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Five Ten Freerider Pro Mid VCS Review

A shoe that blends tremendous grip with a bit of extended ankle coverage and protection
Five Ten Freerider Pro Mid VCS
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $180 List | $179.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Tall ankle cuff with extra medial ankle padding, fantastic grip, good power transfer
Cons:  Heavier weight, polarizing looks, not the most breathable
Manufacturer:   Adidas Five Ten
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 3, 2021
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88
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 11
  • Grip - 30% 10
  • Fit and Comfort - 25% 9
  • Rigidity and Power Transfer - 20% 9
  • Breathability - 10% 6
  • Durability - 10% 8
  • Weight - 5% 7

Our Verdict

The Five Ten Freerider Pro Mid VCS pair the award-winning performance of the regular Freerider Pro with a unique mid-height cuff. These shoes deliver incredible levels of grip thanks to Five Ten’s legendary Stealth S1 rubber compound with a stiff sole and excellent power transfer. The extended cuff offers a bit of extra medial ankle protection and also serves to keep debris and moisture at bay. These shoes do not have a waterproof membrane, but with minimal ventilation and the extended cuff, they provide more resistance to sloppy conditions. Five Ten even opted for three velcro straps as the closure which also works well in wet conditions. The mid-top design is certainly functional, but the style of these shoes could definitely be described as polarizing. Aesthetics aside, we found them to work exceptionally well on the trail.

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Pros Tall ankle cuff with extra medial ankle padding, fantastic grip, good power transferExcellent pedal grip, comfortable, true all-mountain performanceGreat pedal grip, sturdy construction, protective features, comfortableGrippy soles, casual looks, reasonable price, versatility, lightweightImpressive grip, protective, reasonable price
Cons Heavier weight, polarizing looks, not the most breathableOn the expensive side of the spectrum, Stealth rubber wears more quicklyHeavier weight, sizing runs a little smallSomewhat loose fit in the forefootHeavier weight, limited breathability
Bottom Line A shoe that blends tremendous grip with a bit of extended ankle coverage and protectionThe benchmark for flat pedal shoes, a true all-arounder that looks as good as it performsA comfortable, beefy shoe with loads of protection well suited to gravity ridingA versatile new flat pedal shoe with great grip and a casual styleA reasonably priced, versatile flat pedal shoe that offers strong performance and even stronger value
Rating Categories Five Ten Freerider... Five Ten Freerider Pro Ride Concepts Power... Specialized 2FO Roo... Ride Concepts Livewire
Grip (30%)
10.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
Fit And Comfort (25%)
9.0
9.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
Rigidity And Power Transfer (20%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Breathability (10%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
Durability (10%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Weight (5%)
7.0
8.0
4.0
9.0
5.0
Specs Five Ten Freerider... Five Ten Freerider Pro Ride Concepts Power... Specialized 2FO Roo... Ride Concepts Livewire
Rubber Type Stealth S1 Stealth S1 DST 4.0 MAX GRIP SlipNot ST Kinetics DST6.0 High Grip
Tread Pattern Full Dot Full Dot Full Hexagon Dot Full Hexagon Dot Full Hexagon Dot
Weight per Shoe (ounces) 16.57 (size 11) 14.11 (size 11) 16.97 (size 11) 12.96 (size 43.5) 16.15 (size 11)
Weight per Shoe (grams) 470 (size 11) 399 (size 11) 467 (size 11) 367 (size 43.5) 458 (size 11)
Closure Velcro straps Laces Laces Laces Laces
Lace Keeper N/A Yes Yes Yes Yes
Volume Medium Medium Medium Medium Medium
Upper Materials Synthetic with Ortholite sockliner Synthetic Leather Welded microfiber Leather/textile Synthetic/mesh
Midsole Compression molded EVA EVA Cushioned EVA
Insole AM/MT insole Body Geometry

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Freerider Pro Mid VCS is an interesting new model from Five Ten. Based on the ever-popular Freerider Pro, these shoes combine excellent grip and solid power transfer with a mid-height ankle cuff for enhanced coverage and ankle protection. We found these shoes to perform very well on the trail, and feel they are a great option for riders seeking a bit of additional weather resistance, coverage, and protection compared to the regular version.

Perfromance Comparison


These shoes ride like a Freerider Pro but have an extended ankle...
These shoes ride like a Freerider Pro but have an extended ankle cuff to keep things out of your shoes along with extra medial ankle and toe protection.
Photo: Pat Donahue

Grip


At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Five Ten rubber is the true benchmark for grip in the world of flat pedal shoes. These shoes feature the Stealth S1 rubber compound that is about as grippy as it gets. In terms of rubber and sole design, these shoes are identical to the Five Ten Freerider Pro. This design is supremely tacky and is only a small cut below the Mi6 rubber found on FiveTen’s downhill shoes.


