STEPPING INTO THE MTB FOOTWEAR CATEGORY
NEW UNION SHOE OFFERS PRECISION FIT & INNOVATIVE FEATURES
For our Short Term Impressions, keep reading to the end of this article.
Fox Racing, the global leader in motorcycle and mountain bike safety equipment and apparel, has entered the mountain bike shoe category. With the launch of the Union shoe series, Fox now offers both mountain bike and motocross riders head-to-toe protection and apparel.
“Fox’s demand for best-in-class products is translating across all categories, from helmets to shoes. We’ve validated the trend through direct rider feedback, consumer data and wholesale partners around the globe,” said Mikey Rangel, Head of Marketing. “Combine this demand with Fox Racing’s amazing team of designers, developers, vendors, and professional athletes, pursuing footwear was a no-brainer for us. For the first time in the brand’s history, both mountain bike and motocross riders are equipped with best-in-class, head-to-toe protection and apparel. It’s a testament to our mission statement – to equip and inspire.”
Fox spent over two years in design and development, realigning halfway into the project after gaining valuable feedback from their professional and amateur riders. With input from Fox athletes like Greg Minnaar, Laurie Greenland, Jackson Goldstone, Nina Hoffmann and Steve Peat, the result is three new shoe models, two clipless and one flat. Each model will be available in four different colors – Black, Grey, Mocha, and Red – and uses unisex sizing with a range from 37-47 EU (5.5-13 US Men’s / 6.5-14.5 US Women’s). Half sizes will be offered from 41-46 and both clipless models will include two pairs of arch height inserts to customize fit.
All of the Union shoes feature a one-piece, welded upper construction for a consistent, precise fit and protection against the elements. A molded toe cap and reinforced toe box further protect against rock strikes while the Ultratac™ outsole balances grip and durability. The Union and Union BOA® clipless models have a lightweight glass-filled nylon shank for an efficient pedal platform. The Union uses a low-profile Velcro strap and lace system to optimize fit and comfort. The Union BOA features the Dual BOA Li2 system to provide on-the-fly micro-adjustability and improved power transfer to the pedals through a secure and formed fit. The Union Flat uses laces and extra attention was given to the outsole design with custom hex-shaped lugs to deliver control on flat pedals, while the toe and heel lug spacing is suited for hike-a-bike sections.
From World Champions to everyday trailblazers, the new Union shoes deliver a real connection to the bike with grip, durability, and superb fit offered across all three versions to suit multiple ride styles and rider needs. Look for Greg Minnaar and Santa Cruz Syndicate team, Neko Mulally, Niels Bensink, Mark Scott and other Fox athletes to be riding Union shoes this year, while being geared up from head-to-toe with Fox equipment.
Union Flat – $149.95
Union – $179.95
Union BOA – $249.95
The Wolf’s Short Term Impressions
Drew was lucky enough to make the trip down to Fox HQ a couple months back for the first ride review, and Fox let him take the clipless lace version (called Union) back home with him to keep logging miles. Although it hasn’t been a complete long term test so far, we’ve gotten this version of the Union shoes well figured out by this point, and have been enjoying them alot.
The lace version lets the laces slide through really nicely which lets you get them strongly cinched down on your foot, more so than most laced shoes. They are a bit stiff for walking/hiking, especially on awkward off camber terrain, but they may soften a little bit through continued use, as it’s only been a couple of months so far. The sole grip is excellent for walking though, helping to offset the stiffness. We really appreciate the toe box protection as we ride a lot in overgrown and narrow singletrack with large rocks and stumps off in the fringe, and they feel super solid and protective.
The Fox Union clipless shoes continue to be surprisingly good at keeping our feet dry when splashing through puddles, though since they’re not a fully weather sealed shoe they’ll let water in when the rain is heavy or through creek crossings. The shank is stiff enough that they offer good power, control and stance on the bike, but they’re certainly not abusive or fatiguing like an XC race shoe. The wide cut out for the cleat is awesome: it allows for easy cleaning of mud; more options for cleat placement, and good engagement in and out of the pedal. So far they seem to be quite durable and holding up well, so we’re looking forward to logging many more miles in these and the other options.
Between Drew and Robert in the UK, we’ve put in a few laps on the BOA-equipped clipless (Union BOA) shoes, and are beginning to get a feel for them. Although we’d often prefer to have the lace ups, we both like the dual BOA shoe a lot too. What really stood out with the dual zone BOA for Drew was the ability to leave the upper adjuster slightly looser to prevent cutting off circulation, but then snug up the area over the top of the foot for great security. It makes for a more precise unclipping from the pedals when your foot isn’t moving around inside, as well as increasing the control on the descents. The BOA system offers another level of fit tuning and security over the laced version, which had Drew impressed. For Robert, the initial couple of rides have highlighted a slight discomfort over the top of the base of the 5th metatarsal – an area where he’s struggled in the past with slightly lower profile shoes. It’s not too extreme, so the chances are it will be alleviated when bedded in after some more miles, but as with most gear it’s worth trying the shoes on to ensure the fit is good for you.
We’re yet to put the Union Flat shoes to the test on the trails, but initial impressions are promising. There’s more flex in the sole to allow for the flat shoes to conform around the pedal and aid in the grip and feel, and to make walking more natural and comfortable. The sole uses widely spaced lugs that will allow for the pedal pins to comfortably find their way in between to hold tightly, and the rubber feels relatively soft and grippy. We’re excited to get these onto a set of flats to see how they stack up.
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