Ion Rascal Amp Shoe
Size Tested: 44
Blister’s Measured Weight: 493 and 508 grams (per shoe)
Pedals Used: Time Speciale 8
Reviewer: 5’9’’, 155 lbs / 175 cm, 70.3 kg
Test Duration: About 3 months
Test Locations: Whitefish, Montana; France; Italy
I’d never tried any gear from Ion before, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with their Rascal Amp shoes. They seemed to be a fairly run-of-the-mill version of the standard skate-style shoe with laces and a velcro strap. I thought it was a bit odd that “Surfing” and “Trails” are molded into the rubber soles, but otherwise, they’re a pretty normal-looking shoe. So does that normalcy help them beat out techier offerings like Leatt’s 5.0 or burlier offerings like the Ride Concepts Transition?
Features & Construction
The Rascal Amp uses a more or less tried and true design that we’ve all seen before. It’s got a lace-up closure, with good quality laces running through plastic grommets. And at the top is a nice, wide Velcro strap that has just a little bit of stretchiness to it.
The upper shoe is synthetic with a little bit of perforation for breathability, and the sole is “SupTraction” rubber. Cleat slots on the bottom are 31.5mm long, which is longer than most XC shoes, but about average for a Trail / Enduro shoe. The heel has a rubberized cap for durability, and the toe box is stiffened to help keep your toes from getting broken when you cut that corner a little too far inside. As with pretty much any bike-specific shoe, there’s an internal shank to stiffen up the shoe, and I’d rate these as medium-stiff.
Our test pair of Rascal Amps averaged to almost exactly 500 g per shoe (size 44), which is a touch on the heavier side of average, but not by a big margin. Check out our measured weights of some other competitors, for reference — and note the slight variations in sizing when comparing those weights.
I usually wear either a 9.5 or 10 in my bike shoes, and I comfortably wore a size 44 in the Rascal Amp. It’s worth noting that Ion calls a size 44 the equivalent of a US 10.5, but the 44 fits me well and I’m definitely not a US Men’s size 10.5. So if you don’t know your Euro size and you’re going off of their conversion chart, it might be worth sizing up.
Width-wise, I have a moderately narrow, generally low-volume foot. I tend to have a lot of extra room in many of the skate-style shoes, but the Rascal Amps fit me quite well. So if you have huge goblin feet, these might not be your best bet, but they’re great for people whose feet are on the narrow side of average. The Ride Concepts Transition (a fairly narrow shoe, compared to most DH-oriented options), for example, is a touch narrower than the Rascal Amp, but not by a big margin.
On the Trail
The Rascal Amp doesn’t bring any crazy features to the table, and it does not represent a paradigm shift in the exciting world of mountain bike footwear. What it is, however, is a really nicely executed version of a shoe that we’ve all seen before. There are a ton of options in the “skate-style shoe with laces and a velcro strap” category, but the Rascal Amp is the best one I’ve ridden in recent memory.
The Rascal Amp’s laces are good quality, and they cinch up cleanly through the shoe — I can get nice pressure across my whole foot, not just through the top 2 grommets. And its velcro strap is pleasingly wide, so it doesn’t create a weird pressure point across the top of my foot. And there’s just the right amount of stretch in the velcro strap that it stays snug without making the shoe feel sloppy.
The sole strikes a nice blend of stiffness and walkability. It’s stiff enough that I don’t feel like I’m pedaling around in slippers, but there’s enough flex that when I’m pushing up a hill, I don’t feel like I’ve strapped a 2×4 to my foot. And speaking of pushing up hills, the Rascal Amp probably has the best heel hold of any skate-style shoe I’ve ever ridden. Even when hike-a-biking up some miserable climb, my heel stays nicely situated.
The construction also does a great job of treading the fine line between protection and comfort. While the shoes aren’t that light on my scale, they don’t feel nearly as clunky as something like a 5.10 Hellcat. I wouldn’t hesitate to take them on an all-day pedal, but they still feel stout enough that I don’t mind riding them in the bike park where the priority is on ankle support and protection.
So that’s all pretty great, and I don’t have too much to say in terms of downsides. The one issue I did notice, however, is that there’s not a ton of cushion in the sole, at least compared to some of the more DH-oriented shoes. That lack of cushion means the Rascal Amps perhaps pedal a little better, but I did bruise my heel a bit during one running dismount, and I think my heel would’ve been fine in something like the Ride Concept Transitions that has more cushioning foam in the sole.
I’m a big fan of the Ion Rascal Amp — it’s a case study in taking a traditional design and executing it really well. And it certainly helps that it fits my moderately narrow foot really nicely. Most of my riding these days involves a decent amount of pedaling and a priority on fun, rowdy descents. For that type of riding, the Rascal Amps are perfect. There’s a pile of shoes in my garage, but these are the ones I laced up for almost every ride I did this fall.