With all the advancements in mountain bikes and mountain biking accessories throughout the years it only makes sense that there are mountain bike specific shoes that you can wear to enhance your riding experience. Of course these shoes are nothing new and there have been clipless specific shoes on the market for years. But now there are more and more shoes designed for flat pedals that offer more grip and a stiffer sole to give you more stability and power.
Five Ten has been making shoes for quite some time and have a large line of mountain bike specific shoes. In this review we will be discussing the Freerider VXi model designed for… you guessed it, free riding. Freeride is a term used for riding places like bike parks and trails with jumps where you can ride with your own style and do your own tricks etc.
The Freerider VXi shoe is a low cut model with a distinctive version of the Five Ten Stealth rubber sole that allows for a great grip on your pedals but not quite as much grip as their other models like the full on downhill Impact shoe. They also help out by absorbing more impact than regular shoes. The Freerider VXi has a smooth section on the sole where the ball of your foot sits which allows you to move your foot around to reposition it rather than have to lift it completely off like you do on their other shoes that have the full patterned sole. Some people feel that the shoes like the Impact are too grippy and prefer having the smooth section that the Freerider has. We found that even with this smooth section you find yourself having to lift your foot off the pedals many times to make adjustments. It could also be due to the super sticky eThirteen LG1+ pedals we were using. As the shoes wear and you get used to them they will most likely loosen up allowing for more movement.
The shoes are fairly light at 900g (about 2lbs) per pair which of course varies by size. They come in a variety of colors ranging from your standard grey to more flashy red and blue accents. They use standard laces which stay tied fairly well but if you are hitting brush on your ride then they can come undone unless you double knot them. They are made from leather and a mesh material and are fairly tough and can take a beating. The sole is stiff enough to avoid bending your foot over the pedal but not as stiff as other models such as the Impact. One cool feature is on the side of the shoe where there is a protective area that will keep your shoes safe from rubbing the crank arms.
One downside to the shoe is when you have to hike your bike up a hill the heel of the shoe can dig in to heel of your foot since they are pretty stiff and unforgiving. And if the shoes are not broken in the bottom of your feet may get a little raw after a day of hiking in them. The shoes are grippy when walking up rocks assuming they are dry. When water is involved they the slick part of the shoe can tend to slip making for a dangerous climb. So if you live in a wet area or ride in a wet area you may want to stick with a different model that has the tread pattern on the entire sole of the shoe.
Overall these are some nice shoes and can be used for other types of riding besides free riding. If you are a cross country rider then these shoes will work just fine for you unless you ride clipped in of course. We have been using these shoes on different types of rides with different pedals and they are holding up quite nicely. There is some wear in the soles from the pedal pins but it’s minimal and they should last a long time. You can get the Five Ten Freerider VXi shoes from around $85-$120 online or at your local bike shop.