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Having previously reviewed Palani and Kinabalu RC, as well as having run in Supertrac 2.0 and Supertrac Ultra RC, and by and large, being impressed by them all, I was excited to try out Scott’s latest addition to the Race Concept range.
Scott’s Race Concept is akin to Salomon’s S/Lab and represents the best of the best, designed with input from elite athletes for premium performance and I suspect best suited for those who find themselves in the sharp end of races.
While Kinabalu Ultra RC is intended for trail distance, the range already includes Supertrac RC for mountain speed, Supertrac Ultra RC for mountain ultra, Kinabalu RC for trail speed, and Palani RC for road speed.
Kinabalu Ultra RC thereby nicely rounds out the Race Concept range and comes in the distinctive black and yellow livery in keeping with the line’s strong identity.
Key Comparisons vs other Race Concept shoes
- 8mm drop – same as Supertrac Ultra vs. 3mm for Kinabalu and 5mm for Supertrac
- Kinetic foam – same as Kinabalu vs. AeroFoam+ for Supertrac and Supertrac Ultra
- eRIDE – same as all others
- Hybrid traction – same as Kinabalu vs. All-terrain for Supertrac Ultra and Radial for Supertrac
- Breathable mesh vs. weatherproof upper for Supertrac and Supertrac Ultra
- Rock plate vs. none in Supertrac and Supertrac Ultra
As mentioned, the shoe is intended for going long on trails; more specifically, man-made paths, and non-technical dirt tracks.
As such, the aggressive grip and traction that the Supertrac shoes are renowned for are not necessary here. Instead, Scott has opted for something called “hybrid traction” which combines chevron lugs for traction along with cones for stability.
At 4mm, they are not as deep as those of the Supertrac, which are designed for more technical terrain and mud. The outsole material, however, retains the sticky ultra traction rubber that is so effective against all surfaces.
The outsole for Kinabalu Ultra RC appears pretty much identical to that recently released Kinabalu RC 2.0. However, the comparison of Kinabalu Ultra RC’s outsole against Supertrac 2.0 illustrates the difference in lug pattern and depth.
The other key difference between the Kinabalu Ultra RC and Supertrac range is the presence of a rock plate in Kinabalu Ultra RC which can be seen in the photo.
The shoe is light, weighing in at 313 g for UK10 versus 359 g for the Supertrac 2.0. As might be expected for shoes intended for summer trails, the upper consists of a breathable outer mesh layer along with a thin inner membrane and the use of any overlays is sparse.
Aside from the outsole, this is the other key difference with both Supertrac RC and Supertrac Ultra RC, which both have weatherproof uppers.
The tongue, similar to that in the Kinabalu RC, is thin and, disappointingly for a trail shoe, where there is always the potential for loose debris to find their way into the shoe, ungusseted. However, the lack of gusseting in the tongue is offset somewhat by its extra width.
It should be noted that plush, the shoes are not. In keeping with the Race Concept philosophy, the design is lean, mean, and spartan, devoid of any superfluous features and weight.
This is also true in the lacing, which is consistent with the other shoes in the Race Concept range – lean and functional.
As for the sizing and fit, my UK10 is pretty much spot on. The fit is not as snug as Supertrac Ultra RC, which I also had in UK10 and found uncomfortable after over 20 or so miles due to the taper in the forefoot.
The shoe actually feels quite roomy at the front but fortunately locks down well in the heel. Although I did not need to use it, a heel-lock eyelet is present. The comfort and “barely there” sensation of the fit is reminiscent of Inov-8 TerraUltra G 260 and most shoes from Altra.
The UK10 for Scott translates to US11 and EUR45, so will effectively mean sizing up by ½ for most people, which I’d recommend since I had the Kinabalu RC in UK9.5 and found it just a tiny bit short.
Although not a “soft” or plush shoe by any means, the shoe is reasonably flexible and better padded than, say, Kinabalu RC or Palani.
During the Run
Given the reassuring sizing and fit, I felt confident enough to take the shoes out for a 20-miler straight out of the box in the Thames-Down Link, which is a green corridor to the south of London linking the National Trails of Thames Path and North Downs Way.
The route is a varied mix of tarmac and hardpack trail, with some rocky and pebbly sections thrown in for good measure, so an ideal testing ground.
Key midsole technologies to the Kinabalu Ultra RC at play are the eRIDE rocker design and the Kinetic foam.
The eRIDE is consistent throughout Scott’s range and one of the brand’s hallmarks, while the Kinetic foam – as opposed to the AeroFoam+ used in the Supertrac models – promises 14% more energy return compared to traditional EVA.
I’m glad the difference in foam material and characteristic was pointed out. Visually, the midsole of Kinabalu Ultra RC looks identical to that of Supertrac 2.0, both having the same stack heights of 21mm at forefoot and 29mm at heel for an 8mm drop.
On the subject of comparison, Kinabalu RC 2.0 comes in at 18.5mm forefoot and 21.5mm heel for a 3mm drop, so clearly designed for going faster over shorter distances.
