The flat pedal shoe market has been dominated by a brand or two since toe cages lost their popularity. During those years of domination there has always been a brand or two trying to break into the ultra competitive shoe market, but soon fade away. The last two years however, have seen several new brands introduce shoes that have a real chance of taking a substantial piece of the mountain bike shoe market. Ion has recently joined the mountain bike shoe party and released the Scrub Amp shoe. We were lucky enough to get a pair before their official release and have spent the last month breaking them in. Here is our first impression.
THE LAB The Ion Scrub Amp shoe is created around the Pin Tonic 2.0 outsole, which has positive and negative treads for increased grip and traction. The shoe also has an EVA midsole designed for increase comfort and impact absorption. The Scrub is built with a reinforced toe cap that is meant to absorb and deviate the forces of front impacts. Included in the design of the shoe is a pre-shaped heel cup for added comfort and to hold the heel in place while riding or pushing up the trail.
Something that we have seen from several brands in the last year is an asymmetrical upper .This is also found on the Scrub, the shoes are cut lower on the outside of the foot to increase movement and mobility. The inside of the foot is similar to a mid top sneaker and has a bit of extra material to protect the ankle bone from coming in contact with crank arms.
The Scrub Amp comes in four different colors and most popular sizes.
THE DIRT Right out of the box the Ion Scrub Amp shoes have a broken-in feel. The sizing is consistent with the other bike shoes that I have used and it took no time at all to get used to them.
My first ride in the Scrub Amp shoes was four or five laps down my go-to test trail. While climbing I find the shoes to be quite comfortable and there was minimal movement on the pedals. The shoes grip well enough when climbing that a major impact is needed to lose contact with the pedals. Hiking in the shoes was also comfortable, there was minimal heel lift and the shoes grip well on rocks and roots.
I feel that rough rooted out trails are the true test for a good flat pedal shoe. Pedal choice also plays into this a little bit and I tested the shoes with a couple of different popular flat pedals on the same section of rough trail. The shoes mated well with all of the pedals I tried and there was minimal shoe movement once it was mated with the pedal.
The sole is not as stiff as some of the shoes out there and it was noticeable on longer, rougher downhill trails. I am a fan of a softer sole so it isn’t something that I would complain about. That being said riders who prefer a stiffer sole might experience some foot fatigue on longer rides.
With the wet Pacific Northwest winter hopefully coming to an end I won’t have to ride in the rain anymore. The Ion Scrub Amps were not the best on extremely wet days. The shoes still have loads of grip but they do let a lot of water in. And once the water is in they didn’t do a great job of keep my feet warm. They are on par with the majority of shoes that are not built for winter riding. That being said they do dry well and they haven’t developed a bad smell from being wet a couple of times.
The Wolf’s Last Word
I have used the Ion Scrub Amps as my go to riding shoe for the last little while. I have ridden them on trails, in the skate park and at the pump track. They fit my feet well and I enjoy the sole feel. They are not so stiff that I can’t feel the pedal and they are not so soft that I feel them bending around my pedal. I would classify them as less stiff than the Ride Concept TNT and the FiveTen Impact Pro but stiffer than the FiveTen Freerider. For me they are a good happy medium and with how comfortable they are to ride in, they are a good option for most of my days in the saddle.
I think they are a good alternative to the main player out there and I hope that Ion continues to make shoes and evolve their shoe line. Options are good for the industry and Ion is a good choice for riders looking for a different flat pedal shoe.
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