I don’t have a foot fetish. There’s no Imelda Marcos
-style, floor-to-ceiling shoe rack in my world. Still, I must admit to being intrigued when the new Freerider ELC’s showed up on my porch about four months ago. For the past eight years I’ve been wearing through a steady procession of flat-pedal shoes, including a slew of models from Shimano, Teva and Five Ten. While I’ve liked Five Ten’s grippy soles and overall durability, there’s always been a hint of a Goldilocks porridge thing going on. The Impact High is bomber and the grip is outstanding, but the heavyweight, hotbox shoe is overkill for anything other than park riding. Since I’m more of a trail rider, I eventually gravitated towards the skate shoe-inspired Freerider VXi and Freerider Contact models—lighter, more breathable kicks better suited to all-day pedaling efforts. Still, I found myself wishing those two Freerider models for lace covers and a more hike-a-bike friendly sole. During wet-weather portages, that treadless contact patch resting beneath the ball of your foot on the Contact outsoles leaves something to be desired.
Would this new Freerider ELC prove the perfect porridge, so to speak? Five Ten bills the ELC as the latest evolution of their Freerider line. There are two color-ways to be had here—Angry Clown (that’s what I call it anyway) and a relatively sedate (by comparison) green and yellow version that looks like a pair of Five Tens made love to a six pack Mountain Dew and had a baby. The Freerider ELC’s retail for $140 (USD). fiveten.com @FiveTen On Trail
I’ll just cut to the chase here—in some ways this latest Freerider model is a bit of a hybrid between the classic Impact and the many Freerider models that have come down the pike over the years. It’s a good deal lighter than the Impacts and while you kind of have to hate anyone who’d actually weigh a pair of shoes, there’s no denying that the Impacts can become big, sodden weights when you pedal around in them all day long during the Winter months. The ELC, however, is also a good deal stouter than most of the other Freerider models. You notice this the moment you slip in a pair and you really feel it out on the bike—it transmits power far more effectively than, say, the Freerider VXi, yet it’s not too stiff. You don’t feel like you’ve got a pair of bricks strapped to your feet when it’s time to get off the bike and push. You never get off the bike and push? You’re a liar.
I dig the lace covers. All of the laces on my past Five Ten shoes have suddenly snapped—usually when I’m lacing them up and I’m rushing to meet somebody else for a ride. Not sure what to chock that fact up to, but I’ve always gotten much more mileage from the laces on shoes with full lace covers, such as the Shimano AM41. Very glad to see them here on the Five Ten. At the very least, you’ll never feel that odd tugging on your leg, indicating that your laces are now being consumed by your chainring and chain. Sweet. The Freerider ELC uppers are a mix of PU-coated leather & synthetic materials and they do a decent job of shedding rain.
As for the sole. I spent my first couple decades in either toe clips or clipless pedals and I have no real experience with BMX, so I’m the guy who can’t get enough grip. I’ve never had a problem repositioning my shoes on the original Stealth S1 soles that you find on the Impacts, but I also realize I’m in the minority here. If you found the original Five Ten outsoles to be too grippy, you’ll probably dig the Phantom outsoles on these shoes. It’s a good balance between hike-a-bike grip and on-pedal traction. Phantom has been around for more than a couple years now, so I’ll stop wanking on about the soles now. Just bear in mind—it’s sort of in the middle of the Five Ten spectrum when it comes to traction. Or to put it another way, it’s still a crap-ton stickier than just about any sole you’ll find on a a flat-pedal shoe that doesn’t have a Five Ten badge on it.
The Freerider ELC is a legitimate addition to the Freerider line--it's not just some new color scheme. Who wouldn't dig it? If I lived in the desert, I’d probably opt for something even more breatheable, but since I reside in the Pacific Northwest, death-by-hot-shoes is a fairly uncommon occurrence. Since I stopped being a teenager a few decades ago, I'd love to see less garish versions, but...Jesus.. now I'm kvetching about shoe colors and that means the wheels are coming off the review. Okay, I'll stop right there. Let's put it this way: It’s definitely a shoe worth checking out.Pinkbike's Take:
|In some ways, the Freerider ELC proves a cross between Five Ten's Impact and Freerider models--it's lighter and less bulky than the Impact, but a bit burlier and stiffer than the Freeriders kicks of old. It strikes a solid balance for someone looking for a bomber, grippy shoe that can do double duty at the park and the trailhead. - Vernon Felton|