The FiveTen Freerider VXi Elements (wow, that’s a long name for a shoe) are a brilliant all-round flat pedal MTB shoe. They’re spot on for riding in the UK with great grip, weather resistant features, and a degree of insulation. Plus they look good.
Combined with a decent flat pedal with pins, these shoes make you feel connected to the bike. It’s much easier to remove your foot from the pedal with flats if you want to touch down or ‘dab’ on corners or technical sections. The grip is so good that climbing in them was no problem, and descending felt wonderfully secure.
The Freerider VXi Elements are, as FiveTen put it, their ‘winterised’ version of the popular Freerider shoe. This means the addition of PUR foam insulation, which adds a bit of warmth to keep your toes toasty on the trail, and a DWR (durable water repellent) treated leather and synthetic upper that is indeed water repellent.
These bad boys coped with some rainy muddy trail riding fine, resisting the majority of splashes. Like most FiveTen shoes, they don’t have a cover flap over the laces, meaning there were some inevitable water splashes that made it inside.
You may have noticed that I haven’t described these as women’s specific, because they aren’t. They are however a great unisex shoe, not least because the sizing goes from a UK2 up to a UK13, so there should be a fit for the majority of women.
I’m usually a size 7 in shoes generally, and the size 7 pair of Freeriders I tested came up pretty much true to size. They were a little bit big – I’d say less than half a size – and the fitting came up quite wide, but I like to wear quite chunky socks, particularly for winter riding, so that suited me fine.
The style is more of a skate shoe, and is much less chunky that the FiveTen Karvers. The fit is perfect for trail and all-mountain riding, and they don’t feel too heavy for a day’s riding.
If you’ve ridden FiveTens before, you’ll know that they are probably the grippiest flat pedal shoes out there. They certainly are in my experience, and I’ve tried a several different brands, plus I’ve also ridden previous incarnations of the Freerider shoes.
The Freerider VXi Elements features the STEALTH Mi6 rubber sole, a new development by FiveTen, and a slightly different tread pattern. Around the ball of the foot, the sole is smooth, allowing slightly easier repositioning of the foot when you need to. The usual circular dot pattern, which helps grip your pedal pins, covers the rest of the surface.
The STEALTH Mi6 rubber is supposed to be great at gripping smooth surfaces like glass (not sure when that going to be something to think about in MTB?) and metal (slightly more useful). I’m guessing the intention is that it grips to the smooth parts of your pedal as well as gripping the pins even more strongly?
In practice, I did actually find it to be more grippy than the soles on my previous FiveTens. If I did need to reposition my foot, I actually had to unweight and lift it slightly and replace it on the pedal. This sounds like a faff but was second nature in no time at all.
This grippiness also meant that my foot never once lost grip of the pedal, even during several long, bumpy alpine descents, a number of skills sessions, and some day long trail rides including climbs.
Maybe this shouldn’t matter, but I also loved the colours on these shoes. Called ‘Ocean depths’, they have a sensible black background with some great flashes of blue and neon yellow laces, are just my style, and are bright and fun without being too girly or blokey. If you don’t like the sound of that, there’s also a grey and black colour way.
A great flat pedal shoe, perfect for autumn/winter rides, or indeed whenever the weather is bad. They can cope with rough terrain, long days, and inclement weather, though if it gets really wet the rain will make it inside. The grip is the best I’ve come across, so although these are expensive, I’d really say they are worth the investment.
– Immensely secure grip on flat pedals
– Great range of sizes available
– No protective flap over the laces means some water gets in
What FiveTen say about the Freerider VXi Elements shoe:
We are not fair-weather riders. We ride every day-regardless of the weather. We ride to school, to work, to play, and since Five Ten is all about performance and technical advantage, we’ve upped the bar by adding a new winterized Freerider VXi. This all-mountain shoe has a DWR treated synthetic upper that beads and repels water like a duck . Inside is a PUR foam insulation that wicks sweat but adds that touch of warmth needed to fight freezing temps. The outsole package is STEALTH MI6, a revolutionary new STEALTH rubber with unprecedented shock absorption and grip.