11 of the Best New Flat Pedal Shoes Ridden & Rated

Sep 15, 2020
by Nikki Rohan  
About This Review
On the surface, it’s silly. We all start riding a bike in flat shoes. But at some point, most people who get "serious" about riding mountain bikes switch to clip pedals and step away from the freedom of flats for the security of being clipped into a pedal. Yes, there are benefits: the ability to use a complete pedal stroke vs. just pushing down for more efficient energy transmission, and the security of knowing that you won’t get bounced off the pedals in the rough stuff. Both are pretty important when you consider that your pedal stroke is your motor and how painful a shredded shin from a slipped pedal can be, but I used the word freedom in describing the modern flat pedal shoe because it is exactly that: freedom to step easily on and off the bike, freedom to place your foot on the pedals exactly where you want them to be, and freedom to dab in those sketchy moments without the lag time required to clip out. Plus nothing screams bike nerd like a pair of SPD-compatible shoes click-clicking across the floor. In that regard, a good pair of flats sneaks under the radar because they look surprisingly like a pair of, well, sneakers. The kind you wore as a kid the first time you ever rode a bike. But that’s where comparisons between those shoes and modern flat pedal shoes end.

A modern flat pedal shoe needs to support your forefoot to prevent foot fatigue and even more importantly, stick like glue to the pedals to offer as much pedaling efficiency as possible. But they can’t be too stiff or they’re pretty uncomfortable off the bike, and they can't be so sticky that they impair your ability to shift your foot on the pedals. Plus, they need traction for off the bike, because a lot of the time you’re either pushing or carrying your bike to load it on a lift/shuttle, or hike-a-biking to get to that sweet descent; clown shoes don’t help those activities much. Bonus features: having a nice, protected toe box helps guard your piggies, ventilation keeps the athlete’s foot away, and some padding around the ankle to prevent bruising from the inevitable ankle bone to crank interactions is always appreciated.

Below you will find 11 pairs of flat pedal shoes that Bekah and I tested over the past 6 months. We worked with each company to get the size and style shoe that we felt would best suit our audience and riding style. Sometimes a shoe was a little too narrow, or too small, or as was the case of Supplest, they sent us the wrong shoe entirely and we ended up having to leave them out due to COVID shipping issues. Hopefully this review will help direct you to a shoe that might work for your foot and your riding style.

Bekah Rottenberg and Nikki Rohan post ride

About the Testers:

Nikki Rohan resides in Hood River, OR with her husband, Colin Meagher, her two kids, a dog, and a grumpy cat. Nikki has been mountain biking for over 20 years, with a dash of time between the tape as a pro. Bekah Rottenberg also resides in Hood River, OR with her wife, dog, and four chickens. She has been mountain biking for well over 20 years with an extensive racing career. She now spends her days coaching mountain biking and strength conditioning. Both wear a US W's 8.5/M's US 7.5 (EU 40-41) and have a medium volume foot.




Studio imagery of Flat Shoes

Ion Scrub Amp

• Lace closure
• Colors: Black, Rusty Leaves, Deeper Ocean, Multicolour
• Weight: 442 grams/pair (size 42)
• Sizes: EU 36 - EU 47
• MSRP: $150.00 USD
ion-products.com/


This German-based company has been making quality MTB clothing and gear for eight years and counting now, and offers seven different shoes: 2 clipless and five flat pedal options. The Scrub Amp Flat shoe has been in the line up for a number of years now, and as they put it, improving this shoe is like tinkering with your favorite recipe: “the base stays the same while you fine tune the ratio.” That base—the EVA midsole and general bomber construction mated to their “Pin Tonic” sole remain the same, but that outsole profile gets the 2.0 upgrade with a positive tread profile fore and aft for walking traction when pushing or carrying your bike, and negative traction tread profile and a stickier rubber compound for better pedal pin penetration and grip on the pedals. The front toe area offers a lower shape to get the most contact as possible with the pedal. The toe box and crank side of the ankle are reinforced to protect you from rocks and impacts.

We tested the unisex Scrub Amp in EU 40. Sizing was perfect for both length and width. The fit is nice and comfy—not too roomy but not too snug, either—while the footbed feels as though it would work well for a wider foot.

This shoe was pretty stiff in comparison to some we tested, coming in on our scale at a 8.5/10—10 being super stiff and 0 being barefoot. The "Pin Tonic" sole is plenty sticky, and ensured my foot stayed firmly in place where I wanted it; I never once worried about slipping a pedal. And the 2.0 outsole works well off the bike. Walking around on our local mid summer, dust and ball bearing slip-slidey trails, I was pleasantly surprised at the sure-footed traction provided by the positive tread profile. As a bonus, the ample padding around the crank side ankle and the reinforced toe box added a sense of security on some of the rockier trails we rode. My one knock against these shoes is they were pretty toasty: in the spring when there was still a chill in the air they were perfect, but once the summer heat hit, I found my feet begging to be dunked in a cold creek.

The Scrub Amp checked all the boxes in terms of fit, comfort, performance, and style on and off the bike. I always think it's a bonus when a shoe not only performs incredibly well, but also looks cool. Despite the need for some ventilation, overall, Ion has continued a tradition of crafting an excellent flat shoe at a reasonable price. I wouldn't hesitate to make these my "go-to" ride shoe, especially for October - April. -BR

Specialized

bigquotesThe Scrub Amp checked all the boxes in terms of fit, comfort, performance, and style on and off the bike. I wouldn't hesitate to make these my "go-to" ride shoe, especially for October - April.

Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Ion Scrub Amp flat pedal shoe.


Pros
+ Stylish design
+ Great on and off the bike traction
Cons
- Warm and toasty





Studio imagery of Flat Shoes

Giro Riddance

• Lace closure with lace keeper
• Colors: Blue/Black, Red/Grey, Grey/Black
• Weight: 430 grams (size EU 43)
• Sizes: EU 35 - EU 50
• MSRP: $120.00 USD
giro.com/


Giro has come a long way since those early foam helmet days, having now expanded into goggles, apparel, and shoes. It's safe to say that their shoes are a staple for many mountain bikers. The Riddance is their “go to” flat pedal shoe. It’s shod in Vibram’s Megagrip ISR—their stickiest rubber—with hexagonal tread blocks for off the bike traction. The midsole is EVA reinforced for impact resistance and vibration damping while the footbed is crafted from molded EVA for arch support. The upper consists of a water resistant, breathable micro fiber material. There are reinforced rubber toe and heel caps for impact protection. The handy “hold a knot” lace keeper keeps laces from getting mangled in the cranks.

Based on Giro's sizing charts, we tested the Riddance in EU 41 (US W's 9/US M's 7.5 as per Giro's charts). Giro sent us both the standard unisex Riddance and the W (women's) Riddance—the main difference being the colors. Both fit our feet spot on, with a nice lower volume fit. There was ample room to wiggle the toes, but not so much that we needed to size down. The footbed was super comfortable: just wide enough in all the right places for our average sized feet, and with a nice, snug heel cup that kept heel slip to a minimum when hike-a-biking. The shoes have an attractive look, and the lace keeper kept everything tidy and prevented chewed up laces.

As far as power to the pedals, this was also one of the stiffer shoes we tested (8.5/10), and offered excellent forefoot support. Pedal grip was also excellent; they say you can have too much grip—enough so that it's hard to adjust your foot once planted on the pedal; but that wasn't the case with Megagrip ISR sole. The mix of the hexagonal tread blocks and sticky compound seemed ideal for hours of shredding. Off the bike, the traction was surprisingly good, and walking uphill to session jumps on Post Canyon's summertime ball bearings was a non-issue. Breathabilty was also excellent. One thing to note, although we were focused on shorter term testing, we noticed more wear on the sole of the Riddance as compared to some of the other shoes that utilize a harder rubber compound.

Despite the unusual wear on the soles, the Riddance was one of our top picks and they check all the boxes: reasonably priced, comfortable, stylish, great pedal grip, and stiff enough to offer good support for all day adventures. -NR

Giro Bekah Rottenberg testing traction on Hidden Trail in Post Canyon outside of Hood River OR

bigquotesDespite the unusual wear on the soles, the Riddance was one of our top picks and they check all the boxes: reasonably priced, comfortable, stylish, great pedal grip, and stiff enough to offer good support for all day adventures.

Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Details of the Giro Riddance.


Pros
+ Stiff - excellent power transfer
+ Super grippy sole
Cons
- Sole durability





Studio imagery of Flat Shoes

Ride Concepts Women's Skyline/ Men's Powerline shoe

• Lace closure with lace keeper
• Colors: Men's Red/Black, Black/Charcoal, Charcoal/Orange, Women's Blue/Light Grey, Black/Purple
• Weight: 379 grams (size W's US Cool
• Sizes: Women's US 5 - 10 (Men's US 7 - 13)
• MSRP: $150.00 USD
rideconcepts.com/


Ride Concepts (RC) may be a young company but they’re gathering momentum with multiple clip and flat shoe options and some recent high profile rider endorsements from pros like the Athertons, Kyle Strait, Isabeau Courdurier, and Sam Pilgrim, among others. The Women’s Skyline (called the Powerline in the Men’s shoes) is fairly loaded with tech. First and foremost is a collaboration with Rubber Kinetics to create Dynamic Surface Technology rubber compounds for the outsoles of their shoes. With the Skyline/Powerline, they use DST 40, their stickiest rubber compound, which is molded with a series of hexagonal tread blocks for pedal grip and traction off the bike. The toe and heel are recessed to further promote performance and comfort off the bike and reinforced with molded caps for protection. At the same time, a high rise medial EVA midsole and a D3O insole provide support and allow more power to the pedals while absorbing impacts. There’s also D3O in the asymmetric ankle collar, which is higher on the crank side to protect your ankle bones from crank strikes. The tongue is gusseted to keep debris out. The only difference between the two shoes is a Women’s last with a narrower foot bed vs. the men’s Powerline and a softer flex in the Skyline (men tend to have more mass, so the flex is a bit stiffer in the men’s Powerline).

Per the company, the Skyline tends to run about a half size small, so we sized up to a US W's size 9 (EU 40/ US M's 7.5 on RC's site) which had exactly the fit we wanted with a nice internal shoe volume: there was just enough space in the toe box to wiggle the lil' piggies, but no pinch points to create hot spots either on or off the bike.

The shoes were pretty much right smack in the middle of the pack in terms of stiffness out of the eleven shoes we reviewed: stiff enough that I didn't have any foot fatigue yet soft enough that I could easily walk around all day, chasing my students (a crew of 12 year-old shredders). Call that a 7.5/10 for stiffness. The pedal grip on these shoes was very confidence inspiring; the DST rubber is sticky like the Giro Riddance and has a similar tread pattern, but isn't so clingy that I couldn't easily shift my feet on the pedals. Despite all the hidden tech inside the Skylines, the most notable difference between them and the other shoes out there is the higher ankle support, especially on the medial (inside) part of the ankle. Breathability was okay with no swamp foot issues.

The Skyline is right up there as a quality riding shoe that is lightweight, durable, and stiff enough to handle the backcountry epics. The DST rubber compound used provides a nice, confidence inspiring pedal contact that—while it isn't quite up to my Five Ten standard—isn't so far off that I wasn't able to dig in and stay on the pins through the rock gardens. And that extra support and protection around the ankles was greatly appreciated; I felt like my ankles were in good hands every time I slipped the Skylines on. -BR

Ride Concepts Bekah Rottenburg in Post Canyon

bigquotesThe Skyline is right up there as a quality riding shoe that is lightweight, durable, and stiff enough to handle the backcountry epics.

Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Details of the Ride Concept Skyline shoes.


Pros
+ Great coverage around ankle
+ Super comfortable fit
Cons
- Bulky looking





Studio imagery of Flat Shoes

Shimano GR9

• Speed Lacing System with armored lace shield
• Colors: Black, Navy
• Weight: 390 grams (size EU 42)
• Sizes: EU 36 - EU 48
• MSRP: $160.00 USD
bike.shimano.com/


Shimano doesn’t just make great components; they also make a lot of great footwear. The oh-so creatively named SH-GR901 is the latest incarnation of their flat pedal shoe. It has Michelin high grip rubber for the pedals with a tire tread inspired pattern for off the bike traction. The speed lace system is encased in an armored lace shield for protection from debris, and both the toe and heel are reinforced to further protect your feet. If that wasn’t enough, like the Ride Concepts, there’s an asymmetric padded ankle collar to protect one’s anklebone. Synthetic materials in the shoe absorb less water and dry quickly.

