Five Ten Maltese Falcon Clipless Bike Shoes
Intended Use (pick any term you like): trail riding, downhilling, enduro’izing, all mountaineeing, free-radical black diamond super shredding
Rider: 6’2’’, 200lbs, 10.5 street shoe, 27.8cm foot length.
Test Locations: Lifts, shuttles, trail rides, and dirt jumps across Oregon, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado
Test Bikes: Transition TR250, Specialized Stumpjumper, Black Market Roam
Days Worn: 70+ days of riding
I’ve worn the Shimano AM45 SPD shoes (and previously the DX white version) for shuttles and lifts for a long time. On long uphill days, I’d bust out the carbon-soled Shimano M300s left over from my bike racing days.
But time marches on, things wear out, and both of these shoes were retired last summer because of holes in the soles, holes in the sides of the uppers, and cracked midsoles. Funny how more than five years of riding 100+ days a year will do that to a shoe….
The M300 wore out first, so I rode the AM45s as everyday XC shoes. I was really digging them, and I figured the right replacement shoe could serve double-duty for both XC and DH.
Enter the Five Ten Maltese Falcon. I originally looked at the Minnaar Pro (aka Hellcat—same shoe, different colors), but they’re heavy and clunky, and a good half pound heavier than the Shimano AM45. I saw Five Ten’s new Maltese Falcon this fall, and thought they might be the answer. Like the AM45s, they’re slimmer than the Minnaar Pro both in sole thickness and outsole profile. The Falcons weigh about 10% less than the AM45s, (530g vs. 585g), but have a small (though noticeable) increase in sole stiffness. I picked them up, and I have been riding in them every day since I bought them.
I mostly wear size 10.5 street shoes, with a +/- half-size variation depending on brand. In the AM45s, I wore a size 44, (aka 10), and felt the shoe was maybe a half size too small. But the AM45s are only offered in full sizes (at least when I bought mine), and the 45 is too big. Bummer.
With the Five Ten Maltese Falcon, I followed street-shoe sizing as opposed to the mondo sizing. I have 278mm- and 275mm-length feet, which usually equates to a 44.5 euro size, or a 27.5 mondo size.
The Maltese Falcon is defined as a 10.5 / 44.5 / 28.5 size shoe. The shoe fits well and I am totally happy riding in it, but I would want to at least try on the half size smaller next time before ordering another pair of size 10.5s.
I have a wide forefoot (105mm at the met heads), so most shoes, including the Falcon, fit a little tight right out of the box. But after about 10 rides, the Falcons adapted nicely, and I never thought about the width again.
If you have a smaller or narrower foot, you might experience a little more float while pedaling. Blister’s Noah Bodman has ridden in the Falcons and, while he found them to be a comfortable shoe for downhill, he also found that he couldn’t lock his foot down enough for efficient power transfer when climbing. Just something to keep in mind if you’ve got narrow feet.
There is one unusual thing about the Falcon’s footbed: it has an elevated bump, designed to raise the second and third metatarsal heads of your foot. This isn’t unheard of (some orthotics do this as well), but the design caused my feet to quickly fall asleep when I was pedaling. So I swapped the Falcon’s insoles out for a pair from some running shoes, and never had the issue again.
I’ve found that the Maltese Falcon functions well as a trail shoe. The sole is stiff enough to keep energy transmission efficient. The Falcon is certainly not as stiff and responsive as the 250g carbon-soled M300, but it also doesn’t feel that far off if you’re riding a longer travel bike with big rubber and plush suspension.
The toebox of the Falcon is reinforced, and I have yet to feel one of the bajillion rocks I’ve kicked up. However, I do sometimes miss the ankle protection against the crank arm that the AM45s offered.
I’ve had great luck with this shoe for both human- and lazy-powered riding. The Falcons are stout enough for shuttles and lifts, and responsive enough for logging uphill miles.
Sole / Hiking
The sole of the Falcon is nothing short of awesome, which wasn’t much of a surprise.
The shoe has great traction on slippery rocks and roots and logs, and still looks brand new. The sole bends just enough in the toe to allow a normal hiking stride. When you have to shoulder a bike up a steep, rocky unrideable section (e.g., Walker Ranch in Boulder, Colorado), it is actually fun rather than torturous—as it was in the M300 carbon soled shoes with nearly no lugs.
I can’t say much here, other than that the shoes are still almost in like-new condition. Seventy rides in, they hardly look any different than they did after the first couple of test runs. We’ll see how they hold up over another 250 days, but to get three years of use out of a shoe that’s ridden more than 100 days a year is pretty solid, and I can’t imagine that I’ll be retiring the Falcons before then.
I have 2.5 small gripes to mention.
First, I can’t slide my cleats as far forward as I’d like; the cleat trails the centerline of the ball of my foot by a few millimeters. It’s not a big deal, and the shoes still pedal well, but I do frequently miss clicking in on the first try. Muscle memory is a hard thing to change after 15 years of riding on a different setup.
My second small gripe concerns the lacing. For some reason, the shoelaces don’t go all the way to the top of the tongue. While this isn’t *that* big of a deal—you just need to use the velcro strap to pull everything tight against your ankles—the metal ring the velcro strap slides through has become bent and rounded from pulling the strap so snug. We will see how that plays out. I would prefer to see one extra set of grommets for the laces, and then just use the velcro strap to hold the laces down and out of the way.
I will add another half gripe as well, comparing the shoe to the AM45. I always thought the lace-protector velcro thing on the AM45’s was sort of goofy, but I miss it now that I don’t have it. Keeping all the laces tucked away from dirt, grime, and loose sticks was really nice. I do occasionally hook branches on a lace with the Falcons.
The Five Ten Maltese Falcon has been a fantastic shoe for me, and I really like riding in them.
I’ve found that the Falcons pedal a little better than my old AM45s, so if I had to replace the shoes tomorrow, I would opt for the Falcons.
If you ride a longer-travel trail bike or a DH bike, usually ride in baggy clothes, and aren’t a full-blast leg shaver, then these shoes are well worth considering.