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FIVE TEN FREERIDER VXi | PRODUCT FOCUS

Has the legendary Impact finally met its match?

DIRT ISSUE 128 – OCTOBER 2012

Words by Ed H. Photo by Ed H

When they were first released Five Ten’s Impact shoes were nothing short of revolutionary. Their ‘Stealth’ sticky rubber soles were the kingpin of their success, we’d never had grip like it, and now years later, and despite countless efforts by the competition, they still remain firmly at the top of the grip stakes. All that said, and despite the huge number of steadfast disciples that these shoes have, the Impact still had a few faults in some people’s eyes.

With the Impact being such a classic, and a big seller, Five Ten were never going to tinker with it too much. You don’t take gambles with your bread and butter product. So the obvious alternative was to release an entirely new shoe which would put an end to the complaints from some riders that the Impact was simply too bulky and ugly. That shoe was the original Freerider, and it certainly addressed those issues. It went down a treat with some riders, but others found themselves going back to the Impact’s as the Freerider’s didn’t seem to offer quite the same level of grip, and more importantly they weren’t as stiff. What we really needed was a shoe that offered the performance of the Impact and the style of the Freerider…

That is where this new Five Ten Freerider VXi enters the stage. Before we even get onto the new sole we should talk a little about the construction of the rest of the shoe. You might already know, but basically about a year ago Five Ten was bought by Adidas, and although the shoe giant has pretty much left Five Ten alone in most ways, they have invested heavily in the company in both monetary and skill terms. Five Ten obviously already had a pretty good idea of how to make a pair of shoes, but a couple of the designers from Adidas have moved over to Five Ten and they’ve brought with them a whole new level of shoe making expertise. Now I am certainly no expert in how you make a pair of shoes, but the word from Five Ten is that these are by far the most technical shoes that they’ve ever made. The result is that they’ve been able to make a shoe with a stiffness that is very similar to that of the Impact, yet the shoe is considerably less bulky. They’re also confident that these shoes will be incredibly durable.

That just leaves us with the new sole pattern, which once again is pretty revolutionary. In the past a large part of increasing the grip performance of a shoe has come down to the tread pattern rather than the rubber compound, but Five Ten have got their rubber compound so dialled that they’ve decided to try and reduce grip rather than improve it with a tread pattern. As strange as that might sound it actually makes sense, as many riders find that the Impact’s offer too much grip, especially when you need to try and alter the placement of your foot. With this new flat area of sole Five Ten believe that you get almost the same level of grip when you really need it, but because there are no lumps and bumps it’s easier to rotate your foot if you need to. We haven’t been able to test any out properly ourselves yet, but going by the feel of worn out Impacts we really reckon they could be onto something here. Oh, and because the entire sole in that flat area is the same thickness as the ‘dots’ on the regular sole, these should last longer than ever too.

Even with the odd dot on the toe and heel we still reckon these might prove amusing when trying to push up muddy tracks, but to be fair these are really being marketed as more of a trail shoe rather than a DH shoe. That said we think these could be a massive hit with DH riders, and by the sounds of it Five Ten are expecting the same. If the new sole does prove to be a real hit then it’s possible that it will become at least an option on the Impact’s in the future…but will there be any point if these turn out to be as good as we think they’re going to be?

www.bigstone.co.uk

www.fiveten.com

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