We tested the GR9 in size EU 40 (US M's 7/US W's 8 per Shimano's site) which was ideal for Bekah and I in terms of width, length and overall fit, although the internal volume is a bit lower than other shoes we tested—riders with a high arch may not fit this shoe as easily as we did. The shoes were just snug enough with minimal heel slip but still enough wiggle room in the toe box that they were more than comfortable enough for all day pedaling. The speed lacing system was a nice, easy to use method for snugging the shoes up for a tailored fit, while the lace shield worked nicely to keep both dust and mud out of places it shouldn't be.

On the stiffness scale, these shoes are rated a three out of ten by Shimano, but I'm wondering if that three is in comparison to a carbon soled road shoe (Shimano's ten?), because for us, that three offers plenty of power transmission to the pedals and minimal foot fatigue: 9/10 on our stiffness scale. The all-important pedal contact feels incredibly solid: your foot stays in place exactly the way you want, yet remains adjustable without binding on the pins. That pedal traction paired to the stiff last offered confidence inspiring support. Moreover, the shoes have a super durable construction, and on the trail, that bomber construction shines through: even after weeks of testing, the shoes were barely scuffed. Where the GR9s lose a few points is in the walking and trail traction department: they are stiff enough that despite the tire tread inspired sole and tacky rubber, they just don't conform well to trail features, making for vague feeling off-the-bike traction. One other nit pick: these shoes did seem a bit warmer than most others in the test, even though they have plenty of venting, which I can only attribute to the lace shield.

I'm a closet fan of all the Shimano shoes I've tested over the years. I find their sizing works well for my foot, and while they tend to be a bit pricier than other brands, they epitomize "you get what you pay for", offering great performance matched with long lasting durability. From a style standpoint, these shoes are quite obviously cycling specific. While some of the shoes in this review can second as casual office shoes, it'd probably be best to slip on some Crocs and leave the GR9s at home if you're headed out on a date. Bike nerd style and walkability aside, if you're ready to shred all day and know that hike-a-biking isn't going to dominate your day, I would wear these shoes in a heartbeat. —NR

Shimano Bekah Rottenberg testing traction on Hidden Trail in Post Canyon outside of Hood River OR

bigquotesBike nerd style and walkability aside, if you're ready to shred all day and know that hike-a-biking isn't going to dominate your day, I would wear these shoes in a heartbeat.

Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Details of the Shimano GR9 shoes.


Pros
+ Super Grippy Soles
+ Durable
Cons
- Expensive
- Warm and toasty




Studio imagery of Flat Shoes

Bontrager Flatline

• Lace closure with elastic lace keeper
• Colors: Black, Battleship Blue/Marigold, Viper Red
• Weight: 370 grams (size EU 44)
• Sizes: EU 36 - EU 48
• MSRP: $130.00 USD
trekbikes.com/


Bontrager was founded by mountain bike pioneer and frame building legend Keith Bontrager. Trek purchased Bontrager well over a decade ago and uses it for in-house components—although Keith Bontrager still has a role in product development. The Flatline is their take on a flat pedal shoe worthy of the legendary Bontrager name. The sole is shod in Vibram rubber with a waffle tread for the pedals and chevrons at the toe and heel for scrambling purchase when hike a biking. The upper is synthetic leather, and a shock absorbing EVA midsole provides comfort and support when pedaling and jumping.

The fit of the Bontrager Flatline is right on point. We tested the men's EU 40 (US M's 7/W's 8.5 per Bontrager's site). From past experience, we knew the women's version was too narrow for our feet. With the men's version, the last is just a bit wider, but overall volume is still right in the sweet spot: just spacious enough to give our toes some elbow room, while the heel stays firmly locked in place. There is some extra padding around the ankles, but the shoes don't come up quite as high as either the Ride Concepts, Shimanos, or Unparallels. The elastic lace loop always kept the laces securely tucked away so I was never concerned about a stray lace getting sucked into my drivetrain.

I spent all of last summer coaching in the Flatlines and my two biggest complaints were: 1) More trail debris seems to sneak into these shoes than most others and 2) They are a little on the soft side (7.5/10) for exceptional, all-day pedal support/power transmission. Having said that, though, if you are getting on and off the bike a lot (as coaches do) they are great: they're stiff enough that I was as happy to shred trails as I was to escort small kids and their bikes down loose, techy sections of trail. When I first switched over to flats, I never thought I'd be saying this, but there are a few shoes out there that are "too sticky". As in once you place them on the pedal, it's downright difficult to change position. That is not the case with the Flatlines: they grip the pedals well but can easily be shifted when needed, which makes riding in the Flatline confidence inspiring: I never worried about slipping a pedal when coming off jumps or my foot involuntarily changing position in technical terrain, but could easily micro adjust my foot position when needed. And for off the bike, the traction is more than enough to allow me to chase kids all day. Unlike the Ions or the GR9s, they breathed well, keeping my feet cool.

Overall, the shoes stick to pedals well and I never experienced foot fatigue, even after wearing them for hours. I like that the shoes are relatively lightweight, ventilate well, have a neutral appearance, are very comfortable to walk in, and that the soles held up amazingly over a full year of abuse. And knowing that the women's Flatline width runs narrow may offer some riders yet another AA width option. As an overall ride shoe, the Flatlines earn high marks; you just may want to get your self a pair of ultra running gators to keep the sticks and rocks out! -BR

Bontrager Bekah Rottenburg in Post Canyon

bigquotesOverall, the shoes stick to pedals well and I never experienced foot fatigue, even after wearing them for hours. I like that the shoes are relatively lightweight, ventilate well, have a neutral appearance, are very comfortable to walk in, and that the soles held up amazingly over a full year of abuse.

Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Details of the Bontrager Flatline shoe.


Pros
+ Comfortable
+ Durable with no signs of wear after extensive use
Cons
- Softer sole than some may like
- Women's version too narrow for our feet




Studio imagery of Flat Shoes

Adidas Five Ten TrailCross LT

• Lace closure
• Colors: Black/Grey, Feather Grey/Black
• Weight: 346 grams
• Sizes: US 7 - 14
• MSRP: $140.00 USD
adidasoutdoor.com/


The modern Five Ten flat shoe came about when Intense’s Jeff Steber approached Five Ten founder Charles Cole about using their stealth rubber on an MTB-specific shoe for his racers. Nearly two decades later, they've attained mythological status for flat pedal performance. But not so much for off the bike performance, as the overall construction prioritized on-the-bike time. With Five Ten becoming part of the Adidas family (hence the Adidas branding now found on Five Ten shoes), the Adidas designers have sought to remedy that.

The TrailCross LT is designed for when going up to go down means either pushing or carrying the bike—a situation where a traditional flat pedal shoe has neither the traction nor the comfort required; but that still excels on the pedals—a situation where a traditional hiking shoe doesn’t offer the pedal grip or mid sole support required for pedaling. To achieve this, the TrailCross LT utilizes Five Ten Phantom (non-marking) Stealth rubber for the sole, with the traditional pedal traction dots where you want them, but a mix of siped dots and lugs on the toe and heel for hiking grip. Additionally, the Shoe’s flex points are designed to “rock” into a stride off the bike vs. the traditionally stiff mid sole found on a most MTB flat shoes, yet still remain stiff on the pedals with a supportive EVA midsole. They also have a slightly higher ankle collar for support and protection. The LT is designed primarily as a warm weather shoe: it has a lighter weight and mesh for ventilation. It’s also designed to be hydrophobic, with drainage ports in the sole and on the sides to drain water and promote quick drying after creek crossings, etc.

From past experience, Five Ten tends to run a bit on the large size, and an inquiry confirmed that design trend, so we sized down to an EU 39 for testing (US M's 6/W's 8 as per Five Ten). The sizing (as adjusted) was exactly what we wanted: snug where you want it for responsive pedal input, but roomy where you need it for breathability and comfort. Even though the shoe was narrow looking, once I had it on my feet, I didn't notice any rubbing or irritation. I could easily move my toes, yet my heel was firmly planted in the heel cup regardless of whether I was pushing uphill or charging down the trail.

As expected, the TrailCross pedal grip is outstanding: Five Ten rubber has been the standard by which pedal grip is measured for a reason. The additional square edges from the sipes fore and aft combined with the Phantom Stealth rubber worked well to offer reliable on and off the bike traction. The LT breathes exceptionally well, too, and while we never tested the hydrophobic qualities, there's enough venting that we never doubted the quick dry characteristics. As far as stiffness goes... the shoes were stiff enough on the pedals for adequate pedal performance, but not so stiff as to ward off foot fatigue from heavy pedal days due to added flex in the forward part of the sole (6.5/10). But that shoe flex definitely offered more comfortable off the bike movement. In fact, they seemed cushy enough that I could maybe keep them on for a 5k trail run.

Despite the awesome fit, super tacky grip, and general on/off bike performance, these would not be my go to shoe for all day pedal missions as they just don't offer the forefoot stiffness and support I prefer for those type of pedaling efforts. As the name implies, these shoes are targeting a different market than Five Ten's iconic Freeriders; and the cushier sole is purposeful, making them more comfortable for your average trail rider. Or possibly perfect for a dad or mom who wants to chase their kid around and get some good solid miles in without having to swap shoes. -NR

Five ten. Bekah Rottenburg in Post Canyon

bigquotesDespite the awesome fit, super tacky grip, and general on/off bike performance, these would not be my go to shoe for all day pedal missions as they just don't offer the forefoot stiffness and support I prefer for those type of pedaling efforts.

Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Details of the Five Ten Trail Cross LT shoes.


Pros
+ Extra-breathable
+ Excellent tacky pedal grip
Cons
- Softer insole
- A tad bit narrow in the toe box





Stdio shots

Pearl Izumi X-ALP Launch

• Lace closure with lace keeper
• Colors: Men's Smoked Pearl/Monument & Black/Shadow Grey; Women's Pearl/Monument, and Black/Smoked Pearl
• Weight: 340 grams (US M's 8 )
• Sizes: Men's EU 39 - EU 49/ Women's EU 36 - EU 43
• MSRP: $150.00 USD
pearlizumi.com/


Oh how I love marketing hype…. Pearl Izumi touts this as, “the first flat pedal shoe designed to handle the abuse of all-mountain riding to give you the confidence, control and comfort you need for all-day riding", which strikes me as a bit of a bold claim given that FiveTen came out with their first MTB shoes well over a decade ago. Marketing speak aside, Pearl Izumi makes quality gear. In this case, they’ve crafted a bonded, seamless upper with a reinforced toecap and wrapped that around an EVA midsole for comfort, and then shod the bottom with Vibram’s Megagrip rubber for positive pin engagement in a nice, lightweight package. The outsole under the ball of the foot features a simple siped pattern for pedal pins, while the toe and heel feature molded chevrons for off the bike traction. One care note on the website clearly states that one should keep them away from excessive direct heat as that could cause the rubber to dry out or crack.

Bekah and I tested the women's version of the X-Alp Launch in EU 40 (US M's 7/W's 8 ). The company touted that the only difference between the men's and women's version is that the women's shoes are built on different lasts (foot forms), but that the materials and general construction are the same. Colors aside, the women's version was a very narrow fit for both of our feet. While the length was perfect for our feet, that narrow width took us out of our happy place. I never thought I had fat or wide feet, but this shoe made me feel that way. Otherwise, the internal volume was good, offering enough room in the toe box and a comfortable, cradled feel.

