The range of Adidas shoes using recycled plastic is expanding, and the Five Ten Freerider Pro Primeblue uses high-performance recycled material.
A few years before these Five Ten Freerider Pro Primeblue shoes were even an idea, Adidas (the parent company of Five Ten) started a partnership with a company called Parley and developed a running shoe using Ocean Plastic or upcycled marine waste, which is literally stuff that’s found on the beach.
What the company does is transform the plastic waste into a yarn and then it weaves this, and some regular polyester, into a textile, which forms the upper of the shoe you see here. It’s more breathable and flexible than the synthetic leather used on the regular Freerider Pro (very probably the best mountain bike shoes on the planet) and, so far, is showing none of the wear I’ve seen in the base shoe. It’s not as water resistant, but it dries quickly and there’s also some extra flex, so the shoe is easier to get on. I’ve found the fit to be identical across both models, but some mbr testers with bigger feet said the Freerider Pro Primeblue can come up slightly narrower.
The big difference between the shoes is the rubber used to form the Dotty sole. The Freerider Pro Primeblue uses Stealth rubber, whereas the base shoe gets softer Stealth S1 – the former is around 15-20 per cent harder, and when I rode these shoes back-to-back I could feel that difference on the pedal. It just wasn’t as locked-in when descending and there was definitely more movement in the wet. There’s more flex too, which isn’t a bad thing because I could curl my feet easier on the pedal for more grip but the Freerider Pro Primeblue is also not as cushioned and that’s partially due to wafer-thin footbeds.
The upper has the same triple-layered toe and heel bumpers, but with reinforced eyelets and better laces. It’s padded around the heel for comfort, but I find this area is a bit sensitive to nicks from the chainring and it can start to pull apart eventually.
The price for both Freerider Pros is the same, so the obvious question is, do you want to do your bit for the environment, but take a hit on performance? That is your choice, but if Five Ten had used the softer S1 rubber on this shoe then you wouldn’t have to make that call – you could help the planet and enjoy maximum performance.
Down the line we’re going to see more shoes and products like this (like Patagonia’s Dirt Roamer short), made using upcycled materials. And Adidas is already working on footwear that can be repaired. If you think about it, surely the ultimate flat pedal mountain bike shoe has to be one you can re-sole and hopefully that’ll be the next step in the evolution of the Freerider Pro.