Five Ten Freerider
By: Ryan LaBar
In the cycling world, achieving the combination of casual styling and high performance is nearly impossible. High-tech usually means bright, gaudy colors and fancy bells and whistles, and low-tech means nice casual styling, but little to no features. Where is the illusive combination of high-tech features with casual styling? Look no further than Five Ten's Freerider flat-pedal shoe. This shoe has the styling of an off-the-shelf skate shoe, but is packed with features that keep feet comfortably and securely on the pedals.
The midsole has a medium stiffness to it for a nice balance of power transfer, pedal feel and off the bike comfort. The sole, like all of Five Ten's shoes, is made from the company's tenaciously sticky Stealth rubber—other shoes claim a gummy sole, but most could be described as slick in comparison to the Stealth compound. This sticky sole allowed me to run super small pins in my pedals for better feel and ease of foot position adjustments with no loss in grip and security.
The lifespan of my riding shoes is generally short. Shoes usually disintegrate off my feet quickly, but after about a year of countless shuttle runs, hike-a-bikes and even some trials use, the Five Tens have remained in surprisingly good shape. The laces are exposed, but stayed out of harms way because the eyelets are hidden and protected by the side of the shoe. The toe box is reinforced with a rubbery plastic material and prevented my toes from taking numerous blunt impacts from rocks, stumps and misplaced foot drags. The majority of the wear I noticed was that the rubber strip that runs around the shoe's sole started to come unglued from at the bottom near the arch. Not bad considering my abusive history with shoes.
I could really only come up with two complaints about the Freeriders, and they are minor if not irrelevant. The arches seemed a tad low for my feet, but new insoles are cheap, and they aren't very breathable, but what flat-pedal shoe is?
At just under a Benjamin the Freeriders are competitively priced with other high-end flat-pedal specific mountain bike shoes, but are likely to blow them out of the water on both looks and performance.