ION's Rascal Select BOA is the brand's clip shoe designed for gravity riding and racing. Their high price is indicative of their top quality, comfort (to a point), and performance that makes them worthy of a comparatively mountainous investment. That is, if they work for you and if you get on with the cleat adjustment on offer.
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The ION Rascal Select BOA shoe gets a very healthy feature list, including a BOA L6 fit system, ION’s SupTraction_Rubber Soul with a reinforced shank, and a cushioned EVA midsole. There are rubberized heel and toe caps and an asymmetric inner ankle to stop your ankles from knocking your bike’s cranks to add a protective element.
The shoe also features PU main fabric littered with mesh inserts to encourage airflow. There’s a sharkskin-like non-slip patch along the inside heel that’s smooth when you slip your foot in, but it grips when force is applied in the opposite direction.
My very immediate first impression of the shoe was how comfortable it was. ION has done a solid job here, and it’s only improved with the even and secure pressure provided by the BOA closure. The fit couldn’t be better either, as the size EU 45 on test was perfectly snug while offering some wiggle room for the piggies.
Thanks to that BOA closure, the shoe is incredibly easy to put on and fasten. Once loosened, the shoe offers up a cavern to insert your foot into. Then, of course, all you need to do is wind up the BOA dial, and you’re in. Another bonus of the dial is that it’s super easy to adjust on the fly. When you’re done with the ride, pull the dial outwards, and you’re free.
However, I found a downside to the BOA dial. Under ankle flex during big hits and even while pedalling, the dial dug into the front of my ankle. It only happens on one foot, though, so this could be to do with that particular shoe’s build or how I naturally pedal. Either way, it doesn’t work properly for me, and it can get pretty painful.
ION has placed the Rascal’s cleatbox further towards the centre of the shoe compared to other shoes on the market, but for me, it’s not far back enough. With the cleat placed as far back in the box as possible, it still sits further forward than I prefer. I like my cleat to be well and truly behind the ball of my foot; that’s not the case with the Rascal. This isn’t bad, as this position results in more efficient pedalling.
The cleat position results in some foot fatigue later into a ride or down extended descents, but this is purely a matter of preference. You may well get on with the cleatbox in this position.
Aiding the cause of efficiency, the shoe is certainly stiff, but it’s built to be flexy over the lateral plane. So when moving over the top of the bike, the shoe is able to flex and offer some impact absorption.
At first glance, the shoe's tread doesn't look particularly grippy, but it's had some serious thought put into the design. Around the cleat box, the tread is denser for grip on the pedal. The heel and toe then get a design that's built for grip off of the bike and grippy it definitely is.
It's a rather comfortable shoe to walk in too. Unlike some shoes on the market, it doesn't feel as if you're walking on the cleats, and the shoe feels really natural, much like your everyday skate shoe. In fact, I would be happy walking in these as an everyday shoe if they weren't so clearly mountain bike specific.
The built-in mesh panels do their job to get air moving through the shoe, creating a nice breezy space. But there is the flip side that it doesn't really cope with wet weather very well. Blasts through puddles have quickly led to wet feet as there is no gusset around the tongue and because that mesh is so effective. It's a shoe that's most at home away from the wet.
Moving onto the shoe's value. It's hard to hide the fact that it's expensive. My favourite clipless shoe is the Specialized 2FO Clip 2.0. Most importantly, with that shoe, I can get my cleat in the perfect spot, but it's also better protected against harsh weather, and it gets Spesh's Body Geometry insole that I really get on with.
Currently, the 2FO Clip 2.0 RRPs at £160 (although at the time of review, they were £140). So they're not much cheaper than the Rascal, and they don't get that handy BOA closure.
A serious contender against the ION Rascal is the Leatt DBX 4.0 Clip at £100. They offer tonnes of rearward cleat adjustment, and they're mega comfy. However, they're bulky and can get pretty toasty.
Even though it's sat at a premium price, the ION Rascal Select BOA rocks a premium quality while looking awesome. If the BOA dial and cleat box placement work for you, I reckon that it justifies its asking price. That's because there's a lot to like if its quirks don't affect you; it's a shoe that's mega comfy, grippy on and off the pedals, and super easy to live with.