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Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Clipless Shoe (discontinued)

Average User Rating: (Outstanding) Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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Discontinued
Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Clipless Shoes
 Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Clipless Shoe  Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Clipless Shoe  Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Clipless Shoe  Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Clipless Shoe  Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Clipless Shoe  Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Clipless Shoe  Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Clipless Shoe
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Tested: Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Clipless Shoe

Rating: Vital Review

Review by Jeff Brines // Photos by Ryan Hoff (action) and Jeff Brines (product)

Five Ten has long owned the flat pedal shoe market. The company’s stealth rubber shoes offer platform pedal grip that has proven unrivaled. As a clipless pedal rider, I’ve long wanted a 5-10 stealth rubber shoe that offers SPD compatibility at a reasonable weight and with good sole stiffness. Enter the new Maltese Falcon LT.

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Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Highlights

  • Stealth S1 rubber sole
  • Upper shoe material: synthetic textile, water repellent
  • Closure: laces/velcro
  • Weight – 475 grams each (claimed) 498 each (actual)
  • Price: MSRP $140

Initial Impressions

Perhaps the most important thing about any shoe is fit. To think you’ll garner enough information via the internet to determine if a shoe will really fit, without trying it on, is probably a stretch. Still, I’ll give my $0.02 as to the shoe's fit. First, I have a flat C-width foot. For the skiers out there (I spend my winter reviewing ski boots) I usually fit 98mm last lower-volume boots with minimal work. Point is, despite my flat flippers looking “fat”, my feet are actually average volume. All that said, my foot fit in this shoe with minimal break in and it seems true to size. I did develop some hot spots on extended descents but this is fairly normal for me and is remediable with a few small modifications to the footbed and cleat position. YMMV (your mileage may vary).

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Now, I’m not a girl. I do not have a shoe fetish. And I’m partly embarrassed (or not?) to say that almost all of the footwear in my closet serves a specific function (ski boots, road shoes, work boots, driving shoes, golf shoes etc). Point is, I'm no Jimmy Chou - more of a Josh Temple type, truth be told.

WIth that said, I’m always shocked at just how bad cycling shoes can look. Wild colors, strange fabric, goofy shapes, clickity clackity noises. Often I wonder if the shoe designer collective starts the design process by taking a bunch of acid, popping in the movie "Elf" and scribbling on a notepad the inspiration that comes forth... be that as it may, the result is seldom "normal" looking.

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Looking to the Maltese Falcon LT, the shoe is far easier on the eyes compared to most other cycling shoes. However, when compared to 5-10's own flat shoe offerings, I believe there is still a bit of room for improvement. The Maltese Falcons have a look that is something between space-age moon shoe and the kicks your grandpa might be wearing at the local nursing home with a bit of skater-ish shape thrown in. As much as I dig the lace covers I wonder if they are really something we need outside the always-muddy UK…and dropping them would reduce weight. In the end, I’d like something styled more closely to a traditional skate-style shoe but in the grand scheme of things, these ain't half bad…

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On the Trail

Being that this is an enduro/downhill type shoe, I felt it was best to test it with a platform style clipless pedal - enter the Crank Brothers Mallet DH. From first clip in, it was readily apparent that I was riding a shoe with the ultra grippy Stealth Rubber. The pins of the pedal tenaciously dug into the sole of the shoe, which in a way made the float of the Mallet feel a lot “tighter”. It was much more difficult to rotate or adjust the shoe’s orientation once clipped in.

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To help negate this feeling, I dropped the pin height of the pedal a bit. This allowed the shoe to feel a bit more “free” and take advantage of the pedal’s float when clipped in. Still, even with the pins lowered, I found myself feeling more locked in when compared to other trail shoes with less friction in the sole. I actually had a few “oh shit” moments when trying to unclip (yes I tipped over...). Obviously, this could be negated by a less aggressive flat pedal, playing with shims to raise the cleat or even going to a non platform style clipless pedal. However, with a bit of time, I became used to the how the rubber and pedal interacted but it did take a hair more effort to get out of no matter what flat-pedal clipless setup I was utilizing.

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To me, the big question with respect to this shoe is how it performs while riding unclipped and standing on the pedal. All clipless riders can relate to those times when you are unable to clip back in prior to a gnarly section of trail. In such situations you have two choices, slow down and clip in or hold your speed, smash your shoe on the pedal in the best position you can and hope for the best - which is akin to playing russian roulette as to whether or not your shoe will stay on the pedal. The Holy Grail of shoe-pedal interface is a system that’ll allow the rider to ride as if he/she is on flats when unclipped. So, how did these perform in such as situation? To test the capabilities of the shoe I went to pretty extreme measures. I actually installed non-Crank Brothers cleats on the Maltese. This way there was a cleat on the bottom of the shoe that I’d be unable to clip into. After a few rides like this, the answer is that the Maltese Falcons performed notably better than most any other non-stealth rubber clipless shoes but still wasn’t “stealth rubber to normal flat pedals” good.

