After more than 30 years of experience and turning into the world market leader in skateboarding, Etnies is now one of the first brands in its trade to take the logical step into the bike sector. Fittingly for a manufacturer of their size, they appear on the scene with a splash! Together with Brandon Semenuk – the five-time Red Bull Joyride winner and one of the most talented and successful freeriders of recent years – they designed the Crank series, whose first upstart, the Jameson Mid Crank, is now preparing to fight the industry giant with 2 digits. But does it pack a punch? Julian took it to the test.
Jameson – does it ring a bell?
The Jameson has been one of the most popular models in Etnies‘ portfolio for generations. In the skateboarding and streetwear sector, its clean, timeless design and high versatility have always provided a reliable platform for new colour trends and technological innovations. No wonder Brandon Semenuk chose this indestructible shoe for his first signature model at Etnies.
Julian reviews the challenger
About the testing conditions: in the past, I rode with the ION Raid Amp and the Five Ten Freerider Pro. Both shoes are designed differently than the Jameson Mid Crank – they have much stiffer soles, different rubber compounds and sole profiles. With ION and Five Ten, the foot is given support via a stable upper, whereas the Jameson features a cupsole instead. This provides a lower trough and stability through the outsole. In terms of size, it is most comparable to the Freerider and tends to be slightly larger than the ION and Shimano models, for example. The shoes were tested on KCNC AM Trap pedals.
Workmanship and fit
The Etnies Jameson Mid Crank radiates indestructibility with every fibre. Starting with the rough, yet haptically pleasant suede, through the double and triple stitched upper shoe components to the metal eyelets and the coated tongue – the inclined observer can infer robustness and longevity.
The first time you ride with it, it immediately becomes apparent that the shoe’s priority is to stabilize your foot. It has a tight fit by nature and is therefore particularly suitable for more narrow feet. The Pro Foam 1 insole adapts individually to the shape of the foot and offers enormous support. In contrast to the skate version of the Jameson, the reinforced EVA midsole lends it more stiffness. Compared to established competitors on the market, however, it is still rather soft and flexible. The sole with Etnies’ own Geo-Hex profile is already familiar from some of the manufacturer’s winter models. The adaptation to a bike shoe makes sense as it provides a secure grip on the pedal without the metal pins having to drill into the rubber. Rubber straps on the tongue complete the ‘stability program’. They ensure that the foot has as little room as possible in the inner shoe and maximise the transfer of power to the bike. The laces are noticeably stiff when used for the first time, so that the lacing comes off rather easily. After a few days, however, they become more flexible and the loop gets tighter.
Thinsulate insulation and Scotchguard by 3M offer reliably warm feet at cooler temperatures and additionally protection against the penetration of water. The package is rounded off by a PU inside, which is much more resistant to impacts caused by the chainring and pedals than the suede found on the rest of the shoe’s surface.
The Etnies Jameson Mid Crank is very comfortable to wear overall despite its tight fit and is also suitable for longer distances, whether on foot or on the bike. The available colours black, burgundy and stone are rich and dynamic. The white outsole, which was chosen for both the black and grey models, certainly catches the eye. For a shoe that is mainly intended to rummage through mud and mire, this choice might be difficult to understand. However, if you‘ve already seen an ION Raid after a few laps on the trail, you will know that white soles will turn gray at worst but will not be defaced by chronic soiling with continuous use. What does yet have to be seen, however, is to what extent the typical detachment phenomena of cupsoles on the outside, which are caused by the natural running movement over time, develop. In my test, the outsole withstood all stresses and strains.
The truth lies on the trail
Nice to look at, cleanly finished and comfortable to wear – but how does the Etnies Jameson Mid Crank perform in practice? My expectations were huge, of course. After all, a renowned shoe manufacturer sat down with one of the most exciting freeriders of our time in order to create it – that can only go well, can it?
Indeed it did! The Jameson Mid Crank does a solid job from the ground up. The contact to the pedal and the power transmission are extremely direct. First impressions of wearing a safety shoe due to the robust construction and the solid material went away immediately, just as concerns regarding possible pressure points or blisters did. All in all, the shoe does exactly what it should – as does the bike when wearing them.
In between rides, on the mountain or during breaks, there is naturally walking to be done. With these shoes, there is no slipping, no noise and no uncomfortable weight. The foot is well guided and the fit reliably prevents it from twisting on impassable paths. On sloping terrain, be it stony ground, fields or meadow, the Jameson Mid Crank grabs any ground and provides support and safety.
When pedalling, you‘ill immediately notice that the selected sole profile works really well. It clings perfectly to the platform so that you never have the feeling of a loss of stability, even with blunter pins. For best grip, however, pedals with finer pins (such as the Sixpack Racing Millenium or Hope F20) are most suitable for this type of shoe.
At the end of the test, the cold season showed its ugly side by sending a shower to earth. “Very good”, I thought to myself. ‚Water resistant’ is written on the shoe and now it had the perfect chance to convince me of that. About half an hour later I take off my shoes – and my socks are completely dry. Sure, the Jameson will not withstand monsoon-like rains, but that’s no claim of Etnies. In the case of missteps into deeper puddles or riding through smaller streams, the shoe makes sure that your fun on the bike isn’t tarnished.
Julian‘s Jameson Mid Crank conclusion
‚Till The Wheels Fall Off‘ is emblazoned on the insole of the Etnies Jameson Mid Crank. In fact, you do get the feeling that your bike is more likely to make you tired than this shoe is to let you down. The collaboration between Etnies and Brandon Semenuk works. An ‚All Time Classic‘ shoe was equipped with useful and sometimes surprising new features in order to give its owner a direct, precise and safe riding feeling. In addition, it proved to be absolutely suitable for everyday use thanks to its good cushioning and comfortable footbed.
Etnies’ entry into the MTB business can undoubtedly be described as ‚successful‘. Further models are planned for spring 2019 so we can be curious to see what else Etnies will come up with. Will they bring another healthy dose of fresh air into the somewhat stale market for platform shoes? To be continued…“