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Five Ten Kestrel Lace shoes review

Five Ten is often the go-to when it comes to flat-pedal shoes, but does the Kestrel Lace shine with cleats attached?

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
GBP £130.00 RRP | USD $150.00 | EUR €150.00
The Kestrel Lace has been around for a little while now, with its lace closure backed up by a broad Velcro strap.

Our review

Five Ten makes some of the best flat-pedal shoes around, but these clipless shoes just miss the mark
Pros: Excellent rubber sole gives good feel on pedals; stiff shank makes them efficient pedallers
Cons: Still laces are annoying; thin tongue impacts on comfort; awkward to walk in
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The Kestrel Lace has been around for a little while now, with its lace closure backed up by a broad Velcro strap.


Down below is Five Ten’s renowned Stealth Rubber sole, but with a cleat providing the sure-footed shoe/pedal connection.

Five Ten Kestrel Lace specifications and details

The stiff sole is made from a carbon-infused nylon shank.
Russell Burton / Our Media

The Stealth C4 Rubber sole’s dimpled pattern will be familiar to those who’ve seen Five Ten’s flat-pedal shoes. It’s not a deep tread, nor particularly aggressive, but the rubber’s sticky compound means connection to any pedal pins is excellent, as is traction on dry and damp rocky scrambles.

The cleat bed’s overall shape is long, and there’s some ramping to help cleat engagement in the pedal. The channel is short at 24mm, though; many other shoes’ channels are 10mm longer than this.

The channel is also placed relatively far forward in the shoe compared to others – a sign that the shoe may be due a refresh. It does, however, have markings to help ensure equal cleat placement.

Rather than being flat front to rear, there’s a noticeable step to the heel. In practice, this doesn’t impact on the shoe’s feel, though it may give a little extra foot security if your cleat misses the mechanism and you end up perched on the pedal.

The 24mm cleat channel is smaller than on rival shoes.
Russell Burton / Our Media

The sole itself is built around a stiff carbon-infused nylon shank, with a smallish up-turn towards the toe to aid walking.

The upper is a wipe-clean synthetic material, with perforations on top of the toes for ventilation.

A scuff panel wraps around the toe box, suggesting plenty of toe protection, however it’s not as stiff as on other shoes, suggesting there’s less protection on offer than you may otherwise think.

Around the heel is plenty of padding, shaped to aid heel hold. The tongue, though, is relatively thin.

Laces are used to control tension over the foot, with a Velcro strap at the top to secure the laces and add additional foot hold.

Five Ten Kestrel Lace performance

Five Ten has been generous with the perforations, aiding ventilation.
Russell Burton / Our Media

The Kestrel Lace has been around for a while, and it shows a little. Feet are locked in place well, but the overall experience isn’t as refined as with other shoes.

The laces offer good adjustment of tension over the top of the feet, but the narrow eyelets create friction when pulling the laces through. This means loosening or tightening the shoes is more frustrating than it needs to be.

The broad Velcro strap over the top of the laces keeps them in place well and helps keep the feet secure in the shoes, however its presence is noticeable through the relatively thin tongue. Getting the strap through its return loop is tighter that perhaps it needs to be too.

The upper is constructed from a thin synthetic material. Ventilation is good, thanks to plenty of perforations over the toes, and a thin-ish tongue.

In our soak test, the Kestrel Lace held little water and dried out fast.

Internally, the sole has moderate levels of arch support, and while the insole appears fairly basic, it’s comfortable and supportive enough.

Laces and a broad Velcro strap keep your feet locked in place.
Russell Burton / Our Media

There’s some shaping of the foam around the heel, though the Velcro strap accounts for most of the heel-hold. I experienced a bit of heel lift when walking and really hauling on the pedals.

The sole is probably what Five Ten is best known for, and it’s a mixed bag when it comes to the Kestrel Lace. It’s really stiff, all the way to the toes.

This helps pedalling performance, but the shoes feel awkward when you do end up pushing.

This is exacerbated by the tall-feeling heel section. The C4 Stealth Rubber feels great with pinned platforms, however, giving a solid connection between shoe and pedal.

I found the cleat needed to be pushed over towards the inside of the shoe, though. The cleat channel is relatively central in the shoe, and I found the inside of the toe box could catch on the crank when trying to release from the pedal.

Five Ten Kestrel Lace bottom line

The stiff sole of the Kestrel Lace pedals well, and the interface with pedals is excellent.


However, comfort could be improved, and the friction from the lace eyelets makes them frustrating to live with.

How we tested:

Mountain bike shoes have a hard life. All your power is transferred through their soles, as well as an awful lot of bodily bike control.

At the same time, they’re stamped onto pedals (some of which have platform cages with sharp pins), are walked in on rough surfaces, have to sit in the firing line of mud and water, and shrug off impacts with trailside rocks, roots and vegetation.

As such, the best mountain bike shoes have to satisfy a wide range of requirements to reach the top of our table. In this group test, we pitted 12 pairs of clipless shoes from leading brands against each other during several months of sloppy winter testing.

We tested all these shoes with both Crankbrothers and Shimano SPD pedals to check that they’re compatible with the most common platforms. They were ridden with one foot in one brand of shoe and the other in a different type, to better grasp their differences.

Steep banks were scrambled up and down, while we carried our bikes on our shoulders to see how much our heels slipped in the heel box and our feet slipped in the mud. We even sprayed them with a hose to see how water-resistant they are, then timed how long they take to dry out.

Other shoes we tested:

Product Specifications


Price EUR €150.00GBP £130.00USD $150.00
Weight 1,024g (44) – for pair as tested
Brand Five ten


Features Sizes: 37 ⅓ – 48 ⅔
Upper: Synthetic weather-resistant micro-perforated
Colours: Carbon / Core Black / Clear Grey, Focus Olive / Sandy Beige / Orbit Green, Core Black / Solar Red / Grey Two
Cleat fitting 2 bolt
Shoe closure Laces and velcro
Sole Stealth® C4™ rubber