D3O protection in insole and around the ankle; velcro strap and lace closures; rubber-reinforced toe and heel
Super comfortable; D3O padding; grippy sole; bombproof toe and heel
Heavy; laces aren’t the most convenient system; a bit boring aesthetically
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I have found my favorite trail shoe — and it’s actually an enduro shoe. The Ride Concepts Transition shoe looks big, and that’s because it is, but it’s not as heavy as it looks, and it’s actually quite perfect for everyday trail rides. XC riders, this one’s not for you (take a look at the Giro Sectors instead), but just about anyone else on the trail can find something to love about the Transitions.
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Looks big, feels svelte
The Transition shoes certainly do look rather large, especially if you’re used to XC shoes that tend to run narrow and low, often sacrificing things like ankle protection in order to save weight. The Transitions go in the opposite direction, offering a high ankle and burly toe construction to protect your feet from rock strikes and the like.
Yet the Transitions never felt super bulky or heavy (even at 1,010 grams for the pair) while riding. On the contrary; they’re so comfortable it was easy to mistake them for a street shoe (though the stiffer sole gives it away as a mountain bike shoe, of course). That is, in part, what I love about them: As someone who cut his teeth racing mountain bikes in the early 2000s, I’ve shoved my feet into narrow, stiff XC shoes for years. And the Transitions are the antithesis of that. They’re comfortable, with high ankles that offer more protection than my XC shoes ever did, and they have some give in the sole for easy walking.
The toe and heel both get molded-rubber reinforcements; again, Ride Concepts adds protection where it matters most, and does so in such a way that you don’t feel like you’re wearing a plastic ski boot.
If you’re after a shoe with heaps of ventilation, you’ll probably want to err toward a lighter option with more mesh and vents. I didn’t find the Transitions to be stifling, even on super hot rides, but they certainly aren’t the most well-vented shoes I’ve ever worn. Ride Concepts clearly focused more on protection than ventilation, which is fine by me; rarely do I think about shoe ventilation on a trail ride, so I wasn’t bothered by the Transition’s minimal airflow.
Transition’s D3O integration
Ride Concepts made a splash when it debuted a few years ago because the company incorporated D3O into its shoes, in the form of insoles and protection integrated into the uppers. D3O is an energy-absorbing material that feels sort of gel-like when you squeeze it with your fingers. But it hardens when it is impacted, which means it’s flexible and soft while you’re riding and it hardens right when you need it, in the event of a hard landing or another impact. It’s commonly used in elbow and knee pads from brands like G-Force and Pearl Izumi.
In the Transition shoes, the insoles are made with D3O incorporated into them; it’s a lightweight solution to armoring, and if you’re like me and you land flat a lot (because, ya know, talent is often absent from my riding), the D3O offers great protection for your feet. Further, the Transitions feature D3O armoring in the upper around the medial collar — that part of the shoe that wraps around your ankle. This is where most mountain bikers need protection, both from rocks and roots, and from the crank arms and frame should you really get yourself tangled up.
D3O around the Transition’s asymmetric medial collar adds heaps of protection without sacrificing comfort. There’s no stiffness, and not a lot of added bulk. It’s a great design.
About that sole
Mountain bikers can argue for hours about how well a sole performs. If it’s perfectly sticky, it will probably wear out quickly. If it’s not sticky enough, it will likely last you a lifetime but won’t bite into your pedals enough. I found the Transition soles to be perfectly sticky, and while I wouldn’t say they are wearing out quickly, I was disappointed to see a bit of damage where the pins of my pedals dug into the rubber.
For perspective, I’ve been riding these shoes for about year on pretty rough terrain, including lift service days at Trestle Bike Park and regular trail rides here on the front range of Colorado. Sharp rocks and general nastiness abounds. So perhaps I shouldn’t be too shocked.
These are my favorite trail shoes. They do just about everything, from rough and rowdy enduro riding to everyday trail rides — though leave them home for pure XC rides. I love them for the added protection and top-notch comfort, though if you’re after a light pair of shoes, these aren’t it. But I can take them on daily rides as well as to the bike park for lift-serviced days, which makes them exceptionally versatile. I don’t love the laces/velcro strap system, but I’m willing to overlook that for all the other benefits the Transitions offer.