Sizing aside, the shoes were fairly stiff—8 out of 10—and are nicely supportive for your everyday (three hour max) rider. The pedal grip by comparison to some of the other shoes, felt deceptively average. Which was surprising, as this is the same rubber that is found in the Giros. Having said that, they were grippy enough to keep my feet on the pedals in the rock gardens. If you look at the tread pattern, the siping in the pedal zone of the sole is the key: those cross cuts go edge to edge, and allow for solid pin penetration; but the flat sole where the pedal sits combined with the lateral flex of the sipes also allows for easy and intuitive foot adjustments on the pedals. For off the bike traction there are more traditional chevron patterns on the heels and toes, which were perfect for scouting rock gardens or pushing up the silly slippery trails. Speaking of which....as we did do all our testing in the dry season, I would be curious to see how the siped pedal/shoe contact surface performs in mud and rain. Last, breathability was excellent.

When out riding, the narrowness of the shoe was a bit of a problem. There was a bit of a burning sensation across the balls of my feet due to the tightness. I feel like I would err towards ordering the men's version next time I have the opportunity, but it's also important to note that this might be just the perfect option for those of you whose eyes light up when you hear "narrow shoe".

Overall, this shoe is aesthetically pleasing with a nice, cool color scheme and a positively svelte look as compared to most of the other shoes we tested. That svelte look comes at a price, though, as they are not as armored up as some riders might like—I definitely wouldn't want to accidentally smack a rock with these on! However, I would be totally comfortably putting them on for sweltering adventure rides with potential river crossings. Pearl Izumi has a reputation for designing quality riding apparel and these shoes easily meet that standard. For a competitive price they offer solid grip, decent stiffness for pedal power, a svelte style and extra breathability (although the narrow fit won't be for everyone). -NR

Pearl Izumi Bekah Rottenburg high above Hood River for a sunset ride.

bigquotesPearl Izumi has a reputation for designing quality riding apparel and these shoes easily meet that standard. For a competitive price they offer solid grip, decent stiffness for pedal power, a svelte style and extra breathability (although the narrow fit won't be for everyone).

Stdio shots
Stdio shots
Details of the Pearl Izumi X-ALP Launch shoes.


Pros
+ Stylish non-bulky appearance
+ Breathable
Cons
- Narrow





Studio imagery of Flat Shoes

Afton Keegan 90's Limited Edition

• Lace closure
• Colors: Camo Limited, Black/Maroon, Black/Gum, Grey, Black/Grey, Black/Heathered
• Weight: 463g (EU 44)
• Sizes: EUS 7 - 13 (EU 40 - 46)
• MSRP: $120.00 USD
aftonshoes.com/


California-based Afton shoes makes only two shoes, the Vectal for clips and the Keegan for flats. After four years of making shoes, they’ve come out with their first limited edition version of the Keegan: the 90’s shoe that has all the tech of the standard Keegan wrapped in a WrestleMania hot pink/zebra stripe themed look. With aqua laces. Plus a custom shoe box, custom tissue paper, a custom sticker pack, and a matching sweatband. The tech? A snug, performance oriented fit (for those who like a looser fit order a larger size), Afton’s proprietary tech includes Intact Rubber, an outsole crafted for pedal traction but with grip at toe and heel for off the bike traction, a mono-directional interior shank for pedal support and foot comfort whether riding or walking, and a reinforced toe box to protect from impact and debris.

We tested the Keegan's in a US men's size 7 (EU 40, as per Afton's chart). The company told us the shoe size indicator run about a half size small, and that the 7 was equivalent to a US men's 7.5. The fit was as described: a Goldilocks not too tight and not too loose with good heel retention. The limited edition 90's theme was also a big hit with the children in the household—despite the fact that they have no idea what the 90's were like.

So how did they ride? Loud and in charge! The pedal grip on the Keegan's was solid. The Intact Rubber never made me question if my foot was going to slide off the pedal, and the ankle padding snuggled right up to my ankle bones. Are these zebra shoes stiff? Not especially. They came in as some of the softest shoes we tested (5/10), which made for excellent trail walking and grip, but not the most inspiring support or power transmission on the pedals. Consequently, after longer rides my feet were a little more spent vs.the support that a stiffer shoe offers. But if you're into a softer sole and not planning to be on the pedal all day, this stylish beauty will take you right back to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures.

Overall the Afton's are a super fun, comfortable, and sticky shoe ready and able to shred the trail as well escort the kids to the pump track or push back up for another lap on a jump line. They're perfect if you're looking to spice up you ride kit while still rocking a performance shoe. But if all day support and power transmission on the pedals is what you're after, you may want to keep digging. -BR

Afton Bekah Rottenburg in Post Canyon

bigquotesOverall the Afton's are a super fun, comfortable, and sticky shoe ready and able to shred the trail as well escort the kids to the pump track or push back up for another lap on a jump line. They're perfect if you're looking to spice up you ride kit while still rocking a performance shoe. But if all day support and power transmission on the pedals is what you're after, you may want to keep digging.

Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Details of the Afton Keegan's.


Pros
+ Softer is both a pro and con
+ Durable
Cons
- Softer sole than average





Studio imagery of Flat Shoes

Unparallel Dust Up

• Lace closure with velcro strap
• Colors: Black, Light Grey
• Weight: 897 grams/pair
• Sizes: US Womens 5 - 11/ Mens US 5 - 13
• MSRP: $150.00 USD
unparallelsports.com/


Unparallel is another rock climbing shoe company with toes dipped firmly in the MTB world. And they should be—Unparallel was founded by former Five Ten suppliers and employees. First, the rubber: coming from a rock climbing shoe company, you know they’ve got good tech on this crucial pedal contact point, but tweaked in a manner similar to a MTB tire: Unparallel has placed a harder compound rubber (75-80 durometer) on the perimeter of the sole for edging and off the bike traction, with a softer rubber (45-50 durometer) underfoot for pedal grip and vibration damping. The outsole has diamond shaped holes for pin penetration with scale shaped tread at toe and heel for off the bike and pushing traction. If the soles look familiar, it's because Unparallel purchased the tooling and design for Teva's MTB shoe soles. It has a medium stiff EVA midsole for foot comfort, is touted as having a a low internal volume (as in it’s supposed to be a snug fit; if you like a looser fit, consider sizing up), a perforated tongue for ventilation, and a synthetic TPU rubber upper for durability. Unruly laces are kept in line with a Velcro strap.

Unparallel sent us the Women's version of the Dust Up in size US Women's 8.5 (EU 39.5/US M's 7 based on Unparallel's charts). Dust Ups are reputed to run a bit large as compared to regular sizing, but the shoes we received for testing were probably a half size too small for both Bekah and my taste and this affected our fit impressions. Based on what we tested, the overall fit was too short, and the width was more on the constricting side than either of us liked. If you can, try before you buy; if not, size up based on how these fit our feet.

Despite the corsets on our feet fit, we still forged ahead and did as much trail testing to gauge the performance as our cramped toes could take. Off the bike the Dust Ups were more than forgiving enough to easily walk around in. The harder rubber at toe and heel, as well as the edges allowed for confidence on rocks, roots, and loose, off camber trails. On the pedals, the unique construction of the outsole performs insanely well: the soft durometer rubber in the center of the sole is incredibly tacky. They offered a glued to the pedal feel we haven't found anywhere other than with Five Tens. Grippy enough that foot adjustments required genuine effort vs. the intuitive adjustments we had with some other shoes. Part of that may have been the upper: the synthetic upper wasn't as reinforced as some other shoes, so while we could make adjustments, the flexible nature of the upper combined with the super tacky soles didn't allow for enough leverage on the outsole to make the adjustments we wanted without putting real effort into disengaging the pins. It almost felt like stepping in gooey, deep mud where your foot will move within the shoe but the shoe won't until you really put some muscle into it. Grip aside, the shoes feel stiff enough to handle longer rides (nowhere near as stiff as the Shimanos, but considerably stiffer than the Aftons: 7/10), although they aren't as supportive as one might like for a full day of hard riding. Ventilation was good, too; our feet never had that steamy, clinging feel after a long ride mixed with pushing or hike a biking. The lack of toe/heel/ankle reinforcement wasn't something we were overly concerned with, but it bears consideration if you prefer more aggressive terrain.

But...the Dust Ups were not our favorites despite that glued to the pedals performance and the easy walkability. Sure, pedal grip was amazing, but the inability to readily shift our feet combined with the mushy midsole detracted from the riding experience: there's nothing like trying desperately to reposition a foot midway through a white knuckle rock garden to take away from the thrill of owning it. With a stiffer upper and a more supportive midsole, and a bit beefier toe box, the pedal performance would be top notch. Despite that, we can see that Unparallel is on the right track. As is, these shoes are ideal for sessioning flow trails in the bike park where one isn't hitting jarring obstacles and is off the bike long enough on the uplifts to rest one's feet.


Unparalleled Bekah Rottenburg high above Hood River for a sunset ride.

bigquotesAs is, these shoes are ideal for sessioning flow trails in the bike park where one isn't hitting jarring obstacles and is off the bike long enough on the uplifts to rest one's feet.

Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Details of the Unparallel Dust Up shoes.


Pros
+ Insane pedal grip
+ Great off-the-bike traction/performance
Cons
- Insane pedal grip
- TPU upper is too flexy






Studio imagery of Flat Shoes

Etnies Marana Crank

• Lace closure
• Colors: Black/Red, Black/Gum
• Weight: unknown
• Sizes: US 5 - 14
• MSRP: $110.00 USD
etnies.com/


Founded in 1986, Etnies has its roots firmly in skate and BMX, but is now entrenched in the mountain bike world, too. The Marana Crank is designed to offer crisp pedaling performance via a stiff shank and offer a supportive pedal feel. The upper has a DWR treatment (Scothguard) with a Thinsulate liner to keep your feet warm and dry. There’s an STI Evolution foam midsole for comfort, while Michelin rubber handles the outsole with a tire tread bottom like the Shimanos for a solid pedal grip. The injected rubber toe cap is fused on to keep the shoe light while offering a bit of protection from debris.

We tested the Marana Crank in a US men's 7.5 (EU 40/US W's 9 on Etnies' site). When it comes to fit, the Etnies were the second narrowest shoe we tested (the Pearl Izumi's coming in at #1). But if you have banana feet, the Marana Crank could become your dream shoe. Despite the narrow design, the internal volume was solid and offered both good heel cup retention and plenty of wiggle room in the toe box.

These understated but stylish shoes have a nice and reasonably stiff sole, but not too stiff to be uncomfortable walking or compromise trail traction (7.5/10). The pedal grip with the Michelin rubber was predictable and reliable, although not as grippy as some of the other shoes tested, including the Shimano's which have the same rubber—although a different tread pattern—as the Marana Crank shoes. Performance wise, my foot felt incredibly supported, even after some jarring downhills and cased guinea pig jumps, but at the same time I was able to get up techy climbs with ease and confidence and push back up jump lines/hike a bike without any discomfort. Despite the narrow fit, I had no hotspots. The extra toe protection was not only confidence inspiring, but perfect for kicking roots and rocks when you realize you've just broken your derailleur.

All in all, the Etnies are a great blend of style and performance: they look cool and deliver just the right amount of stiffness, grip, and comforting support for long days. If your foot runs on the narrower side and you're looking for a performance oriented shoe that also happens to cross-dress as a sneaker, you've met your match. My only nitpick would be the low cuff, which left my ankles feeling somewhat vulnerable. -BR

Etnies Bekah Rottenburg high above Hood River for a sunset ride.

bigquotesAll in all, the Etnies are a great blend of style and performance: they look cool and deliver just the right amount of stiffness, grip, and comforting support for long days. If your foot runs on the narrower side and you're looking for a performance oriented shoe that also happens to cross-dress as a sneaker, you've met your match.

Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Details of the Etnies Marana Crank MTB shoe.


Pros
+ Stylish
+ Soft and grippy
Cons
- Narrow





Studio imagery of Flat Shoes

Specialized 2FO Flat 2.0

• Lace closure with lace lock
• Colors: Black, Cast Blue/Rocket Red Charcoal/Ion, Crimson, White
• Weight: 347 grams (size EU 42)
• Sizes: EU 36 - EU 49
• MSRP: $150.00 USD
specialized.com/



The 2FO (Foot Out, Flat Out) was designed to be a no holds barred flat pedal weapon. As such, it’s loaded with buzzwords and trademarks, but rest assured: despite all the gimmicky words, it’s genuinely designed to perform. The big red S uses their Body Geometry philosophy for an optimized fit and pedal/crank efficiency, as well as their SlipNot 2.0 rubber compound and a lugged sole for a secure grip on and off the pedals. There is a dual density cushioned EVA midsole for pedal control and foot comfort, too. It breathes well with a ventilated tongue, which allows for the construction of a smooth, lightweight upper vs. a mesh upper which can snag unexpectedly. Last, it features Lacelock elastic to keep your laces from getting chewed up on the chain rings.

