That should change soon however as they get production up and running.
The Wolf’s Last Word
As high and mid top fanboys, we were excited to test the Ride Concepts Wildcat shoes on our home soil. Their subtle looks and proven track record confirmed our suspicions that these shoes are at the top of the pack. While we liked our Hellions, we have a feeling those will be sitting on the shelf a lot more now that we’ve got the Wildcats! The only catch with these shoes is the process of putting them. You definitely won’t be setting any time records at the trail head, but with some slight tweaks Ride Concepts could make the next generation a whole lot easier. Despite out nit picks, we love these shoes, and plan to use them all summer in our massive bike park tour coming soon! Tired of the same old players in the MTB shoe game and want something different and more durable? The Ride Concepts Wildcats are worth a try. We can also say that pairing them with some Loam Wolf socks has been scientifically proven to make you at least 69% faster.