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After “how much protein should I eat” and “how often do you train legs”, one of the most repeated questions I get asked is specific to one famous bodybuilder and his gym shoes of choice. You may have heard it yourself and it goes a little something like this:
Bro, what shoes does Kai Greene wear?
You’ve seen them everywhere. Kai Greene, known equally for his red hoody (whether it be Musclemeds or Dynamik Muscle) and his signature red Ryderwear Raptor shoes or just “D-MAKS” as he prefers to call them.
Likewise, other big name pros like Ulisses Jr. are also rocking the underdog-footwear company.
There’s no denying, shoes like the Stingrays/D-MAKS shout out for attention..
Every time we watch one of Kai’s videos we think to ourselves 1.) Could I pull off tights too? and 2.) even if we can’t pull them off the same way the Predator does I’d still like to know what those dope looking shoes are that he’s rockin..
The answer to question 1. is inevitably no of course and the answer to question 2. is, they’re called Raptor D-MAKs , or Raptors, depending on the day, and they’re made by a company called Ryderwear.
Overall, in terms of pure bodybuilding-focused footwear, Ryderwear are pretty much king of the mountain. This is demonstrated by the sheer popularity of the shoe, from professionals like Kai Greene to YouTube stars like Jujimufu
Sure, you see way more Adipower or other powerlifting focused footwear in the gym, and yeah, if you squat all the time then having those weightlifting type shoes with elevated heels is great.
- Weightlifting shoes designed for serious lifters
- Narrow, snug fit; Lightweight, locked-down feel
- Canvas upper for soft comfort and durability
- Lace closure with a hook-and-loop strap; Open forefoot and flexible toe design
If you’re a pure bodybuilder though you don’t want heel elevation, you want a thin sole that provides a feel for the surface underfoot, that allows some flex (lunges, calf raises, leg pressing etc).
And of course, you want to look stylish too, I mean, aesthetics right bra! (4 you Zyzz!)
What Is Ryderwear?
One thing people look to first when evaluating the quality of a product is brand perception and the company behind the product itself.
So who are Ryderwear? Well, there’s not much information out there. According to their own website, they were founded in 2009 and are out of Australia. That’s right, Ryderwear is Australian mate!
Ryderwear sells all sorts of bodybuilding oriented apparel, which is pretty cool because if you ask us, there is a serious shortage of clothing that appeals to the serious body builder.
Quality, the ability to stretch, durability, style.. it’s hard to check all the boxes, but it looks like Ryderwear does.
They sell the following apparel tailored specifically for bodybuilders:
- Sweat Shorts
- Jackets, and of course,
Their lineup looks pretty dope, we have to admit. In particular we like the selection of form-fitting sweat pants and classic sweat shorts as well.
The women’s selection also looks tight, literally and figuratively speaking, with tons of stretchy and form fitting yoga pants to show off them squat glutes..
How Do Ryderwear D-MAKs Perform?
Well, the first place we look to get a broad spectrum of opinions on any given product is usually Amazon. These people are spending their money and can easily be sniffed out as frauds, so gaming Amazon is a bit more difficult than other places.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason there isn’t much information on Amazon. This might be because it appears Ryderwear has only just recently begun ramping up its marketing efforts with a blitzkreig of promotion from sponsored athletes.
Famous Ryderwear Athletes
Ryderwears sponsored athletes include the one and only Kai Greene, Sadic Hadzovic, Big Ramy, British legend Ulisses and of course, Mike Rashid. You can see all of these individuals rocking Ryderwear in many of their workout videos on Youtube.
Kai Greene in particular has been wearing D-Maks FOREVER. Go and look at some of his old training videos, he’s always rocking the bright red D-Maks.
What Does The Bodybuilding Community Have to Say?
So, in our journey for more real-life user reviews of the infamous “Raptors” we finally landed on Reddit, where a few people were leaving some pretty glowing reviews of these shoes.
The original poster wrote up a really nice review broken down into sections we care most about”
Another female user left an equally positive review for the women’s version:
Two more users chimed in to confirm the initial positive reviews:
OK! Enough of what the internet thinks, what do YOU guys over at Skinny Yoked think? Have you even tried them yourselves?