Nikki and I tested the 2FO in EU 40 (US M's 7.5/W's 9 as per Specialized's charts). The shoe was a tad bit on the small side in terms of length for my foot, but otherwise was very comfortable in both width and overall foot volume. While I could feel the end of the shoe with my toes, there was still enough room to easily wiggle my toes and the heel cup kept things locked in place without hot spots or any other discomfort.

The 2FO's are fairly average when it comes to stiffness and grip (8/10). While they were stiff and supportive enough for hard and aggressive riding, they were still soft enough that hiking around was easy on the feet, making them a pleasure to wear all day. For grip, the rubber was soft enough that my foot stayed firmly planted on the pedal pins, and if I needed to reposition my foot I could do so without feeling like I was opening a childproof pill bottle—that is to say, the unique tread design easily allows for frustration free repositioning of one's foot without having to shift weight or pausing mid pedal stroke. The rubber on these shoes has a unique feel underfoot, in that it's soft in the middle while still offering durability and great edging feel.

A lot of people may hate on the Big Red S because haters gotta hate, but Specialized makes great products and these shoes are no exception. Despite the somewhat short length, I loved this shoe! It strikes an excellent balance between stiff, comfortable, stylish, and gripped the pedals well. But if you're looking for extra ankle protection and padding, you won't find it on these suckers; however, what you lose in padding is definitely made up for with overall comfort and function. My only other gripe about these shoes is the large 2FO logo on the side makes me feel like I'm getting ready to level up in a video game rather than go shred. But maybe I'm just old. -BR

Specialized

bigquotesA lot of people may hate on the Big Red S because haters gotta hate, but Specialized makes great products and these shoes are no exception. Despite the somewhat short length, I loved this shoe! It strikes an excellent balance between stiff, comfortable, stylish, and gripped the pedals well.

Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Studio imagery of Flat Shoes
Details of the the Specialized 2FO Flat 2.0 shoe.


Pros
+ Super comfortable
+ Good balance of grip and stiffness
Cons
- Large obnoxious branding








319 Comments

  • 209 3
 But what about classic five-ten's?
  • 29 1
 I'm in on the Classic top picks - Five Tens (Freerider/Impact) if dry or the Shimano GR 9 when there's wet weather. Water being the weak point of Five Tens.
  • 27 3
 Impact VXI is the perfect shoe imo. I dgaf what anyone says I wear em everywhere; fishing, hiking, landscaping, whatever.
  • 140 1
 The whole review seems pointless if they dont mention are any of these better than freeriders / freerider pros
  • 61 2
 was expecting to have a moan aboot no Vans or Etnies but, not no 5Tens!!
(those addidas running shoes don't count)
  • 7 0
 @coney: was the perfect shoe...I have 1 pair rode to it's death, and the second one still holding up
  • 53 1
 Agree
Any shoe group test that excludes Freerider Pros or any Impact version but call some of the tested shoes "really grippy" is lacking in my opinion
  • 2 0
 @Lagr1980: totally! Any coming up for sale secondhand are snapped up super quick
  • 16 1
 @bikefuturist: Agreed, I’ve only ever ridden five ten shoes because they just work. No way am I jumping to another brand without some idea how they compare. Also stiffness is nice to know, but let’s also rate grip and sole durability.
  • 3 0
 @FredrikWestman: Freerider pro has really good waterproofing. Not the most durable shoe ever but pretty good. Wish they were a tad stiffer.
  • 45 4
 Do these reviewers have an axe to grind with fiveten? That trail cross shoe is something you wear to work on days you hope to sneak in a quick ride after or you take camping so you can wear it all day but also on your bike. Why would you take the purpose built offerings of other companies and not compare them to the equivalent purpose built offering from the leading manufacturer of flat pedal shoes. They should have used the free ride pro IMO.

Hard to take a review serious that has such a major and obvious flaw in it. To put so much work into that review and not include the industry standard to judge against undermines the whole point of doing it.
  • 26 3
 @NERyder: We gave each company the parameters of the review and they sent the shoe they wanted us to test.
  • 7 3
 @nkrohan: This is what people have been asking for in bike group tests for ages. Glad to see the same has been applied to the shoes. If 5.10 missed the mark, thats on them. Although maybe they thought everyone already has the FR, so they wnated to risk their newer offering...
  • 37 9
 @nkrohan: to have the title "11 of the best flat shoes" and not include the best flat shoe is misleading and clickbaity.
  • 5 0
 @FredrikWestman: you should try the 5.10's in this review for wet riding. They shed water better than any shoe I have ever owned. I agree with the review they are not nearly as stiff as their other shoes, but I actually like how they ride.
  • 15 6
 Yeah this was a total waste of a read. “Let’s review every running shoe in the industry, but to make it interesting we won’t use the freerider pros which are currently the industry leader.”
  • 8 1
 @Colson217: makes no sense whatsoever
  • 14 1
 Seriously, skipping the two most popular (and arguably the best) shoes that are often used as the gold standard was a ridiculous idea. @nkrohan why did you not compare these shoes to the Five Ten Freerider Pro and Impact Pro?
  • 7 3
 @nkrohan: I'm sorry, if you don't have the current status quo (Impact), then you don't have a flat shoe review.
  • 40 18
 @pnwpedal: You are correct. We should have - but FiveTen sent us what they wanted us to test and had the parameters of our review. They also had a really difficult time getting us shoes. We requested items back in March and then COVID hit and their warehouse had super limited access. We didn't receive anything from them until May. Regardless, we did the best we could with what we had available. Lots of people will still get valuable information from these reviews regardless of the Pinkbike comment section's constant griping.
  • 3 1
 The people have spoken!
  • 3 1
 @nkrohan: I do feel your pain. Parts ordering is spotty at best right now. Good luck getting anything from Shimano in the next six months! I do appreciate your efforts and It does make sense to review something you can actually get. This comment section can be a George Foreman for sure.
  • 3 0
 @nkrohan: It's a good review and the irony is the Trailcross seems really hard to get hold of - nowhere in Whistler has them as I was keen to try a pair on.

This review gives me some food for thought come my next shoe purchase!
  • 20 2
 @nkrohan: I understand the ability to get product for testing, but not even discussing a comparison to the most popular MTB flat shoes ever made is an oversight that many of us noticed. Yes, the comments here are a free-for-all "letters to the editor" section and criticism will happen. This is a good article, just missing a key technical aspect that would be necessary for MANY riders who immediately think "okay, nice looking shoes, but why should I risk switching from the Five Tens that I know and love?" I have personally had this thought every time I need new shoes. I can try something new and have a 50/50 shot that I just wasted $150, or get Five Tens and know that they will kick ass for another couple years. So I get another pair of Five Tens.
  • 1 4
 @NERyder: Probably Adidas wanted to look like they have made a good shoe as besides the rubber it's not a 5.10 and they look a bit meh. Which was expected as it's rare that a big corporation that takes over something good and continues to make good products in a field they have no idea what to do. Also their Sleuth DTX after only riding a gravel bike for this summer look almost worse than Freeriders after a couple of years of enduro and dirt.
  • 13 1
 @nkrohan: you cant tell us none of you have a pair of free ride pros laying around to compare these shoes to.
  • 3 4
 How do you not include the impact? Pitiful
  • 1 4
 @NERyder: how do you not include the Impact? Pitiful
  • 1 4
 @nkrohan: still should have included the impact
  • 8 1
 Problem is actually finding and ordering FiveTens in the size and model you want. Their e-commerce is terrible. Banner ads don't lead to the shoes advertised. Colorways aren't consistent between shopping sites. I don't think Adidas cares about FiveTen and its a darn shame but I can't find a pair of Freeriders now. I think the reviewer's choices of reviewed items matches reality in terms of what's actually available. I'm happy to look at other brands for shoes now b/c I think FiveTen has dropped the ball.
  • 9 1
 @nkrohan: I think the issue is that you came so close. Five ten submarines you, but you could have grabbed a pair locally knowing that it was what you needed to complete the article. I get that we are bunch of curmudgeons but this is a great article except that it is missing The keystone for comparison. Super well done, images, write up all great but you had to know that you needed to reference against the standard or it would really limit the utility of the information

Maybe all our comments will get pinkbike to pay you for an update that includes the free rider/free rider pro. Love to see a follow up of how each compares to the standard
  • 6 2
 You would think they would have a control shoe...LIKE A FIVE TEN... that the majority of the planet has ridden in, you know so a reader could have a comparison. but since this looks more like a paid ad from all these companies, It's probably best they left out the bench mark for what a show should be. Now, the "review" article can be about shoes people aren't likely to buy instead a comparison between FIVE TEN'S and shoes trying to be like them.
  • 4 0
 @twozerosix: I agree that their website is all kinds of suck, but local availability is always good for Five Ten. I never have an issue getting my hands on them at an LBS. Or just mail order from any of the big name web stores.
  • 1 0
 @coney: was. keep hoping they bring them back.
  • 3 4
 @nkrohan: Love this explanation. Maybe people should actually read everything before commenting, LOL. Btw, I switched to flat pedals this year due to injury last year and am loving my Shimano GR9's.
  • 2 0
 I've been wearing five ten sleuths as normal shoes for like 2 years, I don't like the design of all these "biking shoes" I just want normal shoes that won't get shredded by my pedals. Also I just have really flat feet and I have't found any other shoes that are as comfortable for me.
  • 1 0
 Any classic 510 has probably shredded into 2 pieces by the date of this test. But seriously, I still use my VXi even though the soles are pretty much detached from the shoe.
  • 2 0
 I have to admit, my last/current pair of 5-10's (post Adidas) are a disappointment. My last pair were a VERY worn pre-Adidas pair and I loved them. Same model. New ones hurt my feet from the impacts (says a lot, I am an ultra runner!), WAY larger and I had constant toe strikes in rock gardens causing multiple black toes, and the grip was only blah.

I wish I wasn't flat broke when they closed the warehouse or I would have bought like 10 pairs (local to me).
  • 7 1
 @nkrohan: If nobody on the PB staff is wearing Freeriders or Impact and also has an opinion of them, or you can't stretch to a quick online purchase of those shoes, then I reckon the "constant gripers" have a point.

