The toe box and heel are protected by an abrasion resistant material.
I've had mixed luck with the fit of Five Ten's shoes over the years. Some models fit me just fine, while others have felt boxy and overly roomy. With the Freerider Pro, the fit around my average-width feet was perfect right out of the box—snug without beeing too tight, and free of any excessive heel lift when walking. The removable insoles provide a good deal of cushioning, a little detail that's often overlooked, but one that makes a difference on long rides.
The S1 rubber provided plenty of traction with the array of pedals I used during the test period—mainly Race Face's Atlas pedals and Specialized's Boomslangs – and although it might not be quite as soft as the Mi6 rubber found on shoes like the Impact VXi, I never found myself wishing for anything grippier. The sole is stiffer than a pair of typical skate shoes, which is a good thing, but it's still flexible enough that walking around off the bike doesn't feel awkward. Off-the-bike traction is decent, although in super sloppy conditions the sole's tread pattern doesn't provide as much grip as something with more aggressive lugs would, but that's just all the more incentive to stay on the bike.
If I had one request, it would be for a mid-top version of this exact shoe, or at least one with an asymmetrical cuff that extended over my inner ankle bone—my feet sometimes end up in funny positions on my pedals, and a little extra protection from cranks and frames would be appreciated.
Durability is something Five Ten has struggled with in the past, but I'm genuinely impressed with how well these shoes have held up—I've been thrashing around in them for the past six months, bringing them on everything from big trail rides to muddy shuttle days, and they're still going strong. The S1 rubber dots on the sole are beginning to show a tiny bit of wear from the hours of being poked by sharp pedal pins, but it's nothing out of the ordinary, and they still have plenty of life left. Pinkbike's Take