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Five Ten Kestrel - Review

Mar 30, 2015
by Mike Kazimer  
Five Ten Kestrel shoe review

The Kestrel is the newest entry into Five Ten's line of clipless pedal shoes, one that looks dramatically different from the skate-shoe inspired designs of the company's previous models. Developed with input from Nico Voulliouz and Lars Sternberg, the shoe is aimed at enduro racers and all-mountain riders, with a carbon infused shank that Five Ten says makes this the stiffest shoe in their line. Two different compounds of the company's famous Stealth rubber are used on the sole, with a harder compound surrounding the cleat, and a softer, grippier compound used everywhere else. The use of a harder compound is meant to ensure that the shoe doesn't hang up or stick to the pedal body when clipping in or out.

The toe box is touted as being 'weatherproof', and in addition to warding off rain showers, there's an extra layer of material on the outside of the foot, as well as a rubber toe bumper to provide protection from rocks or other trail hazards. A mesh upper liner and perforated tongue are designed to allow for maximum breathability on hot, sweltering rides. Five Ten has gone with a ratcheting BOA closure system for the shoe, which allows one handed tightening and loosening of the coated stainless steel cable the criss-crosses over the midfoot. Sizes: US 5-13, 14. Weight: 526 grams (size 11). MSRP: $180 USD. www.fiveten.com, @FiveTen.

Five Ten Kestrel shoe review
The BOA closure uses a ratcheting wheel to tighten or loosen a coated steel cable.
Five Ten Kestrel shoe review
There was plenty of room to achieve the desired cleat position, and the sticky rubber proved useful for off-bike traction.

Five Ten Kestrel shoe review
A 'weatherproof' toe box helps keep your toes dry and cozy.
Five Ten Kestrel shoe review
The Kestrel has much lower profile look than Five Ten's other cycling shoes.


Pinkbike’s Take:
bigquotesThe fit of Five Ten's latest shoes varies widely from model to model, and where their Impact VXi flat pedal shoes have a boxy, roomy fit, the Kestrels are much more form fitting. The width worked well with my foot shape, and I've spent the last few months pedaling and tromping around in them without any hot spots or discomfort. On the bike, the stiff sole provides plenty of support and excellent power transfer, and the harder rubber around the cleat meant there weren't any issues clipping in or releasing with the set of Shimano pedals I was running. The BOA closure has been trouble free, although there is a downside - it's not possible to fine tune the tightness of the shoes the way you would be able to with a multi-strap style configuration. There were a handful of times I would have liked to loosen up the shoes only in the forefoot, but wasn't able to due to the single means of adjustment. The addition of a velcro strap towards the front of the shoe seems like it would be an easy way to accomplish this. Off the bike, there was a bit more heel lift than I would have preferred, due to the low cut ankle and a shallow heel pocket. Those two traits plus the stiff sole caused my foot to lift slightly with each step on extended hike-a-bike sections. Of course, foot shape varies from rider to rider, so this may not be an issue for everyone. As with any footwear purchase, trying on a pair before buying is highly recommended.

The Kestrels accompanied me on a number of rainy winter rides, perfect conditions for testing their wet weather performance. The weatherproofing around the toe box worked as advertised, keeping light rain and the occasional puddle splash from seeping through. The low overall height of the shoe does make it easy for water to enter around the ankle, and after a couple of deep puddle crossings the weatherproofing is a moot point. However, even when they're full soaked the Kestrels do an excellent job of managing that moisture - it never felt like my feet were wrapped in soggy sponges, a sensation that can arise with shoes that use thicker foam. The overall construction of the shoes has proven to be top notch, and even after all those muddy rides the exterior isn't any worse for wear, and their have been no durability issues to speak of.

