The Ion Seek is Ion’s take on a casual-looking shoe that can still perform off-road. They feature a simple lace closure, plain styling, and distinct absence of any fancy design features.
For flat pedal users, it’s easy to forget that we’re living in a minor Golden Age. Rewind 15 years or so, and if you rode flats and needed new shoes you’d likely be scouring the sale shelves at your local skate shop, before buying something was never designed to be used for mountain biking and whose soles would be eaten through in a matter of weeks by your DMR V8s with Terror Pins.
Now there are dozens of brands making shoes specially for off-road cycling. Ion may not be the go-to brand name for mountain bike shoes, but they produce lots of well-received riding wear, so I was interested to find out how their shoes would stack up.
The shoes I’m reviewing here have Ion’s Pin Tonic sole, which has an interesting inverted design, and they’re also competitively priced. Flat pedal shoes increasingly seem to be north of £100 these days, which doesn’t help make an expensive sport any more accessible, so options for more budgets are definitely a good thing.
Pulling the shoes on for the first time, I was struck by how neat and narrow they are. The feel more like something you’d wear to an office than a skatepark. This could be a bonus if you suffer from contact between your heels and your bike’s frame, as they take up a lot less real estate than the bulky skate style flat pedal shoes that most of us ride. The down side of this is that if your plates of meat are more Sasquatch than ballerina, they’re probably going to feel a bit restrictive. They run true to size, but there’s not a lot of width to spare.
If your feet are the right shape, riding all day in the Seek shoes is comfortable. The woven fabric uppers aren’t too thick and hot, but nor do they have lots of annoying tiny holes to let cold wind and water in. The material isn’t as waterproof as some but they don’t soak much up and dry out quickly. The heel cups are snug, there’s some impact protection built into the sole, and they’re supportive and relatively stiff for a flat pedal shoe.
But what about the grip? The soles of the Seek shoes feature little Y-shaped pockets for your pedal pins to engage with. It’s very secure on the trail, giving benchmark levels of stickiness, even with the relatively stiff soles. Another bonus is that your pedal pins won’t end up chewing little holes in your shoes, as there are already some there. The down side is that there’s less walking grip on offer for when you want to push back up the trail and have another go at something.
After a few months of wear, the Ion Seek shoes are holding up ok, although the upper material on the front edges has gone a bit fluffy. My test pair had bit of an odd manufacturing issue in the form of a slight lump in one footbed, under the insole. At first it felt a bit like I had something in my shoe, but as the shoes have broken in the sensation has disappeared.
“Flat pedal shoes you can wear to the pub” is a mountain bike review cliché, but it definitely applies here, and I’ve even worn them to smarter functions. The fact that the Ion Seek shoes don’t look like a mountain bike shoe will put some people off, but might attract others. The performance is there and the price is less ouchy than some. As long as you get on with the looks, and don’t mind a fairly stiff sole, these are a decent addition to a nicely diverse market segment.
While you’re here…
|Tested:||by Antony for Three months|
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