FIVE TEN TRAILCROSS CL CLIPLESS SHOE REVIEW
Review by Alex Sardella | Photos by Vincent Zacha-Herthel
Five Ten is a brand that needs little introduction when it comes to mountain bike footwear. The brand has been a leader in the industry as far as I can remember and claim a stout line of footwear for all riders, ages, and disciplines. Since the purchase from Adidas, Five Tens style and design has taken a turn, for better or worse, but the quality and reliability of the famous Stealth Rubber remains. I have been stacking summer miles in the new Trailcross CL offering and have been pleased to find the overall durability and quality we have come to expect from Five Ten.
Five Ten first launched the Trailcross line into the market as a flat pedal offering, then expanding to a high top, and finally a Gore-Tex equipped wet and cold weather option. The growing popularity meant that a Trailcross Clip In would be next in line. The Clip in option provides the exact same look and feel as its flat platform counterpart, but of course with the added functionality of the cleat track for clip in pedals. At first glance the shoes look well designed and sleek. A reliable lace system combined with a Velcro strap do the trick in keeping the laces tied and secure and your foot firmly cinched down. An incredibly light and breathable top fabric allows air to flow through for breathability. There is a sturdy outer toe box that is rigid and strong. Speaking of strong, the shoes have a mid to stiff flex underfoot. The bottom of the shoe features Five Ten’s patented Stealth Rubber accompanied by a center platform to mount up cleats.
The shoes are rather simple from a technical standpoint, with nothing revolutionary or overthought. A few colorways are offered and there is no high-top option, like its flat pedal equivalent. The Trailcross comes in a nice range of sizes, 6-15 US, and runs $165 at checkout.
Five Ten’s technology has a highly priced stock in the mountain bike scene. After riding these shoes for 50+ rides, I am happy to report that they have checked nearly all the boxes in terms of durability and functionality for a summer in the Sierra’s. The Trailcross CL have proved to be an ideal shoe for the warmer months. The highly breathable toe box combined with the lightweight, sneaker like feel is a nice combination, making for a comfortable environment for feet on long days on the pedals.
Even though the shoes are low tops, the shank flex provides a natural walking feel – both walking into a local convenience store, or hike-a-biking up the steeps. The lightweight ankle strap helps prevent heel lift or any additional interior foot movement. I have been able to test the Trail Crosses on some big alpine rides this summer, to the likes of 5k descents, and no hot spots, cramping, or numbness around the ball of the foot have been experienced, suggesting the stiffness has been retained in the necessary places.
I have been running standard cleat setups to pair with the Trail Cross CL’s. No spacers on the SPD cleat system, and just the standard shim setup on the Crankbrothers Mallet E Pedal. Keeping the cleat/pedal/shoe integration as simple as possible is always a plus in my book. The Stealth Rubber is showing little to no signs of wear after the time split between the aforementioned pedals, suggesting it’ll last for the long haul.
My only gripe is the drawback of the highly breathable toe box mentioned above. It’s an incredibly nice touch for the warm and dry rides but can also serve as a negative. The Trailcross shoes won’t stand up to any wet weather, so much so that I have opted to switch shoes on the one or two rainy days we have had this summer. Similarly in highly dusty conditions you’ll find your shoes stained with the shade of brown from the riding zone. If you are a rider in the PNW these may only be a summer shoe, but if you are a rider riding year-round in a warm/hot desert like climate, the Trailcross would be an amazing option.
For what it’s worth, the style of the shoe feels more like a tennis shoe than a hard charging mtb shoe, especially at the lighter color options. I’d lean on these being a great option for general trail riding, and not so much enduro racing as the stiffness and ankle support likely won’t be enough for a day between the tape. Additionally, the strap could be a bit longer on the ankle to fully cover the full length of the Velcro and give a touch more of ankle support.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The simple approach to the Five Ten Trailcross has left a strong impression and positive experience in my testing over the last few months. This is my first pair of Five Ten’s in a few years and have enjoyed remembering the quality and durability of the Stealth Rubber. I would prefer the black option, as the tan color shown feels a bit like you are heading to a tennis court rather than hunting loamers in the woods. The fan favorite Stealth Rubber combined with a simple lace and Velcro system make these shoes a solid contender for your everyday trail riding needs in the warmer and dryer months. With that, I am hoping Five Ten will release the Trailcross Clip-In in a Gore-Tex option! Time will tell.
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