Well, we couldn’t resist and ended up ordering a pair of D-MAKs in black to give a solid test run so we could report back to you if they lived up the the hype. Below are our personal thoughts after putting these bodybuilding shoes through their paces at the gym..
First Hand Review Working Out in D-MAKs
Our D-MAKs arrived and on a sunny afternoon in a simple black box. Never before have I been so excited to go train legs.
After contacting Ryderwear directly to inquire about sizing I ended up with size 11’s as they are apparently true to size.
All of my Adidas and Nike are size 11 so I think it’s safe to say you should order whatever size you wear for your regular street shoe.
All black with the gum sole is the way to go, these looked absolutely murderous. Sure, the bright red version are the most iconic, but unless you’re built like Kai Greene with mad quad striation you might not be ready for the kind of attention the bright red will bring to your legs in the gym.
If you have huge calves or you just like a bit of attention then the red ones are probably the way to go as you’ll surely receive multiple compliments and questions as to where you were able to buy Kai Greene’s famous shoe..
How Is Ryderwear Shoe Quality?
Overall the fit and finish were solid. The leather has a thick sturdy feel to it and I expect these will last a long time.
From pictures online I was a little concerned about the durability of the sole as they looked very thin and flat. From pictures it looked like it could might be something that would fall off over time.
The actual soles on the D-MAKs however are really well integrated into the boot and don’t feel like they’re going anywhere anytime soon.
How Do Ryderwear Shoes Fit?
As mentioned, the size was true so they fit like a glove. The shoes aren’t particularly wide and narrow slightly towards the toe, so if you have freakishly wide feet or really broad toes, you might feel a little cramped.
If you have normal width feet though they’ll feel great. I am guessing this tapered design was intentional as the secure fit really was noticeable when doing things like calf raises, where in other more “roomy” shoes your toes have a tendency to slide about a bit.
What Do Ryderwear Shoes Feel Like When Working Out?
The soles are quite flat, so these probably aren’t the best shoes if you’re big into powerlifting. Since this is a bodybuilding blog we do more isolation work than olympic lifting, so not having an elevated heel isn’t an issue.
In fact, for things like deadlifting the solid flat sole was really nice as we felt more grounded and the bar came up more immediately than when wearing regular street shoes where some of the cushion absorbs the initial crank of your lift.
I also felt more connected with the leg press machine, feeling like my foot was directly against the pressing plate with zero wiggle or play that occurs with my Adidas Superstars.
The soles also provide ample flex, which is really noticeable when wearing them on the street, you can feel uneven pavers/stones more clearly than with traditional sneakers.
The feel feedback was most impressive with calf work. From seated calf raises to straight leg calf raises the feel and flex allowed for a great connection to the movement and muscle.
The gum sole gripped well, even on the worn-out foot pads of the calf machines.
The Downsides of D-MAKs
Overall I absolutely loved these shoes, but still, there were a few oddities that could only be discovered by using them for a full leg day at the gym.
First is the padded high-top design. Alone they look sick. On professional bodybuilders they also look stylish AF.
However, I am 6’2 and natty and have near-suicidally small calves and the broad padded upper part of the shoe only exacerbated this genetic shortcoming.
If you are a shorter guy or were just blessed by the gods of genetics and have thick ankle/lower calf development, then you’ll look dope in the D-MAKs.
If you are a tall lifter, lanky or just were cursed with tiny calves be aware that these won’t be helping things at all.
Still, the benefits of the feel outweigh the tiny-calf-syndrome magnification effect of the design.
The second oddity was the high top design itself in how it actually didn’t seem to serve any practical purpose.
I tried lacing them all the way up but that only resulted in my ankle being almost completely immobilized. Even lacing just the bottom holes of the 3 levels on the ankle section restricted ankle flection.
For practicality I left them laced only up to the point where the top foot section makes a 90 degree bend to the ankle section, meaning I did not lace the double-eyelet high top section of the shoe at all. This allowed for plenty of ankle movement.
The one positive aspect of the high top design is that when performing leg extensions on a machine the upper ankle part of the shoe creates for extra padding between the machine and your shins.
