I wasn't supposed to see them, but about a year ago, I wandered round to the wrong side of a desk and there on the screen were the line drawings in a Five Ten workbook of this shoe, the Five Ten Kestrel. Five Ten had signed (although it wasn't announced) Nico Vouilloz to the MTB programme and had used his extensive knowledge and worked with him on this shoe, a slightly more race-oriented all-mountain shoe than the current Maltese Falcon or the popular Impact VXi. Ever since that photo leaked of Nico testing this shoe, we've been angling to get a pair in the Spoke office door to test and on Friday this pair showed up. They haven't had a ride on the bike yet but out of the box they are pretty damn impressive. The first big thing you notice is the absence of any velcro and laces and the inclusion of the popular BOA closure system. The BOA system, if you're unfamiliar, began life on snowboard boots and has crept into cycling; in fact you can even find it as the fastening system on 7iDP knee pads! Anyhow, Specialized and Scott (among others) have been using the system for a while on their shoes and it's proven itself as a really solid system for bike shoes. On top of that the shoes feature a Carbon shank that makes the Kestrel the stiffest shoe in the Five Ten lineup and unlike the Maltese Falcon which weighs more than the Impact VXI, the Kestrels come in at just 403 grams each. If they're good enough for Jerome and Nico, well dammit, they're good enough for Spoke!
The BOA dial, pulling just a short amount of wire with each click, allows you to really fine tune the tightening of your shoes.
The thin wire really spreads the load of the laces evenly and removes any pressure points from your feet that might come with ratchets and/or velcro.
A very tidy and resolved cleat system is nestled into the super grippy dual density sole. Dual Density you say? Yup. The Kestrel uses Five Ten's softer Mi6 rubber in the toe and heel areas for great hike-a-bike traction, while around the cleat area (pictured above), they've gone for a firmer, albeit less sticky, C4 compound to aid clipping in.
Much like the Maltese Falcons we previewed here, the Kestrel features a hard outer toe box area, a small rubber bumper is in place to provide further protection, and a perforated upper liner and tongue allow for maximum breathe-ability out on the trail. Sunday will see these shoes' first ride and I'll add some first impressions after that, although after a good old lounge test I'm quietly confident.You can check out five-ten.com for a few more photos and the full range of shoes available.
Availablity in New Zealand will be early April; no word on price but will update when we get it.