But, you do you.
  • 3 0
 @JSTootell: interesting. Adidas has owned 5.10 since 2011, and I know there were some changes back then, but all the post-2011 5.10 shoes I have had were pretty good. Getting more than two years out of any MTB shoe is too much to expect though, in my opinion, so I don't mind replacing them when needed.
  • 2 1
 I'm definitely not convinced of my 5.10 Freeride pros... The black sole losens from the red layer and has a few cuts/rips...
The grip is awesome - no question- but durability is not on their prositive side... kind of disappointed...
  • 1 0
 @pnwpedal: Up until more recently they were still relatively independent of Adidas, making their shoes here in my area (Redlands is an easy bike ride from home). I would happily buy them annually if they were as good as my last pair, before they closed down manufacturing them here. I think the MTB shoes were made overseas, but the soles were very different than my new pair, and the new ones are nowhere as stiff.

www.outsideonline.com/1894021/what-does-adidas-five-ten-buyout-mean-climbers
  • 6 0
 @nkrohan: you need a shoe? I'll get you a shoe, there are ways believe me, you don't want to know. (Checks watch) hell i can can you a shoe by the the o'clock this afternoon!
  • 2 3
 @Robertoregency: I don't need a shoe. We reviewed 11. I had plenty. But thanks for the offer.
  • 1 0
 @pnwpedal: don't forget the Contact--as stiff as the Fr. Pro and lighter, with a closer fit more suited to bony narrow feet. I'm guessing they're discontinued. But judging from U.S. website, almost everything has been discontinued. China must be dealing with the virus as well as we are. One could mistake this review as marketing for RaceFace pedals.
  • 2 3
 @NERyder: alright dude, we get it, you want to hear about the five tens. I'm pretty sure there have been enough reviews that you can come to your own conclusions on how they compare.
  • 3 2
 @nkrohan: does none of you have a legit pair of 5.10s in your closet? I have 4 pair in my closet and a pair in my truck
  • 1 0
 @garydonosti: it's not the first time a control variable has been requested. Plus it's impossible to recognize a professional review that doesn't have a shred of objectivity other than providing the shoe's name--where are the photos of the insole which show its length and possible conformity with the brand's published size chart? Comparing this with the control shoe will give some idea of whether the size (length) is objective, or if the upper is compromising the size, for example lengthening the foot by compressing it from the sides, above or below, or all three. Up with Mondopoint!
  • 1 0
 @twozerosix: Agreed. I’ve been looking at the Leatt DBX as my next possible purchase.
  • 5 6
 "You didn't review my shoe, it's the best! Wah wah wah wah wah...."
  • 2 0
 @JSTootell: I've only ever had their MTB shoes so as far as I can recall, none of them were made in America.
  • 1 0
 @thechad13: same here, I love how Leatt approaches design and manufacturing so their shoes look like a great option. I absolutely need to try some on in person though, which means finding some to try on, and in 2020 COVID land that's easier said than done. Maybe next year.
  • 5 0
 Need a new title for this article: “Flat Pedal Shoes: Best Of The Rest.”
  • 1 0
 Yup fivetens should be held as the industry standard and the other shoes should be weighed against them. Most of us know what a set of fivetens feel like, but most have no idea what any of these other brands feel like. Maybe use something like the freerider pro as a benchmark, state whatever the brand . Than state comparisons like width, stiffness, durability, stickiness etc....
  • 1 1
 Maybe the testers should have waited until they could source the Five Ten Impact & Freerider pro - the benchmark for a real comprehensive review. I suspect if Sam Hill read the test he'd have a laugh!
  • 2 0
 @pnwpedal:
I haven’t put them on my feet yet but have held a pair in my hands. They look way better in person I might ad.
  • 1 0
 @thechad13: good to know. Once I have the opportunity to try some on in person, and if they fit my feet well, I'll probably pull the trigger.
  • 3 0
 @DaysToCome @zeronine3: it has nothing to do with that, it has everything to do with comparing unknown products to a product that almost everyone knows as a good baseline. Just like comparing new DH front tires to a Maxxis DHF. One may or may not like the DHF, but most riders know how it rides and can use that as a baseline to judge the new front tire.
  • 1 0
 @pnwpedal: how about this... I went with unparalleled and they're just as grippy as my 5.10 freerider canvas were, but with a much stiffer sole(what I wanted/nicer for pedaling) and I think they'll last longer (looking at how much they've worn this season).

That said, 9/10 5.10 fan bois will probably go back to 5.10 because it's the safe option, even if they're not exactly the same as they used to be.
  • 2 0
 @zeronine3: no one has mentioned standard Freeriders, which have a flexy midsole compared to Freerider Pro, and reviewers describe Unparallel Dust Up as 'mushy' in the midsole and overly flexible in the upper. Sounds like the cut of the upper may also have been on the loose side for reviewers. You see the problem of not having a control variable. I'm keen to find a replacement for the discontinued Freerider Contact--maybe Northwave Clan reviewed here in comparison with better-known shoes: www.bikemag.com/gear/tested-northwave-clan-shoes-150 --the only 5.10 that fits me snugly, and that only with a substantial arch support. It's difficult to believe that reviewers above don't use arch supports, and that 2FO are 'short.' Really? Pull out the insole and measure it. A Men's 40 EU insole should measure 25.5cm. Yes or no. Unless they're too short because too narrow--lengthening of foot via compression from sides, or too short because of insufficient arch support--lengthening of foot due to overpronation. Fit is as tedious as foot shapes are varied.
  • 2 0
 @zeronine3: cool, I'm glad they work for you. But again... The brand being 5.10 has nothing to do with this recommendation. None of us are recommending the Freerider Pro/Impact Pro comparison because we "like" 5.10, but because they are almost universally known and *most* riders see them as either a good shoe or a great shoe. Calling a shoe "soft", "hard", "narrow", "wide", "light", "heavy", "stiff", "flexible", or any other subjective adjective is almost worthless without a known baseline. I have never worn any of the shoes in this article, so I have zero idea how an "8/10" stiffness shoe actually feels. Shoes and helmets are two things that I personally cannot just buy without either thorough test fitting, very thorough objective comparisons or measurements, or prior experience with the fit of a particular brand.
  • 1 1
 This review is such a disappointment and waste. The authors were either paid off or clueless!
  • 1 0
 @pnwpedal: good luck on your search for shoes.
  • 1 0
 @buddfather: because we didn't include a specific clue or because you can't read? We are not clueless and not paid off. Its a thorough review of the 11 shoes we were sent.
  • 2 0
 @pnwpedal: our comparison was of the 11 shoes we were sent to review. There are a lot of people who might be interested in a shoe other than the FiveTen Freerider Pro/Impact Pro and maybe this article is best for them. Just like any review, size and fit is always a personal experience and we included metrics that should help someone narrow down a shoe if they choose to look at these brands and options.
  • 1 0
 @nkrohan: not sure why I've had to say the same thing 5 times, but it has nothing to do with wanting to see a review of 5.10 shoes and everything to do with wanting to see a comparison to a known benchmark. Nobody is going to review a half-ton pickup and not compare it to an F-150 in some way, right?
  • 3 0
 318 comments and counting........with heaps of readers saying the same thing -where are the benchmark FiveTen Impact & Freeriders for comparison? The reviewers obviously put a lot work into this but it is still lacking when we can't compare apples with apples. It also doesn't help readers who are about to buy their first pair of flat pedal shoes and the benchmarks aren't in the test. The excuse the reviewers offer is that the manufacturer didn't provide the Impacts/Freeriders. Sorry, but this is no excuse.One of the reviewers has said she already owns Freeriders! There is no doubt that if neither of them owns Impacts, they could have been sourced from friends, retailers or even the staff at pinkbike.
Speaking of pinkbike, surely you guys could have foreseen the reaction to this article and offered guidance re inclusion of benchmarks in a group test before you published.
  • 51 1
 Fair enough that that this is a summary of new shoes from the last six months, but I reckon this article would be even more useful with a "best of the rest" section to cover say the top 3 flat shoes that were released before this but are still on sale now.

Case in point is the Five Ten Freeride Pro, which for my money probably beats all of these.
  • 34 0
 I agree, it's a bit sole destroying that they didn't include them
  • 19 0
 @sewer-rat: you need to tread carefully if you're going to say things like that
  • 7 0
 Sorry, I should also have said: good reviews and thanks for including the info about the testers' shoe size and foot volume, that's really useful.
  • 10 0
 @sewer-rat: you'll get over it eventually - time heels all wounds
  • 5 1
 @jammf: Hopefully it won't take him toe long...
  • 6 0
 Yep, the Freerider Pro is my favorite flat pedal shoe to date. I was hoping for some mention of them at least as a comparison point since so many of these look similar and seem to be aiming for the same target market.
  • 4 0
 @srjacobs: I'm on my third pair of Freerider Pros. They feel great but my DMR Vault pedals eat them for breakfast...
  • 2 0
 @korev: You must ride a lot more than I do! Mine have held up pretty well over the last two seasons, but those seasons have only consisted of about 300 to 400 miles of trail riding Frown
  • 1 0
 @korev: Same same
  • 40 3
 This test should have been 10 differnet kinds of Five Ten and a pair of Vans !
  • 5 0
 Are there any other shoes?
  • 5 0
 Vans for sure ! The new Dennis enarson shoes are sticky !
  • 2 0
 Man, I love Vans, going all the way back to my BMX days, but they need to beef up their shoes before I’d use them to ride a mountain bike. Nothing like a baseball-sized rock popping up and hitting your foot with nothing but a piece of canvas to protect you.

I do have an old Vans Warner SPD shoe. It wasn’t bad, but the cleat had to be pushed way back to the limit to be near the right spot. But in terms of protection, that shoe was bombproof. It’s too bad they didn’t develop it more over the years.
  • 2 0
 so true! I ended up wearing Nike hi-cut skate shoes for downhill when the made them, and my go-to now is DC Shoes Spartan hi cut as it has extra padding if a bit warm on the hot days... I would just like to see them throw in 1 or 2 classic shoes just for baseline testing as they are often half the price of the ones tested here.
  • 27 0
 How are the FiveTen Freeriders not included in this review?
  • 6 1
 Everyone already knows thanks Freerider Pro and Impact are about as good as it gets for trail riding and racing.
  • 8 5
 FiveTen made the choice what shoe they wanted us to review in here.
  • 7 2
 @nkrohan: just buy a set? Not like 90% of riders aren't running impacts or freeriders. wouldn't be to difficult to source surely?
  • 5 3
 @foespower: Five Ten clearly wanted to showcase their new shoe here not the old staples. That's their business and not the business of the reviewers to go and buy a different pair of shoes to review.
  • 1 0
 Because they don’t have any to sell. The US website is almost devoid of any useful mountain biking shoes for adults. Either adidas is pulling the plug or they were woefully unprepared for this season and completely unable to react to the current market. Hopefully my Sam Hill Impacts last forever...
  • 7 2
 @paulskibum: whether five ten wanted them to or not the test is incomplete without a comparison to the benchmark offering. The notion that they couldn't get a freerider pro new or used is ridiculous.
  • 2 0
 @nkrohan: but how did y’all not already own a pair of Impacts?
  • 1 2
 @onlyDH: I do own a pair of Freeriders, although I am not sure how that changes the fact we reviewed a different option from FiveTen.
  • 4 0
 @nkrohan: gotcha. The article title made me think that the test was about the best flat pedal shoes
  • 1 1
 @onlyDH: Pinkbike likes to use the word "best".
  • 4 0
 @nkrohan: So PinkBike created the title and you got the flack. Still, if you owned a pair of freeriders it's surprising you did not reference them when discussing the feel of these new shoes. The point of reference would have been valuable and all us commenters would have had to search for something else to gripe about.
  • 20 2
 When I first got into mountain biking, the thought of wearing Shimano branded shoes seemed to me as dorky as matching your clothes to your car. I've got to say that I was wrong, and my Shimano shoes are the best I've ever had. I would be very interested in trying their flat shoes if I ever decided to go back to flats.
  • 5 0
 I second that Sir.. also: their seizing (except with the BOA closing shoes) is consistent, and I don't have to worry ordering online...
  • 7 0
 True. Shimano may be dorky, but their shoes are very well made and last for a long time. Which sadly cannot be said about most of the trendy or stylish brands, whos shoes tend to disintegrate after a few years.
  • 3 0
 I'm also a big fan of Shimano shoes. Reasonably priced, consistent sizing and really durable and well made.

My only criticism here is when the article says "super grippy sole". I have the GR7s with the same sole as the GR9, and while the grip is good enough, it really pales in comparison to some Five Ten Impacts
  • 1 0
 I have almost 1,400 miles on a pair of GR7's this year. While the shoe itself is comfortable and has held up well to so many trail miles, the sole was completely trashed about halfway through the season. The Michelin tread just does not hold up against any good flat pedal with metal pins. I'll be in the market for something else next year.
  • 2 0
 Same experience with GR7 here. Got about 1000 miles on them before I noticed holes through the rubber bottom into the midsole.
  • 23 2
 I think this is basically saying "if your silly enough not to be riding Freeriders, then these are the other options"
  • 1 4
 Except my newest pair are worthless. Guessing Adidas ruined them.
  • 1 0
 Freeriders are to narrow, impacts are wider, that's the answer why I don't have them, still not happy about the to narrow shoe.
  • 1 0
 Adi has ruined every shoe they've redesigned so far, including the impacts, which are now shaped like a foot that doesn't actually occur in nature. I stocked up on the old Impacts when they were discontinued. I have one fresh pair left in the box.
  • 1 0
 @jlf1200: whats the version before Adidas stepped in?
  • 20 2
 Any flat pedal review should include, this shoe is X% as grippy as 5.10 freerider. They basically said every shoe is grippy, having tried a couple of shoes that werent 5.10, and found them completely unridable, I find that hard to believe. Grip is the Number 1 thing most people are looking for in flat pedal shoe, and they gave a rating for stiffness and not grip. Kind of made the whole review pointless in my opinion.
  • 2 0
 Exactly.
  • 3 0
 Agree 100% - had some Tevas (with the same sole as the unparallel) and compared to 5.10 they give zero confidence.
  • 10 0
 "While some of the shoes in this review can second as casual office shoes, it'd probably be best to slip on some Crocs and leave the GR9s at home if you're headed out on a date."