The entire sole of the shoe is covered with raised dots. These dots are approximately 9mm in diameter and protrude approximately 2mm off of the sole. We tested these shoes with Spank Oozy and Shimano Saint pedals. When placing your foot on the pedal, this raised dot design engages the pedal pins effectively. We found the sole to be so tacky that it can be a little difficult to reposition one’s foot on the fly. If foot mobility is important, these shoes can be a little challenging. This is especially true if your pedal pins are in good shape.

Five Ten's Stealth S1 rubber and full dot tread design provide...
Five Ten's Stealth S1 rubber and full dot tread design provide excellent grip on the pedals.
Photo: Pat Donahue

The outright pedal grip is superb. While climbing technical sections, the extra grip was especially noticeable. When pulling up and over an obstacle in the trail, you truly feel locked in and connected to the bike. On rough and choppy downhills, the interface is extremely confidence-inspiring. The grippy rubber and damp, vibration absorbing sole ensure that no matter how rowdy the trail gets, your feet feel secure. You can worry about tackling the next trail feature instead of your feet bouncing around on the pedals.

Tried and true, the Freerider Pro Mid soles hook up well with any...
Tried and true, the Freerider Pro Mid soles hook up well with any pedals.
Photo: Pat Donahue

Off the bike, these shoes offer average hiking abilities. The S1 rubber compound hooks up quite well on rocks but is only okay when pushing up a steep section of trail. Simply put, the dotted tread pattern and stiffer soles do not prioritize hiking. Other shoes often have more natural flex through the toe along with a different tread under the toe and heel to achieve a little extra grip when walking.

The main body of the shoe has a very average fit. The toe box is a...
The main body of the shoe has a very average fit. The toe box is a bit more spacious.

Fit And Comfort


The Freerider Pro Mid VCS have an easy-going fit and we found them to be true to size. A lot of riders will get along with these shoes as they have a very average width and volume. From the heel to the ball of the foot the shoe delivers a medium-volume fit. The toe box is a bit roomier and leans towards a high-volume fit. Riders who have a narrow or low-volume foot would do well to try a pair on to determine if they will work for you.


The main body of the Pro Mid VCS have a rather sleek appearance. They aren't super cushioned, skate-inspired shoes. Instead, they are a little more trim and have a low-profile look. Despite not looking like pillows, they do have smart reinforcement and padding in key areas. The tongue offers average amounts of padding over the top of the foot and is quite pleasant and extra reinforcement in the toe cap protects that area from impact. Strategic Poron foam and a patch of D30 impact foam over the medial ankles provide additional protection.

The synthetic upper portion of the shoe is sturdy and supportive with three Velcro straps that secure the shoes and tighten them over the top of the foot. These straps are relatively wide and they distribute pressure even over the top of the foot with no pressure points. The synthetic upper material is a bit stiff at first, and it takes a few rides for these shoes to break in. Some shoes feel a bit flimsy and lack structure when making aggressive moves on the bike. This is not the case with the Freerider Mid, the shoe feels structured and supportive with good lateral stability. The materials do a better-than-average job of repelling water and minimal ventilation holes don't allow too many spots for moisture to enter the shoes. In addition, the lack of copious amounts of foam and padding also allows them to dry quickly.

The synthetic uppers feel tough and supportive and the knit ankle...
The synthetic uppers feel tough and supportive and the knit ankle cuff goes virtually unnoticed once the shoes are on your feet.
Photo: Pat Donahue

The Primeknit ankle cuff is comfortable and as soon as you slip these shoes on, and it's easy to forget it is even there. Yes, the gasket/ankle cuff does make it slightly more difficult to put these shoes on, but once they are on, they more or less fade into the background. The knit construction is soft and they have a slightly loose fit around the ankles. If you wear super short ankle socks, you may be more aware of the presence of the gasket, but while wearing tall or mid-height socks we didn't even notice them other than the fact that they kept rocks and other debris from getting into the shoes.

On the bike, the S1 rubber, EVA midsole, and Ortholite footbed all help to make these shoes feel damp and deaden the forces transferred from the trail to your feet. No matter how choppy or rugged the trail, we found our feet felt fresh and they didn't get beat up.

The level of power transfer is about as good as it gets. Your energy...
The level of power transfer is about as good as it gets. Your energy is transferred straight to the cranks and nothing is lost to an overly flexy sole.
Photo: Pat Donahue

Rigidity and Power Transfer


The Freerider Pro Mid VCS, like the classic Freerider Pro, are relatively stiff. This results in excellent performance when you are on the pedals. Off the bike, this stiffness doesn't make them the best for walking or hiking.


When you are hammering away at the pedals, it feels like every watt of your power is getting transferred to the cranks. There isn’t any noticeable flex in the sole of the shoe. Even when half of your foot is hanging off the back of the pedals, the sole resists flexing. This rigidity really delivers excellent climbing and pedaling performance.

