The Good: Great looks, lots of color choices, don't look like ski boots
The Bad: The VXi does not offer the same protection as the Freerider version
I’ve tried several bike specific shoes in the past, most recently Sombrio shoes as well as the Five Ten Freerider and after really liking the old Five Tens I thought I would try out the newer Freerider VXi versions. The first thing I noticed about the Freerider VXi versus the standard Freerider is the lack of bulk, the VXi although still offering quite a bit of protection are nowhere as bulky and stiff/rugged as the older Freeriders. This is great when the shoe is used as a casual sneaker but there have been some occasions that I’ve missed the thick toe covering of the old shoe, this was noticed when sticking the foot out around fast corners or dabbing in the rock gardens. You can definitely notice the lack of material in this shoe versus the Freerider on the whole shoe, even the tongue is less bulky, but most noticeable is the toe piece has quite a bit less martial and protection. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just if you are looking for the same kind of protection as with the Freerider version you may not find it in this shoe. I like to think of the VXi’s as a lighter/softer version of the Freerider.
The quality of the shoe is still great; after a season of riding various conditions the seams and stitching is still together and there have been no issues with any material breakdown. Comfort wise, on the bike, just like with the Freerider these shoes work great, whether you are riding all day at a resort or just trail riding or doing hike-a-bike trips, they perform perfectly. I do find these shoes a bit more comfortable off the bike compared to the Freerider version, I think this is due to being less stiff than those, so if you do tend to use your bike shoes are a casual skate shoes, I would choose these VXi versions over the Freerider version.
One thing I did notice is that cleaning these shoes after a muddy ride is a tad harder than the Freerider as with these the mud seems to sink in a bit more into some of the materials whereas with the Freerider it just seemed to wash or wipe off easier.
On to the grip, this is the reason we all ride Five Ten shoes, I have read reviews that the Freeriders were at times too grippy. I never found this to be the case but could see how some people find that the shoes stick to the pedal at times and do not allow for much movement when you want to adjust your footing. With these VXi, they are still super sticky but they do offer a bit more movements on the pedals. They still do perform extremely well and stick to the pedals like no other shoes, regardless if conditions are dusty or muddy.
So overall my experience with the VXi has been very favorable, they are more comfortable than the Freeriders but do provide less protection from the elements. If you are looking for loads of protection stick with the Freerider (or even more so the Impacts) but if you need a less aggressive shoes that still sticks to the pedals and can be worn off the bike these are the way to go.