The first and only date?
  • 3 0
 Nothing screams "desperate to advertise my hobbies" more than wearing bike shoes to the office
  • 2 0
 @me2menow: wearing crocs on a date has to be an order of magnitude worse than wearing bike shoes to the office
  • 1 0
 @k-n-i-x-o-n: depends on the shoe and the job
  • 13 1
 Please add some classic Five Ten to give some credit to this test
  • 6 0
 Seeing as we're going into winter in the northern hemisphere, has anyone got any recommendations for a flat pedal winter shoe other than the GR9? They do sound like the ticket, but im curious why there's such a dearth of winter options for flat pedal riders.
  • 1 0
 How warm and weatherproof do you need? There isn't much in the MTB world that would qualify as a true winter shoe, as far as i know. Therefore i switch to weatherproof approach shoes in the winter.
  • 5 0
 It's not a true winter shoe, but the freerider elc is pretty darn weather proof. The lace cover keeps puddle splashes from filling the shoes. Add waterproof socks and you're onto a winner. I find them plenty warm below zero. Rubbish for road riding in the rain though as water runs down your leg and fills the shoe. Which takes a long time to dry!
  • 3 0
 @mountainsofsussex: freerider elc is discontinued. This was the best shoe ever.
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: seriously?!! Might have to see if I can find a NOS pair now for when my current ones die.
  • 2 0
 @mountainsofsussex: yeah that looks discontinued a while ago, but thanks for the suggestion. The options are really, really low aren't, hence why the GR9 looks like the only current offering in the marketplace thats serious. I don't know why shoe manufacturers assume that flat pedal riders don't want to be warm and dry in the winter?!
  • 1 0
 There seems to be very little mention of how good these shoes would be in the wet/cold, the GR9 looks to be better with the flap covering the laces but the vents on the toe box could be an issue.
I have the 2FO shoes as I read that they shed water well and dry quickly (which they do), however the tongue is a ridiculous cotton wool material! Hit one medium sized puddle and you've got wet feet for the rest of the ride!
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: yes, I can ride them all year, they have a stiffer sole than freerider and a bit less grippy , but grippy enough and a more durable one. Very well made shoe, just with stupid colours and it appears to be very hot, but is quite ok in reality.
  • 1 0
 @wobbem: they look interesting, have you ridden in them yet in the wet?
  • 1 0
 @OutnumberedBilbo: enduro magazine agree that the holes kind of soil the GR9 as a winter shoe. They like the Freerider elements
enduro-mtb.com/en/best-flat-pedal-mtb-winter-shoes
  • 1 0
 Except the Elements are also discontinued. Argh!
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex: I really hope someone at any of the major shoe manufacturers are ready this thread!
  • 1 0
 @mountainsofsussex:
Agreed -freerider pros are great during the winter months IME. I just use wool socks. But admittedly most things are frozen here in New England in winter so I am not doing stream crossing or anything where my feet would be submerged
  • 2 0
 @oatkinso: They are fantastic. I got a pair for last winter and they've performed flawlessly.
Even in the sloppiest of conditions my feet are usually dry after the ride. The tongue is waterproof up to the velcro, so hiking though shallow water and mud is a non-issue. Hosing them down after a ride is easy, and in case you step in a creek and soak them, I would say they dry as fast or possibly faster than a pair of Five Tens.

Speaking of Five Tens, they are ofc not as grippy. I had to remove the pin washers (One Up) to get comparable grip.
  • 1 0
 @wobbem: I've got a pair that I rode in last winter, they're pretty solid but their pedal grip isn't great (and it's worse off the bike).
Also once they get wet they stay wet for a long time and don't drain well (this is true for all winter flat-pedal shoes I've tried though).
  • 1 0
 Get some low cut hiking boots with a barrier. Honestly, anything will get wet in wet weather, so a roomy shoe and a thick sock are your friend. You could wear a neoprene over bootie. I can keep my toes warm down to zero degrees by wearing a winter hiking boot.
  • 2 0
 @lkubica:
Agree. They probably discontinued because they lasted too long. Mine are a few seasons old and look like they’ll go for a few more.
  • 1 0
 @oatkinso: no, hasn't rained yet
  • 8 2
 The only real problem with excluding the (real) 5.10s that we all know, is that they help us get a benchmark for the rest. If I knew where you're rating the Freeride or Impact on those scales, I'd have a better idea of how the other shoes stack up, and whether it's worth switching from my go-to.
  • 6 0
 Just some thoughts:

There must be some technical, function-over-form reason mountain bike shoes are so ugly, right? They all look like special orthotics for geriatrics. Or boots for Frankenstein’s monster. Can someone tell me why this must be?

Speaking of function over form, can we talk about laces? We want grip and durability, but we are ok with primitive fastener that not only come undone from time to time, but get caught in chainwheels and other places? Well at least Shimano has that cool looking lace cover to keep everything in place.

I found it odd there were no profile shots of any of these shoes.

Finally, I do find it refreshing and helpful, despite other comments to the contrary, that this wasn’t all about 5.10 shoes. Yeah, we know they’re great, although a lot of people have been grumbling about their durability as of late. But it’s good to learn about other options. I know a lot of bro’s swear by them, but would probably be shocked to learn that some of these other options are just as good or maybe better.
  • 2 0
 Agreed. To me, the Trailcross looks the most pleasant...normal. I was surprised to see Etnies in this mix, and they took look kinda normal too. FiveTen Slueth is spot on. Another brand I like is ScG out of Florida. They make a $70 MTB shoe (Sound,Leather, Chocolate With Gum Outsole) that you could actually wear out and not look like a goof. Or maybe even wear to the office.
  • 1 0
 @PHeller: holly crap they look like crap (ScG) , but your right most shoes look like crap.
  • 1 0
 I agree. Most all of the flat pedal shoes look ugly, like a medical shoe or something. The Boa Pearl izumi shoes look really nice and those funky OWN FR-1 shoes from a few years ago tried to do something different but those didn't last. How hard is it to have decent flat pedal shoes? I seriously might look into designing my own shoes and see how that goes
  • 1 0
 @Thirty3: yeah the OWN looked rad and did do something different with the inner shoe and two external shells.
To bad I heard to late and could not get the right size. I also asked a year ago if they will produce something new and they told me that they are working on the updated version of the FR-1
  • 1 0
 @Thirty3: The Grim Donut of Shoes, haha
  • 8 0
 where is the 5-10 freerider pros? Big Grin - yes I'm biased, but that is one hell of a shoe Big Grin
  • 5 0
 Have the GR9's - crazy good shoe! The pull cord lace system is immense for getting them on and off easily especially when caked in grud. Laces for a trail flat shoe are not ideal, personally like to see more tech from clipless shoes on flats like boa etc
  • 3 0
 Pearl Izumi do a version of the Alp X with the Boa, I was hoping they would be reviewed here, they look great
  • 3 0
 @bainbridge: I just got them.

Not quite as sticky as my fiveten stealth, but seem to be more durable so far.

Love the boa closure.

Slightly narrow in the forefoot.
  • 9 2
 "Five Ten rubber has been the standard by which pedal grip is measured for a reason" - And yet, this article does not use Five Ten as a benchmark.
  • 6 2
 There actually is a FiveTen shoe in this review with a FiveTen sole that was grippy as noted.
  • 3 0
 @nkrohan: The fact that there is a Five Ten shoe does not change that the other shoes were not compared to that "standard".

Their comment higlights the fact that Five Ten is the standard. What is the point of a standard if you merely talk about it but don't actually use it as a tool for evaluation.

As far as I know, no other company, except unparallel for obvious reasons, has achieved the same level of grip. This "review" talks about the other shoe characteristics but completely avoids the main attribute that affect performance.
  • 4 0
 Had a pair of Giro Riddance, didn't like them at all when they were new, too bulky, lacked pedal feel, and the grip wasn't great. But the more worn in they got the better they were (softer more grippy). The sole was pretty torn up when they were retired but it was the upper that fell apart first (around the toe seam, one shoe only). Possibly the thing that would stop me buying them again would be their performance in the wet, they really hold the water and take ages to dry out.

Currently riding Leatt Dbx 2.0. Pretty happy with these, sole stiffness is spot on (stiff without loosing pedal feel), they're protective without being bulky and are much better in the wet (don't become as water logged). I find the grip fine but I can see some people might want more. Another plus they were also a lot cheaper than the Giros.
  • 2 0
 this! How is no one talking about the new Leatt shoes? I'm on the 2.0 as well and the grip is on par with everything else I've tried, the stiffness is perfect, and little details are really nice like the stiffened toe box and custom laces that don't slip
  • 6 0
 I seriously can recommend Northwave Clan. After five ten and some Ion i have to admit, that these shoes are the best one i had yet. And they dont look that bad tbh
  • 3 0
 The Clan is the stiffest shoe I've ridden and they're are pretty durn grippy. They run narrow which is a thing, but I'll take that over slop and flex.
  • 2 0
 I'm 1.5 yrs into my Northwave Clans. Nothing but good things to say. Great build quality and durability, nicely breathable, very nice stiffness as mentioned. I find the grip to be about the same as a pair of OG Terrex I had previously, call it a 9/10 with 10 being my old Impacts (I think I've had four or five pair over the years). My only quibble was the absolute rubbish insole which got replaced immediately for me.
  • 1 0
 @nurseben: "They run narrow..." If I normally wear a size 12 should I go with a size 13 instead?
  • 1 0
 @ddialogue: I have a wide forefoot and sizing up 1 size on NW makes the fit about right. I'm not sure I could say that if I ran my usual size.

Good shoe though, very stiff
  • 1 0
 @ddialogue: like d/e wide with a high arch, not crazier than that for reference
  • 4 0
 Nice thorough review, and great jumping shots! I had hoped to see the newer Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch mid shoes that have BOA lacing and Goodyear soles. Some shoes come with overly long laces that can get stuck between the chainring and chain. Of course cutting the right shoelaces shorter or replacing them is an option, but kind of silly after dropping the coin to buy it. Some people hate BOA laces, but I think the lacing system would outlast the soles for most riders anyway, and the velcro strap or other lace cover is a nice touch.

I have 2 pairs of the 5.10 Adidas Trailcross (Mid and LT) and despite their sole flexibility, have found them to be nice and light but grippier than other 5.10 soles due to the round knobs being taller. Thus less pedal slippage. The Mid with its neoprene cuff does a great job of keeping trail debris out. I just won't wear these in colder weather and will go back to the more traditional 5.10 models.
  • 3 0
 I just got the low version of the pearl izumi
  • 1 0
 If it's got the same sole as the previous models stay far away. Almost zero grip.
  • 2 0
 @hardtailparty: It's new, old was Vibram (same as many in this article) new is Goodyear.
  • 1 0
 @skijosh: what's the verdict so far?
  • 4 0
 Was hoping to see the new Pearl Izumi shoes with the BOA system... oh well!
After having used 510 Freerider to Shimano GR7 back to 510 Trailcross, I think Shimano shoes are sorely underrated; they are the perfect size for bike shoes (not skate shoes, not trainers) the Michelin rubber is tacky, but not so much that you cant make adjustments on the pedals. on top of that; they are pretty breathable and you don't get pebbles in your shoes.
  • 5 0
 I just got the new pearl Izumi with boa, have done 5+ rides with them
  • 2 0
 @skijosh: How do you like them so far? Looking at a pair of those for my next set.
  • 3 0
 @esse-prometheus: poaching this thread for answers
  • 1 0
 @esse-prometheus: I bought the low and mid versions of the new launch and launch mid WRX. They get here tomorrow and I will ride them and report back as soon as the smoke clears.
  • 4 0
 I just want to know which brand has the widest toe box. I have two screws in my foot and a narrow shoe and certainly a narrow toe box causes a great deal oof discomfort. I want the Altra running shoe of flat pedal shoe design. I'm pretty sure it doesn't yet exist.
  • 2 0
 Same, I wish Altra would make mountain bike shoes.
  • 2 0
 I've been riding the Altra HIIT shoes with some success. Definitely not sticky, but they are wide and stiff.
  • 6 2
 What about Vans. The original BMX shoe. Still the sharpest around and still killing it decades later. It should be #1 on the list. All those overpriced shoes usually don’t last. I’ve had a few of em, and always go back to Vans for the Win. Can’t beat the pedal feel. VANS
  • 2 2
 I don't understand why people buy those expensive bike brand shoes. You can buy various flat soled skate shoes for 50$ and they've never let me down in 20 years.
I rode some 510s that I got from a clearance sale and while they were fine shoes, they really couldn't do anything better than generic skate shoes.

