Tested: Ride Concepts’ First Clipless Shoe, The Women’s Traverse [Review]

Ride Concepts Women’s Traverse clipless pedal mountain bike shoes are designed for all-mountain/trail/enduro riding.

Ride Concepts Women’s Traverse shoes are designed as an all-mountain/trail/enduro SPD shoe built for riding your bike on whatever terrain you find yourself riding. The Traverse is also the only clipless shoe in the current Ride Concepts lineup, an exciting test shoe indeed. Out of the box impressions: “YES! finally a shoe that comes in a fun color!” and “Yowza, these feel heavy.”

Materials and construction

Technically speaking the Traverse hit the mark. Ride Concepts has its own RC PowerShank in the sole to provide lateral stiffness, and boy are these shoes stiff. More on that later.

The Traverse is constructed with a DST 8.0 MID GRIP Rubber outsole and contains the magic material D3O, which is designed to absorb high energy impacts in specific areas of the shoe. D3O is also present throughout the high impact areas of the insole and within the asymmetrical medial collar, or “ankle guard” on the inside of the shoe that faces your bike’s chainstays. I’m a fan of the asymmetrical collar since it adds protection while still allowing the ankle and foot to flex comfortably. The Traverse also touts a tougher than normal molded rubber toe cap and heel cap to help mitigate food catastrophes on impact. Like many shoes in this category, they contain EVA (the technical term for foam padding) in the midsole of the foot to create extra support and provide shock absorption. I can confirm the material works well based on accidentally smashing my foot into a few rocks.

The lacing system on the Traverse is a tie, which isn’t my favorite since the BOA system exists, but shoelaces aren’t the end of the world and there is a velcro strap that fastens over the top to add an extra level of snugness. This is a women’s specific shoe and overall I’d say it is a little more narrow in the toe box than other shoes out there. I appreciate the narrow toe box, being a woman with narrow feet, but it’s also something worth considering if you require a wider shoe.

Set Up

The cleat channels on the Traverse are extra long and deep. The length is great, allowing riders to adjust the foot placement fore/aft, as many riders prefer clipless pedals to sit further back on the sole. However, something bizarre happened with the lateral cleat placement; when I adjusted the cleats to what appeared to be the straight position in the channel and clipped in I suddenly became pigeon-toed and my knees did weird and uncomfortable things. To alleviate this unnatural feeling, I had to turn the cleats toward the inside of my foot pretty much as far as they would go so my feet and knees tracked straight while pedaling. I’ve never experienced this with other clipless shoes. It may be a “me problem” but I suspect it’s not. I’d recommend Ride Concepts fix this particular issue before adding more clipless shoes to their lineup.

The depth of the cleat channel is also problematic for my particular pedals. In fact, the SPD cleats barely reach the clip on my Nukeproof Horizon pedals. If you have pedals with smaller platforms this problem may not exist. Adding a plastic spacer under the cleat was the solution to this, however, I opted to recess the pins on my pedals to allow for an easier connection.

Fit and feel

I ordered these shoes based on the size chart and my US shoe size, 8.5 (EU 39.5). Length-wise I’d say they run a little long, and my foot doesn’t fill out the shoe even with the EVA insole. However, I have impossibly narrow feet which usually result in the feeling of free space. To help fill the width, I added an insert so I could tighten these to the point where my foot didn’t swim around. This made the length feel correct and most people with normal to slightly wider feet should purchase these based on their regular shoe size.

Ride Concepts definitely gets an A+ on style; they really nailed the color scheme on the Traverse. I’m loving the teal with lime green accents. They are fun and make me feel like part of the “cool kids club” even though I’m not an official member.

The uppers are constructed of a microfiber synthetic mesh that’s welded to Ride Concepts D3O material, eliminating sewn seams and making a surprisingly wet-weather-resistant shoe. Suffice it to say, the thicker fabric also makes them less breathable than a canvas or mesh material and harder to get in and out of. When trying to lace them the first month or so, it was quite difficult to pull the laces tight enough because the upper material doesn’t break in very quickly. Thankfully, there is a Velcro strap located at the top of the shoe where the laces come to a tie, helping to fasten tighter and reduce rogue shoe strings, but also requiring that you tuck the laces underneath, creating a bit of a pressure point on the top of the foot. I’ve heard others hype the breathability of these shoes, though unfortunately, I wholeheartedly disagree on that point. The Traverse is well constructed with tough materials, making them hotter than every other shoe I own. Stick to these during the fall, winter, and spring months when you want your feet to be toasty warm.

What the material lacks in breathability is what makes these shoes so incredibly durable. Almost all mud and splash-back that gathered on rides magically fell away leaving them pretty clean most of the time. The thicker upper material combined with the sturdy sole makes these shoes pretty dang nuke proof. I rode in these for several months in water, mud, dust and everything in between and they barely look like they’ve been used. Be forewarned: if you find yourself wading through a river and completely soaking the shoes through they do take a fair amount of time to dry completely. I also did my share of hike-a-biking over rocks and through muddy conditions and the soles look like they just came out of the box. After many months of wear, there isn’t so much as a string coming loose and I feel like I’ll probably have these around for years. However, one downside to such sturdy materials and construction is that they are also heavier (895g for size 8.5) than many shoes in the same category. I didn’t notice the weight when riding or hiking, but on long cross-country rides the weight may not suit some.

Okay, let’s talk about the stiffness. Holy Mackerel, these are stiff. Really stiff. Too stiff for my preference. I have pedals with larger platforms specifically for the purpose of feeling some semblance of a pedal under my foot, even with a clipless connection. The Traverse is so stiff, that I’m aware my shoes are connected, and the power transfer is happening, but I start to forget about my feet while riding, which isn’t ideal. Stiffness can be a great attribute, and the traverse certainly provides a level of foot comfort and protection like no other. They are great for technical riding, enduro, and downhill, where high-speed impacts are more likely and vibration feedback is unwanted. However, for everyday riding, flow, or cross-country style, these are a little much. Personally, I prefer to feel my pedals and think about my feet a bit more than the Traverse allows.

Closing thoughts

Overall the Ride Concepts Traverse shoes have great soles, cushioning, and do a good job to protect the foot. They are well constructed, weather-proof, and seemingly indestructible. A solid piece of footwear that you will have for a long time. At a modest price of $160 dollars (available at JensonUSA), it’s a good overall shoe for the expense. However, the lack of breathability, rigid stiffness, and peculiar cleat placement are attributes you may want to muddle through before making a purchase.

⭐️ The Ride Concepts Traverse shoes are available at JensonUSA and other online retailers. Men’s styles are also available.

Party laps

  • Good protection
  • Well constructed
  • Seem to be durable

Pros and cons of the Ride Concepts Traverse shoe.

Dirt naps

  • Not very breathable
  • Overly stiff
  • Cleat channel alignment is off