A genuine game changer

Five Ten founder and pioneer of all things sticky rubber, Charles Cole, has passed away aged 63. His Stealth rubber revolutionised mountain biking.

Five Ten founder Charles Cole passed away earlier this week. Details of his passing are scarce at the moment. The above photo post on Five Ten’s Facebook page, of a younger Cole in Yosemite, is the only official announcement made thus far.

Cole himself was a climber rather than a mountain biker. A climber who made a name for himself with various spectacular ascents of iconic lumps in places like Yosemite and Joshua Tree.

Cole founded Five Ten in 1985 and basically invented super-sticky rubber soled footwear. His proprietary rubber mix was dubbed Stealth Rubber. And the rest is history.

It was a meeting with Intense Cycles’ boss Jeff Steber that made Cole expand from the climbing market into the world of making shoes for flat pedals and mountain bikes.

In the pre-Five Ten era, hardly any mountain bikers rode in flat pedals. With good reason. The existing options from shoe brands such as Vans or Connerse were floppy under pedalling, didn’t offer enough grip (especially in the wet) and they fell apart real quick.

Then along came Five Ten around the turn of the millennium with their iconic Impact shoe. Sturdy, stiff and unbelievably grippy.

Sure, there aren’t many racers, in any discipline, who race in flat pedals. Well, apart from the obvious. But Five Tens are not about racing, they’re about riding.

Clipless is faster. Flats are funner.

Charles Cole brought the fun back into mountain biking and for that we salute him.

Charles ‘Five Ten’ Cole, 1955-2018 RIP.