I’ve been riding for my entire life. Started with BMX, freestyle, and then mountain bikes. I’ve always considered shoes to be an important part of the connection to the bike, just as important as gloves, grips or pedals. Van’s or Airwalk when I was riding flats on BMX/freestyle, and SPDs when I started mountain biking. My brother got me into clipless (still a stupid term for them) pedals and shoes when I started mountain biking in ’93 and had been riding them ever since. That was up until I got my new bike. I noticed I was picking up some bad habits with clipless and I wanted to make a change and start fresh.
My first set of shoes was a throwback to my BMX days, Vans. It turned out to be a good benchmark for anything else. They still felt good on flat pedals and never lost that familiar feeling. The pedals I’m running are Race Face Atlas. The pegs are aggressive. After about 500 miles, the Vans needed replacing. So, the hunt for new shoes was on.
Everywhere I went I kept hearing about this 510 brand. People love them. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so purchased a pair of the Freerider shoes.
The first thing I noticed about the 510 Freerider, right out of the box, they look pretty sharp. The pair I purchased were all black with some very subtle bronze or gold-ish eyelets. Very nice, indeed. The very next thing I noticed was the hardness of the sole. It was very close to my clipless shoes.
Initial build quality: The craftmanship ranks high. I don’t see the usual loose or stray stitch end, or missed seam. No sloppy glue lines either. Placement of material panels was symmetrical between left and right shoes. Everything looked well put together.
Durability: I now have just as many miles on these shoes as I had on the Vans. Aside from the dirt, the 510’s look and feel like they were purchased yesterday. The thick hard sole of the shoe shows almost no wear at all. Above all else, I find the lack of wear on the sole to be most interesting. Where the soles of my Vans had been shredded, the 510s didn’t even have so much as a tear or cut. No broken laces. No missing or damaged eyelets. No pulled seams. Nothing loose or flapping around.
Comfort: The 510s have a healthy amount of padding around the ankle and the tongue. In fact, the main side panels seemed soft. I’m not saying these were slipper-like… but they are very comfortable. The stiffness of the sole does make walking feel like you’re at the office, but it’s not bad. That being said, my feet are WAY LESS fatigued at the end of each ride. They can get a little hot, but I can’t say my feet are getting extra sweaty. So…?
Functionality: These things stick to the pedal! There’s no micro-adjusting on the upstroke, you’re gonna have to pull up completely to disengage the grip on these bad boys. I did have one small issue, and this is probably just particular to myself and not others. It was difficult for me to get a good feel of the bike under me with these stiff soles. That may not make any sense to anyone but me, but I felt… disconnected. As though I needed to feel every little movement and adjustment under me, but couldn’t. Would I trade this off for the fatigue? NO.
Overall: The 510 Freerider is a FANTASTIC shoe. All those people you hear talk about how good the shoes are, they’re not kidding.