For riders in search of a pair of kicks with the stiffness of an XC race shoe, but with a sole that offers more traction for hiking and a little extra protection from the elements, the Kestrel could be the answer. There's room for some fit related improvements, but overall these shoes are a decent addition to Five Ten's already strong line of mountain biking footwear.
- Mike Kazimer


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72 Comments

  • 46 2
 If only they were five to ten dollars cheaper.....
  • 13 4
 I wouldn't spend my 5's and 10's on any other company. Completely worth it. Love my free rider vxi
  • 3 1
 Don't you find the XVI a bit on a small size? They almost look like the women shoes. I find them much more comfortable when only half tightened too... My 2 pence.
  • 6 13
flag Vanguard (Mar 31, 2015 at 4:32) (Below Threshold)
 If only these were flat pedal shoes.

And, btw:

SAM HILL !
  • 1 1
 no not small i wear size 10.5 vans and the freeriders feel like the same size at 10.5
  • 1 0
 Not the size wise but the width and bulk wise. They're just narrow...
  • 29 1
 I'm liking 5.10's new, lighter-weight product lineup. While I love the protection of their heavy and chunky older offerings for bike park and DH riding, those are waaaaay overbuilt for the trail riding I mostly do. And I really prefer a real rubber sole to the useless plastic soles of most clipless shoes.
  • 7 5
 Wonder if they still uses lousy cardboard for their midsole which will disintegrate over time.
  • 4 0
 This.. These look like they could do anything from muddy XC racing to some serious shredding!
  • 29 2
 Well I'm sitting in a crapper at a casino in Laughlin reading this review and must say..quite nice. I must wipe now.
  • 8 0
 Picked these up last week. Huge improvement over the carbon soled Sidis I was using before for general trail riding. Pair well with my XTR trail pedals and offer a way more connected feeling than I had before, and work pretty well on the pedals when you clip out in a sketched out situation and can't find the clip immediately. They hike pretty well and have taken some decent rock strikes with nary a mark. I'm pumped on them.
  • 1 0
 This is good to know. I've been rocking Sidi Dragon's for a few years now, and while I do like them, I have found some things I don't like about them (I won't ride one trail system with them for fear of cutting through the leather again). I've been on the fence about new shoes, almost bought a pair of PI X-Projects, but a friend had shown me a photo of these and I waited... and waited... looks like it's finally time for new shoes.
  • 1 0
 @oranso I picked up a pair of these on Monday, mounted my cleats up, and took them for my first ride last night. They worked perfectly with my pedal of choice (Time ATAC XS) and I'm just dialing in the cleat location now. These are much better than what I expected, and I can't wait to see how they hold up and feel after they are good and broken in.
  • 1 0
 I agree. Great fit, and great connection to the pedals even when unclipped. They've been working really well with my Crossmax XLs.
  • 7 0
 I have little concerns about the long term effect of the thin Boa cable on the shoe textile of the tongue. I guess it could really cut the shoe into pieces.
  • 6 0
 I thought the same thing about my sworks road shoes (I know yuck!) but the boa is coated with a soft rubber. After 2 years they have creased the shoes but no sign of abnormal wear/tear. If 1 thing that 5.10 knows it's building a shoe that can take a beating.
  • 4 0
 I've had snowboard boots with Boa laces for a few seasons (lost one boot somehow so I had to replace them) without issue, it's not a concern.
  • 3 0
 ok, good to know. Thanks guys.
  • 1 0
 Nope. I've several pair of timberland shoes with boa that I've had for roughly 9 years now. No issues with the lacing system cutting into the shoes. There are reinforced areas where the cables route and despite much use all is well.
  • 5 0
 Adidas Slack Cruiser, a 5.10 spot soled trainer with a itffened forefoot shank- designed for slacklining they are the perfect low pro flat pedal shoe IMHO
  • 1 0
 Cheers for the heads up. Just ordered a pair. they look ideal.
  • 1 0
 Got the slack cruiser - it's a low quality shoe! Within a matter of days the material of the toebox ripped on both shoes just by walking around.
  • 1 0
 Just got a pair and they look good! Triangles instead of circles on the sole. Overall a low volume shoe but with a more square profile to the toe box. Both good for me. Hopefully they will hold up well. They will be replacing some spitfires. I look forward to the stiffer sole.
  • 4 2
 I helped prototype this shoe...I've been on it for over a year. This is seriously the perfect shoe for most riders on PB that like to pedal a bit. Cross Country and Cyclocross racers should check this shoe out too because off the bike traction blows from normal cycling shoes and this solves it. Definitely a sleek looking shoe and even with the weatherproofing my foot has never gotten too hot in them.
  • 14 1
 I wish there was a non-clipless version of this - again, something lighter and better fitting than the flat-pedal park shoes (which are also good) - but for all around trail/AM riding on flats. Cause some people do that. Good looking shoe though.
  • 2 0
 I'd buy that shoe. My impacts are a bit overkill for the trail bike...
  • 5 0
 You're basically describing approach shoes for bouldering/climbing. They're like hiking shoes made with stealth rubber soles, and the tread is usually less chunky than a hiking shoe so they play nice with flats (and rock). Only thing they don't have is the carbon shank, but I would think the stiffness would be less important on flats.
  • 4 0
 Five Ten's Guide Tennie works great as a shoe for flats that doesn't automatically peg you as a park rat off the bike. Bonus: they last forever.
  • 2 0
 Too bad they fit like a shoebox.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, the Guide Tennie is a good example of what I'm talking about (IIRC most of Five Ten's business is climbing shoes, not mtb). Bunch of good options here: www.backcountry.com/mens-approach-shoes
  • 1 0
 Worth a try. Do any look as good as the Kestrel?

