Review by Sean "Griz"McClendon // Action photo by Ian Collins
I remember my first set of Intense sticky rubber high tops back in 2003. They were a size too big, the stealth rubber performance was second to none and I happily ran them until switching to clips for racing. Entering the bike market with their Impact high and low top shoes, 5.10 quickly became popular with the rise of Sam Hill and his mind-numbing approach to racing in the mid-2000’s.Since then, the sticky rubber specialist brand has been the rider’s choice for flat pedal footwear for nearly a decade and people are running them for hundreds of miles after they fall apart. Developed with Sam Hill and Brook Macdonald, the Impact VXi is the latest and greatest gravity shoe from 5.10. Are they bitchin? Do they stink? What’s the deal? 4 months of testing are in the bag so, let’s get this party started.
Impact VXi Highlights
- Mi6 rubber sole
- Wide toe box
- Stiff sole
- Jumbo arch support
- Slim profile
- Improved style
- Red or Black lace options
- Weight: 360 grams/12.7-ounces
- Improved toe protection
- MSRP: $150 USD
Out of the box, I could immediately feel that the shoes weighed less than any previous Impact model before trying them on. Style is also improved as 5.10 moves away from the moon boot flair, although the new toe design looks like rugged chef clogs mated with a skate shoe.
Function beats fashion with plenty of room in the toe box for a wide hoof like mine. And much like a chef’s clog, the toes are designed to protect feet from harm and we’ll get to how that performed later as I did stub a toe or two in the duration of testing. Are they comfortably comfortable? Yes – the tongue is neither too thin nor too thick and there is plenty of ankle support to match the jumbo amounts of arch support for an overall fantastic feel.
I have tall arches so I really appreciate the arch support but I can’t offer any viable feedback for all you flat footed readers out there. The insoles are amazing and a set of spare laces stoked me out too. Spare laces are killer for a survival scenario. After initial inspection, I thought these shoes were better all-around and comfier than any previous pair of 5.10’s I wore. OK then, how did they ride?
On The Trail
Let me start with the little things. I can’t stand it when my shoelaces come undone and 5.10 gets an A+ because their laces hold a tight bow even when they snag on brush. Brand new Mi6 outsole rubber initially felt too sticky and “dead feeling” for me but I can understand how some would love this feeling. I could barely feel where my foot was on the pedal even with my good foot let alone make any adjustments. I tested the Impact VXi's on Deity Skyscraper pedals with a personal pin stagger – tall pins in the front of the pedal to short pins in the back – and initially there was too much grip in addition to the sole being very stiff. During the “break in” period my feet were blowing off the pedals in harsh hits from the trail. In a perfect world where 5.10 says “Griz, you’re so bitchin’ you get unlimited shoes” I would scuff the crap out of fresh Mi6 outsole rubber and obligate one of my students to lace them up and walk 20 miles to break them in before I rode them. Well no such luxuries here but after a month of testing the Impact VXi’s wore into their “sweet spot” and I began to comprehensively enjoy their performance.
Tons of grip to the pedals with enough give to adjust as needed, comfy insoles, pleasant arch support, laces that hold a bow and they hardly stink of sweaty hoof. At this point the shoes are handling my abuse like a boss. One of my biggest irritations in life is wet feet. Water resistant? Check! SoCal actually got a couple rain storms while testing and my feet never felt soggy thanks to the water resistant material, strategic double stitching and rubber toe. Laces and the very top of the tongue absorbed moisture but I was shocked at how well these shed water and how quickly they dry out. This is a big improvement over the previous iteration of the Impact. About that toe protection mentioned earlier… Yeah, rocks still hurt when you try and kick them. It would take a steel toe to offer sufficient protection for the beating my foot took but I didn’t break any bones so it's fair to say that the VXi's offer some protection. The other alternative is to do it for Bender and start riding in motocross boots, NFG. At the end of the day these shoes get the job done in fine form.
Long Term Durability
Shoes aren’t designed to last forever but the Impact VXi’s proved to be pretty tough. The Mi6 rubber didn’t match my preference until they had a month of wear and only felt better over the following two months. You can see in the photo below how the rubber wore evenly to become one with pedal.
Eventually, chunks of rubber began to disappear and by month 4 of testing rubber started tearing and holes in the outsole began to form.
I’m still running them as is with no issues or forecast on when they’ll be toast. Keep in mind, I use really tall pedal pins where the holes formed and rubber tore so this damage is to be expected. Aside from the outsole rubber wearing pretty quickly, every other part of the shoe has stood up to my abuse exceptionally well. No stitching has come undone, they don’t smell horrendous, the insoles remain comfy and the laces still hold a tight bow. In this case, it appears the body of the shoe is going to outlast the Mi6 rubber outsole by a long shot.
What’s The Bottom Line?
If you’re a flat pedal rider, you’ll love the lighter, slimmer profile, sticky-icky, arch supporting Impact VXi. The shoes are expensive at $150 when you compare it to the competition… wait, there is no competition. So, $150 is the going rate for the lightest, most water resistant, quick drying and industry leading sticky rubber DH shoe. The improved toe box makes for a comfortable fit and offers a fair amount of protection from the hazards of downhill.Mi6 rubber is really grippy and performed amazingly well for two months for me. Eventually, after 4 months of riding 3 times per week chunks of outsole rubber went missing and holes developed. No other section of the shoes failed during testing. The Impact VXi’s are my favorite shoe by 5.10 for now.
For more information, head on over to www.fiveten.com.
About The Reviewer
Sean "Griz" McClendon is back, ladies and gentlemen. Following a major crash during the 2010 USA National Championship Pro downhill race, he put in the hours and fought his way back to health and the fun that is two wheels. Griz has ridden for a number of the USA's top teams throughout his racing career, testing prototype frames and components along the way. Motivated by the mantra "whips don't lie," you'll often find him perfecting his high-flying sideways aerial maneuvers while living the #pinelife. Check out www.grizlives.com for some of his home-grown inspiration.