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3 exciting new shoe brands at Sea Otter

Afton, Ride Concepts and Unparallel Sports are the new players

One of the most surprising categories at Sea Otter 2019 was the presence of three energetic new shoe brands. With the demise of Teva Bike shoes and the acquisition of FiveTen by Adidas, the category of Trail, All Mountain shoes seemed to have slowed down in recent years.

But this year, three new brands, completely absent last year had prominent booths in well-positioned locations. They are Ride Concepts, Afton and Unparallel Sports. We are thrilled about this development as we believe is a crucial contact point and the rising popularity of that flat shoe category could benefit from more options.

Ride Concepts is forecasted to sell over 100,000 shoes in over 38 countries in its first year of operation.

Ride Concepts

Ride Concepts is an interesting company as it has rocketed into center stage faster than many in recent memory. They’ve done it with great branding, good event presence and an impressive line of first-year products. Based in Truckee, CA, we talked with founder Brandon Dodd about the company’s start.

“And I’d actually recently sold my last company so I had some money to invest,” revealed Dodd, who grew up Colorado’s Western Slope and now calls Truckee home. “I started asking myself, what’s next, what do you want to be in life? I knew whatever it was it had to be something I was passionate about. Initially that wasn’t going to be a mountain bike footwear company. But that family need, plus some research, helped me realize that this really made sense.”

The insole is one of the best we’ve seen with impact absorbing D30 technology integrated in the impact areas.

The rest, as they say, is history. Starting in 2016, Dodd went to work utilizing his strong product and brand development background to create what has become Ride Concepts, a gravity/freeride focused mountain bike footwear maker that launched this fall with 14 models, and has ambitious plans for expansion in 2019 and beyond.

We’ve been riding a pair of $130 Helion flat shoes and it is a good one. It requires a few rides to get dialed in as it is a stiff shoe with a lot of protection. But after some time, it got more comfortable and we’ve learned to trust it in many exotic, rocky destinations.

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Learning about Afton, we were intrigued to learn about their shank technology that only bends one way to aid hiking but be stiff for tech riding


From their press releases, we initially dismissed Afton as a slick skate brand trying to sell mountain bike shoes. We’ve seen this all before or so we thought. Talking to the founders of Afton, we learned of a good vision to blending urban styling with shoe design and technology suitable for mountain biking.

The key tool they use is a shank technology in the sole that allows the shoe to bend into the foot, but not away from it. This results in a shoe that you can walk or stand in comfortably. And when riding, the shoe allows good platform support on tech terrain even when the pedals used are not extraordinarily big.

Fit is on the snug side and streamlined as well on the Keegan shoe that we’re testing. So it looks like a pair of reinforced Vans. And it feels that way too on day one with a well-padded cavity that is comfortable right away. It seems to require little to no break-in period. A reinforced toe box with PU taping reveals that it’s more than just it’s street shoe good looks.

They feel like vans with a sleek, comfy fit. But the toe protection and sole technology are present.

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Looks like Teva soles for good reason.

Unparallel Sports

Unparallel Sports is another new company in mountain biking but they have a background in climbing shoes, much like FiveTen Shoes.

The fascinating discovery is they took over all the bike shoe technology of Teva as they exited the mountain bike category. We thought all those sole patterns looked familiar.

The Teva blue signature color was replaced with orange.

We fell in love with and their comfortable shoes. Only wish we had was for stickier rubber. It seems like Parallel Sports is addressing that to some extent so we are excited to try their offerings.

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