ION may have started out as producers of watersports equipment but they have long since established themselves as a cycling clothing brand. Since 2017, ION has been working hard to also conquer the cycling shoe sector. Being in their third shoe season, they have already gained some experience when it comes to manufacturing high quality MTB footwear. For 2019, the brand, which is also very active in the fun sports sector, has fundamentally revised the sole concept of the flat pedal shoes. The second generation of the RAID AMP is based on a completely new combination of rubber, midsole and insole. Pin Tonic is the name chosen by ION for this new concept, which features a marginally softer rubber sole, a softer midsole and a more comfortable insole. Michael put the shoes to the test for us!
Michael’s shoe test
“Trying to improve things that are already good is always a tricky task. I’ve been wearing the predecessor model ever since it was released, and I’ve been putting these shoes to rough use from enduro to downhill. As it happens, the bike threw me off in more than one occasion. The shoes, however, remained completely unimpressed. When I tell people that I’ve been wearing them for nearly three years now, they usually don’t believe me. So I was all the more curious to see if ION have managed to excel themselves. A big thank you goes to the extremely friendly ION team who provided me with the black version of the shoes. Well done!
The shoe – unpacking and first impressions
Out of the very nice box come some very stylish shoes. The RAID AMP II look so nifty, you could almost wear them with a pair of jeans and an elegant shirt. The shoes are rather slim, which makes them an exception in their field. Most competing products come in a very casual skate shoe look. The seams and splices of the ION shoes are very neatly finished, you can even see the ION lettering glimmering through the ventilation holes. Unfortunately, this effect is hardly noticeable in the black version, while rather strong in the nebula grey or pink isover one.
The toe area is completely protected by a rather thick rubber layer, aptly named Toetal_Protection by ION. Very useful if one of your buddies should ride over your toes. As known from other models, the inner side is higher in the ankle area to protect the ankles from painful contacts with the crank arm – a feature I would not want to miss in any of my MTB shoes. An ankle pad protects the outer side of the shoes from the cranks. The heel area is also reinforced via pre-shaped heel and provides a better overall grip in the shoe. The advantages of the improved Pin Tonic sole will become apparent later on the trail. In addition, there is an insole (2K_Insole) in the shoe which should dampen the footbed slightly and support the arch of the foot from below. That’s a rather distinctive feature. In the lacing area, ION has added a practical elastic strap to fix the laces – very handy.
Wearing the shoes: comfort and size
The only thing that often annoyed me about the predecessor model was that the whole shoe is very stiff. This had two drawbacks. First of all, putting on the shoes and taking them off again was sometimes not that easy because you couldn’t just slip in quickly. If wearing thicker socks, the task proved tob e particularly tricky – despite the flap at the back. Secondly, the long-term wearing comfort was somewhat impaired by the hard footbed. During my 8-hour sessions in the bike park I caught myself taking off the shoes several times during lunch break because my feet were a little stressed.
And that’s exactly where ION seems to have listened to their customers. The RAID AMP II is remarkably softer and more comfortable. You can get into the shoes much more easily and they do not feel quite as stiff anymore. The shoes are normally sized and fit me perfectly in size 46. My usual shoe size is somewhere between 46 and 47. Thanks to the somewhat softer sole, the comfort of walking in the shoes is higher, although the predecessor was never really uncomfortable when walking.
Time to get on the bike!
So far, I have been able to test the RAID AMP II on shorter cross country tours and twice in the bike park. The sole may be a little softer compared to the first version of the shoe, but the grip on the flat pedals remains unbeatable. The sensation is almost that of wearing click shoes, slipping on the pedals is almost impossible. The whole riding feeling connected with it is clearly better than with shoes by other manufacturers. ION has finally succeeded in finding an ideal compromise between stiffness and flexibility! And if you have to walk for a while, you will always have a good grip, helping you to get over sticks and stones on the trail.
The shoe climate
The shoes are relatively warm due to the low proportion of ventilated areas. I guess you can easily wear them until deep into autumn or even as a winter shoe in combination with a warm pair of socks. For people whose feet sweat easily I would recommend to wear them only with thin socks in the warmer seasons.
RAID AMP II: Conclusion
When it comes to movies, sequels are almost never as good as the originals. With shoes, it’s fortunately different – and ION’s RAID AMP II is a good example for that. By improving the model in the right places, ION has managed to produce the perfect MTB flat pedal shoe for me. With 129,95 Euro, it’s not exactly cheap, but the price is justified by the high-quality workmanship, the clever construction and the performance. It’s too early, of course, to say anything about the durability, but the outer material leaves a very good and “long-lasting impression“. I guess it will prove tob e just as robust as its predecessor. The many reinforced areas should protect the shoe from damages for quite a long time. A superior shoe!