Five Ten Kestrel BOA Shoe Review
Down-country Shoe with Soccer Cleat Looks
Words by Nic Hall | Photos by Max Rhulen
I remember the first set of FiveTen Kestrel shoes I had way back in my racing days. Back then they were just slimmer downhill shoes with fewer laces. Well Adidas leveraged their engineering prowess to fully re-design the Kestrel into a trail riding, all day epic mountain bike shoe. No detail was spared in the redesign, and I’ve been wearing them for quite a few miles.
The latest iteration of the FiveTen / Adidas Kestrel BOA leans fully into the down-country market with XC styling and beefed-up protection. A full-length glass reinforced plate allows for maximum power transfer while maintaining enough flexibility to walk in. Front and rear cleats have been added for traction, reminiscent of dedicated XC slippers but the toe box, heel, and lateral aspects of the shoe have been armored. Adidas have given the Kestrel a big cleat channel to ensure you can get into your pedals even in the muddiest conditions.
Lacing is handled by a single BOA at the top of the shoe and two Velcro tabs down the tongue to get that precise fit. Nearly the entire upper is ventilated mesh to allow for maximum airflow and breathability. The shoes are available in dark gray or light gray with orange, which is what we were sent.
Being the resident down-country nerd here at the Wolf Den, I found myself with a new set of Kestrel BOAs sitting in my gear bag a couple months ago. I hadn’t looked at the release yet and was expecting something similar to their previous shoes but was surprised when I opened the box. They looked like a mix between XC-shoe and soccer cleat, but I was into it.
The Adidas Kestrel BOA is a very stiff shoe, while walking around it feels closer to a full carbon XC-shoe but with a small bit of flex in the forefoot. The pedal cleat interface has a large cut out that required me to space my cleat up and avoid any contact issues with my Shimano SPD pedals. The good news is you will have plenty of clearance for nearly any pedal system. Speaking of cleats, the toe cleats on the shoe look pretty much identical to a soccer cleat, they are rounded and fairly soft and actually provide a good amount of grip on really loose or muddy trails.
The fit and finish is what you would expect of Adidas, the materials are all high end, and I found no issues with stitching or the sole interface. The ankle is very stiff and took me about a month to break in before it felt like it was not rubbing on every ride. Once I got the Velcro set up where I liked it, the BOA let me dial in the perfect fit for every ride. This version of the Kestrel seemed to run wider in the toe box than previous models, so it might fit more people as the last ones were quite narrow.
Riding performance is good, but not great for me. I like a shoe that is stiff enough to deliver power on the climbs but compliant enough to feel the bike. The Kestrel BOA mutes out the bike and caused my feet to get tired on long downhills due to their stiffness. This might be the right side of the equation for you but weren’t quite right for me. If you don’t have tons of long descents, or rough chunky descents, then the power transfer and styling could be enough for you.
The Wolf’s Last Word
If you are looking for a dedicated down country shoe that is stiff enough to pedal with your XC buddies but offers a bit more protection and robustness, the Kestrel could be worth a look for fans of stiff shoes. It takes some time to break in but is armored enough to protect your feet for big days in the back country. For me however, the comfort on long descents and chunkier trails has keeps them off my “Must Buy” list.