Five Ten’s Trailcross Clip-In kicks are what you would get if one of the best mountain bike shoes and a running shoe had a baby. They're ideal if you spend a lot of time hike-a-biking in the blazing summer but won't find favour with those looking for efficiency and weather protection.
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Five Ten Trailcross Clip-In - Specifications
The Trailcross Clip-In is a shoe that’s built to cater to those who want the confidence of a clip shoe but with the walkability of a normal trainer or running shoe. While it looks much like the latter, Five Ten has built in a bunch of bike-friendly features such as the renowned Stealth outsole (but this time in its Marathon rubber compound), an impact-resistant toebox for a bit of protection and an EVA midsole.
The shoe uses the same lace retention that we’ve seen on the Trailcross GTX shoe but it's combined with a handy hook-and-loop strap. This strap is a great inclusion for two reasons; first off, it acts as a lace tidying system, restricting the laces from working themselves free. Secondly, it secures the shoe on the foot, which results in shed loads of confidence when pulling up on the pedals during those harder sprints.
Finally, a large component of the shoe's upper is made from recycled content, which is always good to see. The upper almost completely comprises textile fabric and, of course, there’s the recessed cleat channel.
All of this results in a shoe that weighs 448g on my scales with a cleat installed.
Five Ten Trailcross Clip-In – Performance
Our size 43 Trailcross Clip-In shoes left me with plenty of wiggle room in the toe area. As mentioned before, the hook-and-loop strap kept the shoes perfectly secure which certainly helped achieve an excellent fit. Once secured in place, the shoes feel very much like a trainer but without as much cushioning in the sole.
That familiar trainer feel translates perfectly when walking about. As any clipless pedal user would know, even the best shoes have their foibles when walking but that’s simply not the case with the Trailcross Clip-In. Five Ten has done a sterling job here, making the cleats feel almost invisible and allowing for easy and comfortable walking regardless of the terrain.
Grip over mixed terrain is rather impressive, too. While the shoe was primarily tested over dry and dusty trails, there were some wetter moments that were easily dismissed by the Stealth Marathon rubber - the cleverly designed tread pattern digs in, minimising embarrassing tumbles.
On the bike, the positive vibes continue. The textile upper keeps things extra cool as airflow is incredibly apparent, making it an excellent shoe when the sun is blazing. However, there’s a clear downside here and that’s when things aren’t so dry, the impressive ventilation measures have a propensity for taking on water. This was unfortunately learned after a sudden-but-heavy deluge; the Trailcross Clip-In definitely isn’t a shoe for year-round use.
When clipped in, the trainer-like comfort remains but what’s also carried over from the trainer-esque build is flex. This is a trade-off as any shoe that’s built for walking will have inherent flex and this is noticeable when clipped in. Unfortunately, the sole wraps around the pedal, which can become fatiguing on longer rides but importantly, it sucks efficiency. This was found on both mountain bike and gravel rides, though the latter is where I really felt the need for a stiffer sole to boost power transfer.
Other niggles include the rubber that loved to squeak against the body of my Look X-Track En-Rage pedal - something that can be remedied by installing a cleat spacer. Again, this is down to the shoe’s hike-a-bike-centric design in its bid to reduce the cleat’s impact while walking.
Five Ten Trailcross Clip-In - Verdict
The Five Ten Trailcross Clip-In is a shoe for a specific kind of rider who requires comfort while walking and the ability to clip in - and it does this very, very well. However, if you ride in anything but bone-dry conditions, you will need to buy another set of shoes as these have a propensity to take on water owing to the prodigious ventilation on offer.
In terms of pricing, £140 isn’t too bad when compared to a range of clipless shoes, most of which lack the Trailcross Clip-In’s capability off of the bike. For example, Bontrager’s Rally shoe follows a skate shoe design that is rather comfortable to walk in and much better to ride in thanks to a stiffer sole and better protection against the elements. That one is priced at £155, however. Then there’s the Shimano AM5 which also take on a skate shoe design. They're pretty good off the bike but offer better on-bike performance at just £80. This shoe is also rather good at keeping moisture out. Though it must be noted that neither of these shoes offers even close to the ventilation levels of the Trailcross.
The Five Ten Trailross Clip-In is a shoe that would suit tourers or those who spend a lot of time lugging their bikes up hills in the heat. They're superbly comfortable when walking, regardless of the metal cleat bolted to the sole and refreshingly airy with great ventilation However, if you spend more time on the bike, you’ll notice the efficiency-reducing flex and the lack of all-weather protection.