As part of my quest to rewild my mountain bike feet, i.e. to learn to ride flat pedals instead of clipless, I’ve been banging around in the Five Ten Sleuth Mountain Bike Shoes. The Sleuth is an entry-level shoe. It’s priced at $90, which is a good place to start for those of us not entirely sure we’ll abandon our clipless shoes forever. The consensus go-to shoe in this category is the Five-Ten Free-Rider Pro, and I’m definitely curious to see how they might improve upon what the Sleuth does, but as a beginner in the realm of flat pedal riding, I figured I’d start at the beginning.
I bought these for myself from a local bike shop, for whatever that’s worth. I’m not obligated to say nice things about them.
I actually started out my flat pedal adventure in Vans Old Skool BMX shoes, which I already owned. What I discovered is that the Vans’ soles were soft and extra grippy, which made them good in many situations but less adaptable to rapidly changing trail conditions. The Sleuth, by contrast, is more agile on the pedals. It engages and releases from the pedal pins more easily, where the Vans really bite and grip.
And the Sleuth is not uncomfortable. In fact, it’s probably much more comfortable than most cleated shoes. The sole is less stiff, for obvious reasons. It locks down well, via the laces, and it looks good off the bike, so even if you don’t decide to ride this way forever, it’s a solid choice for grocery shopping or coffee drinking.
I did test that functionality.
The Sleuth comes in two colorways currently, both mostly black, but I have seen it in green, too. They’re out there. They come in both men’s and women’s sizes. There’s also a deluxe version of this shoe for $30 more with the same basic shape but maybe some upgraded sole and upper materials. If you’re budget flexible and feeling deluxe, that’s a choice you could make.
Shimano also makes all the various footwears, as you can see. Maybe consider those too.