ION's sole clip-in shoe hits close to the bullseye for giving the rider what they want
Having only one clipless shoe model in the range has meant the pressure has been on for ION to produce a shoe that stands up to the requirements of clipless pedal users. Fortunately for ION this lone bastion of the clip-in brigade delivers on almost every front.
One look at the styling of the Rascal tells you that it’s going to be more at home on the gravity scene than on the start line of a World Cup XC race. That’s not to say that ION hasn’t thought long and hard about the pedalling performance of the Rascal. ION use a stiffened midsole to give it just enough stiffness along the length of the foot to enable really efficient pedalling. This offers great power transfer when really stomping on the pedals and prevents the dreaded foot fatigue that can come from pedalling in too soft a shoe.
Compare the Rascal to a ‘proper’ XC shoe like the Specialized S-Works and it feels pretty flexible, but is definitely stiffer than our favourite Giro Chamber. Unlike a carbon soled no-compromise shoe the Rascal tunes in a bit of lateral flex to allow the shoe to move with your feet. This is most welcome whilst loading your pedals through corners, when the flex makes them feel a more like a decent flat shoe.
To help keep your foot in place when pedalling ION use a combo of laces and long overlapping strap. The strap helps keep the laces out of the way of the chainring but it needs a little more Velcro along its length as the excess ends up flapping in the wind.
For fans of protected pinkies the Rascal has a double layer of toe protection with its injection moulded toe cap. An asymmetric design keeps your crank arm facing ankle a little more armoured.
I’m not often a fan of this style as my ankle bones tend to rub on any extended areas. Fortunately the Rascal’s design isn’t as extreme as some others. Allowing unfettered pedalling without issue.
The EVA midsole cushioning helps keep things properly comfortable when landing from height or just riding in rockier terrain. ION has managed all of this without making the Rascal too big and bulky. Talking about fit, the last of the ION is relatively middle of the road. I have a relatively wide forefoot but despite it feeling a little snug it fitted without pinching. Heel-lift, often an issue with clip-in shoes is also fairly minimal.
Get the grip
One area where it has the drop on its competition is the superb SupTraction outsole. This has masses of grip at the toe and heel for clambering over mud and rocks. So far the tread pattern has only caused issues with one set of test pedals. Refusing to relinquish its grip on the pedal upon unclipping. Depending upon which pedal system you choose you might need to add a spacer under the cleat.
Comfy and efficient, you don't need more from a pair of clip-in shoes. The ION Rascal should be high on the wishlist for riders wanting a clip-in shoe suitable for everything from trail riding to DH. Make the velcro a little longer and it would be perfect 10.