RIDE CONCEPTS WILDCAT VS. TNT REVIEW
Review by Andrew “Chili Dog” Villablanca
We’ve been fans of Ride Concepts shoes since their launch. We’re lucky enough to have a closet full of their shoes from clipless models to casual shoes like the Vice. With such a full line of mountain bike shoes to choose from, sometimes it’s tough to know which is the best fit for your use. We figured we could try to help, so we put our flat-pedal tester, Chili Dog, to task comparing his two favorite Ride Concepts shoes in this head-to-head review. The Ride Concepts TNT and Wildcat shoes have seen more than their fair share of use at bike parks all along the western United States and our whole crew have put time in various Ride Concepts mountain bike shoes over the last few years. While there’s no single right answer for everyone, hopefully this helps you get the right answer for you! We’ve also logged thousands of miles of riding in these shoes collectively, so think of this as a review-meets-advice article.
MEET THE COMPETITORS
Ride Concepts Wildcat
The Wildcat is Ride Concepts top of the line “enduro shoe.” In non-MTB marketing speak that basically means it’s capable of everything from daily riding to aggressive trails and bike parks. It’s essentially a jack of all trades, though it does veer more toward the aggressive rider than some of their lower profile offerings like the Hellion.
The shoe’s profile is sleek, but its mid-top design offers ankle protection on both sides of the shoe. This isn’t a true high-top shoe though, meaning it’s easy to put on and doesn’t have the bulky boot-like feel of a high top. That said, it also lacks the ankle support of a true high-top. The gusseted tongue helps to reduce dirt intrusion, and a Velcro strap keeps everything secure while adding additional support. Overall weight comes in at 964 grams per pair.
Ride Concepts uses a Rubber Kinetics DST 6.0 high grip rubber outsole for traction and a D30 insole to mitigate impact. These two features have the most notable impact on this shoe’s “on the foot feel” making it incredibly supportive on large hits, or long days in the saddle. It also strikes a great balance between having enough grip on the pedals to inspire confidence, but not so much that foot repositioning is difficult. If you enjoy getting airborne, the ability to have some foot float is a nice feature.
Ride Concepts TNT
The TNT is Ride Concepts’ premier gravity mountain bike shoe. It’s catered towards aggressive riders and park laps, with a stiff, grippy sole to handle the abuse. While the TNT can be considered a mid-top shoe, its asymmetrical design uses a higher crank side portion of the shoe to offer protection from the crank without adding excessive bulk. This also means that the shoe offers slightly less ankle support than a high top, and less than the Wildcat. It retains the gusseted tongue to prevent dirt intrusion, and a wide Velcro strap for additional support and to hold the upper tight around the foot.
The 4.0 max grip sole provides a “glued to the pedal” feel, while D30 insoles and crank side ankle inserts add protection and padding. To keep the shoe stiff under load, Ride Concepts uses a EVA midsole. Despite the added protective features this shoe only weighs in at 986 grams for a pair of size 10’s. Stiffness, grip and security are the three most noticeable traits of the TNT. No matter how rowdy the terrain, your feet will stay glued to the pedals and ready to attack the next section.
Wildcat (Bottom), TNT (Top)
How Did They Hold Up? After riding both shoes for many seasons, we’ve had ample time to thrash and bash both until they were ready for the garbage. One of the first things to fail on both was the elastic strap that retains the laces. After about 12 months of riding the strap lost its elasticity, but thankfully the Velcro strap is still present to secure the laces. The other failure point we noticed was the laces themselves, which eventually give out and need to be replaced. Thankfully both things are very minor, and aside from the expected wear both shoes held up extremely well.
We’ve been extremely impressed by Ride Concepts overall durability across all the different shoes we’ve owned from them. The soles, insoles and toe boxes, and crank arm sides have all worn better than many of the comparable shoes from other brands we’ve tested. We even have some of the early Hellion shoes that are still kicking! Our Wildcats typically experience some sole separation around the toe area as they get older (which can be seen in the photos), but every shoe has to fail somewhere eventually.
We can’t say that there is any meaningful difference in durability between the TNT and Wildcat, which is a great thing to see from shoes that cost $120 to $160, respectively.
Wildcat (Bottom), TNT (Top)
On the Bike Feel. While durability may be similar, on-the-bike feel is where these shoes separate themselves. After switching back-to-back between them, one of the most notable differences is the sole grip and stiffness of the TNT. The tacky DST 4.0 rubber under the TNT has an almost identical pattern to the Wildcat, but the compound allows it to cling to pedal pins like glue. This makes the shoe feel extremely confident and planted in rough patches of rocks where pedal feedback would normally leave your foot unsettled. That said, repositioning does require you to physically lift your foot from the pedals almost entirely.
By comparison the Wildcat is still grippy but allows much more foot float when in the air or on the bike. It’s something we appreciate on jump trails where foot repositioning is frequent, but it does lack that completely confident grip in the rocks that’s found with the TNT.
There’s a similar comparison felt with foot support on hard impact as well. Since the TNT uses an EVA insole to add central arch stiffness to the shoe, it offers more support on a harsh impact. Ultimately this is something that comes down to personal preference. I for one prefer the slightly softer sole of the wildcat since I come from a dirt jump background, but many people will feel the opposite! Being able to feel the edges of the pedals and flex the foot around them gives an extra level of control and connected feeling with the bike, but it does come with compromise in foot fatigue and impact resistance.
The other primary difference felt on the trails is ankle support. While we still wish Ride Concepts would make a true high-top shoe, the Wildcat is currently the model with the most ankle support in their lineup, since it features mid-height side panels for both sides of the ankle. If you’ve got blown out ankles like us, you’ll want all the support you can get!
Wildcat (Left), TNT (Right)
The Wolf’s Last Word
Which shoe is right for you, you ask? We want to start by saying that both shoes are our favorites in the Ride Concepts flat pedal lineup, and each has distinct benefits and features that we can strategically pull from on a ride. The TNT is always our go-to for raw, steep, and natural trails, while the Wildcat is preferred on our typical trail rides or days in the bike park. That said, most people don’t have the luxury of an MTB shoe collection and we wouldn’t either if it wasn’t for this job!
If I was forced to pick an all-round best shoe, the Wildcat would edge out the TNT, however others on our staff would pick the TNT for the added traction and stiffness. For me, the additional ankle support is a welcome benefit, and the overall feel caters better to the everyday rider. The main defining factor comes down to the sole stiffness and grip. If you’re a fan of stiff, grippy shoes and do tons of long descents, grab a pair of TNTs and don’t look back! For those that prefer slightly more ease of foot movement and a little less midsole support, the Wildcat is the perfect ticket. Either way you’re getting a quality shoe that is built to perform and last!
Price: $120 – TNT | $160 – Wildcat
Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.