Since extension machines already have decent shin padding this isn’t a mind blowing positive but was still interesting to feel nonetheless.
I guess you could lace them up a bit more for chest/back days since ankle mobility isn’t so important, but on leg days when trying to do squats, deadlifts, lunged, calf raises, even warming up on the stair stepper, the high-top form factor doesn’t lend any benefits.
Overall Skinny Yoked Rating
*On a scale of 1 to 5 I would give the D-MAKs a solid 4.5.
They are solidly constructed, they look dope (the tiny calf magnification effect aside) and definitely get attention in the gym.
The most winning feature is the thin sole that provides excellent floor and machine feedback as well as a very solid launching point for deadlifting.
The only reason they aren’t a full 5/5 is because they make my calves look tiny and I can’t find any use for the high-top section of the shoe besides looking cool.
So there you have it, our first hand account of the D-MAKs. If you’re still on the fence, we’d say go for them.
Still, there are other similar shoe designs out there, like the Stingray from Otomix. How do these two shoes match up against each other?
Ryderwear vs Otomix: The Differences
If you’ve done any digging yourself you may be a little confused, as both Otomix and Ryderwear make very similar looking bodybuilding specific footwear.
They also use very similar names, for example Ryderwear has their “Raptor D-MAKs” and Otomix has their “Otomix Stringrays”, both seemingly named by a mullet-sporting 17 year old somewhere.. we’re not complaining!
Who are Otomix?
Well, we know Ryderwear are a scrappy little company out of Australia that sponsor the one and only Kai Greene, but who are Otomix? Sounds Austrian..
Well, actually they’re American! Hurray! They’re based out of Nevada, usually have booths at the Mr. Olympia events AND have been in business since 1988, which gives them a solid amount of street cred.
The overall intended use and design of the Otomix and the Ryderwears are the same: to provide a comfortable, flexible, light-weight shoe that allows for plenty of “feel” while providing ankle support.
The Otomix, specifically the Stingrays, were originally designed for use in MMA and grappling. These fighters wanted something light weight but flexible enough to give them plenty of “feel” through the soles.
It just turns out that the same aspects that MMA fighters look for in a shoe (lightweight, durable, supportive) are the same thing that bodybuilders look for in a shoe.
We have no evidence, but speculate, that whoever founded Ryderwear at some point tried some MMA shoes and thought to him/herself that “damn, these would be perfect for the gym too!” and thus set out to build the bodybuilding footwear brand for bodybuilders.
The designs are so similar it’s insane, and they both look dope.
So, What Is The Best Bodybuilding-Specific Shoe of 2020?
If we had to choose, from a purely bodybuilding perspective, we’d choose the Ryderwear D-MAKs, because they’ve been designed from the outset for bodybuilding specifically whereas the Otomix Stingrays, while they may be great for bodybuilding, were first and foremost designed to be an MMA shoe.
One problem though is it seems that Ryderwear isn’t keeping their Amazon store updated and to get the latest models you may have to order directly through their website.
Otomix however keeps a huge selection of their shoes including the Stingrays (for bodybuilding) stocked on Amazon. You can check out the reviews yourself and compare both the Ryderwears vs the Otomix.
At the end of the day though, we’re not rich and thus regularly buy Adidas Superstars because they are A. affordable B. relatively flat soled C. aren’t overly cushy like running shoes and D. last forever.
Our experience with the D-MAKs was nothing short of fantastic though, so for hardcore workouts, specifically leg days when you really want to feel the floor underneath you, then the thin-soled Ryderwears win out over regular thick soled Superstars/Converses any day of the week.
Skinny Yoked Final Word
Overall it would seem these shoes have everything the serious lifter wants: a tight, ankle wrapping fit, minimalist design, quality materials, thin, flat soles and stylish colors.
The price point is competitive with other bodybuilding/weightlifting-specific shoes so overall these seem to be a pretty good bet.
Have you tried any Ryderwear products? Let us know in the comments below, we’re eager to learn more about this budding bodybuilding brand from the land down under!
Check out their Instagram too for more social proof that people are liking these shoes.
Last update on 2020-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API