The Hellcat Pro is what Five Ten calls their "aggressive all-mountain riding and downhill shoe." The SPD shoe features a DWR synthetic upper designed to repel water and keep your feet dry. There is a lace closure and then a protective velcro strap that also adds in some support.
The C4 rubber sole provides Five Ten's classic grip, and the area around the cleat has a hard plastic lining for durability. The compression-molded EVA midsole adds support and a dual-density TPU shank dampens vibrations. The footbed is an orthopedic style, providing additional support and padding for the foot. The Hellcat Pro retails for $180 USD.
Five Ten Hellcat Pro Details
• Clipless / SPD specific
• DWR synthetic upper
• Lace closure with velcro strap
• Colors: black
• Weight: 560 grams (per shoe, size 10)
• MSRP: $180 USD
The Hellcat Pro is Five Ten's top-of-the-line clipless mountain bike shoe. The name isn't new, but the shoe itself has been completely re-designed. Greg Minnaar races in the Hellcat Pro and was very involved in figuring out what needed to change to make the new shoe better than the previous version.
The upper part of the shoe now has a full wrap-around toe box to provide additional protection. There is a tougher compound for the sole - Five Ten's C4 rubber, and the area where the cleat rests and engages into the pedal has been reinforced with a harder plastic for durability. The upper is said to be more breathable, better ventilated, and more element resistant to help keep your feet comfortable and dry. The strap that was a common source of complaint about the old model, with frequent tears, has been re-worked and reinforced along with the heel cup of the shoe.
The lowers of the shoe are designed to be directionally flexible in places, making them comfortable to walk in while also having the rigidity and support needed on the pedals. There is a compression-molded EVA foam layer that is designed to be supportive and cushion hard impacts, along with impact-resistant foam in the toe box to guard against rock kicks. In place of the worthless foam footbeds that many shoes, including Five Ten, have historically come with, they've gone with a full-on orthopedic style footbed that actually provides support and cushioning.
The orthopedic insoles provide extra support for the bottom of your foot and the new, reinforced strap helps hold everything together and keep laces out of the way.
I've had a mixed relationship with Five Ten shoes over the years. While I have had a few pairs last longer than I would ever imagine and the only reason I tossed them was the funk from multiple seasons of riding, I have had others that fell apart on the third ride. In recent years, I believe that Five Ten has really stepped up their game and their latest generation of shoes is much more durable, better fitting, and better constructed.
These shoes are in no way the lightest clipless shoes, but for many riders what they offer in protection, durability, and comfort is going to be worth the weight penalty. They fit snugly to the pedals and create a good connection with the bike. Five Ten has shims that you can add between your cleat and shoe to tailor how snug the pedal-shoe interface is, making for an easy way to fine-tune things to your liking. The shoe really does fit well and is one of the more comfortable shoes I've put on.
Five Ten's claim of having a lot of support while riding and then also being able to walk in the Hellcats holds true. They are supportive, but not too stiff on the pedals, and were easy to walk and hike around in. The Hellcat Pro strikes a good balance between being stiff enough for long rides, whiles still maintaining enough flexibility for off the bike comfort.
Stitching on the lace junction was messy from the start but hasn't further deteriorated.
When I pulled the shoes out of the box, brand new, the stitching that mates the lace system to the liner was extremely sloppy and appeared to be unraveling. After a couple months of use, it's still intact and everything is still holding together. This seems more like a quality control issue than anything else, and I'm curious to see if it continues to hold up after a full season of riding.
The Hellcats aren't the lightest shoe. They do a good job of keeping muck and water off when it hits but when the Hellcats are submerged in water, as frequently happens, they become pretty heavy. They are better than previous Five Ten shoes when it comes to drying out and not becoming a total brick, but if it's going to be raining or there are river crossings on my ride, they aren't the shoes I would pick.Pinkbike's Take