The fact of the matter is that there is a metal cleat on the bottom of the shoe right under the ball of your foot. Chances are, when you are unclipped, you are still close to this “athletic” part of your foot which means there is a high likelihood of the cleat skating around on the top of the pedal. When you have this metal on metal interface, no amount of sticky rubber is going to fix it. Sure, you could raise the pins or lower the cleats but this means you would have to accept that getting out of the pedal would become extremely challenging (when actually clipped in).

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Going back to the correct cleat I started to realize that with a little adjustment, you could ride these unclipped more aggressively than normal clipless shoes. Simply stand on a part of the shoe where the cleat is no longer interfacing with the pedal. This puts you in a less than perfect position on the pedal but you know? It works.

For some riders this could translate to seconds on the race course as they could unclip, dab, mash their heel or toe on the pedal, ride a few seconds through something rough without getting kicked off then find a moment to clip back in during a smoother section of the trail. For others, who can’t seem to wrap their head around riding on their heels or toes, the shoe will likely just frustrate you.

Turning to efficiency (no pun intended) the shoe pedaled well and never felt all that heavy. Sure, this isn't an XC race shoe but it isn’t billed as such either. Weight and stiffness felt on par with, or perhaps a bit better than, other shoes in this category. Living in Jackson, it never gets all that hot around here but the shoe seemed to breathe well and kept my feet happy while riding. Again, the shoe isn't XC stiff but I seldom found myself thinking "man I wish this was a bunch stiffer". Overall it had an acceptable balance of “feel” and “stiffness”.

Finally, I did ride in the rain and I found the Maltese Falcons certainly repelled water better than most. And since they don't soak up much water they also dry out quickly after the more H2O-rich sessions. Overall they performed very well in the wet.

Long Term Durability

The shoe’s durability has been excellent so far. No stitching has gone AWOL, no tears are apparent anywhere, and the sole is wearing well. Great marks here all around.

Things That Could Be Improved

Honestly, the only way to make this shoe work better for its intended purpose, would be to engineer the shoe’s rubber to be sticky in certain places and non sticky in others.Obviously, at ~500 grams or so some weight could be dropped and perhaps a touch more stiffness added. But hey, everything could *always* be lighter and stiffer right?

Beyond these improvements, the only way to accomplish the aforementioned "holy grail" clipless shoe would be to engineer an entirely new pedal/shoe system. Perhaps an electro-magnet system? Somebody has to day dream right?

What's The Bottom Line?

This shoe is an awesome trail or (dare I say) enduro shoe. It's relatively light, stiff by “skate shoe” standards and holds up well. The shoe’s stealth rubber sole brings an interesting component to an already solid shoe. For the clipless riders out there who love the locked in feel of stealth rubber on flats and want a bit more grip when unclipped, this is your true calling. For those looking for the easiest setup to clip in and out of, keep looking. To me personally, the Maltese Falcon is one of the best choices out there, at an attractive price to boot...

For more information, head on over to www.fiveten.com.


About The Reviewer

Jeff Brines didn't go on a real date until he was nearly 20 years old, largely as a result of his borderline unhealthy obsession with bicycles. Although his infatuation with two wheels may have lead to stuttering and sweatiness around the opposite sex, it did provide for an ideal environment to quickly progress through the ranks of both gravity and cross-country racing. These days, Jeff races enduro at the pro level, rides upward of 150 days a year while logging over 325k of human powered ascending/descending on his bike. Bred as a racer, Jeff is more likely to look for the fastest way through a section as opposed to the most playful. Living in the shadow of the Tetons in Jackson, WY, Jeff works in financial intelligence and spends his winters as head ski gear guru and content manager over at earlyups.com.

Five Ten Maltese Falcon Race Clipless Shoes review

Rating: Featured Member Review
The Good:

Stiff/ grippy soles, good protection, lightweight, comfortable for longer rides. Great shoe for the more aggressive trail rider looking for the benefits of clipless and the benefits of a flat pedal DH shoe.

The Bad:

Not as stiff as an XC shoe (good thing and bad thing), cleats are lower than rubber sole which makes them loud to walk in and slippery if you are not on your toes or heels. Broke cloth eyelet after a month of riding with them.

Overall Review:

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Mountain bikers have a huge range of shoes to choose from these days depending on style, location, application etc. and it is easy to get caught up in the gimmicks and marketing ploys. I started riding clipless a few years ago and haven’t looked back since, but finding a shoe that ticks all of the boxes has been tough.

