Five Ten Trailcross Pro Clip-in MTB Shoe Review

five ten trailcross

Back in the 1990s I used to have a pair of Adidas Trail Response trail running shoes, and I wore them everywhere. Back then, Leah had a pair too and we must’ve looked like twins stepping out on campus together. Well, twins except for the fact that I’m more than a foot taller.

The new Five Ten Trailcross Pro Clip-in shoes — aka Trailcross CL — sorta remind me of those sneakers, at least in terms of the styling. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 11 years since Adidas bought Five Ten, and slowly over that time, we’ve seen more and more of the Adidas design language and branding cross over to their cycling shoes. The Trailcross has been a popular line and this year the Trailcross Clip-in ($160, available from Adidas and other online retailers) adds the first clipless option.

Five Ten Trailcross Pro Clip-in specs

Since these are Five Ten shoes it’s only appropriate that we start at the bottom with the sole. The Trailcross CL features Stealth Marathon rubber with the familiar circular dot pattern at the mid foot, and rectangular tread blocks at the heel and toe. Stealth Marathon rubber is designed to wear longer than softer, stickier versions of Stealth.

The cleat channel is fairly generous with a ramped entry and a hard plastic bottom. I found that Shimano cleats (without the shim) sit at almost exactly the same level as the surrounding tread so there’s very little click-clack noise at the trailhead parking lot.

The running-shoe style of the Trailcross CL shoes runs more than skin deep, with a cushy EVA midsole. EVA is the same material that’s used for all kinds of athletic shoes, including joggers, though in this application it’s a good bit stiffer than what you’ll find in road runners and casual sneakers. Still, for a cycling shoe, the sole is pretty flexible and feels less stiff than the Five Ten Hellcats I normally wear.

The upper part of the shoe features a mix of materials and pairs the lace system with a beefy velcro top strap. There’s a stout heel cup at the rear, and the tip of the toe box is surprisingly well fortified against rock and root strikes. A lightweight mesh covers most of the top and sides of the toe box and there are a couple of reflective tabs on the top strap and outside heel for nighttime visibility. There’s no ankle protection to speak of, though the back of the heel does offer good Achilles coverage.

My size 11.5s weigh 473g with the cleat installed. That’s a solid 60g lighter than my Hellcats, but more than 150g heavier than my running shoes. Not that it’s a fair comparison; the Trailcross Pro Clip-in shoes are much more rugged than a running shoe and include metal cleat hardware for biking.

five ten trailcross
Chris Schieffer has the women’s version of the Five Ten Trailcross Clip-in shoes.

Five Ten Trailcross CL shoe fit

Adidas offers easy-to-follow online sizing instructions, though I don’t think they’re all that accurate. I measured the length of my foot from heel to big toe and according to the chart, I should order a size 10.5 US. I tend to wear size 11.5 across most brands and shoe types, and the Hellcats I’ve been wearing for years are size 12. This time around I decided to split the difference and go with size 11.5.

Lengthwise the shoes fit great with plenty of room for my toes. However, the toe box seems to be a bit narrow for my feet. It’s really only a problem if I’m walking down a hill — which is a terrible idea anyway. Downhills are for riding! But in all seriousness, I found that tightening the top strap works to prevent my foot from sliding toward the narrower end of the toe box. Still, I would say the fit is on the narrow side, especially compared to other Five Ten shoes I own.

Chris found the fit on the women’s shoe to be narrow as well. “The selling point of this shoe for me is the narrow toe box. I have impossibly narrow feet and the width of the TrailCross CL is just right. For comparison’s sake, I have never once said that about any of the shoes I’ve reviewed. I’m equally surprised and delighted they are so narrow based on other Five Ten shoes I’ve worn in the past.”

Five Ten calls the fit “regular fit” for what it’s worth, and generally, I think most riders should order their usual size. Chris says she ordered her usual athletic shoe size and found a perfect fit.

The look

Adidas calls the colorway I tested Orbit Green / Pulse Lime. The lime-colored accents are found on reflective tabs that add visibility for night missions. The men’s version of the shoe is also offered in a mostly black and gray colorway with small red accents.

Of the women’s shoe, Chris says “I’m not in love with the pastel, easter-egg esque color scheme Five Ten chose on these, and unfortunately the only other colorway is all black. I enjoy the black esthetic, but it attracts solar heat in the summer, which I am deathly afraid of, living so close to the sun.”

five ten trailcross

On the trail

It’s springtime so I jumped out of the gate and put in a lot of miles on these shoes in a short period of time. Somehow I ended up stripping the threads on two cleat receivers when installing a new set of cleats. I’m sure it was user error so when I moved down to the next set of holes I made sure to add plenty of blue Loctite and lined up the bolts carefully to avoid a repeat. Despite my screw up (ha!) the cleats are holding strong after nearly 100 miles of riding.

One of the biggest surprises with the Trailcross Clip-ins came during a foot-deep stream crossing. Water absolutely POURS into these shoes from the mesh top, so much so that it feels like walking through a creek barefoot. Clearly, these shoes are well vented and are best suited for summer riding. The upshot is they seem to drain and dry quickly.

The Trailcross CL shoes are nearly as comfortable as they look. The fabric tongue is stretchy and positions itself nicely to smooth out any funky bumps or seams from the laces above.

Where these clipless shoes really shine is when it’s time to hike-a-bike. The flexible soles make it easy to get a toe hold in uneven terrain and the tread pattern grips well on hard, slippery surfaces like rocks and even loose dirt. I probably wouldn’t choose to run a mile in these shoes, though there are certainly worse choices for doing so. (As an Air Force cadet I once ran a 5K in combat boots in solidarity with one of my squad-mates who had forgotten to pack his running shoes. Needless to say, that was miserable.)

The reinforced toe has proven effective at deflecting rock strikes, almost like a steel-toe boot. There’s not a lot of coverage there, basically ending after the toenail, which allows the shoe to maintain a light and airy feel while offering just enough protection.

Conclusion

On my first ride out in these shoes more than one person was surprised to find out these are clipless shoes. Most figured they were just plain old running shoes, and really that’s not too far off. The Five Ten Trailcross CLs are basically a mashup of a trail runner with a mountain bike shoe, with specs and features to match. Personally, I’ll stick with the Hellcats for their stiffer sole, wider fit, and additional protection but for riders who don’t need any of that, the Trailcross CL mountain bike shoes should be a good fit.

Party laps

  • Comfortable on and off the bike
  • Well vented for warm weather riding
  • Fairly lightweight

Pros and cons of the Five Ten Trailcross Pro Clip-in shoes

Dirt naps

  • Running-shoe style is not MTB style
  • Narrowish toe box