By Rachel Stetson
Five Ten almost single handedly revolutionized the freeriding and downhill mountain bike shoe a decade ago. The 2018 Women’s Hellcat Gravity Clipless is the latest generation of their women’s clipless shoe aimed at riders looking for a walkable clipless shoe that can also be used with flats and offers loads of protection and traction.
Looking and feeling a lot like a skate shoe (although a bit heavier), the Hellcat is built tough and fits comfortably. Under the leather top of the shoe is a reinforced toe box and dual density TPU shank to strengthen the shoe and protect the rider’s feet against any potential damage from trail debris. Although the Velcro strap looks a bit cumbersome, it’s designed to support the ankle and help with power transfer to the pedals. I also noticed the strap helped to keep my foot secure in the shoe when heavily breaking on downhills where in other shoes my foot would sometimes creep forward. An added bonus was using the strap to keep the laces under control and away from my chainring.
The compression molded midsole absorbs impact which definitely adds to the comfort while riding rougher trails but also during use off the bike when walking. The STEALTH sole (a distant relative of the originally designed climbing sole the Five Tennie) also adds to the shoe’s ability to absorb impact. Five Ten’s classic Dotty C4 Tread adds to the grip of the shoe on trails when walking, on wet rocks and with flat pedals. This shoe was designed for both flat and clipless pedals. The cleats on the Hellcat are recessed into the sole for better traction with clipless pedals featuring a small platform. I used Shimano XT trail pedals and found that the shoes offered a great interface with the pedal. As previously mentioned the shoes are pretty heavy and made from stiff materials compared to an XC shoe, so it took several hours before I was able to break them in to the point where they were comfortable.
RELATED: Shimano Saint M820 pedals
Five Ten Hellcat's dual lace and velcro closure
Five Ten designes the Hellcat's sole for a combination of weight, pedalling support and flexibility while walking
Five Ten's recognizable Dotty C4 tread sole