When thinking of a cycling shoe, the look of the BMX-inspired Five Ten Freerider High might not be the first image that comes to mind. Although it is dubbed a downhill and dirt-jump shoe, I spent the majority of my time wearing the Freerider during big days on my all-mountain bike.
Why would I do that to myself? Well, despite their hefty look, the Freeriders are actually one of the most comfortable pairs of flat shoes that I've ridden to date. You could assume that the mid-top cuff feels like some sort of restrictive, awkward ankle brace when you're pedaling, but the support and protection from the high-rise collar actually provides an addictive comfort both on and off the bike.
I've never been shy about throwing my bike on my shoulder to opt for a steep hike to the top of the trail rather than pedaling the long way around for another run, and these mid-tops are second to none when you need to push instead of pedal. They're so comfortable, in fact, that they've become my go-to kicks for non-bike activities as well.
The comfort comes from the Freerider's solid construction: The main part of the shoe is made with a suede and mesh upper, and a one-piece molded cupsole for durability and cushioning, which is attached to Five Ten's classic molded Stealth Rubber outsole. The upper is coated in polyurethane to provide extra protection from the elements.
When I'm on the pedals, the Stealth S1 rubber compound demonstrates the unmatched grip that has made the brand the top choice for flat-pedal riders. If there's one trade-off for all this comfort and protection, it's how hot these shoes can be in the heat of Southern California. Overall, though, if you're a flat-pedal rider who seeks rough, technical terrain that may require you to hike to earn your descents, the Freeriders are tough to beat.