I started winter riding on a 1996 Specialized Rockhopper A1 with stock 2.1 & 1.95 F/R tires and Shimano M636 pedals. My feet were rocking Shimano M055 shoes and, after a few very cold and wet rides, a pair of Rocky Gore-Tex oversocks. Not long after that I got a trainer and my winter riding went indoors, then non-existent for too many years. Fast forward to the greatest Christmas ever 2 years ago, because under my tree Santa left for me an ICT! Back to winter riding for me! WEEEEE!
Poop, what should I wear to keep the piggy’s happy whilst I enjoy my new fatty?
As a land surveyor working in and around the beautiful city of Chicago, I have spent the last 15 or more years outside on my hobbit like feet all day every day no matter the weather. I have learned quite a bit about what works for me and what doesn’t. Last winter my Five Ten Impacts worked well enough since most of my rides are quick 45-minute evening jaunts, fit in after my son went to bed. If the temp dipped into the teens, I’d break out the old Rocky oversocks to hold on to a bit more warmth. That set-up got me through last winter, but what about the next? I have an older pair of Red Wing 1412’s that are Gore-Tex’d, insulated, and well broken in, but an 8” boot could be uncomfortable to ride in.
Then I saw them!
Sometime last spring my buddy sent me a preview of Five Ten’s Freerider EPS High shoe. Insulated, water proof, and Five Ten Stealth rubber. What’s not to like? Waiting months for them to be available, that’s what. I dutifully placed my order and waited. In the mean time, I found as much info as I could about my soon to be vinter chew, mang. Five Ten says that the Freerider EPS’s are said to be insulated with PrimaLoft insulation from the instep to the pig barn, to keep your piggy’s warm. My heels never get cold, I must be a mutant. The front of the shoe is a single piece of leather to reduce the number of seams, which in turn reduces the places for H2O to creep in. Gusseted tongue to keep stuff like mud and water out and additional foam insulation in the sock liner. Last, but not least, the insulated heat reflective footboard. That all sounds well and good, but will they be as awesome as my mind has billed them? Heck, with all them features where’s my foot gonna fit?
Then I got them!
Too bad it was still so warm out last September to wear them. HA!! Are you kidding me?! I pulled them outta the box, laced them up and went out for a quick rip. First impressions -> Little snug, but that’s to be expected – Midnight Blue is a smooth color, just a bit off to be cool but not garish, screaming LOOK AT ME – Boy, my feet are getting warmer than usual in the 70 deg weather, cool. The first thing I did after that first ride was to swap out the stock insoles for some Superfeet green insoles. I’ve had plantars fasciitis before, it sucks, Superfeet help, my feets are good now. Over the next couple of months, I’d wear them randomly to help break them in.
Then it got cold!
My feet stayed warm! Racing in the Hugh Jass Fatbike series last winter (hughjass.bike), I had plenty of opportunity to test these pig barns in nasty weather. Between my 2 to 3 training rides a week and racing just about every other weekend theses shoes saw some stuff, normally the back tires of other riders as I was darn near DFL most races, but fat bikes are fun! In temps from 30 to 40 degrees, my regular acrylic socks that I wear for work daily, kept my feet quite cozy. Not overly warm and not a lot of sweat to make the pigs cold. From 30-15, my heavier acrylic boot socks are perfect. I believe that the insulated and reflective foot beds helped a ton with heat retention. Never got cold feet standing on snow or cold concrete. The wind doesn’t cut through them, and the water stays out. The only time I had water in them was on an adventure with Uncle Gomez and Nesto. That was the day I learned that Fatbikes do float. The water came in over the tops and did not drain out until I took the shoes off and dumped it. Water tight!
Like all other Five Tens, the rubber sticks to flat pedals like glue. Not much to say that hasn’t been said about that EXCEPT that the soles get hard when it’s cold out. They still stick to pedals like no one’s business, but you notice it when walking on hard surfaces, they get stiff. During races, running with my fattie up snow, or even mud, covered hills was not that difficult. Ice? Everything sucks on ice, these were no worse than anything else without studs. The only time I got scared in them was on a slushy day, walking on cold concrete/asphalt, I was sliding all over much to my wife and son’s amusement. That is my only hit against them, everything else is positive.
Wrap it up Vato!
Five Ten’s Freerider EPS High shoe is awesome, for me. My rides tend to be 1-4 hours max with some standing around, and they rock in this scenario. They are warm, and stay warm. They keep the water out. They stick to your pedals. They can be slippery on slick surfaces. Overall I give these pig barns 5 outta five Gnomes! Cheers!
About the author – Tony lives and rides in Des Plaines Illinois, which happens to be the town, where I grew up (if indeed that ever actually occurred). So literally, he’s my ‘homie’! We got our first bikes at the same family owned, Schwinn Bike Shop, Bade Bikes, when we were kids, but I’m, at least, a decade older than Tony (I think?) Because of our mutual love of Fat-Bikes….Every once in awhile, we get to go for a ride together! So please welcome our Fatbassador to the Hugh Jass Fat-Bike Race Series and beyond – el vato loco – Tony Grande!