Gear Reviews Mountain Biking

TESTED: ION Rascal SPD Shoes

TESTED: ION Rascal SPD Shoes

BEING A DIRTY RASCAL HAS NEVER FELT SO GOOD!

Choosing the right footwear for any activity is crucial and this is even more so for mountain bikers. Stability, comfort, protection and power transfer are all key areas for you to have the best possible riding experience.

The ION Rascal SPD shoe seems to cover all of these areas and more! So you can’t blame us for becoming totally smitten with them, can you? We’ve been putting the ION Rascal SPD shoe through its paces over a period of six months.

Since ION launched their separate bike division that offers functional clothing, accessories, gloves and protection, the ION Bike range has continued to grow in range and popularity and we think offer some of the most stylish and innovative products on the market right now.

First Impressions

Straight off the bat you’ll notice that the ION Rascal is no XC shoe. With a chunky reinforced toe box, thick rubber outsoles, stormtrooper style padded panels and general all-round bad-ass looks, the ION Rascal is built for the more aggressive trails, but don’t let that put you off. They can handle any type of trail you throw at them, XC to DH.

They have a classic flat pedal shoe design, so unlike a dainty XC slipper, you’ll go unnoticed at the cafe/pub post ride. That burly design does make them a little heavier, weighing in at around 500g per shoe, (depending on size) which is not too bad considering.

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A burly and stealthy profile. The ION Rascal SPD shoe looks kick ass! Pic:©Tyres and Soles
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The Serpen Tie closure system…TOUGH! Pic:©Tyres and Soles

Features

The ION Rascal SPD shoe comes to the table with a lot to offer.

  • Serpen Tie closure system.
  • Reinforcements on most exposed and stressed areas.
  • Extra padding towards the cranks to protect the ankles.
  • Reinforced toe cap to absorb and deviate the forces when hitting a rock or a root.
  • Lasercut ventilation holes for additional climate comfort.
  • Newly developed clipless sole. Designated areas for improved traction on and off the pedal: Great walking abilities even on slippery grounds.
  • Two components providing both damping of foot pads and support of the arch. Results in less fatigue of the feet on long rides.
  • Weight: 537grams (Size 11)

Power Transfer / Rigidity

The shoe has incredible stiffness in the midsole through the EVA material. EVA midsoles are typically made of ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA), which is the same material often used for orthotic shoes. This provides a stiff sole that transfers power to the pedal, very efficiently.

The EVA midsole, combined with the SupTraction Rubber Soul CL (CL for clipless) means the ION Rascal offers a combination of stiffness and flexibility in both longitude and lateral axis. This combination helps prevent the foot from twisting and tilting on the pedal. Especially crucial when cranking down hard.

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The ION Rascal with designated tread areas for those hike-a-bike moments. Pic:©Tyres and Soles
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The ION Rascal offer high levels of heel support. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

Serpen Tie Closure System

There’s a double whammy closure system on the ION Rascal. They have a standard lace up system, which works very well on its own, but this is coupled with what they have called a Serpen Tie closure. This is essentially a piece of what can only be described as seatbelt material, and a velcro closure on the end.

What we really like about this system is that it is covers the laces and pulls the whole system together. There are numerous brands who use great big flaps of material to cover laces, but the Serpen Tie Closure system is more efficient in our opinion.

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The ION Rascal Serpen Tie closure system uses a velcro tab to secure it. Pic:©Tyres and Soles
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The standard lace up system plus Serpen Tie closure is very secure system. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

Protection

In terms of protection, the ION Rascal offers some well thought out designs for the rider. For example, the crank side is often the hurt zone for many of us, so ION have combined an asymmetrical shape to the upper which extends on the inside of the ankle, plus a well placed ankle pad.

The ION Rascal has a burly looking injected toe cap attached with ION’s No-Sew reinforcement.  The no-sew section is a thin TPU film welded onto the main material, without seams.  It’s primarily a reinforcement for avoiding abrasion in high wear / impact areas where a stitch would typically be worn away.

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ION’s injected no sew toe cap will keep your pinkies safe from harm. Pic:©Tyres and Soles
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ION have got your ankles covered, literally! Pic:©Tyres and Soles

Fit & Comfort

The insole and the cushioned midsole makes for a firm yet comfortable fit. In addition to that, the rigid heel support and some well placed laser cut holes that allow good levels of air flow, make for a very secure and comfortable shoe.

The 2K insoles offer great support and cushioning across the whole length of the underfoot. The heel pad has a good level of cushioning and the toe box area is roomy. Unlike some XC style shoes which can tend to bunch your toes up, the ION Rascals allow for a more natural foot print.

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Laser cut air vents maintain good airflow. Pic:©Tyres and Soles
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The ION Rascal could be our shoe of the year! Pic:©Tyres and Soles

On The Trails

Clipping In/Out

We tested the ION Rascals with the Crank Bros Mallet DH and the Shimano XTR Trail pedals. Both worked perfectly. We did have to lower the pins on the Mallets a little as it was causing some issues unclipping, but once that was done we had no further issues.

Although I wouldn’t normally wear a flat style shoe with my XTR Trail pedals, the experience has been positive and I’ve actually stuck with this combination, depending on the trails.

However, it should be noted that we did have trouble with the Crank Bros Mallet E (Enduro) version. The platform is slightly narrower than the DH version and the shoe is much closer to the crank arm and on a few occasions it stopped me from unclipping due to my foot hitting the crank.  We have been informed that Crank Bros have a spindle extension kit which will solve this problem.

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Due to the high grip patterns, you may need to reduce pin height. We tested these on the Crank Bros Mallet DH and the Shimano XTR Trail, both performed very well. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

Hike -a- Bike

The SUP sole has designated tread patterns for off the bike activities. The rubber grip offers a high level of traction on rocks and general trail walking in dry and wet conditions. They feel like a flat shoe so there’s no clippy-cloppy going on with exposed cleats.

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ION Rascal, clipped in and ready for anything. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

Performance

This is where the shoe comes to life, as you’d expect them to. Putting the power down onto the cranks feels very responsive and direct. The power transfer is efficient and due to the rigid design, you can feel that feedback instantly. The combination of the Serpen Tie closure, stiff sole and heel support reduce squash or slip within the shoe.

We’ve tested them in wet and dry conditions. Although the air vents do let some moisture in on very wet days the shoe dries quickly due to this feature also.

The squarer design helps your feet to breath and toes to splay out a little more than other trail shoes. There’s just a little more room for your feet to enjoy. After a full day of riding (6 hours), my feet never felt sore or numb and that included a lot of fairly big drops and hits throughout the day.


Where to Buy?

You can pick the ION Rascal up from most good bike shops, in-store or online at around the $ 200 range.

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The ION Rascals enjoying themselves on holiday at Bike Park Wales. Pic:©Tyres and Soles

Conclusions

Jason Lorch

Author: Jason Lorch

Born and grew up in Wales but now a fully fledged Aussie. A passionate mountain biker, hiker and general nature addict. I’m also a bit of a muso and enjoy a good craft beer every now and again (probably too often).

I hope what we do here at Tyres and Soles will inspire people to get out there and experience first hand, the natural wonders that surround them.

So, pump up those tyres, don your favourite boots. Grab a mate, a partner, a pet… and head out into nature. But tell us all about it when you get back.

Editor at Tyres and Soles.

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