Best shoes I've ever had for biking (and everything else) were etnies arto saari 3
  • 1 0
 @bennorz: depends how and what you ride. Skate shoes last less than half as long as Impacts or Freeriders for me, they're not stiff enough so my feet hurt and they don't provide any toe protection.

Basically grip is good enough but everything else sucks.
  • 1 0
 @bennorz: Sk8 is Gr8, but too soft for mtb and longish rides imo
  • 4 0
 I ride 510's as everyone else does, grippy, good impact resistance, not to heavy, etc. I picked up a pair of the Afton shoes just the plain black and my experience is 180 degrees different from the reviewer. The Afton are stiff as boards and are very heavy, feels like I have motocross boots on my feet. I do wear my Aftons on bike park days, which they are great for, but the thought of any hike a bike or just a long day in the saddle, no way.
  • 7 0
 Great review! Definitely the most thoughtful and extensive review of the the non 5.10s.
  • 4 0
 I found the Giro Riddance to be possibly the worst flat shoe I have ever used, which is a shame. The comfort, fit, and support of them are really good. The Vibram sole, however, is bordering on what I would consider dangerous. I had a few crashes with them on my local jumps that I have ridden for over 10 years. I had three separate crashes caused by my foot just slipped forward off the pedal while going up the lip. After the toe box blew open on my first pair after 3 weeks, I got another pair from warranty and figured I would give them another go. The same issue happened with the toe box, and I decided I had enough. Five Tens are obviously great for grip (durability, on the other hand...). I've been beyond happy with the Ride Concepts Powerlines. The most comfy shoe I've tried. The D3O insoles are game changers, along with the overall constructions/ durability of the shoe itself. Grip isn't Five Ten grip, but it's about 85-90% as good. Enough grip that I don't think about my shoes, which is all you really can ask for.
  • 7 0
 Another pro for Unparallel shoes: they offer a resoling service
  • 4 0
 There are resole kits for 5.10 dotty rubber too. I usually wear the inner sole, outer sole and upper of my Freeriders simultaneously so when I finally call them worn, they're properly worn all around. But I'm currently using the Freerider Pro for mountainbiking (because they don't get soaked like the regular ones) and the upper seems to be pretty tough. I'm cutting through the outer sole but the inner and upper of the shoes still seems fine. So I think I'll indeed try to have these resoled. Closest service I could see was this: lancashiresportsrepairs.co.uk/approach-and-mountain-bike-shoe-repairs-and-resoles. It isn't particularly cheap but still cheaper than new shoes plus it generates less waste. I recall 5.10 also used to have DIY kits but I don't think these are still around.
  • 3 0
 Would have been good to have seen the Leatt shoes in this comparison, but I guess there's only so many you can squeeze into the article.
The other pity is that Adidas have pretty much screwed over the bike shops (and climbing shops for climbing shoes) in NZ for stocking 5Ten's...... try some on before you buy is now impossible as your only option is online from overseas.
  • 3 0
 I would love to see a real test for the thicc boys, I only have eu44/45/46 depends on manufacturers. But I can't find a shoe who is wide enough for the toes. If I ride hard enough my feet are cooking because it is just to tight. Larger shoes won't work of if I am sliding in them but most of the time they are still not wide enough.
Keep my IXV whatever impact's alive because they seem to be a little bit wider with old tires glued to them..
  • 1 0
 We must be long lost siblings then
  • 1 1
 Try the Giro's. I used to run Impacts as well but none of the new 510s fit me since Adidas bought them. I bought a bunch of shoes to try and Giro's were the roomiest in the toe box. For reference I have a 3E foot.
  • 1 0
 Same thing here brother.
  • 9 1
 Vans
  • 6 0
 Reading all these comments and this is the only one about vans made me laugh because I ride vans and like them better than anything else
  • 4 1
 When this many products in the test have the con of "narrow", i can't help but wonder if it's a shoe thing or a tester thing. You wouldn't buy a 98 last ski boot with a wide foot, so why complain that a shoe is too narrow when you have other options? Those shoes just don't fit your foot shape. Plenty of people have narrow feet. Not really a con.
  • 3 0
 Should redo the article. The fact that someone at adidas has their head up their ass is unfortunate but clearly you missed the market for flat shoes. Have been riding impact's for 10 years and they are great. How do you not even mention them in the article. Should do another article as a followup or correction.
  • 3 0
 The stiffness rating is helpful but why not include a grip rating? Grip is by far the most important factor (if not the ONLY factor) to a lot of people and "really grippy" doesnt mean the same thing from person to person. I bought some non-stealth "really grippy" shoes before and my shins paid for it.

The whole field test is wasted on me because I dont know how the grip compares.
  • 8 2
 Slip on Vans. LET THE DOWNVOTES COMMENCE!!
  • 3 0
 I am a Vans guy, since 1979 !
  • 1 0
 @ATV25: you have any vintage pairs you'd sell??? Smile message me
  • 3 0
 just went from the freeriders (awesome for more light riding, but after a certain time i could feel fatigue in my feet and no toebox protection) back to the impact pro. the grip 5.10 offer is just umbelievable.
  • 7 1
 5-10 freerider & DMR vault ....... what do I win ?
  • 3 0
 None of them is looking particularly protective. After smashing my feet few times on tighter rocky trails I stick with the 510 impact, who render such events quite a bit less painful.
  • 5 1
 Why not review the new pearl izumi x-alp launch flat with the boa closure - one of the only flat shoes with a legit closure system?
  • 1 4
 Boa sucks that’s why
  • 2 0
 Surprised they didnt rate other areas. The specialized shoes have been a revolution for me, flat and clipped. They offer great grip, look fine in black and...critically dry out 100x quicker than a pair of 5:10s. The balance of them being grippy, light but strong and
  • 2 0
 I've got over a year on my Bontrager Flatlines... I've been really happy with them... Better toe box protection than I had anticipated, grip that's not quite 5-10, but holds well.. I can feel the pedals under my feet, which was my main complaint with my old Impacts...I would be interested in seeing how these compare to the Freeride or Freeride Pro..
  • 3 1
 As a big guy who rides hard in flats, I search out the stiffest shoes possible. I've used under sole plates to stiffen shoes, I've even gone as far as to have a clipless shoe resoled for flat pedals; it was way to stiff.

So here's the thing: the above reviews with stiffness ratings are complete and utter nonsense. I have ridden and abused half the shoes on that list. I suspect their impressions were based on limited use of these shoes. Face it, you gotta ride a shoe for months to get adequate break in.

Here are my experiences with shoes that were ridden a full season:

Shimano GR9 are like slippers after a month of riding, mine are currently serving as an indoor spin shoe

Pearl Izumi X Alp are about the same as the Shimano, start soft and only get softer, my wife rides them and she likes soft shoes.

Specialized 2F0 2.0 are terrible shoes, soft, hot, not at all worthy. The first year version was a great shoe, I wore out two pairs.

RC Powerline, not their stiffest shoe by any stretch, even their stiffest shoe (Hellion) was only good for a season before it became a slipper. I like RC cuz their local, but they need to add a midsole stiffener to get my business.

Addidas, well, that's how the Five Ten market crumbles. Pretty much a poser shoe now.

If you want a really stiff shoe that has grippy rubber and durable uppers, look no further than the Northwave Clan. The Clan is designed with a mid sole stiffener, so it actually has stiffness built in and it lasts. I'm surprised the reviewers didn't check out Northwave, they are much better known than a few of the mfgs tested.
  • 1 0
 Sounds good to me but are the clans wide enough for the thicc boys?
  • 1 0
 @Serpentras: probably not, they are kinda narrow, that’s my only complaint
  • 1 1
 This is much more information than the review above.
  • 3 0
 ... moving on, no surprise tho to see that adidas have kinda wrecked the 5.10 shoe. Sorry to the reviewers that you guys had to work so hard doing full on reviews for such an obviously limited field
  • 5 0
 A great list of shoes I would consider buying if Freerider Pro's didn't exist.
  • 1 0
 Amen
  • 3 1
 Years and years of fiveten here. I can only answer the fiveten vs others for me. I Have the latest freeride pros and the Shimano reviewed above... I ride the Shimano’s most of the time. More comfortable for my foot on longer rides and especially in tougher terrain. With Diety Black Kat pedals they have the perfect amount of grip, they are a bit stiffer in the mid foot yet somehow have better pedal feel.
Only time I use the freeride pros is with my hardtail as the pedals on it pair better with them. Don’t get me wrong, FR Pro is the standard for a reason but the shimano gr-whatever work better for most of my rides.
  • 2 0
 Super cool to see more content and features from the gals. Need more of this. I would be happy for it to be over-indexed to grow female participation in the sport. If girls see girls shredding they will associate it as being something they can do to.
  • 2 0
 What I'm missing on all these shoes is a flange against the dirt getting into the shoe. I have it in my current Shimano shoes and I consider it the biggest innovation on par with sticky outsoles.
  • 6 1
 FIVE TEN Freerder !1! maybe the best!1!
  • 1 0
 It's fishy there's no freeriders!
  • 1 0
 Had a pair of ions that fell apart after 3 rides. Not great. I now switch between five ten freerider and trailcross. If you are used to free riders the trailcross will certainly be a more "pedal friendly" shoe as I find it much stiffer. If I could only have one pair it would be the trailcross, perhaps mostly because rthe freeriders take a week to dry.
  • 1 0
 Most days I ride to do some trail work somewhere. Of this list I have the Shimano, Spec 2fo, Trailcross and Aftons.
Trailcross lt Is for hot weather. Kind of vulnerable. Aftons disintegrated with a kind of papery substance in the front? Shimano are just coming apart at one toebox but are in season two. I will try to glue them.The 2FOs are intact and still feel supportive and are the clear winner in my backyard shootout. I’ll try one of the others next round.
  • 5 0
 If it hasn't already been said, let me be the first - What no Vans?
  • 5 0
 Everyone else had paid them money to not compare them to five tens
  • 2 1
 Glad I moved from 510 Freeriders to Shimano GR7s. So much better for me. Happy to see other options. It's so hard to get reviews on anything else because if you ask for flat recommendations everyone defaults to Freeriders but if you don't get on with them it's hard to find out what else is out there worth trying.
  • 3 0
 crap list if you call it "Best of" and don't include any 5.10s. Or did they not pay to play here because they already own the market and don't have to?
  • 2 1
 The list has a pair of 5.10s. In fact the authors have stated repeatedly they told 5.10 how they were going to do the review, and 5.10 sent the authors the specific model that 5.10 wanted reviewed.
  • 1 1
 @pmhobson: it's still on the authors to know the market. If I was writing the review I would insist on the freeriders. Either they are clueless on what people ride or don't care to make a believable review.
  • 2 0
 @buddfather: We are not clueless. We reviewed what was sent to us and if you actually take the time to read the review, there is plenty of information for someone who is interested in purchasing a shoe other than the Freerider Pro or Impact Pro.
  • 2 0
 Pleeeease start offering wide sizes!!! I’d pay more to suffer less! Latest nonsense is a size or two larger 510’s to fit width ways and put up with/freak out at my foot slipping forwards and backwards.
  • 1 0
 Unreal no one offers this yet.
  • 1 0
 Been riding Unparallel West Ridges for the past season and a half. Very comparable grip to my previous 5.10 Impacts. Not as good on toe protection, but I've still kicked my fair share of rocks and stumps with no injuries. Love the lace protector, keeps them out of the chain. I'll definitely be buying another set when these ones eventually wear out!
  • 3 0
 Oh no you missed the brand new pearl izumi shoes that looks like the most promising shoes yet! Boa, mid sole, wide toe box, etc.
  • 2 0
 We know. We did ask them for a product that was new for 2020 but we started this process back in March, so that shoe was likely not available.
  • 3 0
 Con: "Large obnoxious branding"

