Review: Five Ten Hellcat
September 2nd, 2011
When you think of Five Ten, you pretty much think of flat pedals and sticky rubber, and not necessarily the other end of the pedal and shoe spectrum; the world of clips and what some may call “devil pedals”. The last few years has seen the flat pedal quickly become the tool of choice by World Cup podium regulars, but 2011 saw the beginning of a shift in pedal choice. Riders like Josh Bryceland, Stevie Smith and of course the one and only Aaron Gwin, but hese guys were all full time flat pedal riders until recently and have recently all made the transition to clips… This may in part be circumstantial with the nature of the tracks over the last few years and perhaps riders like Danny Hart, who’s wild style hasn’t been hindered by his pedal choice, and has certainly made riders think twice about rocking clips. Regardless, more and more weekend warriors are making the switch too…
When ever we get new product in to review, I always try and get the reaction of those I ride with and meet on the trail. The first response to the Hellcats was nearly always, “wow, those are the nicest looking Five Ten’s I’ve ever seen”. This is true and I’m with them on this as these are the nicest looking shoes out there, but behind their solid and attractive exterior lies a whole lot more.
The construction of the Hellcats is amazing with reinforced stitching everywhere and feel that is reassuringly beefy; you know these will be kicking around like new next season.
Nice looking shoes aye? The Five Ten Hellcat’s back this up with a fit and feel that is spot on for clips riding, giving you all the support required to engage and disengage without your feet moving around in the shoes and thankfully, without squeezing your feet in… The Velcro strap is just the right length too, not too long so it flaps in the mud and not too short that the Velcro clogs with mud. The more you slip these on and get them dirty, the more you realise someone worked very hard to deliver these to someone as fussy as me, and hopefully you.
Stealth Rubber x Clips??? When Five Ten released details of the Minnarr shoe back in ’09, the market was somewhat hesitant as to why a company like Five Ten, so cemented into the flat pedal market, would bother to produce a clips shoe. Well, they did, and like their non clips shoes, have since stood on quite a lot of World Cup podiums thanks to Greg, Peaty and Danny Hart. But sticky rubber shouldn’t be ruled out of a clips-shoe design as it still offers all the benefits it does to the flat pedal rider: you bounce out or un-clip, struggle to re-ingage for the split second… Your pushing up your local track for some corner and jump session practice and oh yeah, your walking up a loose dirt track… The benefits are there and I’m sure you could make a decent list too, but aside from the addition of Stealth Rubber into a clips shoe, these are pretty awesome shoes anyway, but then they should for the price; £105GBP.
Okay, so we just brushed on the price there, which I think is important to talk about these days and realising the value in premium products needs to be realised. The competition are offering shoes at slightly better prices, with the Vans Warner at £80 and the Shimano AM45 at £70. At around £20-30 more, the Hellcats do offer one significant advantage and one that will be obvious to those who’ve spent time in the shoes which have made Five Ten the staple shoe of the aggressive MTB market.
Out on the trail bike, the Hellcat’s extra oomph in the construction stakes is barely noticeable and the stiff sole and excelent support all leads to a shoe you’ll forget you’ve got on, loop after loop. With looks to match, this is one clips shoe that’s worth spending that little extra on – you won’t regret it!
The addition of the sticky rubber sole makes a shed load of difference over the course of a days riding, but the Hellcats are also built to survive and their construction makes the competition look slightly half cocked. Over the top maybe? I don’t care and I’d rather have my kit in one piece after a long years abuse and ready for it all again regardless….
The fit and feel is also reassuringly confidence inspiring, offering a great feel when clipping in and clipping out – an important feature you’ll struggle to get a feel for in your local store. Shoes that are too roomy can often prevent you un-clipping with your feet moving in your shoes rather than your feet moving out of the cleat. The available space for cleat position is good, but could be better and I ran them at the extreme position away from the stays to maintain a good position on the bike, but this is personal preference.
We’ve tested the Hellcat’s with both Shimano and Crankbrothers pedals and found no issues with either, although we do feel that the Crankbrothers’ float works great with the Hellcat’s Stealth rubber sole and unequivocal attraction to the first time clips rider looking to make a good transition from flats to clips.
The only real niggle I have had with the shoes is the cleat cut-out is a tad small and deep. It’s deep to maintain the cleats optimum position within the sole and the sole interacting with the pedals body, but it small size and depth also make it a mud magnet. Granted, we are riding and not walking, but these are DH shoes and DH’ers are always pushing their bikes up hills and you will have to give them a bang at the top and there’s no reason why a bit of careful scalpel action couldn’t relieve this issue, but please be careful.
Steve Smith, 2012 World Championships. Third in the world and rocking Hellcats. Now that’s pedigree and Smith wasn’t even a factory Five Ten rider at this point… Now that’s testament to a great product!
All in all these are some amazing shoes where form meets function head on and that’s what I like. I hate faffing with my gear and hate it when things that shouldn’t get in the way of my riding. I also like my gear to look as good as it works and sometimes I can tolerate this the other way round too, but why not. I’m pretty convinced that any DHer looking to make the transition to clips should take a long hard look in the Hellcats direction. They are expensive, but in your hands, on your feet and on the trail, you’ll soon see where your hard earned cash has gone as these are some amazing shoes for your “devil pedals”. Clips might be for kooks, but the Hellcat’s from Five Ten are for World Cup pinners and week-end warrior alike!
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