Five Ten Impact Low Flat Pedal Shoe

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Tested: 2016 Five Ten Impact Low

Rating: Vital Review

Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Tal Rozow and Johan Hjord

If there is one name in mountain biking that is synonymous with flat pedal shoes, it’s Five Ten. And if there is one model that is synonymous with Five Ten, it’s the Impact. With design roots that hark back to the very first experiments with sticky climbing rubber for mountain biking, the Impact has always been the prime choice for flat pedal riders everywhere. That is not to say that this shoe has been exempt of criticism throughout its lifetime, in fact, far from it. There have been many well-documented quality issues over the years, and anybody who has ever ridden one Read More »

Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Tal Rozow and Johan Hjord

If there is one name in mountain biking that is synonymous with flat pedal shoes, it’s Five Ten. And if there is one model that is synonymous with Five Ten, it’s the Impact. With design roots that hark back to the very first experiments with sticky climbing rubber for mountain biking, the Impact has always been the prime choice for flat pedal riders everywhere. That is not to say that this shoe has been exempt of criticism throughout its lifetime, in fact, far from it. There have been many well-documented quality issues over the years, and anybody who has ever ridden one of the older models in the wet season will have not so fond memories of shoes that pretty much refused to dry out ever. With a lot of small changes being implemented in the 2016 model, we were eager to see if Five Ten had finally produced a shoe worthy of the sole it sits on. Read on to find out!

2016 Five Ten Impact Low Highlights

  • Stealth® S1™ rubber outsole
  • Durable leather upper with breathable canvas panels
  • Compression-molded PU midsole
  • Stitched & reinforced toe cap protection
  • Colors: Grey, Black/Blue, Black/Red
  • 552g each (Size 9US)
  • MSRP: $150.00 USD

Initial Impressions

Pulling the 2016 Impact Low from the box revealed a shoe that is certainly burly, but also a bit more refined than previous versions. There is a mix of canvas and leather in the upper, the lacing system has been simplified, and the outsole has been given a new shape.

One of the first things we looked for was whether or not Five Ten had added stitching to the front of the sole (where it rolls up over the toebox area), and we were pleased to see that they finally have. This has always been a weak spot on the Impact, one that would often require a few drops of superglue to stay put. Based on our experience with other Five Ten models, once stitched this problem is no more.

Continuing our examination of the new Impact, a few more aspects stood out: the tongue has been simplified, it is no longer attached along one side as it was on the previous generation. Along with the updated materials used, this should help the shoe take on less water and dry out faster when it does. The canvas panels also improve breathability. The heel area is now a lot more padded, a “slingshot” design that Five Ten says should help provide a more secure fit. The lacing system no longer features the hidden straps of the previous generation, replaced by classic, reinforced eyelets that should prove more resilient (those hidden straps were prone to failure).

Overall, the new Impact seems to have been put together with care. The stitching is even, and the cuts are precise. High time to get them dirty then!

On The Trail

The new Impact is a slightly tighter fit than the previous generation. The new “slingshot” design of the heel area adds quite a lot of padding here, which pushes your foot forward in the shoe. Other than that, the fit is similar to that of the previous versions of this shoe, that is to say, a fairly sturdy or even clunky affair. The sole is thick, and in general, the shoe is fairly rigid. You certainly know you’re wearing it – not least because it also tips the scales at a fairly hefty 650 grams (for our size 12 sample), 230 grams more than the Impact VXi.

The magic Five Ten ingredient has always been the Stealth rubber soles. Derived from climbing shoe rubber, the S1 compound featured on the Impact combines grip and durability in a way that few, if any, competitors have ever managed to dial in. Even the slightest pressure is enough to generate grip on the pedal, and should the latter happen to feature a reasonably aggressive set of pins, you’re as close to clipping in as you’re gonna get without buying SPDs.

On the trail, the Impacts provide a solid, burly feel. The thick, stiff sole isolates you from the pedal while the sturdy upper does its best to protect you when sticking your foot where it was never meant to go. The grip is faultless in the dry as in the wet.

