- Amazing grip
- Flimsy insole
- Laces don’t last
The benchmark for flat-pedal trail shoes is Five Ten’s popular Freerider but this year the company has launched a new Pro version, with extra features and a slightly higher price.
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At £85, the regular Five Ten Freerider is a great value trail shoe that’s comfortable, grippy and the place to start if you’re contemplating riding flat pedals for the first time. The Pro is £110, but for that, you get toe box reinforcement, large abrasion-resistant scuff guards front and back, and a 3mm layer of self-hardening, smart foam on the inside to up the protection levels. It sounds like this extra durability comes at a cost, namely weight - but the Pro is actually 100g lighter.
Like the standard shoe, the sole uses the company’s S1 Stealth rubber compound in the regular dotty pattern. There is a slightly more open pattern, but to be honest I haven’t seen any improvement in mud clogging or off-the-bike grip – like most flat pedal shoes it can be a liability when you’re trying to clamber up steep stuff. On the bike (or pedal) grip is comparable to the standard shoe and durability has been good too, with none of the accelerated wear I’ve seen on some older Freeriders.
To improve pedalling, the Pro uses a little stiffer Eva midsole but I found this reduced my ability to curl my toes over the front of the platform as much, something I do when I’m climbing really steep technical pitches. However, there’s more resilience in the Pro sole and it does isolate you better from harder impacts.
With its slimmer profile, the Pro has great heel clearance, which reduces chainstay and crank rubbing. It’s also more generous in the toe box, which is great for those longer and steeper descents where your weight is pushed forward into the front of your shoes or just when your feet swell up during a big all-day ride.
The whole front end of the shoe is also formed in one piece so it has greater water resistant and the material and tongue doesn’t tend to hold onto water like the stock model. This synthetic material is also dead easy to keep clean and dries really quickly too.
Compared to the base model, the Freerider Pro is definitely a step up and easily worth the extra £25 because there are genuine improvements in build quality and performance. It’s comfortable, lightweight and there’s no shortage of grip. It also seems like it’s going to last, which is a good thing because once you’ve put this shoe on, you’re unlikely to take it off.