by Nick Zuzelski
All it takes is a quick look around today's World Cup races and you'll see Five Ten Hellcats strapped to some of your favorite rider's feet. Coming in hot with a new colorway, Lime Punch, we got the chance to run these tried and true clipless shoes ourselves and we wasted little time putting them through about as much abuse as we could muster up to see what they are made of. Answers below!
Five Ten Hellcat Highlights
- Sole material: Stealth S1 rubber
- Upper Material: Synthetic / Leather
- Closure:Laces / Velcro
- Pedal type: Clipless
- Weight: (Size 9) 20.1 Oz/ 570g each
- Available sizes (US): 6-12, 13, 14
- MSRP: $130 USD
Being a huge Five Ten fan when it comes to flat pedals, I was excited to see how the Hellcats would perform. Coming off Shimano's DX shoes, I had no complaints with my set up, but I have always wanted to see how the Stealth rubber soles would feel in a clipless scenario. While I haven't officially weighed the Hellcats versus the DX's, they seemed very similar in weight using the trusty hand scale - something I was a little disappointed with since this seem to be fairly heavy for a shoe. There is a good reason for the weight though, full leather construction wraps the exterior of the shoe while Stealth rubber keeps things sticky on the bottom.
The general construction of the shoe is confidence-inspiring and it certainly doesn't seem likely to start falling apart anytime soon. The green lime punch colors are definitely flashy and match up well with today's fluorescent craze. Once laced up, the velcro strap not only acts as a "keeper" for your laces, but the added pressure keeps your foot more planted in the shoe.
On The Trail
I initially mounted up a set of Crank Brothers Mallet pedals and cleats. Using one spacer under the cleat, I got the set-up the way I wanted it and headed for the trails. After a few months on the Mallets, I switched to the VP Components VX Adventure pedals. Both these pedals functioned perfectly with the Hellcats.
The soles of the Hellcats offer good amount of support and flex under the foot both while riding and hiking. No hot spots developed under the foot while riding. The extra grip from the Stealth rubber was noticeable, especially when out of the clips and riding on the platform of the pedal, but it did not seem to interfere with the process of clipping in and out. Just like my other experiences with Five Tens, this is a shoe I could wear all day and stay comfortable.
The bottom tread pattern is a tight design that gives great traction both on the pedals and when hiking on rocks. On the flipside, the tight pattern does pick up and hold mud when conditions get sticky and it has trouble cleaning itself like more open designs can.
During wet rides, the shoes were not impervious to moisture. Very comparable to a standard leather skate shoe as far as water resistance goes, a few deep puddles or a ride in the rain saw wet socks - although my riding gear was often soaked by then too. The lace area on the top of the shoe is particularly exposed and creates an easy way in for water. After a soggy ride, the shoes would usually dry out overnight if placed indoors.
Things That Could Be Improved
While I feel that the shoe is a solid, robust design, it would be nice to see a weight reduction. Of course, this could eventually sacrifice the long term durability and protection that the Hellcats have exhibited so far, so this might be a design point that is hard to improve on.
The bottom of the sole did seem to lack in mud shedding capabilities as the small tread pattern easily picks up and traps stickier, wet soil. This doesn't affect the rideability too much, but it does drag a lot of mud and sand into the car and garage after muddy rides.
Long Term Durability
After hundreds of miles on the trails, bike park laps and plenty of hike-a-bike adventures, the Hellcats have stood up to all the mud bathing, toe smashing and pedal grinding I can throw at them. No blown stitches to report, and neither sole cracking nor glue separation has occurred.
Visually, the color has slightly faded to a more yellow hue, mostly around the toe area which has been heavily exposed to moisture, impact and general wear. As far as the dyed leather bits go, they still look decently fresh and stand out nicely.
What's The Bottom Line?
The Five Ten Hellcats have proven to be a tough, durable shoe that stands up to the abuse that DH and trail riding dishes out. If you are looking for a flashy pair of new clipless kicks that will take a lickin’, the Lime Punch Hellcats are a top pick.
For more information, head on over to www.fiveten.com.
About The Reviewer
Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session were never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks. If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.