Five Ten Hellcat Pro Review
Review by Drew Rohde | Photos by Dusten Ryen
The new Five Ten Hellcat Pro shoes are the first clipless shoes I’ve ridden from the brand in a number of years. They are also the first I’ve worn since Five Ten’s massive, recycled materials campaign began. When it comes to flat pedal traction, Five Ten has a loyal fanbase and are world renowned. Their clipless (clip-in) shoes have sat in the shadows of their flat pedal offerings, providing some great performance but without a selling point quite as strong as the once unparalleled grip of their flat pedal shoes. Their most recent iteration of the Hellcat Pro builds upon the solid foundations of their previous model and adds some new tech and materials that blew me away after just one ride. We were excited to test how they would stack up in a competitive market.
The Adidas / Five Ten Hellcat Pro mountain bike shoes are designed to offer gravity fiends the ultimate in clipless pedal footwear. This regular-fit shoe features an upper made of synthetic materials. Of the many materials used, 20% of them are built from material that consists of 50% or more recycled plastics. That recycled material is reinforced with abrasion resistant welding to fend off the abuse of downhill and enduro riding. We’re no scientists but we were very curious how recycled plastic would feel in a shoe, and honestly, if we didn’t know any better, we’d just think they were regular shoes. The upper also gets a DWR treatment to help shed light rain, puddle splashes and some light mud encounters. To help them breath, some perforations are made on the rear of the toe box and there’s a mesh panel on the side of the foot.
Reinforced toe and heel areas keep things safe while on the charge and have certainly been tested thoroughly as we’ve been riding hard in the bike park and while bashing eMTBs through lava rock fields. To transfer power without being abusive on long downhills, Five Ten has made the midsole stiffer than their flat pedal offerings but also tune the 3/4 density TPU shank to flex a bit while walking or encountering big hits on downhill terrain. I use my feet and hands as gauges when testing bikes and how their suspension platforms work over square-edge hits. Some shoes can exacerbate a poor suspension design and lead to foot fatigue on long downhills. No matter the bike, I never had any foot fatigue issues in these shoes and I think the tuned shank and compression-molded EVA midsole help work together to offer a comfortable ride.
A generous cleat area is surrounded by their signature Stealth Marathon rubber outsole to find traction on pedal pins and the ground. A molded sock liner hugs the foot to increase comfort and security. A combination of laces and a hook-and-loop strap fastens the shoes tightly around the foot. The $180 Hellcat Pro is available in a men’s and women’s color in sizes US 4-14 and Women’s 5-11 respectively.
Strapping on the Five Ten Hellcat Pro’s for the first time provided a comfortable fit that’s true to size. The lace and Velcro strap combination does a great job of distributing the pressure across the foot while avoiding any movement within the shoe when pulling up on the pedal. The cleat area is generous and lets you slam the cleat back towards the arch or far forward towards the toes with plenty of clearance around to shed mud. Depending on your pedal interface you may need to use the included spacer between the shoe and cleat to make clipping in and out easier.
The sole is stiff enough to deliver great power and performance while also avoiding any notion of foot fatigue on the longest and roughest descents. This stiffness doesn’t extend all the way to the toe however, allowing for some flex that provides a reasonably comfortable shoe to walk in. The materials used have proven to be durable throughout the test period, fending off rock strikes and crank rub without showing any signs of premature wear, suggesting the Hellcat Pros are in it for the long haul.
The mesh paneling on the side of the foot does a reasonable job at allowing the shoe to breathe, limiting the heat buildup impressively for an otherwise burly shoe. They’re not XC shoes and if you’re used to super breathable toe boxes, you’re likely not looking at this style of shoe anyhow. We did notice a fair number of debris in and around our toes however. Our home bike park, Mt. Bachelor, is full of volcanic rock, pumice and little sandy granules that just work their way into everything. Compared to some of the other shoes I’ve ridden from Bontrager and Ride Concepts, I do believe my toes were a bit grittier after long days in the park. When comparing foot comfort and fatigue to those shoes, I’d say the Five Ten Hellcats are every bit as comfortable and probably neck and neck with the Ride Concepts in terms of cushion and comfort for downhilling.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The fact that Five Ten is making efforts to move towards recycled materials is awesome. Helping to limit the environmental impact humans have is a big plus in our eyes. The lack of tongue gussets allows grit and sand to enter the shoe easier than some alternatives, which can occasionally lead to a little discomfort in decomposed conditions but didn’t prove to be a major issue. The Hellcat Pro is certainly not a cheap option, but their durability in our testing so far suggests they may prove to be reasonable value over their lifetime.
It’s not often we’re blown away by a product here at the Wolf Den, but the Five Ten Hellcat Pros buck that trend by offering recycled material in a class leading clipless pedal shoe. Performance, happy feet, and reasonable durability help justify their premium price tag and make them a shoe we’d recommend for aggressive trail riders, enduro or DH shredders who want to get a new set of clipless shoes.
Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.