There are moments as a runner and running shoe geek when a run involuntarily works itself into a smile.
Typically, this is brought on by the perfect combination and balance between cushioning and feel (and I should add, the athlete’s level of fitness as another variable). My initial run in the Kinabalu Ultra RC was one such moment and I was beaming from the offset.
The engineers at Scott appear to have achieved an impossible feat; obtaining a ride with both cushioning and feel. The shoes offer plenty of protective cushioning on the tarmac while at the same time are very responsive once off-road, particularly on dry dirt tracks.
The soft nature of the ultra traction rubber used in the outsole adds to the sensory experience, as does the bare lug-less section of the outsole towards the midfoot. Simply put, these are a joy to run in, particularly at speed.
The eRIDE, while not as pronounced as in other shoes by Scott, is nonetheless there and contributes to the smooth handling on tarmac.
The upper feels barely-there and breathes well; never too hot. Despite this, I found the inner membrane of the upper to be very good at keeping out dust and dirt, which can be an issue on dry summer trails.
The comfort of the upper and the just-right combination of cushioning and responsiveness means I would have no issues having these on my feet for many, many hours, which is critical in ultra races which sometimes can take over 30 hours to complete.
After the Run
I have now done over 80 miles in my Kinabalu Ultra RC over half a dozen runs including the maiden 20-miler.
Given how comfortable they were out of the box, I wouldn’t have expected much difference once “broken-in” and I was right, except that the shoe is now even more comfortable and better fitting!
It’s just a shame that all my ultra races for the summer have been canceled and postponed since the shoes no doubt would have been ideal for the 50 and 100-milers and I would have no hesitation in using them.
Indeed, they are ideal for the kind of terrain that the south of England offers in the summer on likes of Thames Path, South Downs Way, and North Downs Way.
Here’s the thing – true to its Race Concept heritage, the shoe is optimized for those who are able to move quickly over challenging distances, even if the terrain itself might be forgiving.
As someone who finds himself steadily but surely migrating towards the back of the field in a race, I have to be honest and say that the shoes are almost “too good” for me.
It’s like admitting that a Ferrari is unsuited to the roads near me where the top speed is 50mph. Or to draw an analogy from a different sport, that my golf handicap is too high to get the most out of the blade irons, sexy as they may be.
Make no mistake – despite the “ultra” in the name, these are still “RC” designed for speed, and best suited for those at the sharp end of races. This does not, however, mean there is no room for the slower amongst us – the shoes are still a joy to run in.
The only caveat being that I would probably be using these for, say, a 50-miler which still requires me to move at a fairly quick clip vs. a 100-miler which would involve a higher proportion of walking.
But for those who can get around a non-technical 100-miler in under 20 or so hours, I would imagine the shoes to be a match made in heaven.
There is a lot to like about the shoe. My only dislike (and this is a minor one in an otherwise perfect shoe) is that the compound of the outsole, being ultra traction rubber, does seem to wear down a little faster than that in other similar trail shoes.
My follow-up question to Scott, possibly for the next edition, would be to reconsider whether ultra traction rubber for such a shoe is necessary in the first place since the intended use is on dry man-made tracks.
Other than that, though – I do congratulate Scott on an exciting and perfect addition to the Race Concept line. You have me beaming, Scott!
- The ride – great balance between cushioning and feel
- Breathable and light upper
- Hybrid traction – it works!
- Minimal and comfortable yet protective
- Relatively quick wear of outsole
Scott Kinabalu Ultra RC, designed for trail distance, nicely rounds out Scott’s elite Race Concept range while remaining faithful to the line’s stripped-down, no-nonsense traits.
This well-designed and executed shoe is a joy to run in, particularly for moving fast on dry non-technical man-made trails and hard packs. Make no mistake though – as a Race Concept shoe, it is best matched to those entering ultras to compete, rather than looking to just complete.
But for those training runs when I’m feeling strong and ready to push the pace, or for racing a 50-miler on dry undulating terrain, these are my new go-to.
Scott Kinabalu Ultra RC: Who is it for?
Designed to deliver protection from abrasive ground elements, grip on packed surfaces, and a lockdown fit, the Scott Kinabalu Ultra RC is ideal for:
- outdoor runners who tackle rugged and steep terrains
- off-road athletes who want heightened pace on man-made trail paths
- trail racers participating in long-distance events like trail ultramarathons (anything past 26.2 miles)
The Kinabalu Ultra RC's standout features
Here are some of the features of the Kinabalu Ultra RC that set it apart from other trail running models:
Hybrid Traction outsole. This technical component allows the running shoe to have a multi-directional grip, meaning it stops your foot from slipping sideways and backward for stable and surefooted strides. It is also designed to amplify the forward motion of the user for swift running performance.
Kinetic foam. Combining lightness and responsiveness, the Kinetic foam technology from the brand encourages energy conservation while moving at a high speed.
Size and fit
How Kinabalu Ultra RC compares
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