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Ride Concepts launches mountain shoes tailored to men, women and youth

Published November 22, 2018

Editor's note: A version of this story ran in the Nov. 1 issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.

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TRUCKEE, Calif. (BRAIN) — A family need inspired outdoor industry veteran Brandon Dodd to launch Ride Concepts, a new player in mountain bike shoes. Two years ago his son, age 8 at the time and to this day an avid downhill mountain biker, was damaging his feet on big jumps.

"He was landing and getting bruised toes. I was researching more and more, and we went to Whistler and saw the next generation of kids coming up in biking. We're building better bikes for them and longer-travel bikes and lighter bikes, but there really was no footwear for them. So that's how it started — as research for my kids," Dodd said.

Delving further into his research, he found shoes for women mountain bikers weren't meeting their needs either.

"So many women's shoes are just a men's size 8 that's downsized to a size 6. I found that we could offer a better product," recalled Dodd, whose 20-plus years in the sporting goods business includes time developing footwear, helmets and snowboard equipment and apparel. Dodd sold his last action and snow sports business, Access, to Intersport America, and is now funding the launch of Ride Concepts himself.

The company's first offering — the Session series of men's, women's and youth shoes for platform pedals — launches Nov. 1 consumer direct on the Ride Concepts website as well as with dealer-direct sales through IBDs. At BRAIN's press time, Dodd had nearly completed building out a rep force across the U.S.

Ride Concepts designs different lasts to fit men, women and young riders, and unique flex patterns are tailored to suit each type of rider. All shoes also incorporate D30 technology, the same as used in many protection brands' pads and armor. The D30 protection, a soft and flexible material that absorbs and dissipates energy on impact, is molded through the shoes' insoles to minimize impacts from hard landings and extended days hammering pedals. Select shoe models also use D30 to protect the medial side of riders' ankles or the outside of the foot.

"Every shoe has a D30 story in the footbed. For over a year we tested the impact on the feet for dirt riders, and also in the tongues and toe boxes throughout the shoes. Being able to offer an energy-dispersing product has been key. We believe that piece to piece, we're offering an awful lot of value for the price points," Dodd said.

Session shoes will retail for $100 to $130.

Ride Concepts sources three proprietary rubber sole compounds from Rubber Kinetics, the company behind the Goodyear premium bicycle tire line launched earlier this year.

"We have an agreement for footwear with Rubber Kinetics, and we've developed three unique rubber compounds for our footwear for grip and durability. We have a soft, a mid and a firm, which is throughout the line today. We have some additional compounds in the works too," Dodd said.

Around March 2019, the Session series will be followed by the Flow Series, consisting of both platform and clipless models, and the Men's Launch Series of platform shoes for aggressive riding. A line of synthetic and Merino socks made in Italy also launches at the same time.

Dodd also has additional shoe models in the works he plans to introduce at Sea Otter in April.

Acknowledging that it can be difficult with footwear to maintain the right amount of inventory due to the range of sizes, Dodd noted he has built his inventory to hit "aggressive" sales targets for 2019. "This means we have to take risk and have stock on hand," he said.

A three-tier dealer program starts with a $500 minimum and 12 pairs of shoes to qualify for free shipping and a free pair of socks with each pair of shoes. Retailers ordering now at that level will be provided socks once they arrive in the spring, Dodd said.

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