The soles of Freerider Pro Mid VCS provide an excellent balance of...
The soles of Freerider Pro Mid VCS provide an excellent balance of power transfer on the climbs and support/stability and dampening on the descents.
Photo: Pat Donahue

On the descent, these shoes provide an excellent platform for shredding. Five Ten really nailed all of the elements. The high-quality, ultra-tacky, rubber is paired with a stiff and supportive sole with vibration dampening properties to create an excellent interface. Any chattery or jarring forces that are transferred from the trail to the pedals are mostly deadened by the stiff sole, EVA cushioned midsole, and tacky outsole rubber. No matter how long the downhill, these shoes provide a comfortable and responsive experience.

Off-the-bike hiking and walking abilities are okay but not amazing. The stiffness of the sole really detracts from the natural walking motion. That said, these are mountain bike shoes designed to work well on the mountain bike. We are okay trading some walking performance for superior on-the-bike grip, power, and comfort.

Breathability


Breathability isn’t a strong suit of these shoes. If you frequently ride in super hot temperatures, it is worth noting that there are definitely more airy and well-ventilated options. The synthetic upper design feels pretty rugged and thick and it appears Five Ten placed more emphasis on durability and weather resistance than airflow.


There are small, pin-hole, perforations across the top of the toe box and the tongue but they don't provide much in the way of airflow. The extended cuff certainly adds an additional element of warmth in the ankle region. Essentially, it serves as a second sock, and on warm days it is quite noticeable. The flip side of the lack of ventilation is that the Pro Mid VCS provide more weather resistance than your typical shoes. They are not completely waterproof, but they will do well in moderately sloppy conditions, splashes through puddles, or light rain. In a full-on downpour, your feet will still get soaked, just not as quickly.

No shoe will last forever, but we expect these shoes to have a good...
No shoe will last forever, but we expect these shoes to have a good lifespan with normal use and abuse.
Photo: Pat Donahue

Durability


We have plenty of experience with Five Ten shoes. Between clipless shoes and flat pedal shoes, we have tested and owned quite a few different pairs over the years. Generally speaking, we've found the materials and craftsmanship to be high quality. Their shoes are definitely built to last, but just how long they last will vary greatly depending on how much you ride.


Five Ten shoes are known for their tenacious sole grip. Due to the tacky nature of the Stealth S1 outsole rubber, it can be prone to wearing out more quickly than firmer rubber compounds. Sole grip and durability is a tough balance to strike and is a tradeoff that many riders have been grappling with for years. The softer and grippier the rubber, the more quickly it will wear out from constant contact with the pedal pins or walking/scraping on rocks. That said, our test pair fared well during our test period, and we feel that most riders should get a reasonable lifespan out of these shoes.

The Velcro straps used for the closure of the Freerider Pro Mid VCS are an interesting choice. They work well in wet conditions and are quick and easy to adjust, whereas laces get wet and muddy in inclement weather and generally make it harder to make tension adjustments. Velcro does wear out over time, but we're willing to bet that the soles of these shoes will wear out before the straps do.

The Primeknit ankle cuffs are another area that could be prone to damage. The material does feel tough, but its knit construction does make it more susceptible to snagging on sharp sticks, bushes, and the like. We didn't experience any issues during testing, but if you ride in an area where shrubbery encroaches on the trails it could be worthy of concern.

An extended cuff, D30 medial ankle protection, extra toe...
An extended cuff, D30 medial ankle protection, extra toe reinforcement, and velcro straps combine to add a little weight to these shoes.
Photo: Pat Donahue

Weight


At 470-grams per shoe for our size 11 test pair, the Freerider Mid Pro VCS are among the heaviest in our test class. They weigh about 70-grams more per shoe than the standard Freerider Pro in the same size. It doesn't come as too much of a surprise that adding a knit ankle cuff, D30 medial ankle protection, extra reinforcement in the toe box, and Velcro straps also adds a bit of weight.


On the bike, these shoes don't feel particularly heavy or clumsy. Perhaps the added weight will be noticeable to some riders or over the course of a super long ride, but we didn't find it to be a deal-breaker by any means. These shoes work very well, and we imagine that riders seeking a little extra coverage, protection, and weather resistance likely won't be bothered by a few extra grams.

Value


These shoes are among the most expensive that we've tested. The style and features of these unique shoes likely won't appeal to all riders, but those seeking the added coverage, protection, and weather/debris resistance these shoes provide may find them to be a great value. Excellent grip, stability, and solid power transfer only sweeten the deal.

Conclusion


The Five Ten Freerider Pro Mid VCS is a unique shoe that caters to somewhat of a niche market. The extended cuff design certainly stands out amongst other models in this review and helps keep debris out of your shoes while adding a little extra coverage and impact protection. Despite the potentially polarizing looks, these shoes deliver exceptional pedal grip, good power transfer, and enhanced weather resistance. We feel they are a great option for riders in cooler climates who may experience moderately sloppy conditions on a regular basis.

The Freerider Pro Mid VCS builds on the solid foundation of the...
The Freerider Pro Mid VCS builds on the solid foundation of the Freerider Pro with extended coverage, protection, and features that some riders will really appreciate.
Photo: Pat Donahue

Pat Donahue

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