In an occasional series I will be reviewing some of the equipment needed to help you get out there and have some adventures;
This week I shall be looking at a mountain biking stalwart;
The iconic Five Ten Freerider Elements.
Size tested: UK9 EU43
Weight: 881g (Pair size 9)
If you only have a few minutes:
The elements have a super sticky rubber sole that really stick to your pedals. The sole is stiff to allow good power transfer and the sizing for me (9) was spot on. The element nature of the Freerider means that there is a water repellent coating to the uppers that shed a light shower.
Not so good
The down side of the water repellent cover is that the shoes take longer to dry when absolutely sodden. It’s still a lot of dosh to part with, though the cost is relative, some shoes out there cost over £100.00 so compared to those they are a steal. Shoes looked a bit plastic out of the box.
Five Ten is an iconic outdoor brand founded around 30 years ago in the USA as a climbing shoe company. The trademark of the brand is the sticky rubber that has proved itself on their climbing and approach shoes. The name of this rubber is called Stealth and it is used to great effect with their latest incarnation of their mountain biking shoes. The Freerider Elements is billed as an all mountain shoe designed to go out in all weathers on all terrain. The Elements part of the name signifies the fact that the shoes have a water repellent coating to help shed water to keep your feet dryer for longer.
The fit out the box was very good. With certain makes of bike shoe the sizing does tend to be a bit erratic with sizes generally being too small however having owned a couple of pairs of Five Tens Camp Four approach shoes that have always been spot on with fit I was fairly confident of the sizing and was not disappointed. I am a size 9 with a fairly wide fitting and the 9’s were spot on for me. With the laces tight the sides were snug and there was still a bit of clearance at the toe end.
The sticky Stealth rubber really is good and is probably the best you can get before you start going down the cleat route. When used in conjunction with flat pedals such as DMR Vaults the shoes remain glued in place. Off the bike as well you get a fairly decent show for knocking around in as well.
If you have been just using ordinary trainers up to now then you will be amazed at the difference these shoes make. The last is firm with the synthetic upper providing further stiffness, this allows you to really put power through the pedals when pulling a manual or when lining up a jump. The upper does a good job of repelling water, though having been out in all weathers there is no shoe out there that will keep your feet dry totally. For this you are better off buying waterproof socks or neoprene shoe covers. Having said that the Elements are robust enough to take a good mud plugging with the only downside being that they will take a long time to dry out afterwards.
The shoes have a skater style look to them that would appeal to the younger end of the market however I found them quite stylish and preferred the simple styling of the grey with orange detail. There is quite a substantial tongue that is well padded and found this comfortable. There is orange stitching around the welt that provided neat contrasting detail though straight out of the box the shoes did look a bit plastic and reminiscent of the plastic trainers my mum used to get me from the market back in the 70’s! This is due in part to the synthetic nature of the water repellent upper.
There is no doubt that these shoes are popular for a reason….most of my friends use them….if you are looking for your first pair of “proper” mountain bike shoes and you don’t want to use cleats then these are definitely the answer. They are a good fit, water resistant, well made and comfortable, the sole is stiff and the Stealth rubber sticks to the pedals like glue. You may have to make the decision whether to splash out an extra few pounds for the Elements over the bog standard Freeriders that don’t have the water repellent finish.
To get the most out of the rubber you will need to use a decent pair of pedals that needn’t cost the earth such as DMR’s V8’s or Shimano Saints look out for future articles on fitting pedals and pedal choice.
My advice is to try a pair, you are unlikely to be disappointed.