The Hellion flat pedal MTB shoe is part of Ride Concept’s Session Series, priced at $130, available in a full size range for both men and women. As with any flat pedal mountain biking shoe, the sole is the most important aspect. It’s quality is a big determinant in whether your shoe will stick to the pedals when the tough gets rough. Ride Concepts collaborated with Rubber Kinetics to develop Dynamic Surface Technology (DST), their series of proprietary rubber compounds. These encompass DST 4.0 Max Grip, DST 6.0 High Grip and DST 8.0 Mid Grip compounds. The Ride Concepts Hellion shoe features the 6.0 High Grip Compound. Here’s how we got on with it.
Feature image by Robyn Wilkinson
Tried and Tested: Ride Concepts Hellion
Unboxing the Hellion, the shoe looks and feels to be of good quality. It features a two-panel synthetic upper with anti-peel coating and perforated ventilation, and anti-abrasion toe and heel protection. It has an EVA midsole for support and shock absorption, while the insole features D30 inserts at the ball of the foot and heel, to further absorb impact and reduce fatigue. The shoe has a fully gusseted tongue to prohibit intake of dirt and debris.
Ride Concepts pay attention to gender when it comes to shoes. They don’t just “pink it and shrink it” for the lasses. RC actually tailor the shoe fit and flex to suit the female foot. In women’s UK sizes 3-8 (US 5-10), the Hellion is available in the Charcoal/Mid Grey colorway shown here, and a Dark Purple colorway. In men’s UK sizes 6-12 (US 7-13), it is available in a Charcoal/Lime colorway, and a classic Black on Black. We got a UK Size 6 in for review. I’m normally a Size 5 in footwear, thus I would add a note of caution on RC’s sizing. It’s a little on the small side.
Trying them on, my immediate thought is that they feel shallow. This could be because I’m used to riding in Specialized 2FO 2.0 flats which extend further up the back of the heel. The RC Hellion shoe doesn’t feel super secure on my foot. After a few rides though, this misgiving passed as I learned that though my foot didn’t feel 100% secure, it was actually safe as houses. Update: Ride Concepts say that the newest Hellions have amended the low heel cup feeling by heightening it slightly.
The Ride Concepts Hellion shoe is fairly clumpy to walk in, say if you’re coaching off the side of the trail or pushing back up to session a feature. There are some flats out there, such as the aforementioned 2FOs and Adidas Terrex shoes that are a little more sneaker- or trainer-like, and are far more comfortable to walk in. The Hellion’s are a lot more like FiveTens in that regard. They are riding shoes, made for riding, not walking.
The Ride Concepts Hellion shoe is probably the stiffest flat pedal MTB shoe I’ve ever tried. The insole feels thick and supportive, probably due to the combination of the EVA and D30 materials. On the pedals, I felt like the bottom of my foot was too far away from the contact point with the pedals, resulting in a loss of feedback from the bike. A lot of people might prefer this lack of pedal feedback. After all, I guess the D3O is doing its job well; absorbing impacts so the rider doesn’t have to. Personally, it seems I rely on information from the pedals to get a good feel for how the bike is riding.
Getting to the foot of the matter, let’s talk about the sole. Paired with the DMR Vault MIDI pedal, I can happily say that I had zero qualms with the grip offered by the DST 6.0 compound. In 3 months of wearing these shoes, I’ve experienced slippage only a handful of times. Most of the time my foot comes off the pedal because it has bounced off, probably because I set the rebound on the shock too high. The sole is very durable, with very little in the way of wear. I’m impressed.
I’ve also been impressed with the laces of the Ride Concepts Hellion shoe. Laces have a tendency to come undone when they get wet, as they expand as water gets in between the fibres. The Hellion laces have been super reliable in that regard, remaining firmly tied-up.
Ride Concepts say the Hellion “excels in wet and gnarly conditions”. Winter riding in Scotland has therefore been the perfect test environment for these flats. If they work here, they’ll work anywhere. While the synthetic upper does offer some degree of water-repellency, I wouldn’t go so far as to say the shoes are waterproof. Don’t get me wrong, they are a heck of a lot more waterproof than FiveTen FreeRider Pros, and they dry faster. Sadly, one of the pair is showing signs of a good old winter battering. Despite the anti-peel coating of the synthetic upper, what was a small tear from a pedal pin has turned into quite the gash, with a large portion of the upper starting to peel away. A similar small tear has since appeared on the other of the pair but has thus far resisted the temptation to peel off.
The Bottom Line
The Ride Concepts Hellion shoe is a supportive, stiff-soled grippy performer, definitely worthy of consideration. I’d recommend the shoe to those who like a heavily-damped shoe with minimal sole flex. If you prefer a more flexi shoe which gives you feedback from the bike, steer clear, or at least try before you buy. They are durable where it counts, and probably weatherproof enough for the majority of climates.