Fox is synonymous with best-in-class mountain biking and motocross apparel, yet they’ve never quite nailed the head-to-toe look… Until now. Recently Fox added a new product to their line-up, the Fox Union Boa mountain bike shoes. Honestly, I’m a little surprised this leap didn’t happen sooner. However, it takes time to design, develop and test best-in-class products and Fox’s first foray into mountain bike footwear did not disappoint.
The Fox Union Mountain Bike Shoes
“Fox spent over two years in design and development, realigning halfway into the project after gaining valuable feedback from their professional and amateur riders. With input from Fox athletes like Greg Minnaar, Laurie Greenland, Jackson Goldstone, Nina Hoffmann and Steve Peat, the result is three new shoe models two clipless and one flat,” according to the brand. All of the shoes bear the name Union, featuring a one-piece, welded upper construction made from durable synthetic waterproof material, designed to provide protection against the elements and to withstand abrasions. Each Fox Union shoe model also features breathable mesh lining, a molded toe cap, reinforced toe box and heel cup, and Ultratac™ outsole for grip and durability.
Two BOAs = Two Thumbs Up
I was lucky enough to test the top of the line clipless model, the Fox Union BOA. The difference between the standard Union and Union BOA shoes is, as the name suggests, the BOA lacing system. The standard Union uses a low profile Velcro strap and lace system and the Union BOA uses a Dual BOA Li2 system which provides a perfectly snug fit and on-the-fly micro-adjustability. I prefer a BOA lacing system in general because I’m lazy and don’t like to tie my shoes. However, I especially adore the two BOA system because it makes adjustments that much easier and helps evenly distribute pressure across the foot, reducing the chances of hot spots or discomfort on extended rides.
Though the BOA is superior, there are downsides. When riding at the SNOWdona Mountain Bike Festival I encountered snow, water, mud and yuck, some of which collected inside the BOA ratchet and subsequently seized the BOA lace from releasing despite the ratchet being open. I did end up freeing the lace itself, but it took a fair amount of gentle, yet aggressive pulling to get the shoes free from my feet. That being said, the synthetic upper did its job protecting my feet from the elements and the dried mud was easy to wipe off after the fact.
Though the Fox Union BOA mountain bike shoes are fairly breathable in 60-65 degree weather, It has not yet been hot. The little voice in my head has concerns the synthetic waterproof material *may* be hot in the summer months. This isn’t a certainty of course, so this may be a moot point; something to consider nonetheless.
But Do They Grip?
The sole of the Union BOA is constructed of Fox’s proprietary rubber compound, which provides excellent grip and traction on all types of terrain. As an added bonus, the cleat channel is deep enough that I wasn’t inadvertently gifting strangers with a tap dance routine when off the bike. Overall, the grip of a clipless shoe isn’t as important on the bike as it is off, and the Ultratac™ sole is ideal for those of us who don’t have trials riding skills and must hike-a-bike up dicey loose or rock laden sections of trail. The midsole is also stiff, which is helpful for transferring power from foot to pedal, making for a more efficient and comfortable pedaling experience when connected.
My test rides mostly consisted of desert trail riding, both short and long. After one five-hour ride in particular, I was amazed and elated at the overall comfort of the shoes, both pedaling and hiking. One feature that is paramount to the fit and comfort of the shoe, yet goes unmentioned by most, is the interchangeable arch support inserts. The Fox Union shoes come with a standard arch insert and also an alternative insert for those of us with high arches. This feature is absolutely key to the fit. I did not find the shoes uncomfortable in the slightest; even when pedaling long distances and hiking a fair amount. It’s safe to say these shoes will work well for DH and XC as well.
All Fox Union mountain bike shoes come in Black, Red, Grey and Mocha and range in price from $149.95 (flats) to $249.95 (BOA). While this may seem a bit pricey, the comfort and high-quality materials make it a worthwhile investment for anyone who takes their riding seriously.
Pros and cons of the Fox Union Boa clipless shoes
- Overall Comfort
- Mud Shed
- Arch Inserts
- May be hot in summer months
Overall, the Fox Union BOA shoe is an excellent choice for mountain bikers who prioritize support, performance, and durability. The BOA closure system, durable upper, and specially designed sole all contribute to making this shoe a solid choice for serious and casual mountain bikers alike.
- Price: $249.95
- Buy from TPC and Backcountry.
I don’t think you mentioned the Union flat pedal model. Being as FiveTen as the grippiest sole for flat pedals I was excited to see a Boa flat pedal shoe but no review.
Unfortunately I only had the clipless shoe for review, not the flats. Based on the stiffness and grip of the clipless, i assume the flats will also be amazing.