Weakest "con" EVAR. Grey letters on black is obnoxious? You think that's worse than the Bontrager's Vibram yellow highlights everywhere?
  • 2 0
 Would been nice to have an actually FiveTen in there as a benchmark. Not a Freerider, too soft and close to Trailcross, but a FR Contact or FR Pro would be a great matchup with the rest of this line-up.
  • 1 0
 Frickin hell, every pair of mtb platform shoes with the flat outsole looks exactly the same, FFS! I just bought a pair of 5-10 Freerider DLX for some weather protection only to find out the rubber grip was more slippery than my Salomon hikers with Vibram and the tongues are not gussetted. Your think that if Adidas is marketing this deluxe version as water resistant and more weatherproof and having a higher price, they'd try to have the tongue gussetted to prevent water leaking in from the top of the shoes. The toe box is also very wide. I thought i have wide feet but that toe box is so wide that the whole shoe feels loose. Should've went with the Pearl Izumi Alpine Alps for cheaper! I'm just disappointed that all platform shoes all look the same and all look like crap skater shoes.
  • 2 0
 Giros are very stylish, but the grip of the sole is weak and they are stiff as hell. The upper material is also not durable. I tear half of the shoe after light contact with a root.
  • 2 1
 One pair of five tens & there will never be another gracing my feet. Worst shoes I have ever ridden. No heel cup. The padding was half way down the shoe. Uncomfortable in less than ten minutes. But I should have known that. They are an Adidas property & it has been decades since I have found a pair of their shoes that my feet liked. Trying the Ride Concepts, not too bad.
  • 1 0
 I have had a pair of unparallel west ridges for little over 2 years and roughly 5k miles. They are at the point of being resoled but they smell way too bad so I'd never expect someone to do that. I will gladly be buying another pair. They are great in all seasons. I can definitely say they are similar to free riders. Free riders are a little stiffer and the unparallels' are wayyy tackier which I like. They are also one of the comfiest shoes I have ever worn. My dad has a pair for just walking around in haha
  • 4 0
 You missed the Suplest with BOA on the test
  • 1 0
 Scott Volt shoe as well has Boa and is a great shoe.
  • 3 1
 You missed the beginning of the article...
  • 5 1
 Reason #1 to switch to flat : tatoos are expensive, scars are free !
  • 3 0
 On a hot summer day 5/10 freerider, all other days Big S 2FO, perfect combination, just like DHF/DHR :-)
  • 3 0
 I love my 2FO 2.0 shoes for both trail riding as well as on the DH bike. Great allround shoe, super comfy, grippy, and light.
  • 2 0
 Agreed. After riding their winter shoe last year I got these a few weeks ago. Love the slightly raised shaft and the covered front. Comfy construction, plus a slightly wider toe box than Five Ten uses.
  • 1 0
 How do the Adidas Era 5.10s hold up to the older ones? I've got my pair of freeriders in 2009 and they are still good and rideable, although i've used them for everything from working to pitbiking.
  • 2 0
 My Five Ten Impact Sam Hills are holding quite well after nearly an year of use, likely outlasting the Shimano GR7s I had before (and still use occasionally)
  • 1 0
 I had issues with the first generation Addidas 5.10's. Usually I'd go through a pair in less than a season, which is only a few months. I have two pairs of the newer version of the Impacts, which has the stitching on the front of the shoe. I'm going on two seasons now without any problems and no major signs of wear. So for me it seems they have resolved the quality issue. I will say though that the toe box still remains small and they run very hot.
  • 4 0
 Why are MTB shoes so bloody ugly! Vans Pro model shoes are a win IMO
  • 4 0
 all are about $100 too expensive.. and prob last one season
  • 4 1
 You forgot about Vans Sk8-Hi‘s, the best riding shoe no matter the discipline imho.
  • 1 0
 I know right. Vans for the Win. Is there anything else?
  • 2 2
 Lets get down to brass tacks here -> which shoe had the most grip? -> ANSWER -> Unparallel Dust Up. Was 5.10 Freerider Pro or Impact Pro reviewed to provide the most relevant comparison? ANSWER -> NO. I'll fill in the glaring blank spot then -> I had the VXI Mi6 Impact, was great for grip and protection, but fell apart inside 3 months. Got the Dust Up, even better than the VXI Mi6 Impact for grip (and comfort pedalling) but ZERO toe protection (broke 2 toes on 2 diff occasions). Now have 5.10 Impact Pro -> heavier, but grip is on par w Dust Up & great protection. Review complete -> the rest of the shoes are 'also rans'. IMO
  • 1 0
 Maybe learn how to keep your feet on the pedals?

I have no issues with any of my shoes moving around, more often I get “stuck” and need to pull up to reposition.

Sounds like you need clipless Wink
  • 4 0
 I found the comments more insightful than the review this time around
  • 1 1
 Love my Ride Concepts Wildcats so much I got a pair of the Vices as an every day shoe when I hope to be able to sneak onto the bike. I have the Bontraegers too and can't complain, but I prefer the high top for big days in the saddle.
  • 1 1
 This is a completely biased review! There's no version of 5.10 freeriders here. It seems super fishy to me. Freeriders are the most popular shoe, and to leave them out makes this review useless. I thought pinkbike would be smarter than that, but I guess they can be bought.
  • 4 2
 great review, thanks for that. Finally some serious options against five10 which are losing the quality and durability.
  • 2 0
 Would be cool to see the shoes ranked in order of grip/stiffness etc to give a better overall picture.
  • 1 0
 How about the the Unparallel Westridge?The Links upper with a 5.10 sole look interesting: www.unparallelsports.com/product/westridge
  • 1 0
 Looks like a solid shoe, though for this test I'd probably put the Dust Up since it's a lower.
  • 1 0
 Westridge is the name of the jumpline at Snow Summit bike park near them. I assume it is not coincidence.

I think I will order some on Friday, unless I can pick some up local (and try them on).
  • 1 0
 No idea how anyone can get Flat pedal shoes to last over 5months of riding.. mine normally dissolve is 2-3months tops 4 if I’m lucky
  • 2 0
 For the love of god would just one of these companies make a proper winter flat shoe???
  • 1 0
 Pearl Izumi has a new winter shoe that looks better than all of these.
  • 3 0
 Five Ten Impact Five Ten Freerider Pro Everything else
  • 2 0
 All mountain bike clothing shoes and accessories are dorky looking. Lets be real, to non riders we all look like dorks.
  • 2 0
 the etnies are "Stylish"? They look like the shoes they give out in nursing homes....
  • 2 1
 My thoughts exactly haha. Yeah, pretty stylish in 2006. She did also think the pearl izumi shoes were stylish too...
  • 1 0
 So many of these shoes are too narrow in the toe box area. The only shoe I found that works for wide feet/or just toe box room is the Shimano GR500.
  • 1 0
 Interesting, multiple people have said this now. Will have to examine.
  • 1 0
 they're all...so...ugly. Either look like skate shoes from 15 years ago or splattered with xtreme bro graphics that look like dad’s trail runners
  • 2 0
 Unfortunately the New Vans BMX sole just isn't as good as the Vans Sk8 Hi Pro sole, FYI.
  • 2 0
 That's too bad; they looked interesting. What didn't you like about them?
  • 1 0
 @chachmonkey: The sole only lasts half as long as the Pro sole on metal pin pedals.... The rest is great, pedal feel is better stiffness-wise on the bmx sole but it just doesn't last.
  • 1 0
 @rideitall-bmx-dh-road-unicycle: That's good to know; thank you!
  • 2 0
 Question for Afton: why is your logo a "boy lover" pedophile symbol? Might want to check into that
  • 1 0
 Hadn't heard of Unparalleled before this. Think those are my next try. I'll give away my new Freeriders, the new ones are junk.
  • 2 0
 Was prepared to say they are all shit ugly except for five ten, but turns out they were all just shit ugly.
  • 1 0
 I need a flat pedal boot really. Sometimes I go out in the national forest and it's wet and the shoes just get overwhelmed with mud.
  • 1 0
 I think this pretty much also depends on the shape of your feet? Most of the expensive brands I've tried are too narrow while I find 661 perfect.
  • 1 0
 PB is afraid to compare the Vasque Juxt, because this $109 shoe works on flats better than anything else, and it's not a bike shoe.
  • 1 0
 this article has huge relevance now adidas have ruined the one and only five ten shoes,, maybe they will realise now all we ever needed was the classic freerider
  • 2 2
 My 2f0 are stiff as hell hate them. Also coming from wearing flip flops all year round I find most shoes narrow excepting my beloved 5_10 which are excluded from this test
  • 2 0
 Got a set of Shimano AM41's about 10 years ago, still going strong!
  • 2 0
 a few of them look very similar to each other
  • 2 1
 How can you not test five ten freeriders/impacts??? Strangest test you've ever done
  • 2 0
 ....great drying is a winner.
  • 1 0
 Other than they got the wrong size. The only con the specialized had was it said 2F0.
  • 1 0
 The branding looks great on it imo. It's actually pretty lowkey compared to some of the other offerings on here. If anything is obnoxious, it's those Aftons.
  • 1 0
 Etnies pro tip: Get the regular skate version, at half the price, and half the weight, and get the same performance.
  • 3 1
 Not a true shoe comparison when Vans isn’t on the list. Can’t beat em.
  • 1 0
 Vans are the best. Men..
  • 2 0
 I like stiff soles, stiffer than five tens would be OK to me.
  • 2 0
 Size 12EEE, which of these even comes in a WIDE?
  • 3 0
 Check out the Shimano GR500, the only MTB shoe with a wide toe box. It’s what I wear. I even remove the liner for more room.
  • 1 0
 I dont know the name of my shoes; I just know the sound they make when they take a mans life.
  • 1 0
 Someone has beef with 5ten me thinks. Also can we get someone who weighs in the neighborhood of 175kbs please.
  • 1 0
 No beef at all. I own FiveTens, we reviewed what they sent us. I might have been 175lbs when I was pregnant with my first kid, does that count?
  • 2 0
 This is like doing a review of 11 DH tires and omitting Maxxis.
  • 1 0
 Anyone use O'Neal's Pinned shoes? I may get some for my birthday if I hear good stuff about them
  • 2 0
 Five Tens are for cake eaters. Ride Concepts or death!!!
  • 3 2
 I've been loving my ride concepts!
  • 1 0
 Yo what about freerider / freerider pros???
  • 2 0
 5.10 chose to send the authors the TrailCross shoes instead of FreeRiders.
  • 2 0
 all ugly as hell.
  • 1 0
 She wears Crocks on a date?!
  • 2 0
 It was a joke and a perfect way for a date to go bad. Although once married, there are no rules.
  • 1 0
 Great to see the Colin Meagher pics.
  • 1 0
 Thanks man! ALS has me pretty limited, tho--I can't ride anymore so gettin to locations requires a lot of hiking.
  • 1 0
 What about Under Armour fat tire shoes? Also great for trail building.
  • 1 0
 trailcross’? I ride a pair but yikes PB
  • 1 0
 Is there any EU dealer for Unparallel bike shoes?
Thanks
  • 1 0
 Narrow fitting could be also a "pro" when you tight clipless mavic at max!
  • 1 0
 Edit: Double post
  • 2 1
 .......... VANS........
  • 1 0
 Where are the high tops?
  • 1 1
 What?? No five ten impact pro? Not even the freeriders???
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