I think stiffness in a bike shoe is a important aspect though, and I'm guessing a bouldering/approach construction would be much more flexy in nature.
  • 1 0
 Ascents are my go to walk/ bike shoe.
  • 1 0
 I've been trail riding with the Guide Tennie for the last 3-4 years. I have long narrow feet (size US 14) and every other Five Ten I've tried has been too bulky. The fit is too loose and the shoes are so huge they don't fit on the pedals and they drag on side slopes and ruts. The Tennie works great, but the tread is a bit narrow under the arch, the laces tend to come untied, and I wish they had MI6 rubber with the treadles forefoot design. I hope someone from Five Ten reads this...
  • 3 1
 I would buy this shoe for flats today if it were available. I happily wear Freerider VXis, but I really don't like having laces on my cycling shoes. They are a liability, period. I can take or leave the BOA closure (liked it on the Specialized Rimes I have). But I want a purpose built cycling upper with a flat, Stealth rubber sole for trail riding.
  • 2 0
 YES! Surely we're a profitable demographic, too
  • 2 0
 The rubber completely separated from the midsole in the forefoot section of mine, and the rubber peeled completely off the midsole. I had to pull the outsole back over the midsole and wrap the shoes in electrical tape to finish my race. Hoping/anticipating that Five Ten will make it right, but it was pretty disappointing from a 2-month-old shoe.
  • 1 0
 Got mine a week ago, they are very nice. Super stiff sole and great protection. Ride with CB Mallet 3's and love it. I do agree that the boa system needs to be top and bottom separate because I have wanted to relieve some pressure near the toes but couldn't because it's all connected. Hopefully they loosen up more and I that passes. Otherwise good to go!
  • 3 1
 Sadly these are going to be useless for anywhere except dry californian weather.

Why?

There's no tread pattern underneath. As soon as you unclip in british glom mud you are going onto your arse.
  • 2 0
 I've ridden 5.10 guide Tenne's for a coup,e of years as my foul weather shoes. Flats for mud, clipless for drier days. The 5.10 spot sole pattern isn't much use in mud, it's no tractor pattern, but it's pretty damn good on wet rocks and roots. For the guy who said he wanted these for wearing on flats- just don't pull the spd cover off them!
  • 1 0
 There is no SPD cover.
  • 1 0
 Been on Freerider XVi for 14 months now and love them. Have a itch to get back on clipless so I purchased these. My last clipless shoes were Sidi Duran's - that I wore (3) times... Back on topic - got the Kestrel's and they are too much like the Sidi's. They are NARROW and stiff as suggested in the review. And I could not get equal tension with the BOA for the life of me and I usually like BOA. Sent these back for Maltese Falcon Race - see how those are...
  • 2 1
 While their rubber is probably the best one around that stupid bubble-pattern is worth shit when hiking!