Enter the Five Ten Maltese Falcon Lt: a shoe that has the protection and grip of a flat pedal shoe but with the sole stiffness and cleat compatibility of a more XC-minded option. When I first looked at the shoes, I was definitely unsure about the looks. It has some of the skate shoe styling Five Ten is known for, but with the velcro straps, it kind of looks like a shoe a grandpa would wear if they used to skate when they were younger. I will say, however, that the looks have been growing on me and once on my feet, the shoe looks pretty nice. Comfort is on par; I am used to Shimano clipless shoes and these definitely have more padding and better arch support. Even with high volume, wide feet, these did not have any fit issues or noticeable pressure points. Coming from an XC shoe with velcro straps and a ratchet, I liked the adjustability of a lace system. I could get the shoes tighter near my ankles and looser by the toe box, like I prefer. The velcro straps, designed to keep the laces in check and away from your chain, also provides a bit more tightness to the shoe, and allows me to dial in how the shoes feel.

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Cleat Installation

Installing the cleats was a bit painful as you have to cut the rubber plug with a knife and then peel it away in order to access the slots. I used an exacto knife and it went easy enough, but cutting into a brand new anything is a bit daunting. I get that some people might want to run these shoes with flat pedals, but the sole stiffness and overall design of the shoes is made for clipless pedals. Flat pedals users would be much better off with a standard Five Ten flat pedal option. These cleat channels allow for a decent amount of adjustability and are fairly far back on the foot. The shoe is obviously designed for MTB applications, but I think it would make a decent commuter shoe as well. The cleat is fairly recessed in the shoe, but it still contacts the ground a bit — I haven’t had any issues with that yet.

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Initial ride

I haven’t had a lot of ride time in these shoes yet, but my initial response was pretty positive. Sole felt stiff but more forgiving on bumps than my XC shoes. This is something most will appreciate in all mountain riding: where the cleat area can create a hotspot on longer descents when the sole lacks padding and is too stiff. I did not feel that the sole cause any lack of power when pedaling, but a rider in a cross country setting might notice a slight difference from an XC slipper. I like how locked in my heel feels – I haven’t noticed any issues with slipping or my heel lifting up when climbing.

One of the main traits I noticed was how nice the extra grip was on the sole. Five Ten is known for their grippy rubber, and they certainly do not disappoint. When hiking around, I noticed substantially more grip than I was used to (my XC shoes feel like ice skates on steep slick rock or loose sections). I also noticed that the rubber around the cleat came in contact with the pedal body giving me a more locked-in feel, but I could still release from the pedals pretty easily. The rubber also allowed me to float my foot on the pedal in a techy section where I did not want to be clipped in. Some may have a hard time getting used to using the toe or heel on the pedal when doing this, but you get used to it pretty quick. The stealth rubber they use is much more confidence inspiring than the hard plastic or rubber used on most XC shoes.

I positioned my cleats in the middle of the channel creating a good balance, allowing me to hang off the back of my bike as well as climb as efficiently as I need to. I did not notice any hotspots after my first ride with the shoes, but I have not put a lot of time into them yet.
While I have not had to test it out yet, I appreciate the rubber around the heel and the sturdy looking toe. It may not have as much padding as an all out DH shoe like a Sam Hill model, but it is lightweight and claims that it will dry quickly. I rode with these Five Ten’s in 25 degree weather, and my toes stayed pretty warm; however, this leads me to believe that in hot temperatures some may find these to be a little warm. They have some ventilation, but not a lot, especially compared to most XC shoes. I like the ventilation because you get the extra padding which is nice for more aggressive riding. The shoes will not soak up water through the vents – an issue I have had in the past with other shoes.

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Final Thoughts

If you are in the market for a versatile shoe that will work on more cross country oriented rides as well as clipped in DH runs, this might be a good match. The grippy soles make hike-a-bike a bit easier, and the padding and slight give to the sole makes them comfortable on descents. Riders who aren’t concerned about a touch extra weight and bulk will like the comfort and function of the shoes and decent looks to boot. I think Five Ten created the perfect shoe for the average rider looking to have fun on their rides with the benefits of being clipped in, and I would not hesitate recommending this shoe to anyone.

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Specifications

Product Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Clipless Shoe
Riding Type Trail
Rider Unisex
Construction STEALTH S1 Rubber Soles // Synthetic Textile Upper Material Repels Water and Dries Overnight // Laces and Velcro Closure
Pedal Type SPD
Sizes 6-12, 13 US
Colors Mono Grey/Red
Weight 0 lb 14.9 oz (422 g)
Miscellaneous Weight is for Size 9 US shoe
Price $140
More Info

Five Ten Website

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