Five Tens are the market leaders in the world of mountain bike flat pedal shoes... and for good reason
Five Ten has tweaked the design of the Freerider Pro for this season, but has kept two things the same – the price and the sole.
The tweaks are quite subtle, but we’ve been testing and wearing this shoe for several years now and it’s obvious the fit has changed. The shoe is a lot bigger in the heel and toe, which means it’s easier to get into and feels less cramped. You also don’t stress the heel as much as you put it on.
The shoe still has a synthetic leather upper, which seems more flexible, but that’s not without its problems – every Freerider we tested tends to crack where it bends across the top, and on this test sample there are a couple of tell-tale fissures. Whether they develop into tears remains to be seen.
It goes without saying that Five Ten’s Stealth rubber is grippy – we measured the durometer at 55a – but this rubber is also low-rebound, so your feet don’t get bounced off the pedals like other harder-soled shoes. Getting the sole stiffness right is important because, if there’s no give in it, you can’t absorb impacts, and you also can’t curve your feet onto the pedal, which is an important way of gaining traction. Too soft and there’s no support and it’s inefficient when pedalling. Five Ten gets the balance right, but the Freerider is also quite broad, so there’s also a lot of contact with the pedal.
This shoe isn’t perfect; the laces don’t last, the upper can crack over time, and it can split at the ankle, but when you ride flats in Five Tens there’s almost an invisible connection between the pedal and the shoe, it just won’t move unless you want it to.
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If you’re just starting out and are looking for a pair of flats there are loads of options out there, but only one comes with an unofficial grip guarantee, and this is it. The Freerider Pro also fits better, while still retaining the price from two years ago. It’s our test winner because no other shoe in this test comes close.