Five Ten Freerider Pro Mid VCS Flat Pedal Shoe Review



Words by Robert Johnston  |  Photos by Finlay Anderson

In the world of mountain bike shoes for flat pedal riders, there’s one brand who has made the biggest impact on the industry: Five Ten. Their signature Stealth rubber compound has continued to set the benchmark for flat pedal grip for many years at this point, and Five Ten makes a comprehensive range of shoes equipped with this ultra-grippy rubber to cater to the different needs and preferences of just about every rider. In one of the more aggressive spaces in the adidas-owned brand’s lineup is the Five Ten Freerider Pro Mid VCS, a shoe which takes their successful low-profile Freerider Pro and adds some extra protection to cater to enduro and downhill riders who seek a more connected feeling with their bike compared with the burlier Impact models. I fall into that camp, and it’s safe to say I’ve enjoyed testing these shoes, but they won’t be for everyone so let me tell you all about them.


Designed to give the signature Five Ten flat pedal grip with some low profile protection for getting rowdy, the Five Ten Freerider Pro Mid VCS flat pedal shoes are based around the proven Freerider Pro shoes by the brand. This means you get the same Stealth S1 Dotty rubber outsole: a fan favorite thanks to its class-leading traction on the pedals. Below the foot is an EVA midsole to take some sting out of the trail, with an Ortholite footbed. The upper is made of a synthetic material with a low overall profile, which is given some ventilation holes to help the foot breathe. There’s some abrasion-resistant material added to key areas of the shoe in order to prolong their life, especially around the reinforced toe box.

Producing a somewhat unique look but offering some notable performance improvements, Five Ten gave the Freerider Pro Mid VCS shoes an ankle cuff made from an elastic material to keep dirt out of your socks and add a little extra support. This has pull tabs on front and rear to make it easier to fit and remove the shoes. On the inner ankle the cuff holds a D3O protective pad, keeping you protected from ankle bite on the cranks. The shoes are fastened with three hook-and-loop straps, which may not be the most aesthetically pleasing solution but allow for quick and easy tailoring of the fit of the shoe. Five Ten offers the Freerider Pro Mid VCS in US sizes 4-15 including half sizes up to size 13, in the singular black colorway tested, at a price of $180.

Five Ten Freerider Pro Mid VCS Flat Pedal Shoe Review


Unlike some of the more adidas-inspired shoes in the Five Ten range, the Freerider Pro Mid VCS is unlikely to win any fashion awards, but even so I found myself wearing these a lot over the full summer of putting them to the test. For me, performance will always trump prettiness, and these shoes have been performing very well for the most gravity-oriented rides in my calendar. I ran into some minor discomfort initially with the tongue digging into the top of my foot when pedaling, but this subsided after a couple of rides and didn’t present itself again during testing. Getting them on is slightly more involved than many shoes due to the sock construction, but the dual pull-tabs ease the process and make it passable. The three Velcro strap design might not be the most refined looking solution but makes for quick and easy adjustment and effective tailoring of the fit across different zones of the foot to ensure a comfortable and secure fit. I found these straps to be a little on the long side when I was wearing standard sports socks, leaving the ends flapping a little, but throughout testing they stayed fastened without issue.

Five Ten has been the benchmark for shoe sole grip for many years at this point, and thankfully this continues to run true with the Freerider Pro Mid VCS shoes. Being able to plant your foot carelessly in the rough direction of the pedal and know it’ll hold through the next rough trail section is a highly valuable trait in a flat pedal shoe, and though some prefer to have the possibility to move the foot on the pedal without having to fully lift it from the pins, there’s no doubt that Five Ten’s sole is the safest and best performing option for gravity riding on the edge. Pedal feel strikes a nice balance between keeping the foot comfortable during hard hits but retaining the ability to feel and manipulate the pedals. That said, the midsole isn’t the most cushioned or supportive underfoot out there, so on smaller pedal platforms or during the longest and roughest descents a bit of foot fatigue can begin to creep in. The insole is very flat, which won’t offer the support and comfort that some desire but helps to increase the pedal dexterity to aid feel and confidence.

Five Ten Freerider Pro Mid VCS Flat Pedal Shoe Review

The synthetic material in the main body of the upper is relatively splash-proof, with only the vents over the top of the toes letting in some moisture. However, the sock offers up no perceivable water resistance, only serving to keep solids out of the shoe effectively; house the D3O pad; and add some support. Make no mistake though, it doesn’t provide the same sort of ankle stability as the likes of the Impact Pro Mid, instead allowing for more flex to make the Freerider Pro Mid VCS more pedal-friendly. They do run on the hotter side of things but are passably breathable and comfortable for pedally days in medium temperatures. They’re not going to be your ultra-light and airy pedal-friendly shoes, but the chances are you can already tell that from looking at them.

The protection on the inner ankle is awesome, especially on a downhill bike with the wider Q-factor encouraging you to hug the cranks tighter. Being able to hug the cranks adds an extra element of stability on the bike, and the D3O does an excellent job at keeping things comfortable without creating restrictions when laying down some watts. Protection elsewhere on the foot is solid, without being overly bulky. They’re not quite in the realms of the Impact Pro’s in terms of their resilience to impacts with stumps or rocks, but do a solid job, nonetheless. They sit in the “light Downhill” or Enduro flat pedal shoe category, opposed to a chunky pure gravity shoe.

At $180, the good performance that these Five Ten shoes provide should come as no surprise, but durability has also proved to be good too, with no signs of excessive or premature wear; no peeling or fraying anywhere around the shoe; and full functionality remaining for the hook-and-loop straps. They’ve solidly earned their spot as my go-to flat pedal shoe for days in the bike park or the rare freeride sessions, though I’ll likely opt for a lighter and more breathable shoe like the Ride Concepts Tallac BOA for the more pedal-oriented flat pedal days.

The Wolf’s Last Word

I really like the performance offered by the Five Ten Freerider Pro Mid VCS shoes, hitting a sweet spot of grip, protection and dexterity that convinces me to sacrifice a small amount in protection compared with the burliest shoes out there. If you’re in the same camp as me and seek out a protective shoe but don’t want to compromise on pedal feel and maneuverability, these should absolutely be on your list.

Price: $189.99/£190

We Dig

Smart protection where it’s most needed
Excellent Five Ten grip
Good dexterity
Holding up well

We Don’t

Not the burliest
Run a little hot


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