Grip is very good but it could be better if Unparallel sorted out sole design
Unparallel Dust Up sole is made from incredibly sticky 45-50 durometer rubber that even eclipses some of Five Ten’s Stealth rubber, at least on paper.
We’ve always said that a flat pedal shoe lives or dies by the quality of its sole. It needs to be tacky enough to stick your shoe to the pedal like glue, even in the wet, yet release its grip predictably when you need to dab or reposition your foot. Get that right, and everything else is easy. Well, Five Ten got it spot on five years ago with its superlative Five Ten Freerider shoe, making it the benchmark shoe I’m comparing the Dust Up to.
The Dust Up actually uses two compounds and two different thicknesses, with the tackiest and thinnest stuff in the pedal landing zone where the tread is 3.5mm thick. Then there’s harder 75-80 durometer, 4mm thick rubber running round the circumference of the sole. The heel and toe are formed from the harder stuff too, where the idea is to lengthen the life of the sole by making it more durable where you can get away with it. It’s a nice idea, but in our experience that’s not where a shoe wears out, instead it happens in the middle where the pedal pins tear into it.
The Dust Up offers very good grip levels, and most of this is down to the soft rubber compound. Pedal pins bite into it easily in dry conditions and it’s so soft I’ve actually struggled to disengage my foot for a quick dab on two occasions — both times on long descents where I hadn’t taken a foot off for a long time, with the pedal pins dug in like ticks. This is actually not the sole’s fault, it’s the upper, which just isn’t supportive enough to back up that grippy sole and stop your foot moving inside the shoe, no matter how hard you tighten up the laces. The upper does feature a Velcro strap, but it’s a lace tidy rather than a way of tightening up the shoe.
That sole is by no means perfect then, the tread pattern is an old design used on Teva shoes a couple of years back and it’s really holding the shoe back. The pedal landing-zone is in the wrong place, slightly too far forward under the ball of your foot — ideal for a clipless shoe, but on flats your foot is closer to the middle of the pedal. This meant the rear part of my pedal actually located onto the harder rubber area of the sole, giving up some of the grip. The veins of the tread started to tear up after just a few rides too, although I actually think the grip might improve after another six months riding when my pedals have pulped the entire area.
Overall the Dust Up is a great first effort, it’s an incredibly comfortable shoe to ride and walk in thanks to its soft upper and flexy sole, and the softest compound in MTB shoes is a triumph. The grip is very good but it could be better if Unparallel sorted out its sole design.