Five Ten Kestrel Lace Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Reasonably priced, stealth rubber soles, good foot protection, stiff
Cons: Heavy, no on the fly adjustments, wide toe box, sizing runs big
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Our Analysis and Test Results
We weren't sure what to think about the Kestrel Lace as the original version of the Kestrel didn't impress our testers. For several weeks of riding on trails ranging from smooth and flowy to steep and technical, testers found the Kestrel Lace to offer a well-rounded performance, excellent power transfer, and great off the bike performance in a durable and well-made package. We recently tested the new Kestrel Pro Boa and found it to provide a slightly better fit than the lace version. We feel this is a great shoe for the enduro and all-mountain rider.
The Kestrel Lace scored well in our power transfer rating metric due to its stiff nylon shank that provides an excellent platform from the cleat area back. At no point did testers feel that the shoe was flexing under power and it seemed as efficient as the other all mountain and enduro focused shoes we tested. It does not have the incredible and unflinching stiffness of the carbon soled models we tested like the Pearl Izumi X-Project PRO or the Shimano S-Phyre XC9, nor is it intended to, but when it came to climbing or sprinting this shoe was ready.
The Kestrel Lace is one of the new breed of all mountain shoes that blend comfort, foot protection, and walking comfort with stiff soles and pedaling performance. Its power transfer was on par with similar models like the Giro Chamber II and the Shimano ME7 and won't disappoint most riders.
Testers found the Kestrel Lace to be relatively comfortable overall, but they thought the fit was a little less refined than many of the other models we tested. First, they run a little big in their sizing, the size 43, equivalent to a size 10 in US sizing, was significantly longer than all of the other size 43.5 models we tested.
Testers also found the forefoot to be somewhat boxy, and it was challenging to get the shoe tight around that part of the foot due to the lace-up design that doesn't go down as far towards the toes as other models like the Giro Chamber II. This resulted in a vague and not quite tight enough feeling around the ball of the foot and the toes. This is not to say that they weren't comfy; they just were hard to get as tight as other models.
Otherwise, the lace-up design felt good on the rest of the foot, and tension was distributed evenly over the midfoot and held the heel nicely into the deep heel pocket of the shoe. The large velcro strap at the top of the tongue also helped hold the laces in place and further lock the foot down into the shoe. They have a relatively thin and basic footbed, which proved to be comfortable for long days on the bike, but those seeking a more refined fit may want to opt for an aftermarket footbed.
The Kestrel Lace was definitely on the warmer side of the shoes in our test selection, and testers found their feet to get quite hot on warmer sunny days. There is ventilation in the form of perforated holes above the toes and a mesh tongue with vent perforations. Still, these heavy shoes didn't create nearly as well as some of the competition.
What these shoes lack in breathability they more than make up for in foot protection. The wide full coverage Stealth C4 rubber soles are supported with a dense cushioned EVA foam which inspires confidence while descending. There is minimal padding throughout the shoe, but they seem to brush off rock strikes with ease. They may not be as burly as shoes like the Five Ten Hellcat Pro of the Giro Chamber II, but they've got pretty much all the other shoes we tested beat in foot protection.
The Kestrel Lace scored high marks in our traction and walkability rating. This is primarily due to the flex of the sole in the toe and the full coverage Stealth C4 outsole. Five Ten's Stealth rubber is among the grippiest in the business, and testers found it to be confidence inspiring while walking on virtually all surfaces. The Stealth Rubber is a softer compound than that found on other shoes like the Specialized 2FO Cliplite Lace or the Giro Chamber II, and this was evident in the tenacious grip that it provides.
The Kestrel Lace didn't take top honors in this metric, losing out just slightly to the lugged sole design of the Shimano ME7 which provided more grip in wet conditions. The Stealth rubber sole of the Kestrel Lace has a tread pattern that is a number of large raised dots, as opposed to larger sole lugs, and these dots didn't provide as good of grip in the mud, although it didn't seem to hold onto mud either. If you're a rider who doesn't spend the majority of your time in muddy conditions, then this shoe provides excellent traction and walkability.
The Kestrel Lace is not a lightweight race shoe and certainly won't be the first choice of most weight-conscious riders out there. At 484 g or 17.1 oz, per shoe in size 43, the Kestrel Lace is one of the heaviest shoes in our test selection. They weigh 41g less than the Giro Chamber II, and 81g less than the Five Ten Hellcat Pro, both of which are somewhat beefier and more gravity oriented shoes.
The Kestrel Lace is significantly heavier than the featherlight carbon soled race shoes we tested, like the Giro Empire VR90 and the Shimano S-Phyre XC9. That said, it's only around 40-50g heavier than the more similar shoes in our tests, like the Specialized 2FO Cliplite and the Shimano ME7. For the rider looking for this kind of shoe, that weight difference isn't likely to matter all that much.
Our time spent using and abusing the Kestrel Lace has shown them to be very durable. We walked in them excessively and smashed them into more than a few rocks and other trailside obstacles. Other than a good coating of dust, they don't look much worse for the wear. The quality of craftsmanship is top-notch, and we don't see any signs of premature wear on the uppers or the stitching. Our biggest concern is that the softer Stealth C4 rubber of the outsole might be prone to wearing out more quickly than shoes with a more dense rubber sole, but we imagine you'd get several seasons out of them before that would be an issue.
At a retail price of $150, the Kestrel Lace isn't the least expensive shoe we tested, but we feel that it is a good value to the consumer looking for a burly all mountain or enduro shoe with great power transfer, traction, and walkability.
The Kestrel Lace is a well made, durable, versatile, and high-performance clipless mountain bike shoe from one of the most popular brands in the business. We feel this is a great option for the all-mountain and enduro market that offers excellent power transfer, traction, walkability, and foot protection, albeit in a slightly heavier weight package.
Other Versions and Accessories
Five Ten makes a full line of mountain bike shoes for all applications. They are arguably the most popular flat pedal brand in the business, but shoes like the Kestrel Lace and the Hellcat Pro are excellent clipless options for the more gravity oriented market.
The Kestrel Lace also comes in a women's version in smaller sizes and different color options.
The Kestrel Pro Boa is nearly identical to the lace version but has a combination of Boa dials and velcro as the closures.
— Jeremy Benson