The updated Hellion Elite continues to show a clean pair of heels to most of the flat shoe competition.
We’ve tested the Ride Concepts Hellion Elite shoe previously and awarded it full marks and added to our buyer’s guide to the best mountain bike shoes, but how does this updated version stack up? The main changes are a shift to recycled materials for the upper, along with more ventilation holes and a £10 price hike.
The reason recent Ride Concepts flat pedal shoes have scored so highly hinges on the brand nailing its DST 4.0 Max Grip sole compound. Super-soft and grippy, this has excellent friction to really lock shoes onto pedal pins and sufficient damping to stop feet bouncing off when the going gets rough. This season all RC flat pedal shoes have adopted this sticky rubber formula too, rather than it just being an option like before.
The Elite version tested here also bolts on extra features like harden-on-impact D30 zones in the footbed to help absorb harsh landings and pummelling hits across rough terrain. There’s also an anti-bacterial lining to help keep foot stench at bay.
The Hellion is Ride Concept’s softer shoe, but I regard it as a mid-flex, mid-thickness model that’s closest to Five Ten’s Freerider in terms of feel and connection to the pedal. Two things differentiate it though; wear life and durability are way better here than the Five Ten – you can really ride the Hellion into the ground before they start to fall to pieces, whereas the Freerider Pros start to come unstitched or the sole becomes unglued much quicker.
The second difference is that the Ride Concept’s upper is not quite as stiff and supportive, so doesn’t quite lock the foot and ankle in place to resist twisting as much as the (also slightly better damped) Freerider Pro. This difference was only marginal previously and I could happily live with it, but on this new version, the difference is more clear cut.
I’ve now tested two separate pairs of the recycled, more perforated, Hellion Elites, with the first pair feeling much floppier than the previous generation, plus the interior also felt roomier and the whole shoe a bit ‘baggier’ and more flexy. Curious as to whether this was a production one-off or a result of using different materials in manufacturing, I tried a second pair that were slightly stiffer and sturdier, but I still think the Hellions have taken a turn towards more softness and flex. This is both in the upper and what feels like the EVA shank (midsole), despite the brand telling me the latter hasn’t changed, so this could well just be the overall stiffness I’m feeling.
Some riders will actually prefer this updated feel as it translates to more feedback from the bike through the pedals (the Hellions now feel a bit closer to an original Five Ten Freerider than thicker Freerider Pro). Another bonus is the latest version also runs a bit cooler and more airy on the hottest days.
Overall, the key attribute of grip from Ride Concepts’s sole is still as good as you need for aggressive riding in all weathers and these are still well-sorted and comfy flat pedal shoes. It’s commendable to use partially recycled materials where possible, but I preferred the stiffness of the older shoe. I’d also advise going down half a size as the more supple upper feels a bit and roomier inside, particularly in the toe box area.