Anyone who lives in a snowy climate knows how poorly cold rubber and ice go together. The advent of winter fat biking has proven that short of using toe spikes or crampons, mountain bike shoes are not well suited for snow traction. All it takes is a poorly placed stride in the icy trailhead parking lot and you’ll be flat on your back, booking an appointment with the chiropractor.
With the debut of its Arctic Grip sole at the 2016 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, performance shoe sole brand Vibram appears to have solved the icy slip and fall. While the technology remains exclusive to a non-cycling company for the following season, we can’t wait to see it appear on the soles of future winter cycling shoes.
While Vibram are tight lipped as to exactly how Arctic Grip doesn’t slip, check out reactions when they put Outdoor Retailer attendees on a block of ice with one regular shoe, and one with Arctic Grip.
All shoes equipped with this new technology will feature designated ‘lugs’ that grips on slick wet ice, as well as thermochromic ‘lugs’ which turn blue when the temperature drops below Zero Celsius (32 Fahrenheit).
As Vibram soles are known for their durability, we’re sure these new soles will maintain their sure footed traction through plenty of wear.
At the moment Wolverine World Wide, which owns Merrell, Sperry, Hush Puppies, Saucony, Wolverine and CAT Footwear, has the exclusive license to the Arctic Grip technology for the northern hemisphere’s Fall/Winter 2016 season.
As Giro, Shimano, NorthWave, Specialized and Scott all currently use Vibram rubber for their soles on certain models, it’s probably not asking too much to see a fat-bike specific shoe with such tech.
Edit (15/03): While a Vibram sole is a selling point for a number of shoe brands, it appears competitor Garmont has had a similar technology called HYPERGRIP ICELOCK for a few years. Garmont’s anti-slip sole uses electrostatically aligned micro-glass filaments in the rubber compound to provide some purchase on ice. Interestingly, this technology only appears on Garmont’s trail running shoes and is absent from their range of boots.