Words & Photos: Wil Barrett
You might recall that a little while back, I decided to put the flat-pedal theory to the test. Being the XC-trailish kinda guy I am, I’ve been in SPD pedals for as long as I’ve been on knobbly tyres – it’s just the done thing, and we all accept that it’s the most efficient way to pedal around a bicycle. But with so many XC and All Mountain riders making the move to a sticky rubber soled shoe and a pair of spiky flat pedals these days, I figured it would be a good opportunity for us to ditch the Lycra, don some baggy shorts, and hook ourselves up with some flat pedals and matching shoes to review. You’ll be able to read about that experiment in the upcoming issue of Enduro Magazine, where we put to test the 5.10 Freerider shoes and a pair of Syntace Number Nine pedals to find out whether more XC riders should be ditching their SPD pedals – the results are pretty interesting to say the least…
In the meantime though, we’ve just received a fresh pair of kicks from Five Ten that we thought you might want a squiz at. Unlike the Freerider VXI shoes though, these ones are the clippy-in kind, being the brand new Hellcat model. Five Ten is well known in mountain bike circles as offering the ultimate shoe for use with flat pedals, but a couple of seasons back they released their first SPD-compatible model for use with clip-in pedals. Oh, and here on in I’m going to refer to them as ‘clip-in’ pedals, and not ‘clipless’ pedals like the industry uses. That term is stupid because SPD pedals clearly have clips on them, even though I know why SPD pedals are referred to as ‘clipless’, I’m just gunna flat-out refuse to use that term. Anywho…
“The Hellcat is the most winning shoe in World Cup DH history and for certain enduro races works just as well. Hellcats are favorites of Steve Smith, Danny Hart, Emmeline Ragot, and other top pros. The Hellcat’s Stealth S1 rubber outsole provides cushioning and traction for course walks and reduces vibration and chatter through the bumps at high speeds.” – Five Ten
The 5.10 Hellcat Shoes feature:
- Designed for Downhill & All Mountain riding
- Genuine Leather and Synthetic upper
- Lace-up design with Velcro closure
- SPD compatible sole
- Reinforced Nylon midsole for added stability and power transfer
- Stealth S1 rubber outsole
- Claimed weight: 570 grams (each)
- Sizes: EU 40 through to 47
- Colours: Black & Lime Punch, Black & Grey
- RRP: $179.95
The Hellcat joins the Five Ten lineup as the second clip-in model, sitting alongside the Impact VXi Clipless shoe. Whereas the Impact is more of a high-tech, race-focussed product, the Hellcat is built with a more casual style that makes it ideal for those who frequent bike parks or who are just after a tough All Mountain shoe. There are a few features that separate the two shoes aside from aesthetic differences though, with the main one being the rubber outsole.
Unlike their other shoes, the Hellcat’s receive a firmer rubber compound for the outsole. Referred to as “S1” or “Stealth 1”, the outsole is designed to provide grip over the top of a broad platform pedal, but not so much that it interrupts the action of your shoe when you disengage the pedal mechanism. Pedals such as the Crank Brothers Mallet DH Race utilise aggressive pins around the cage, which although they can provide added grip when you’re not clipped in, they can also cause issues when you try to twist your feet to unclip. The S1 outersole is designed with this problem in mind, with it’s low tread height minimising the amount that the shoe ‘locks’ onto the pedal pins. As a comparison, the Five Ten Impact VXi utilises a much stickier “S6” rubber compound for its outsole. And why would you want that? Well either you’re a World Cup DH shredder who’s riding near-vertical tracks like a boss, or you’re someone who rides in super wet and muddy conditions and is looking for better traction on the pedals for both clipped and un-clipped scenarios. Either way though, the Hellcat is meant to be the tough SPD shoe for the everyday trail rider.
A thick sole on the Five Ten Hellcat shoes is designed to provide the rider with an element of shock resistance in the event of a crash or during hike-a-bike sections. The upper is constructed with a generous dose of Leather and Synthetic leather panels that build up a stiff and armoured shield around the riders feet. They’re pretty heavy compared to a lightweight pair of XC shoes, but we know which one we’d prefer to be wearing in the event of a high-speed crash.
We’ll be putting the Hellcat shoes through the wringer over the coming spring and summer riding season to see if these kicks live up to the same reputation that has made Five Ten’s flat-pedal shoes so desirable. Initial impressions indicate they’re certainly a tough and well-built shoe, but time will only tell if the durability matches the looks. The Hellcat shoe is currently available through Lusty Industries and comes in two colour options including the super bright ‘Black & Lime Punch’ option that we’ve got here.
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