In terms of comfort, this new generation takes a lot longer to break in than the previous model. Even after 4 months of intensive riding, the shoe is still quite snug. It lacks a bit of arch support, and the stiff, flat sole makes itself known on longer, more pedally rides where it can be prone to creating hot spots or numbing your toes a bit. Similarly, the Impact is not ideal for longer hikes. Of course, none of all that is what the shoe was actually designed for. When it comes to doing what it does best, i.e. blast down gnarly trails as fast as possible, it is close to perfect.

In terms of the overall riding experience, the Impact is a blunt weapon. If you want to feel your toes curl around your pedals, or count the pins on your pedals with your feet, this is not the shoe for you. The Impact VXi provides a lot more feedback underfoot, and the Freerider Contact even more so. As a general rule, the latter are more suitable for longer days out where getting up the hill is a self-powered endeavor, whilst the Impacts really come into their own on shuttle or lift-assisted days (Sam Hill doesn’t need rules and crushes EWS races in his signature Impacts of course). Ultimately, it is up to you to balance your need for protection with weight and feel. In terms of grip, there is little to choose between the S1 rubber on the Impacts and the Mi6 version on the Impact VXi and Freerider Contact. Pick your poison!

Given that the Impacts showed up for testing very late in the season, we’ve not been able to thoroughly test their performance in wet conditions. They certainly still grip when it’s muddy, and it seems as though they take on a lot less water than their predecessors, but we’ll need to come back to this review and cover off that point in depth once the rainy season gets here again.

Things That Could Be Improved

We previously discussed the “slingshot” feature of the heel area. It is basically a thick strip of foam inside the back of the shoe, meant to cup your heel and provide a more secure fit. We feel this strip needs to be placed a little higher to really make an impact (pun fully intended). As it is, it felt a bit odd at first, almost like the shoe wasn’t really on the foot, although this got better with time. It is really only an issue of feeling, as the fit is very secure in action.

Other than that, we’d love to see a slightly more sculpted insole, with a tad more arch support and/or a little more room for the toes – although this is of course a very individual observation.

Long Term Durability

After performance, the key question we wanted answered was whether or not Five Ten have finally laid the durability concerns to rest. We’ve given the new Impact a solid 4-month thrashing in order to uncover any issues, and we’re happy to report that it would indeed seem that this is the case. There is no visible delamination of the sole in any area, the stitching is holding up, and the materials seem largely unfazed by whatever abuse we’ve managed to dish out so far. As for the sole itself, S1 rubber is still the way to go if you want max durability. Mi6 rubber is softer and might have a slight edge when it comes to grip (although not by much), but this comes at a price. They wear out a lot faster than the S1 version does. In the shot below, the Impact VXi (Mi6) sits on top, with the previous generation Impact S1 in the middle, and the Freerider Contact (Mi6) at the bottom. You can clearly see that even after about 1 year of riding, the S1 sole is in far better shape than either of its Mi6 cousins (and that was only after about 4 months on the Impact VXi). We also have a pair of Impact VXi that were ridden hard for 1 year, they've been retired after we ran out of Shoe Goo to keep the soles from falling off.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The Impact has always been a love/hate shoe for many people. Love the grip and the protection, hate the niggling quality issues. Over the years, Five Ten have made gradual improvements to this classic design, and the 2016 edition is by far the best iteration to date. It is still a burly beast that provides the best grip and protection in the business, but it is a lot more refined than it used to be, both in terms of materials and workmanship. There is still room for minor improvements, but if gravity is your game and rowdy is your middle name, this is just about as good as it gets. And those are some pretty big shoes to fill!

More information at www.fiveten.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

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Specifications

Product Five Ten Impact Low Flat Pedal Shoe
Riding Type Trail, Freeride, Downhill, Dirt Jump / Urban
Rider
Construction Leather/Canvas
Rubber Type Stealth S1
Sizes 5-14 US
Colors Grey, Black/Blue, Black/Red
Weight 1 lb 3.5 oz (552 g)
Miscellaneous Weight listed 552 grams for size 9 US

Burly Stealth® S1™ rubber outsole
Durable leather upper with breathable canvas panels
Compression-molded PU midsole
Stitched & reinforced toe cap protection
Price $150
More Info

​Five Ten's website