Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa Review
Cons: Sometimes too grippy for a clipless focused shoe, heavy
Manufacturer: Adidas Five Ten
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Our Analysis and Test Results
As the winner of our Top Pick for Enduro and Trail riders, the Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa performed incredibly across the board in all categories, aside from weight, which is not as much of a concern in gravity disciplines. With great style, instant comfort, a stiff shank, and a grippy sole, the Kestrel Pro Boa ticks all of the boxes for features we look for in an enduro race shoe at a reasonable price. During testing, we used the Kestrel Pro primarily with clipless pedals that have a small or large platform. They will certainly work with pedals that have no platform, but it is less than ideal. We put the Kestrel Pro Boa through the wringer from long backcountry rides to racing at The Dirty Sanchez Enduro, and it came out a winner that we think you will love.
Despite the casual styling and impressive traction and walkability of the Kestrel Pro, we were impressed by their power transfer. This is thanks to the carbon infused shank underfoot that provides plenty of support and doesn't flinch when you lay down the power as you sprint out of a corner. The Boa closure also does a great job of securing the uppers around the foot and doesn't loosen over time the way that laces can.
This is about as stiff as an enduro focused shoe gets and it provides as good or better power transfer than other similar shoes in this review. XC style shoes offer more stiffness and better power transfer, while gravity oriented shoes typically offer slightly less efficiency.
Comfort is always subjective due to the wide variety in foot shapes and sizes, which can often be a point of contention when Boa systems are introduced in place of laces. There is no ability to customize where the Boa laces put the most pressure on the foot; however, the laces on the Kestrel Pro Boa only span the upper foot and lay on top of a comfortable synthetic upper, which cushions and evenly spreads the tension. The toe box adjustment is taken care of by a velcro strap, allowing for those with a wide or narrow forefoot to make necessary changes on the fly. The EVA-Foam midsole and Ortholite sock liner make the inside of the shoe incredibly comfortable, while the rockered toe and heel paired with an enduro focused stiffness make the shoe a pleasure to hike and ride in.
The shoe's thick synthetic uppers may not have breathed the best out of all the shoes tested, but they did provide the most protective, secure feeling overall, albeit a little warmer than the competition. When compared to the Kestrel Lace, the Boa equipped version proved to be more comfortable. This difference in comfort is primarily due to the Boa and Velcro closure system which is easier to dial in to your preferences.
Traction and Walkability
Featuring Stealth C4 rubber, the Kestrel Pro Boa has the best traction on just about every surface for all of the shoes tested. The Stealth rubber is exceptionally grippy and performs very well on dry surfaces. Due to the low profile design of the sole dots, they occasionally don't grip as well on slick, muddy surfaces as competitors with deeper lugged designs.
The sole is comprised of a few dozen raised dots, which sometimes get packed with mud, but otherwise, stay debris free compared to deeper lugged tread designs. The large cleat box does provide a large blank spot, though our testers never found themselves slipping because of it. Due to the stiff shank underfoot, the Kestrel Pro doesn't feel totally natural when walking; they feel a little clunky and stiff underfoot. That said, the rocker from the cleat box forward along with flex in the toe allows you to walk more normally than many other shoes we tested.
Placing one shoe out of the size 45 pair of Kestrel Pro Boas on a scale provided a weight of 511g, placing this shoe well out of the XC category. Five Ten clearly wasn't afraid to add stitches and protection where they saw fit for an enduro inspired shoe. This shoe is fairly standard in weight for other shoes in its intended use class.
For comparison, the shoe weighed a full 60g more than the Shimano SH-AM7 and 50g less than the gravity oriented Five Ten HellCat pro. If protection and comfort regardless of the conditions are what you are after, then these numbers should appear fairly reasonable. Interestingly, the Kestrel Pro Boa weighs more than its lace-up sibling. We expected the opposite and assumed that the Boa system would lighten up the shoe but that was not the case.
After many trail rides, enduro races, and short walks to apres food and beer, the Kestrel Pro Boa has proved to be extremely durable everywhere except for minor and expected, wear on the raised stealth rubber dots on the sole. The uppers show little signs of wear aside from a few scrapes where they came in contact with rocks during especially heinous sections of trail. Both the Boa system and the velcro straps work as well as they did when the shoes were new, but a lifetime guarantee from BOA ensures the dial and cables in case something does happen.
Its far from inexpensive, but we feel the Kestrel Pro Boa is a good value considering the amount of protective material built in, the carbon infused shank, and the development time put into making the shoe actually look good. While it won't necessarily appeal to the XC race crowd, the Kestrel Pro Boa is versatile enough to tackle virtually all other types of mountain bike riding.
The Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa has a combination of features and performance that earned it our top pick for enduro racing. If you're the type who rides uphill simply to crush the descents, this shoe has you covered with solid power transfer, comfort, style, and off the bike traction and walkability. Even if enduro racing isn't your thing, this versatile shoe is great for just about any style of riding aside from XC. It's a complete package that's hard to match for $200.
— Dillon Osleger