Enduro riders, hike-a-bike freaks, commuters needing a do-it-all bike shoe, and youngsters who have never clipped in… all these characters are candidates for the new Five Ten Kestrel Lace.
They resemble skate shoes or flat-pedal freeride shoes, but underneath a sticky-rubber sole gives grip and a cut-out houses the threaded platform where a pedal cleat bolts on.
The core market for the Kestrel Lace, new this spring from Five Ten for $150, is the aggressive all-mountain rider who may have never been introduced to stiff, technical clipless shoes. The demographic opens from there, including transitioning BMX’ers curious about the world of Eggbeater pedals and SPDs.
Good looks and a bomber, sneaker-like upper distinguish the shoes. They came in a BOA version last year, which cost $180 and were extra stiff. The lace-up Kestrels are cousins, though with old-fashion tie laces and a cuff of Velcro to seal things on top.
Review: Five Ten Kestrel Lace Bike Shoe
The first Kestrel shoe bridged the gap from a more traditional cross-country (XC) shoe with ratchet buckles to a user-friendly bike shoe that was still stiff as hell for power transfer and adaptable to most clip-in cleats.
A soft outer rubber and EVA midsole provide cushion against rocks and grip for climbing, while the carbon-infused nylon shank adds power transfer through the pedal strokes.
The synthetic upper is high-tech, blending breathable mesh with a PU coating for abrasion and water resistance. Simply put, the shoe is bomber.
The Kestrel Lace, available in men’s and women’s designs, is about 15 percent less stiff than the original BOA iteration, making it a better hike-a-bike shoe and generally more comfortable off the bike. Its outsole is Stealth S1 rubber, which is a sticky formula with roots in the company’s climbing shoe division.
Mountain Bike Shoe Test
I tested the shoes in Arizona and Colorado on mixed conditions of granite and limestone, up and down on various degrees of steepness, and they performed without question. The fit is snug on the lace version, though not as easily adjustable or easy to fine tune as with BOA.
The wider, deeper cleat hole worked well with Crank Brothers clipless models, which were my test pedals. Overall, the Kestrel is great for long, gnarly rides where a traditional XC shoe is just too stiff because you might need to get off to push.
Weekend warriors can easily spend all day on the bike in these shoes, as can competitive enduro riders, but many will find they have a lower volume fit than similar looking flat-pedal shoes.
In other words, the Kestrels are as close to a traditional XC bike shoe as you can get but with a more bomber, more comfortable upper, a cushioning midsole, and real sticky rubber underneath that grips the ground when you need to get off the bike and walk.
–Aaron H. Bible is a lifelong outdoorsman who has written about gear, adventure, and the outdoor industry for more than 15 years. Hailing from the mountains of East Tennessee, Aaron ran away to Colorado after high school and has been skiing, climbing, biking, and fishing around the state for 26 years. He lives in a log cabin at 8,300 feet in Nederland, Colo. Follow Aaron on Instagram via @ahbible.