If you look around while out riding in the dirt, you're pretty likely to see at least one pair of Freeriders in the crowd…and likely more. This is with good reason. This shoe has been around for several years and is a top seller; the shoe is described by Five Ten as their "most versatile all-mountain flat shoe" and we wholeheartedly agree. While other pairs like the Shimano AM7 and the Freerider's sibling, the Freerider Contact, performs better in more demanding situations, this pair is quite capable, too. This contender is a good choice for all-mountain riding, with the comfort and style to function off the bike as a casual shoe, too. One other shoe, the Giro Jacket, functioned similarly, but the overall performance of this contender proved to be better. This shoe is available in a Women's Freerider model.
Five Ten Freerider Review
Compare prices at 4 resellers Pros: Great breathability, excellent pedal grip
Cons: Uppers not as durable as on other models, less rigidity and power transfer
Manufacturer: Five Ten
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Continuing the trend of ultra grippy shoes in our lineup, this is another Five Ten shoe that scored high marks for grip with an 8 out of 10 score, ranking the sole in the same league, although slightly below, the Freerider Contact, Impact VXi, and the Shimano AM7. The shoe uses the proven Stealth S1 rubber that originally put Five Ten's bike shoes on the map. The sole of this model in the Freerider line sports a single piece, with molded cup construction. The S1 rubber compound feels incrementally more firm and subsequently, a little less grippy than the Mi6, but still provides a solid connection to the pedal. Even though this shoe didn't score the highest, that's not to say it isn't a top performer.
We put this pair through the paces, riding trails the shoe isn't really intended to excel at, but they still performed admirably. With the solid Stealth S1 grip, the Freeriders are relatively capable climbers with excellent downhill performance. We were lucky enough to have a big variety in weather and trail conditions during our testing both on and off the bike. With tried and true Stealth S1 rubber on the ground, whether on dirt, rock or even pavement, the soles provide ample traction off the bike in all but the wettest and snowiest conditions. For riders who aren't routinely riding technical big mountain Western trails, the sole's grip makes this shoe a great contender.
This contender's core in the "Comfort" category is 5 out of 10, which needs to be explained further. Since our test rides put the test shoes through the wringer, these shoes were ridden harder than intended. When keeping them in their intended world, short to medium rides, riding the chairlift, and just kicking around town, they kept our feet happy. The comfort factor decreased with longer rides, especially longer XC rides with technical sections thrown in. After 2-3 hours of riding, our feet began to feel the effort, in part due to less padding and a lighter-duty EVA midsole with less support.
With the shoe's overall comfort comes an understandable decrease in rigidity (see "Rigidity" below) and during longer rides, it becomes noticeable. Not necessarily an issue of pure comfort is the lack of an easy way to secure excess shoelace length. With some lace-up shoes, you can simply tuck the laces to the side where the top of the tongue and ankle padding merge, but the Freerider laces didn't want to stay put. The Giro Jacket rode comparably overall, though the Freerider sported a higher volume fit. The toe box is generous enough, but lower in volume than the Five Ten Impact VXi and Freerider Contact. Off the bike, the BMX-inspired style of the shoe make this award winner an attractive option.
Rigidity and Power Transfer
As we'd pointed out in "Comfort," the midsole of this pair is significantly less substantial than the more aggressive shoes in our test group (the Freerider Contact, Shimano AM7, and the Five Ten Impact XVi). With less material in the midsole and a nonexistent shank, rigidity is significantly less than the three previously mentioned options from Five Ten and Shimano. For more casual riding and mixed use, the rigidity is spot-on, but for longer days in the saddle the lower degree of support shows.
Not surprisingly, a shoe intended for more casual riding and off-bike use focuses less on weight; this pair is heavier. The weight is 14.75 oz per shoe in a men's size 9, which is only one ounce greater than our Editors' Choice Freerider Contact. For the casual rider, weight differences likely won't factor into purchasing decisions.
This contender breathes well, even on hotter days, with its open synthetic mesh uppers. The Breathability score for the Freerider was a 6 out of 10, the same as the Freerider Contact, which puts these two shoes in the top position for this category. Like the Freerider Contact, the open pattern does let in more water, snow, fine dirt, and dust. However, the shoes clean up easily.
With a molded single cup outsole serving as the foundation, this Best Buy winner comes with a high level of durability. With fewer pieces and parts to potentially delaminate and separate, the sole of the Freerider looks like it's destined to last a long time. The suede and mesh uppers are made for durability and abrasion resistance, especially with the reinforcements on the toe, heel, and sides just above the sole. There is potential for sharper objects to snag the mesh sections, although we didn't actually experience this. If you're looking for something a little beefier in this department with a casual shoe, the Giro Jacket is a good choice with solid uppers.
Though the Freeriders can handle tougher terrain, we'd recommend checking out the Editors' Choice or Top Pick for routine aggressive riding, the Shimano AM7. All-mountain, cross country, park, moderate downhill, or just styling at the pub apres-ride, this award winner shines.
With the overall performance characteristics of the Freerider, these just may be the Goldilocks of flat mountain bike shoes for a lot of riders. Great sticky soles ensure a secure, locked-in ride and stay connected to pedals easier than with similar shoes, the Giro Jacket, though the uppers of those shoes are seemingly stronger than the Freerider. Another plus for the Freerider is the huge array of colors and upper variations offered — 12 color combinations — as well as additional Velcro straps and weather resistance features on some models. These shoes are a multipurpose shoe that performs as a jack of all trades, and with a retail price of $100, they don't hit the bank account too hard.
— Jason Cronk