Five Ten’s Hellcat Pro clipless shoes are designed with enduro and downhill riding in mind and are used by countless downhill superstars including the likes of Troy Brosnan and Tracey Hannah.
The Hellcat Pros featured here are a little different to the run of the mill version, though. That’s nothing to do with their design or construction, it’s the graphics emblazoned upon them courtesy of Troy Lee Designs. While this makes them a little different and, you could argue, ups their trail cred, it does add an extra tenner to the already relatively high retail price.
If you’d prefer a more subtle look, the regular Hellcat Pros are identical in almost every way but forgo the fancy graphics for a plain black look with hints of red or pink, depending on your preference.
Five Ten Hellcat Pro construction
To ensure the Hellcat Pros stay securely in place, Five Ten has bolstered the lace-up closure with a Velcro strap. Threading the anchored end of the Velcro strap is a little fiddly because the opening in the loop it’s threaded through is quite tight, plus the Velcro tab itself quite short, but there’s just enough length to allow you to pull it down and add useful tension to the strap.
The synthetic upper of the shoe is flexible enough to keep things comfortable, and sturdy enough to stand up to all the abuse you can throw at it.
There’s additional rubberised protection over the toe box and outer-side of the foot in a bid to bolster protection a bit further too. Padding around the ankle cuff is sufficient enough to keep them comfortable but certainly not as plentiful as the likes of Specialized’s 2FO Clip 2.0 shoes. which I was testing back-to-back with the Hellcats.
They’re not as airy as the 2FOs either, but do have some perforations over the top of the foot to help prevent things getting too sweaty. The plus side of this is that the Hellcat Pros will shrug off splashes reasonably well.
The underside of the shoe features Five Ten’s famed Stealth rubber in its dotty pattern (in this case it’s its C4 rubber compound). The cleat slots offer around 35mm of adjustment and, once the cleats are fitted, there’s sufficient room either side of them to ensure unhindered entry/exit for your pedals and enough space to prevent clogging with mud.
Overall, the Hellcat Pro’s construction feels reassuringly robust and solid. That, in turn, translates to quite a heavy shoe at 1,082g for the pair (size 42 with cleats fitted) – for comparison, the 2FOs weighed 922g.
Another point worth noting is that the Hellcat Pros don’t dry as quickly as the 2FOs, which means they’ll hold water for longer and feel heavier.
Five Ten Hellcat Pro sizing and fit
In terms of sizing, I opted for a size 42 instead of my usual 43, which is what I go for from brands such as Giro, Specialized and Shimano. I’ve pretty much always needed to size down with Five Ten, and once again I found that dropping down a single size worked just fine for me.
Thanks to the lace and Velcro strap closure, I was able to tighten them up enough to keep them securely in place without causing any hot spots or pressure points on my feet.
The relatively neutral footbed is also a plus here. There’s some subtle arch support but nothing too extreme, and I found the shape and feel easy to get used to quickly.
There’s enough room around the toes to let them comfortably splay out inside the toe box too.
Five Ten Hellcat Pro performance
Slipping the Hellcat Pros on, it’s immediately clear that they don’t offer quite the same in terms of plush padding and comfort around the ankle as the 2FOs. However, they are comfortable once laced up and secured with the Velcro strap.
I actually found I had to ease tension off of the laces and the Velcro strap because I’d overtightened both, causing some discomfort across the top of my foot at first. Loosened off slightly, the Hellcats still felt secure, with very little in the way of excessive heel lift when walking off the bike or when pulling up on the pedals.
Underfoot, when I put the power down, the Hellcats felt decently stiff and efficient. Initially, I definitely noticed their weight, but soon got used to it.
There’s just enough give in the sole and feedback through it to ensure you know where your pedal is in relation to your cleat. They’re marginally stiffer in feel than the 2FOs when you’re really cranking hard, which some riders will appreciate.
When it comes to cleat placement, I generally run my cleats as far back and towards the mid-foot as I possibly can, which I find helps to help reduce fatigue in my calf muscles on really long downhill runs.
However, Five Ten could do with shifting the cleat slots even further back in the shoe – I can run my cleats approximately 10mm further back in Specialized shoes. It’s by no means a dealbreaker, but I certainly feel the Hellcats would benefit from even more cleat adjustment.
How a shoe interacts with a pedal is critical, especially if you’re riding downhill or enduro where you’re likely to be clipping in and out of your pedal more often when hanging a foot off for a turn, compared to riding cross-country.
I paired my Hellcats with my regular Crankbrothers Mallet DH and E pedals. It took a matter of seconds to realise I’d needed to further wind the traction pins that surround the perimeter of the pedal’s platform in even further. I tend to only have them protruding about 1mm from the platform because I like a looser feel to my pedals.
However, thanks to the tacky Stealth rubber sole on the Hellcats, even with this small amount of pin showing, getting clipped in wasn’t so bad, but getting out took some effort. Winding the grub-screw pins in so they’re flush with the platform helped, though.
Once clipped in, I found I could still shift the position of my feet ever so slightly on the pedal, which is a plus for me. That sticky rubber does make things a little less free and easy, but should you struggle to clip back into your pedals, they offer above average traction when just resting on the pedal compared to other shoes, which is handy. This also helps with off the bike traction.
As I mentioned before, there’s a bit of flex through the sole, which helps with the overall feel through shoe, but they don’t feel quite as well connected as the Specialized 2FOs, which offer a bit more give, though that does chip away at efficient power transfer.
Where the Hellcats do trump many of their competitors is just how protected they feel. Not only are they solidly built (and quite heavy as a result), the reinforcement around the toe area means that if and when you do accidentally clatter the floor, a stump or rock, your toes have a better chance of coming out the other side unscathed.
Five Ten Hellcat Pro bottom line
At 1,082g, they’re not the lightest shoes out there and they don’t dry very quickly, but the Hellcat Pros offer a comfy, easy to adapt to fit and they’re protective and feel robust enough to last some serious miles on the trail.
Pedal set-up (if you’re using platform style clipless pedals with traction pins) is critical though, and don’t forget to try before you buy to ensure you get the sizing right.
- Also available in an non TLD version: £150 / $180 / AU$278 / €170
|Price||AUD $296.00EUR €180.00GBP £160.00|
|Weight||1,082g (42) – as tested|
|Features||Colour: Grey Four / Core Black / Grey Three
Upper: Weather-resistant synthetic
Midsole: PU and EVA sockliner; Compression-moulded EVA
|Shoe closure||Laces and velcro|