The last time I wore my freeriders with the same pattern on a trip in the alps I was slipping and sliding around I felt about as well equiped for the terrain as you would when approaching Mount Everest in a bathrobe and leather loafers.

Come on smarty-pants engineers at Five Ten, slap some real profile onto those kicks and they will be at least 300% more amazeballs than they are right now.
  • 1 0
 Like mine. More grippy than expected. Not sure if my impact soles have dried out or whatever, but these feel like more raw grip on tiles. Once you get out on the trail though, the carbon sole seems to take away from that. Primary concern is durability. Aside from that, they do fit more snugly than 5 10 lace ups (a good thing for me). I also concur with the reviewers comment about lacing options. Thought I'd love the boa, but it creates hot spots for me on the top of my left foot. It's not socks, it's not the tongue, it's just uncomfortable to walk in them after a long XCish ride. Hoping it's more of the classic "really have to break in 5 10's" syndrome, as opposed to "they don't fit my feet well".
  • 4 0
 I must say, they look a lot better dirty than they do when they're new.
  • 4 1
 I blacked mine out with a sharpie. Made me a lot happier.
  • 25 0
 I write "schwalbe" on the sides with white out, then cover it with a black sharpie" just like the pro's do"
  • 1 0
 wish they had all they´re line shoes with a breathable option. something like more wholes in the front. not everybody rides/pedals in muddy conditions all year!!
  • 2 1
 NorthWave Spider Plus 2.
*their
*holes
#grammarnazi
  • 1 1
 I am looking for shoes that can by used for both clipless pedals and flat pedals? Something easily convertible, without the need of removing the cleats. Has anybody seen something like this?
  • 2 0
 Another recommendation from me for the Northwave range of shoes, I'm using last year's Spider. Excellent grippy sole in the dirt or on flats, even though I've got SPD clips in them.
  • 1 2
 Meh. I love their approach shoes and have done tons of hikes/climbs in them and a handful of bike rides too, but if this is the beginning of what we can expect from the new parent company (Adidas) then count me out. Overpriced anorexic-looking boa bullsh*t. Fork that, I'll stick with my Pearl X-Alps.
  • 2 1
 Looks like a good replacement for my Maltese falcons. The two Velcro straps are proving to be a bit annoying.
  • 2 0
 Going to be my third shoe from Five Ten...
  • 18 0
 Wow, I usually buy them in pairs.
  • 2 0
 Think i'll wait for the Shimano am9.
  • 3 6
 I don't get it. Five tens go great with flats. If I'm riding clipped in there are plenty of options with a profiled sole that are probably better all around in terms of traction off the bike and things like heel fit. These would be a good choice if you are trying to look like you're not riding clipped in, or maybe for a combined MTB and bouldering outing where the stealth rubber might serve a purpose.
  • 1 1
 Dang heel lift..I get this with my giro terraduros too. I need to try thicker, aftermarket insoles maybe.
  • 1 0
 The New mi6 are the all around shoe, light weight..
  • 1 1
 Look like you could run a marathon in them. Which is ni good for mtb shoes.
  • 1 0
 I ALSO wish there was a non-clipless version of this shoe. Come on 5.10!
  • 1 0
 hope they decide to make these in non clipless as well.
  • 1 0
 If only they would make them in a size 15... big man problems
  • 1 3
 I heard that the boa system on those shoes doesn't apply the same amount of consistent tightness from the toes to the tongue.
  • 2 1
 I heard they do.
  • 1 2
 I really don't like the light gray midsole though, makes it look like a more "recreational" (read: cheap) shoe.
  • 1 1
 I like my 5.10s so much I wear them when I sleep in Mommy's bed.
  • 1 2
 looking good, so enduro...haha...
seriously, look good.

how's the sizing?
  • 2 1
 Matches street shoes well for me. 10 in patagonia and vans, 10 in these.
  • 1 0
 Went a half size down from 10 to 9.5, narrower feet, toes aren't touching the end. A lot of people seem to be sizing down.
  • 4 5
 You had me at #enduro
  • 2 3
 Boa = no thank you.
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